WASHINGTON, December 8, 2016—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released the following statement on the House Committee on Agriculture’s new report on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which contains the Committee’s findings from a series of hearings on the program:
“After holding 16 hearings on SNAP over the past two years, the House Agriculture Committee reached a simple conclusion: SNAP provides a critical nutrition safety net for millions of low-income Americans, and we need to do all we can to protect and strengthen the program so it can continue effectively serving American families in need.
“Four out of five SNAP participants are children, seniors, people with disabilities, or working adults. SNAP reduces food insecurity, increases access to healthy food, and generates economic activity and creates jobs all along the supply chain—from the store where food is purchased, all the way back to the farmer who produces it. The program has also been shown to have a positive impact on children’s health, academic performance, and long-run economic self-sufficiency. SNAP rewards work with benefits that decrease gradually as earnings increase, and SNAP Employment & Training helps participants build the skills they need to get good-paying jobs and move off the program the right way.
“SNAP is designed to respond swiftly to changing economic conditions—on a national scale, as we saw during the Great Recession when SNAP lifted millions of people out of poverty, or locally, when a plant closes, disaster strikes, or another event causes sudden unemployment or hardship in a particular community. As the report highlights, states already have significant flexibility to tailor the program to their unique needs, while maintaining the responsiveness, effectiveness, and oversight of the Federal program.
“Proposals to convert SNAP into a block grant are misguided and would mean the program could no longer respond to economic conditions and serve all eligible Americans without drastically reducing benefits. As Congress begins working on the 2018 Farm Bill, they must protect SNAP and resist pressure to weaken the program by turning it into an ineffective block grant.”