The Farm Bill Wasn't Renewed. So What?

Farm cowOn September 30, 2012, the Farm Bill expired. The Farm Bill not only deals with agriculture, it is also has a nutrition title that covers many of the programs that provide food to low-income Americans, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps). So what does Congress’s failure to reauthorize these programs mean?

In the short-term, not much.

Most importantly for low-income Americans and their advocates, nutrition programs such as SNAP will continue at their current levels, at least for now. As Brad Plumer writes on Wonkblog, just before the Farm Bill expired Congress passed a continuing resolution “to make sure that food stamps and nutrition programs stay funded at current levels until March 2013.” Congress’s failure to reauthorize the Farm Bill on September 30 does have immediate consequences for some constituencies—especially farmers—but for participants in nutrition programs, the real changes could come after the November election, when Congress is expected to finally pass a new bill.

Do you want to know more about the Farm Bill? About the programs for low-income Americans that are found in the bill?  Clearinghouse Review’s 2012 special issue on hunger and food insecurity, Hunger in the Land of Plenty, is now available online. The issue leads off with a comprehensive look at hunger in America by one of the country’s foremost experts on the topic, James D. Weill, President of the Food Research and Action Center. Then, the Review picks up on the topic of last year’s special issue on human rights with a piece on the right to food in international human rights law and how advocates can use the right-to-food framework in their practice. The special issue also covers:

  • A wide array of SNAP-related topics, from SNAP basics to SNAP application delay litigation and staggered SNAP issuance;
  • Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign;
  • Food banks;
  • Immigrant access to food from private charities;
  • Institutional food;
  • How the Farm Bill helps to create sustainable community food systems;
  • Double Up Food Bucks;
  • Antihunger and food justice movements in Arkansas and Mississippi;
  • Food insecurity among America’s elders; and
  • Links between poverty, food insecurity, and climate change.

The issue closes with a profile of another prominent anti-hunger advocate, Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty. Because of the uncertain status of the Farm Bill, the expert analysis contained in this year’s special issue is particularly important for public interest lawyers, public policy experts, and concerned citizens.  Don’t miss it.

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The Shriver Center acknowledges with thanks the AARP Foundation and the Francis Beidler Foundation for their generous support in publishing this special issue of Clearinghouse Review.

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