Is the Farm Bill’s Nutrition Education Program under Attack?
Since the Farm Bill is up for re-authorization, Congress is currently threatening to cut one of its components. This component is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs’ nutrition education (SNAP-Ed).
SNAP-Ed empowers recipients to purchase healthy foods within a very tight food budget. The program employs hundreds of RDs in all 50 states. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (AND) Farm Bill Work Group is making slight revisions to the 2012 Farm Bill Recommendation document to highlight the SNAP-Ed program among other aspects of the bill.
The recommendations include talking points related to:
– Empowering consumers
o Maintain current funding for SNAP Nutrition Education (SNAP Ed), an effective program that empowers participants to change behaviors for healthy eating using knowledge tailored to their lifestyle.
– Provide access to healthy and safe foods
o Protect and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), key programs in our nation’s nutrition safety net.
– Assure a healthy and safe food system
o Ensure funding for a variety of community-based and regional agriculture initiatives that expand the availability of regionally-grown food, create jobs, and promote economic development.
o Support farm practices and policies that conserve soil, water, air, habitat and biodiversity, as these are essential to our survival, and help to assure that a next generation of farmers has access to land and the skills and incentives to grow healthy foods.
– Assure sound science for future evidenced-based decision making
o Maintain funding for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agricultural Research Service that includes Human Nutrition Research Centers for vital research to drive better nutrition, eliminate hunger, increase food security and healthy food systems and eliminate diet-related health disparities, including obesity and assure the availability of nutrition monitoring, food composition and related data.
o Maintain funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grants in order to support food safety and nutrition research and a diversity of fruits, vegetables and nuts available to help people achieve the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Farm Bill overview:
The Farm Bill is a critical piece of legislation that determines not only what farmers grow, but what is available in the United States food supply. Farm policies have existed in the U.S. since the establishment of our country. The 1920’s brought about the first big shift in agriculture policies, focusing on direct government intervention to provide income support by increasing crop prices and controlling supplies. Legislation continued to support farmers through direct income payments and crop supply management until 1996. At that time fixed income support payments were removed, making a shift to the modern commodity payments currently in place, and focused on issues surrounding food safety, food assistance and the environment.
The most recent Farm Bill, 2008 Food Conservation and Energy Act, included several key provisions that impacted nutrition.
– – Renamed the “food stamp program” to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to reflect a modern program, putting healthy foods within reach for people.
– – Authorized a small pilot program, the Healthy Incentives Pilot, to research the effect of incentives in encouraging SNAP participants to purchase healthful foods such as fruits and vegetables.
– – Created the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to coordinate agricultural research and Extension programs.
– – Established funding for new programs to support producers transitioning to organic agriculture and to increase research in organic agriculture.
So, now the real question is- what will happen next? Only time will tell….