Casey Calls for Strong Nutrition Programs in Farm Bill

27 Senators join Casey to send letter to Agriculture Committees

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) spearheaded a letter to emphasize the critical need to increase investments in federal nutrition programs and produce the strongest possible nutrition title in the 2007 Farm Bill. Casey, along with 27 of his Senate colleagues, sent the letter to Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and Representatives Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Agriculture.

“Through a strong nutrition title, Congress has the opportunity to strengthen the economic security of low-income Americans by assisting them with putting food on their tables while also working to improve their health by providing nutritious food options and programs aimed at the adoption of healthy eating habits,” the letter said. “This is an important factor for us in analyzing a final Farm Bill agreement.”

The letter urges the Committee leaders to work to make permanent improvements to the Food Stamp program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. The House version of the 2007 Farm Bill includes provisions to make the improvements permanent, but if such provisions are not enacted, improved benefits would expire in 2012. That would cause more than 10 million people to experience nutrition benefit cuts and 300,000 low-income recipients to lose their food stamps.

The letter goes on to say, “Nutrition remains an important priority for this Congress, and there is no better opportunity to strengthen nutrition policy and programs than the 2007 Farm Bill.”


Full text of the letter is below:


Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:

As the Conference Committee continues negotiations on the 2007 Farm Bill, we write to emphasize the critical need to increase investments in federal nutrition programs and to produce the strongest possible nutrition title. This is a concern we know you share.

Through a strong nutrition title, Congress has the opportunity to strengthen the economic security of low-income Americans by assisting them with putting food on their tables while also working to improve their health by providing nutritious food options and programs aimed at the adoption of healthy eating habits. This is an important factor for us in analyzing a final Farm Bill agreement.

We urge you to develop a final bill that both retains the strength of the Senate’s nutrition title provisions and the structure of the House title which makes permanent improvements to Food Stamps and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Such an approach provides for a strong level of funding for these key nutrition programs, while also including the critical improvements to nutrition programs provided for in the Senate version of this title.

Unless the final farm bill adopts the House approach, all the major benefit improvements included in the nutrition title would end after 2012, and policies would return to current law. Unless Congress later took action to extend the policies, more than 10 million recipients would experience benefit cuts and over 300,000 low-income people would be cut off food stamps in 2013. The difficult fiscal outlook in the future certainly means there's no assurance that resources will be available to extend these provisions in 2013.

Nutrition remains an important priority for this Congress, and there is no better opportunity to strengthen nutrition policy and programs than the 2007 Farm Bill.

Thank you in advance for you consideration of our request. We thank you for your continued leadership to craft a farm bill that protects and assists the most vulnerable of our society: children, seniors, and families who are food insecure. We appreciate your leadership and look forward to working with you. Should you or your staff have any questions, please contact Ms. Caryn Long of Senator Casey’s staff at 224-7882 or Ms. Mayra Alvarez of Senator Durbin’s staff at 228-5748.


Sincerely,
Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
John F. Kerry (D-MA)
Carl Levin (D-MI)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Barack Obama (D-IL)
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Chris Dodd (D-CT)
Russ Feingold (D-WI)
Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD)
Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA)
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Joe Lieberman (I-CT)
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)







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