House Agriculture Committee Chair Rep. Conaway released the text of the draft farm bill yesterday. This bill includes devastating cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. SNAP, which provides basic nutrition assistance to millions of women and families across the country, is critical to women’s economic security, health, and well-being – and the cuts proposed in the farm bill would harm the women and families who struggle most to make ends meet.
The House farm bill contains a number of deeply problematic proposals that would push people off SNAP. Currently, adults aged 18 to 49 who are not caregivers and who do not have a documented medical condition are required to work or participate in a work training program for 20 hours per week in order to receive SNAP. The House farm bill would require people between the ages of 18 and 59 without a severe disability or who are not caring for children under age 6 or dependents with a disability, to meet the 20-hour per week threshold. In addition, under the proposal, the number of required hours per week would increase, to 25, for Fiscal Year 2026. As a result, millions more SNAP recipients would be subject to work requirements, including older Americans between the age of 50 and 59 and adults caring for older children. This proposal would hit older women and mothers especially hard: older women are more likely to have incomes below the poverty line than men, and face high rates of long-term unemployment; and SNAP recipients indicated in a survey that caregiving is one of the factors that make it hard to find and keep a job.
The proposal to expand work requirements fundamentally misunderstands what SNAP recipients need to become economically self-sufficient. In fact, the majority of adult SNAP recipients who can work, do work. But low-paying and low-quality jobs are often the only ones available to low-income individuals, and the nature of these jobs can make it highly challenging for people who are working but need benefits like SNAP to meet basic needs to consistently meet SNAP’s weekly work requirements. This is especially true for women, who are overrepresented in low-wage jobs relative to their representation in the overall workforce. And many unemployed or underemployed adults face considerable barriers to employment, including low educational attainment. Yet the proposal fails to provide sufficient funding for millions moreto participate in job training programs – much less access the kind of quality job that ensures economic security and a better future. The end result: these changes are expected to cause over a million people to lose SNAP benefits without helping more people get good quality jobs.
Increasing work requirements alone would do plenty to devastate struggling families across the country, but Chairman Conaway’s bill would also cause children to lose their direct connection to free school breakfasts and lunches and slash the amount of benefits for families struggling to pay for both food and utilities.
Let’s be clear: the House farm bill is a savage attack on women who cannot afford to put food on the table for their families. SNAP benefits, on average, are worth about $1.40, per person, per meal. Seeking to take this basic food assistance away from women and their families – while the top 1% will receive an average tax cut of $33,000 from the new Trump tax law – is utterly shameless.