SNAP to It: After passing 45-day stopgap, Congress reignites debate over Farm Bill’s costly Nutrition Title

Now that Washington lawmakers have passed a 45-day stopgap, they have some breathing room to work through some hot-button topics like the high cost of the upcoming Farm Bill, which is due in large part to the funding necessary to support the Nutrition Title.

A 45-day stopgap plan is causing a stir on Capitol Hill, sparking passionate debates on both sides of the aisle. The proposed 2023 Farm Bill is set to be the most expensive one to date, and Senate Agriculture Republicans argue that farmers will bear the brunt of the cost.

According to Chief Economist for Senate Agriculture Republicans John Newton, farm production expenses have skyrocketed — with a $114 billion increase since the current Farm Bill was passed in 2018.

Farmers feel pressure in every category of input costs, including fertilizer, livestock feed, diesel fuel, labor costs, and even pesticide expenses. The USDA also projected farming income is expected to drop in 2023, the largest decline in history. Interest rates are also on the rise, adding to their woes and making matters even more challenging.

On the other side of the aisle, the Nutrition Title stands out as the costliest component of the Farm Bill. However, Senate Agriculture Democrats are determined to retain funding for nutrition programs as their top priority.

Chief Economist for Senate Agriculture Democrats Steven Wallander emphasized the importance of nutrition programs for rural communities. He points out that additional spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and other nutrition programs can add thousands of rural jobs. In fact, experts say, that every billion dollars spent on SNAP creates more than 500 jobs in the farming sector.

While discussions on the Farm Bill are ongoing, much of lawmaker’s time has been consumed by the challenge of passing a government spending bill. The current 45-day stopgap bill is a temporary measure, but agricultural lawmakers are optimistic about passing a comprehensive Farm Bill before the year concludes.