Chairman Conaway’s bill would only worsen hunger and poverty in Montana

Press Release



On Thursday, April 12, Representative Mike Conaway, the House Agriculture Committee Chairman, released his version of the Farm Bill. Please see Montana Food Bank Network’s statement on the potential impact to hunger in Montana:

Gayle Carlson, CEO, Montana Food Bank Network

“The Montana Food Bank Network and local food pantries across the state work tirelessly to provide emergency food assistance to Montanans; however, the nonprofit sector cannot fight hunger alone. Instead of creating more barriers to food assistance, we need Congress to strengthen vital nutrition programs, especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Because Chairman Conaway’s bill would only worsen hunger and poverty in Montana, MFBN opposes the legislation as drafted, and we call on Representative Gianforte to join us in taking a stand for Montanans by opposing cuts to SNAP.

Every five years, Congress must pass a Farm Bill to reauthorize vital anti-hunger programs, including SNAP. Historically, Farm Bills have been crafted on a bipartisan basis. This bipartisanship built SNAP to be one of the most powerful and effective poverty-reduction programs in the country. On Thursday, however, Chairman Conaway released a partisan Farm Bill that would cut SNAP – a program that helps 121,000 Montanans keep food on the table – by imposing new punitive restrictions.

Under current law, SNAP participants age 18 to 49 who are not raising children are cut off from benefits after 3 months in a 36-month period unless they work at least 20 hours a week. Unfortunately, Chairman Conaway’s bill would extend this punitive policy to parents with children above the age of six and adults up to age 60 and shorten the time limit to only one month of benefits. Some call this provision a work requirement, but “time limit” is more accurate, because it does nothing to help someone get or keep a job; it simply takes away vital food assistance after a certain amount of time.

In Montana, 45,000 children live in food insecure households and approximately 1 in 5 kids receive SNAP. If a parent loses SNAP benefits because of the bill’s punitive time limit, then children would also lose access to other essential anti-hunger programs, such as school breakfast and lunch, putting their health and learning at risk. No amount of reinvestment in an employment and training bureaucracy can make up for the bill’s punishing restrictions on struggling families and their children, especially those trying to get by with unstable, low-paying jobs.

At the Montana Food Bank Network we believe that everyone has the basic human right to access food in their time of need. Unfortunately, Chairman Conaway’s proposed Farm Bill dramatically cuts SNAP in a way that threatens to end benefits for thousands of Montanans, particularly for older citizens and parents with children as young as 7 years old. The nonprofit sector does not have the resources to make up the difference. So, please join MFBN and anti-hunger organizations across the country in opposing the legislation as drafted.”

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To get involved with advocating for hunger in Montana, contact the Montana Food Bank Network at 406-721-3825 or sign up for our newsletter and receive action alerts when voices are needed!

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