Action Alert: Urge Your Representatives: VOTE NO on the House Farm Bill

Author(s): 
Chrys Ostrander

Folks,

 

I'm late getting this out (see below), but as of 4:45am today, the  Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition is still taking sign-on's (individuals and organizations).

 

It's not too late to call or write your congress member: 

Sample phone message: 

As a constituent, I urge Rep. ______ to vote NO on H.R. 2: This Farm Bill proposes SNAP cuts that will penalize under- and unemployed individuals, including many households with children. Of the nearly 920,000 Washingtonians with SNAP benefits, most are families with children, seniors, and people with disabilities. It’s a crucial support for people who work low-wage or seasonal jobs, including agricultural workers. This bill also contains harmful cuts to programs and rolls back critical provisions that help Washington protect our farmlands and build a vibrant, sustainable local food system and agricultural economy.   VOTE NO on the House Farm Bill! 

Below is the alert that Washington's Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition has sent to urge people & organizations to weigh in with their
members of Congress against the House Farm Bill. The Anti-Hunger Coalition has focused most on SNAP - but they know there are
bad provisions on agriculture issues too. The sign on letter (see links below, also a pdf is attached) is written to include both the ag and hunger perspective so that the broadest array of org anization s & individuals could sign on.

The most important targets are WA's four House Republicans: Reps. McMorris Rodgers, Newhouse, Reichert and Herrera Beutler.  Especially the last two. Herrera Beutler was officially undecided about her vote when leadership counted votes this week - we  need  to push her to a NO. Reichert has grave concerns about the bill - his ag staffer, Colin Swanson, specifically said he wants to hear more from conservation/sustainability-minded interests about any concerns about the bill - we  need  to be sure he's a NO. (So call his staffer today! 

 Colin.Swanson@mail.House.gov or 425-225-7761).  

The vote is expected as soon as next Wed. - so please sign on, forward to your colleagues as broadly as you can - and make phone calls!

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The Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition (AHNC) is working with a broad array of ag and anti-poverty partners across Washington to urge our members of Congress to oppose H.R. 2 - the House Farm Bill - because it cuts SNAP funding by $20 billion over 10 years and makes sweeping structural changes to eligibility and program administration.  In addition, the Farm Bill has other harmful provisions that undermine Washington efforts to build a vibrant local food system and to conserve land and natural resources across our state. 

We expect the House to vote as early as next Wednesday.  But House leadership doesn't yet have enough votes to pass it, and we want to make sure our state’s Congress members will vote no.  So we’re asking individuals and organizations to take 3 easy steps:  

1.  Call your Congress member’s office NOW and urge a NO vote on the Farm Bill (see below for sample message

2.  Sign on to this letter opposing SNAP cuts in the Farm Bill 

3.  Spread the word!  Please forward this letter broadly within your networks — along with a message to call your Representative (see below for sample phone message).  

 

Link to read the letter is: https://bit.ly/2018HouseFarmBill_WA 

Link to sign the letter is: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf5qNWDO4dfWQR4njUvhbDSA73mJraU3WInlb-5Sp-CfIVfRg/viewform 

Deadline to sign the letter: Midnight on Monday, May 14​​

Sample phone message: 

As a constituent, I urge Rep. ______ to vote NO on H.R. 2: This Farm Bill proposes SNAP cuts that will penalize under- and unemployed individuals, including many households with children. Of the nearly 920,000 Washingtonians with SNAP benefits, most are families with children, seniors, and people with disabilities. It’s a crucial support for people who work low-wage or seasonal jobs, including agricultural workers. This bill also contains harmful cuts to programs and rolls back critical provisions that help Washington protect our farmlands and build a vibrant, sustainable local food system and agricultural economy.   VOTE NO on the House Farm Bill! 

Other resources:  

The Center on Budget & Policy Priorities has six new briefs on how low-income womenpeople with disabilitieschildrenveteransworkers, and older Americans would be harmed by the House Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill.  We hope that these briefs support your efforts to engage different voices in your community to express opposition to the SNAP proposals.

BACKGROUND:  What would these Farm Bill SNAP cuts mean for Washington

The bill institutes mandatory work requirements for a greatly expanded adult population:  All able-bodied adults ages 18-59 with children over age 6 would be required to work (or be in a “work-related activity”) a minimum of 20 hours/week year-round, and they would have to report their hours every month to DSHS to certify their eligibility for SNAP.  If someone misses reporting for a month, they would be cut off SNAP for 1 year; a second time, they’d be sanctioned from SNAP for 3 years.  This is a long but great analysis of the work requirements. For even more resources on this, the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities has short briefs on SNAP and work here

These changes would fundamentally change the structure and function of SNAP in ways that would be detrimental for years to come. It would penalize seasonal workers and part time workers with irregular schedules and may not average 20 hrs/week every month, as well as workers who are temporarily unemployed but don’t require job training – they’re looking for a job. 

It would create an enormous administrative burden for DSHS: no state is set up for this kind of administrative oversight/case management for its SNAP caseload — which totals nearly 920,000 Washingtonians now. Because people would be required to be in some kind of "work-related activity”, states would be required to provide some kind of jobs program. Yet the CBO just released its analysis that it would take states more than 10 years to set up work programs that would serve only 80% of the newly mandated population. Even then, the Congressional Budget Office estimates only 2% of newly-mandated population would meet the new requirements: CBO estimates 24% (nearly 1.2 million people) per month would lose SNAP benefits. 

The new guidelines and funding would dismantle our state’s SNAP Education & Training Program (Basic Food Education & Training, or BFET). Washington is widely acknowledged by USDA and policy analysts (and described in a Politico article) to be the only state that has a SNAP E&T program that actually gets low income people into jobs. DSHS’ model is a collaboration between DSHS, vocational ed programs at community colleges & community-based organizations that provide job readiness programs, so people are tracked into programs that meet their skill levels, interests and job opportunities. BFET has shown that 62% of its clients are employed 6 months after completing their program, with wages above our minimum wage. In short, BFET is good at reaching the goal: SNAP clients in jobs at wages that lift them above poverty and beyond eligibility for SNAP. 

The most conservative estimates are that states would get, at most, $30 per person per month for E&T services - not even the cost of a monthly bus pass.  DSHS has said the new requirements and this tiny investment from USDA would end our state’s successful SNAP E&T program. 

At the same time, the last Farm Bill invested $200 million into 10 pilot states to test models for SNAP E&T - Washington was the model for that provision. Our state won one of the pilot grants and also received a related grant to be the first National Center for Excellence in SNAP E&T. The other pilot grantees regularly come to our state to receive technical assistance, support & training based on Washington’s successful model. Evaluation results from these pilots won’t be available for another 2 years. Yet this bill jumps the gun and dismantles existing work and E&T policies without waiting to see results of $200 million investment from the last Farm Bill — so none of these changes are evidence-based, and the $200 million would be wasted.  This week Congresswoman DelBene had a great op-ed in the Seattle Times about this.  

The bill also would end SNAP eligibility for households whose gross income is above $2,213/month for a family of 3. Washington uses a provision (called ‘categorical eligibility’) that enables states to allow higher gross incomes - up to $4,426/month for a family of 3 - because in a high-cost state like ours, policymakers realized that thousands of households were eligible for food assistance after paying for utilities, housing, child care and medical care – basic needs expenses that are part of the calculation for SNAP eligibility.  The House bill would end that option for states, resulting in 25,000 Washington households (or, 60,000 individuals) losing SNAP benefits. In addition, people with a car valued at more than $12,000 would now be ineligible for SNAP - even if the car is only worth a few dollars over. In Washington, we have no limit on car values, because we know people need reliable transportation to make ends meet and get to work. 

There aren’t the only damaging SNAP changes for Washington, but this is enough for Washington’s Congress members to vote no — so please raise your voice: make phone calls, sign on to the letter, and spread the word!   

THANK YOU for your advocacy efforts!  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. 

Claire Lane, Director, ​​

Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition

(206) 446-0966  |  Claire.Lane2@gmail.com 

Edition: 
Action Alert May, 2018