This morning, Food Policy Action hosted a phone-based conference with guest speaker Tom Colicchio to preview critical amendments under consideration for the House farm bill. The legislation passed in the Senate on June 10 and will likely come to vote in the second congressional house this week.
In his opening statement, Colicchio remarked that the present farm bill is “moving in the wrong direction.” Notably, the chef criticized the bill’s cuts to nutrition programs, such as the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). “Nutrition programs are so important for so many reasons,” he said. “We can’t be a strong country if we have children going hungry.”
Colicchio also added, “There’s a lot of misperception around the farm bill, around SNAP, in particular.” While many believe that this program is frequently abused, “a majority of the people receiving snap have at least one member of the family who’s working.”
Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, moderated the talk. Other speakers included Gawain Kripke, research and policy director for Oxfam America, Franz Matzner, associate director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for Center for Food Safety. All participated as members of the Food Policy Action vote advisory council.
Collectively, the group addressed the amendments they deemed likely to be scored by this year’s Food Policy Action scorecard. The organization publishes scorecards in order to “help distinguish which legislators are working for sensible food policies.”
“All across the country we’re seeing more and more focus on food quality, food safety, food access,” remarked Matzner, “and all of those issues are at stake here.”
According to Faber, Food Policy Action was created “in order to hold members of congress accountable for when they vote to cut a program that helps feed the hungry, when they vote to cut a program that helps ensure our food is safe.” Moreover, the organization works to push congress “to vote in ways that reflect our common values.”
Additionally, Faber commented, “We believe that Speaker Boehner will honor his commitment to an open farm bill debate about the need for subsidy reform.”
Other amendment issues that were addressed include the need to cut crop insurance and the problematic cuts to conservation programs, which Matzner cited as “counterproductive when you consider the last year of extreme weather.”
As the conference was sure to point out to listeners: The farm bill only comes under consideration in congress every five years.