As promised over at the Digging Deep Campaign, here’s the entire text of the response I received from Senator Bob Casey‘s office when I wrote regarding maintaining food stamp assistance in the Farm Bill. If/when I get something from Senator Pat Toomey‘s office, I’ll be sure to post it here.
I welcome your thoughts – and will start digging into Casey’s positions on the mammoth bill. Since he’s representing me in the Senate, I probably should pay attention to what he’s doing on my behalf.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding nutrition programs in the 2012 Farm Bill. I appreciate hearing from you.
Roughly every five years, Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill which governs federal farm and food policy. On April 26, 2012, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee met, modified and approved the 2012 Farm Bill. The bill is now pending on the Senate legislative calendar. I am hopeful that the full Senate will vote on the 2012 Farm Bill soon. If passed into law, the 2012 Farm Bill would reduce the deficit by approximately $23 billion dollars through the elimination of unnecessary subsidies and the consolidation of programs. I worked to improve the Farm Bill so it was more fair and equitable for Pennsylvania agriculture. The current version of the 2012 Farm Bill includes benefits for Pennsylvania’s specialty crop farmers, dairy farmers, and conservation programs; and it improves the Secretary’s ability to purchase foods for use in federal nutrition programs. Still, more work must be done on this legislation.
The Committee-passed version of the 2012 Farm Bill supports food assistance programs, including The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). I introduced an amendment to the Farm Bill to allow USDA to consider the needs of states and the demands placed on emergency feeding organizations, such as food banks, when purchasing commodities through the TEFAP program. This amendment is included in the current bill. The 2012 Farm Bill also includes provisions to improve access to healthy foods in food deserts and to fund SNAP education and training programs. I have heard from many people about the “heat and eat” provision of SNAP. The Farm Bill permits participating states to coordinate SNAP and the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) allowing the LIHEAP agency to provide cash benefits directly to SNAP households. The current version of the 2012 Farm Bill would require at least $10 per year in LIHEAP assistance in order to qualify for the Standard Utility Allowance in the SNAP eligibility determination process.
It is very important to me that the Senate develops nutrition assistance policy that will help Pennsylvanians. I will continue to work with my colleagues on nutrition policy in preparation for when the full Senate considers the 2012 Farm Bill.
Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.
For more information on this or other issues, I encourage you to visit my website, http://casey.senate.gov. I hope you will find this online office a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office, or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.
United States Senator
P.S. If you would like to respond to this message, please use the contact form on my website: http://casey.senate.gov/contact/