Over the past two years, I've traveled throughout New York meetingwith farmers and anti-hunger advocates to develop our prioritiesfor the 2012 Farm Bill. Based on these conversations, I fought forand won several provisions in the bill such as improved cropinsurance for fruit and vegetable farmers, rural broadband servicesto support small business development, and grants and loanfinancing to build grocery stores in rural and urban food deserts. These conversations also made it clear to me how important SNAP(Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is, not only to ourstruggling families who rely on these benefits to put food on theirtables, but to farmers whose produce is being purchased by so manyAmericans at farmers markets and grocery stores using food stamps. The fact is that food stamps are an effective investment. For everydollar that's invested into the SNAP program, we get $1.71 back inreturn. |
This money pays the salaries of grocery clerks as well asthe truckers who haul the food and produce across the country. Inaddition, the USDA estimates that 16 cents goes back to the farmerwho grows the produce. As Moody's economist Mark Zandi put it, "The fastest way to infuse money into the economy isthrough expanding the SNAP/food stamp program." In the end, however, the Farm Bill that passed out of theAgriculture Committee last month proposes cutting $4.5 billion fromthe SNAP program over 10 years in the name of fiscalbelt-tightening. Under this current bill, families will be lessfood secure than they are right now.
In real dollar terms, according to the Congressional Budget Office(CBO), this would mean a loss in benefits of about $90 a month, adevastating amount of money for millions of struggling familiesincluding 190,000 low-income families in New York City and nearly300,000 throughout New York State. Half of all beneficiaries offood stamps are children. As the mother of two young boys, I canthink of no more simple or elemental thing that a family mustprovide than food for their children. Children need food to grow,they need food to learn, and they need food to reach theirGod-given potential.
This is why I voted against the Farm Bill in committee last monthand it's why today I introduced an amendment to restore the $4.5 billion in funding to SNAP. My amendment would pay for the restoration of this funding by reducing federalsubsidies for crop insurance companies that are already making hugeannual profits. Earlier this week, I was honored to stand at the Union SquareGreenmarket in New York City with Chef Tom Colicchio, as well asrepresentatives from NYC Coalition Against Hunger, Food Bank forNYC, Environmental Working Group, AARP, United Way of New YorkCity, Cornell Co-op Extension, United Food and Commercial Workers(UFCW), RWDSU, NYS Hunger Action Network, Rural-Urban AllianceCommittee and the Food and Research Action Center to speak outagainst these severe cuts. I appreciate their support and strongadvocacy as we fight together to reverse these cuts on the floor ofthe Senate.
We can afford a fully funded SNAP program that provides ourstruggling families with the nutrition and assistance they need. Weshould all be able to agree that the last thing we should be doingis protecting subsidies for insurance companies making huge profitsat the expense of the most vulnerable in our society, particularlyhungry children. I was on Politics Nation to discuss this issue, I hope you'llwatch: Visit msnbc.com for breaking news , world news , and news about the economy Follow Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Twitter: /SenGillibrand.
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