Wholesome Wave Commends Bipartisan Passage of Senate Farm Bill
Dear Wholesome Wave Supporters, Partners and Friends,
We would like to congratulate the U.S. Senate for passing the Farm Bill by a vote of 64 to 35. We want to particularly commend Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Ranking Member Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) for putting together a complex piece of legislation, which includes key and innovative provisions that support Wholesome Wave, our strategic partners and the important initiatives we have all been collaborating on over the last five years.
The Senate has shown solid bi-partisan leadership during politically tough times to come up with this important piece of legislation that will set the stage for food policy over the next five years.
Critically, the Senate bill preserves 99.5% of the SNAP budget, while the House of Representatives is poised to propose cutting this vital benefit for Americans living in poverty by at least 25%. We all must continue our efforts as the farm bill moves forward in the House. We need to preserve key gains and protect against further cuts.
Of particular interest to Wholesome Wave partners are programs that add benefits that increase the affordability of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables for SNAP consumers struggling to put fresh food on the family table. These provisions include:
• Hunger-Free Community Incentive Grants – Nutrition incentive programs to increase fruit and vegetable purchases by SNAP customers at farmers markets - $20 million a year.
• Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program – Local food added to the existing very popular farmers market promotion program. Funding doubled to $20 million a year.
• Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program – Mandatory funding maintained at $20 million annually for seniors living in poverty.
• Specialty Crop Block Grants – Increased funding to $70 million annually for five years with provisions to allow multistate programs promoting fruit and vegetable production through local and regional sales.
• Community Food Projects – Funding doubled to meet the needs of low-income people, increasing self-reliance for communities to provide for their own food needs through infrastructure improvement and development to meet specific state, local and neighborhood food and agriculture needs.
• Innovations in SNAP – An amendment to permit SNAP redemption by community supported agriculture (CSA)
During a time when it seems the country is split on almost every important issue, it is reassuring to know that a bi-partisan Senate ensured the 2012 Farm Bill includes strong support for our nation’s most vulnerable, while ensuring viable food commerce for our small and midsize farmers.
We also want to recognize that none of these accomplishments would have been possible without the combined efforts of our strategic partners who work tirelessly to help America think differently about people living in poverty.
The Senate’s bipartisan Farm Bill is a solid first step in ensuring we all have equal access to healthy affordable food while also supporting small and midsize farmers. We hope the House will follow the bi-partisan leadership example set by the Senate in this Farm Bill.
Michel Nischan, President/CEO