MANHATTAN (KSNT) – Experts with Kansas State University say the 2023 Farm Bill could have wide-reaching effects on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The K-State Research and Extension Office said in a press release that this year’s farm bill will likely impact the availability of food for Americans. Some people who might feel the effects of the farm bill include those who benefit from SNAP.
“Food stamps began during the Great Depression based on shared policy objectives of increasing farm income and decreasing hunger in both rural and urban areas,” Kansas State University agricultural policy specialist Jenny Ifft said. “Now that program is called SNAP.”
The farm bill is a piece of legislation that is approved by Congress once every five years, according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry. The bill sets national agriculture, nutrition, conservation and forestry policy for another five years. It was last approved in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump.
The next farm bill is sitting in Congress as it awaits approval by lawmakers with the 2018 Farm Bill to expire at the end of the month. According to The Hill, the 2023 Farm Bill has more than 80% of its spending dedicated to nutrition programs like SNAP. Lisa Ross, K-State SNAP-Education coordinator, said 10% of Kansas households experience food insecurity. Programs like K-State’s SNAP-Ed fall under the umbrella of the nationwide SNAP program.
“The effects of food insecurity can cause health complications, especially in growth and development of children,” Ross said. “SNAP-Ed works to give everyone nutrition education and make sure they get the most out of food assistance programs.”
SNAP has more than 50 million participants across the country, many being elderly, children or disabled, according to the K-State Research and Extension Office. In June, President Joe Biden signed off on expanding SNAP’s age range requirements.
Ifft said the SNAP budget has seen increases by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over the past five years. Around $663 billion was allocated to SNAP in 2018 with an estimated $1.2 trillion for 2023, according to a May 2023 report from U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry.
“The budget for both food programs and farms increased in the last five years, but nutrition increased more,” Ifft said. “That is a topic of debate as well as increasing the budget for SNAP.”
A 2022 Impact Report on SNAP-Ed shows that more than 4,500 Kansans living in 57 counties and four Native-American tribes benefit from the program. More than 200,000 Kansans received help through the nationwide SNAP program per month.
“It is really important that we work together on this farm bill because without SNAP there is no SNAP-education,” Ross said.