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Academy Priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill
Promoting Healthy People, Healthful Food Systems and a Strong Economy
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is committed to improving the health of Americans by ensuring access to a nourishing, safe and affordable food supply. The Academy is also committed to ensuring that quality nutrition services and nutrition education are integral components of nutrition assistance programs. The Academy offers the following recommendations to build upon and strengthen existing Farm Bill programs; increase access to affordable, nutritious food, especially for those most in need; and improve the demand and marketplace for a diversity of foods that contribute to health and food security.
The Academy's guiding principle is our commitment to improving health for all, especially those most susceptible to and that experience food insecurity, and is the basis for our recommendations.
1. Empower Consumers – Drive Demand Toward Healthful Foods and Reduce Food Waste
Nutrition education programs authorized in the Farm Bill are tailored to participants' education levels and lifestyles to help them make lifelong healthful behavior changes.
The Academy supports:
- Provision of sufficient funding for effective and innovative nutrition education programs and initiatives authorized in the Farm Bill Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant Program and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program.
- Identification of opportunities to ensure program effectiveness and efficiencies in public nutrition education and assistance programs to promote positive consumer behavior change.
- Initiatives to reduce consumer food waste.
- Provide support for necessary leadership within the USDA and specifically in the regional offices on nutrition and nutrition education.
2. Ensure Sound Science and Program Evaluation for Future Evidenced-Based Decision Making
A strong science portfolio informs development and enhancement of nutrition program content, and high-quality, systematic monitoring and evaluation provide guidance for structuring and strengthening consumer education implementation and delivery systems.
The Academy supports:
- Establishment of a consistent USDA funding authorization to accomplish the requirements in the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act.
- Provision of sufficient funding for the completion of the Pregnancy and Birth to 24 Months nutrition guidance project, as required in the Agricultural Act of 2014.
- Increased funding for vital primary agricultural and nutrition research: National Institute of Food and Agriculture including the 1) Agricultural and Food Research Initiative, 2) Agricultural Research Service Human Nutrition Research Centers and 3) maintain funding for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.
- Adequate evaluation funding and program expertise to examine ways to improve health outcomes related to nutrition status, such as SNAP benefit adequacy, SNAP disbursement frequency (i.e., weekly or bi-monthly), reduction of participant stigma in nutrition assistance programs and child nutrition programs, and improved nutritional health of SNAP recipients. These projects should adhere to rigorous study design and build on past research conducted by USDA and HHS.
- Continue to strengthen linkages to nutrition programming and nutrition education research through the Interagency Committee on Human Nutrition Research, as outlined in the National Nutrition Research Roadmap.
3. Support Innovative Nutrition Assistance Programs to Improve Access to Healthful, Affordable and Safe Foods
Domestic and International Nutrition Safety Nets Are Protected and Strengthened by Streamlining Administrative Requirements for All Nutrition Assistance Programs and Coordinating Healthful Food Production with Nutrition Assistance Programs.
The Academy supports:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program:
- Maintain the current structure of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Academy would oppose any effort to change the structure of this program to shift to a state-based grant system, such as block grants, which would cap funding and limit the agility of the program to be responsive to fluctuating economic condition.
- Increase the SNAP benefit level to prevent hunger and provide resources to help families make healthful food choices.
- Update standards for SNAP retailers that increase the availability of healthful foods.
- Ensure final regulations lead to enhanced retail offerings to promote and sell healthy foods.
- Ensure adequate training and technical assistance are provided to assist transition to updated standards.
- Encourage coordination efforts with SNAP-Ed and CDC to assist retailers with strategies to improve healthier options and drive demand for these healthier options.
- Eliminate the requirement that basic allowance for housing for our military members be included in their income calculations to receive SNAP benefits.
Food Distribution Programs:
- Reauthorize the Commodity Supplemental Food Program to ensure that low-income seniors have access to nutritious monthly food packages and increase funding to provide an opportunity for the two remaining states (Alabama and Wyoming) to participate in the program.
- Maintain current funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program to ensure a steady flow of nutritious commodities through the emergency food system of charitable providers, such as food banks and pantries.
- Provide adequate funding authorization for transportation of TEFAP commodities.
- Continue support of projects to integrate more traditional foods and updates to distribution sites that allow the distribution of more fresh, frozen and perishable foods on Indian reservations and throughout the entire food distribution system.
- Maintain current funding and integrity of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program.
Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives grants:
- Maintain funding for the successful, research-based FINI grants, which provide financial incentives for families to purchase healthful foods. Through the grant process, place priority on those projects that:
- Seek to engage retailers of all sizes as active partners.
- Focus on the development of technology that could facilitate use of incentives in the retail setting.
- Encourage and prioritize coordination with nutrition education programming, such as SNAP-Ed and EFNEP.
- Encourage and provide technical assistance for projects with varying population densities and retail outlets.
4. Support the Food Supply Chain: Producers and Retailers That Create a Healthful and Safe Food System and Reduces Food Waste.
Support producers and retailers to meet demand for healthful foods.
The Academy supports:
- Funding and federal support for a variety of community-based and regional agriculture and food access initiatives that expand the availability of regionally-grown food, create jobs and promote economic development. Examples include Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs, Senior and WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Programs, Community Food Projects and Value-Added Producer Grants.
- Farm practices and policies that conserve soil, water, air, habitat and biodiversity.
- Policies and programs to ensure the next generation of farmers have access to land, skills and incentives to grow healthful foods.
- Maintaining funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grants to support food safety and drive demand through education for specialty crops to increase dietary diversity as an aid to help people achieve the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- Supply chain innovation for food retail outlets.
- Reduce the cost and administrative burden for farmers markets, farm stands, green cart, community-supported agriculture, small rural grocers and other non-traditional vendors and convenience stores to accept EBT and participate in Farmers Market Nutrition Programs
- Provide targeted solutions for communities living in food deserts.
- Reauthorize the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), which will stimulate economic development, create jobs and improve health in low-income, underserved communities and communities of color in urban and rural areas by supporting farmers and healthy food retailers to improve access to nutritious, affordable food.
- Support nutrition assistance programs for populations that may need additional outreach and support.
- Continue to learn from and fund pilot projects that test innovative approaches to delivery of groceries, while ensuring client privacy is protected.
- Support community efforts to reach isolated older adults to provide healthful food options to help maintain their independence.
- Initiatives to reduce pre- and post-consumer food waste throughout the food system.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the farm bill?
- What is the Academy's position on food insecurity?
- What is the Academy's position on the House farm bill?
- What is the Academy's position on the Senate farm bill?
- What are the benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program?
- How would the House farm bill impact SNAP?
- How would the Senate farm bill impact SNAP?
- What is the Academy's position on SNAP work requirements?
- How do I get involved?
What is the farm bill?
Every five years, Congress considers a new farm bill, which is the primary legislation that authorizes agriculture and food policy in the United States. The farm bill is a mechanism through which many of the Academy's public policy priorities come to life and is due to be reauthorized in 2018. The farm bill guides the U.S. and global food supply and improves food security for millions of people. Farm bill programs provide support for the jobs of many Academy members who work in nutrition education, research, and who help Americans at risk of food insecurity, hunger and chronic illnesses.
The Academy is committed to improving the health of Americans by ensuring that the U.S. food supply is nourishing, safe and affordable. Nutrition education and quality nutrition services should be integral components of nutrition assistance programs. The Academy's guiding principle for farm bill recommendations is a commitment to policies that improve health for everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable to food insecurity.
What is the Academy's position on food insecurity?
Food insecurity affects millions of Americans every year – from children to seniors, veterans and active duty military, families and people with disabilities."It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that systematic and sustained action is needed to achieve food and nutrition security in the United States. To achieve food security, effective interventions are needed, along with adequate funding for, and increased utilization of, food and nutrition assistance programs; inclusion of nutrition education in such programs; strategies to support individual and household economic stability; and research to measure impact on food insecurity- and health-related outcomes. Millions of individuals living in the United States experience food insecurity.
Negative nutritional and non-nutritional outcomes are associated with food insecurity across the lifespan, including substandard academic achievement, inadequate intake of key nutrients, increased risk for chronic disease, and poor psychological and cognitive functioning. Registered dietitian nutritionists and nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered, play key roles in addressing food insecurity and are uniquely positioned to make valuable contributions through competent and collaborative practice, provision of comprehensive food and nutrition education and training, innovative research related to all aspects of food insecurity, and advocacy efforts at the local, state, regional, and national levels."
What is the Academy's position on the House farm bill?
The Academy opposes H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 due to the numerous changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is grounded in our position on food insecurity, our recommendations for the farm bill and the Congressional Budget Office report. CBO produces nonpartisan analysis for the U.S. Congress.
What is the Academy's position on the Senate farm bill?
The Academy supports S. 3042, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. The Academy is pleased that the Senate farm bill continues to build on what has worked in the past with common sense investments to strengthen nutrition programs to ensure critical food access for families in need, continue advancement in agricultural research and support nutrition education to empower people to make lasting, healthful food choices.
Additional adjustments could be made to further strengthen nutrition programs, but the Academy acknowledges the difficult choices required to advance a bipartisan bill, especially when budgets are tight, and commends the committee for its sensible, targeted improvements to nutrition programs.
What are the benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program?
SNAP is highly effective in preventing food insecurity and is linked with improved health and lower health care costs. SNAP helps one in eight Americans put food on the table and keeps more than 8 million people out of poverty, including nearly 4 million children. SNAP is especially beneficial for pregnant mothers, reducing the likelihood that a child will be born with low birthweight by between 5 and 23 percent. Children participating in SNAP are less likely to have nutritional deficiencies, and more likely to thrive and have better academic outcomes.
How would the House farm bill impact SNAP?
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 1.2 million people, in an average month, would lose access to critical food assistance due to the bill's proposed SNAP work requirements. CBO also estimates that 265,000 children would lose access to free school meals, in an average year, as a result of the proposed change to categorical eligibility. Children would then only be eligible for reduced-price or paid meals, while their household simultaneously loses SNAP eligibility. Additionally, CBO estimates that 560,000 households would have their SNAP benefits reduced, by an average of $84 per month, as a result of the proposed change to standard utility allowances.
How would the Senate farm bill impact SNAP?
In the farm bill, the Senate affirmed the importance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and included provisions to further strengthen program integrity while also making targeted improvements to SNAP for seniors and people with disabilities, and modernizing systems and technology. Additionally, the legislation would expand the 2014 employment and training pilot projects focused on high-quality training and take steps to ensure programs meet state and local workforce needs. Current pilot programs are in the midst of rigorous evaluations and the results are not yet available to inform the 2018 farm bill. However, the proposed legislation would allow additional states to test promising and novel approaches to help establish evidence-based solutions to guide future expansion of the program with the goal of improving participants’ path to sustainable employment.
The Senate's approach stands in contrast to the House farm bill, H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, which would result in more than 2 million people losing their SNAP benefits or having their benefits reduced.
What is the Academy's position on SNAP work requirements?
Academy's recommendations calling on Congress to ease the time limits on SNAP benefits and recommendation to evaluate the impact of work requirements on food insecurity. The Academy has also called on Congress to ensure that jobless adults are offered meaningful employment and training opportunities, and that these opportunities are not funded through cuts to SNAP benefits.
SNAP currently has stringent work requirements. People ages 18 to 49 who are not disabled or living with children are limited to three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year time period if not employed or in a work or training program for a minimum of 20 hours per week. States are not required to offer people affected by this rule with a work or training program slot. States have been able to set additional work requirements for more than 30 years, and it is up to states to enforce. The House farm bill would make these strict work requirements even stricter.
The House bill would also implement a work test that could result in working families losing their SNAP benefits.
- According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Parents would have to prove each month that they worked or were in job training 20 hours per week. Someone who missed work because she was sick or needed to stay home with a sick child or family member and didn't have sick leave would risk losing SNAP benefits. Workers whose employers cut their hours would also be at risk. About half of SNAP participants had at least one month in which they participated in SNAP but didn’t work at least 80 hours. Even among those who worked 20 hours per week over the year on average, more than one-quarter didn’t meet those requirements every month."
How do I get involved?
Use the Academy's resources to ensure that your elected officials in Washington, D.C. know your views as both voters and nutritional and food professionals. Visit the Action Center to learn more.
More information regarding the Academy's recommendations for the Farm Bill are available for download as PDFs.
- 2018 Farm Bill Recommendations: Full Report
- 2018 Farm Bill Recommendations: Summary
- Academy Recommendations on SNAP Time Limits
- Nutrition Education Programs Are Vital to the Farm Bill
- Nutrition Research