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The Farm Bill and the Farmers Market

How the 2014 federal farm bill cuts out low-income families

The Food Project’s Lynn Central Square farmers market has one of the highest rates of SNAP/EBT and WIC and senior coupon usage for purchasing fresh produce in the state of Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, in a time of increasing inequality in pay and ability to access to fresh food, the farm bill passed by Congress earlier this month delivers a serious blow to the number and purchasing power of low-income families and seniors who will be able to receive these benefits to shop at our local farmers markets.

The gargantuan and complex farm bill (a total of $956 billion over 5 years) cuts $8.5 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—a critical benefit that allows poor and low-income families to buy healthy food.

Most disappointing is how the bill provides nearly $27 billion in crop insurance subsidies regardless of how much money recipients are already making—a stark contrast to how poor families are treated in this bill.

While disappointing, The Food Project takes some solace in that this $8.5 billion cut is significantly less than the $40 billion in SNAP cuts proposed in earlier versions of the bill.

We also support the inclusion of $20 million a year for five years (for a total of $100 million) in mandatory funding for nutrition incentives, as well as increased funding for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, Community Food Projects, Specialty Crop Block Grants, the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, Beginning Farmers and the Healthy Food Financing Initiative.

Combined, these programs are a foundation for ongoing innovation in local and regional food systems—and in providing and increasing access to affordable, healthy, locally grown produce for millions of Americans who live in poverty yet strive to put good food on their family’s tables.

We continue to support policies that include our nation’s most vulnerable, strengthen local and regional food systems, and ensure viable streams of commerce for America’s small and mid-sized farmers.

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