Abraham doubles down on support for SNAP work requirements during Farm Bill Conference Committee hearing
WASHINGTON - Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, doubled down on his support for reforming the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during a hearing of Farm Bill Conference Committee members today on Capitol Hill.
Dr. Abraham, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, is one of the final negotiators on the 2018 Farm Bill, which sets agriculture policy for the next five years.
Conference committees resolve difference between the House and Senate versions of a bill. The House bill, which Dr. Abraham supported, includes SNAP reforms while the Senate's does not. The issue is one of the main topics of discussion during the conference committee's negotiations.
In the House version of the bill, able-bodied adults would be required to work, enroll in school or a job training program, or volunteer for 20 hours a week to keep SNAP benefits. Children, the elderly, caretakers of young children, and those with mental and physical disabilities would be exempt from the new requirements.
"With labor demands at near record highs, our work-eligible population currently on the sidelines needs some encouragement to get into the game," Dr. Abraham said during his remarks. "We’re asking that adults, who have no mental or physical disability or small children to care for, meet the taxpayer halfway by working, going to school or volunteering for 20 hours a week. It’s a reasonable request that gets people to work and will lessen their dependence on welfare."
Work/educational requirements for SNAP recipients enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support from Americans with 87 percent in favor of such requirements.
Dr. Abraham also outlined his support for other agriculture policy included in the Farm Bill including expanding broadband Internet in rural America, additional support for small dairy producers, crop insurance protections, and preserving the family farm.
Dr. Abraham's full remarks as prepared for delivery can be found below:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to serve on this important Farm Bill Conference Committee. Farming has always been a part of my life, and I am honored to serve as a voice for Louisiana agriculture on this committee.
The Farm Bill is the most important bill that we will write to provide our farmers, foresters and ranchers with the stability and support they need to plan for long-term success.
Food security is national security. That’s why I call our famers America’s thin green line, and it’s why we must get this bill right.
With labor demands at near record highs, our work-eligible population currently on the sidelines needs some encouragement to get into the game.
We’re asking that adults, who have no mental or physical disability or small children to care for, meet the taxpayer halfway by working, going to school or volunteering for 20 hours a week. It’s a reasonable request that gets people to work and will lessen their dependence on welfare.
We successfully moved cotton away from Stax and into ARC and PLC, which has gone far to stop the decline of this commodity.
Similarly, we’ve strengthened the Margin Protection Program to give our smaller dairies a more level playing field so they can have greater stability and a better opportunity to sell their milk. It is a priority of mine that these successes become permanent ag policy.
Crop insurance must remain available and affordable for all our farmers as it provides a reliable safety net in times of disaster.
A sudden death in a family can unravel a family-owned farm that’s been running for generations. We can fix this with this bill and preserve the family farm, a vital part of the fabric of rural America, and I support including nieces, nephews and first cousins in the definition of “actively engaged.”
I support using RMA data as the best source of yield data.
Finally, we must invest in new research and technology, like expanding broadband internet in unserved areas, opening new markets for wood and timber products, and expanding pilot programs for furrow irrigated rice, so that American agriculture always remains on the cutting edge of developments in the industry.
I look forward to continuing our work on this conference committee and drafting the best bill possible for the American farmer. Thank you. I yield back.