Butterfield opposes bill to change to SNAP requirements
The U.S. House passed updates to the Farm Bill last week in a 213-211 vote that includes proposals to change the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.)
In a Tweet on Thursday, Democrat Congressman G.K Butterfield, whose 1st Congressional District includes Vance and Warren counties, said he’d vote against the bill.
In his first Tweet, Butterfield said the bill cuts $23 billion from SNAP.
“SNAP is our most effective anti-hunger program, helping 1 in 8 Americans — mostly children, seniors, or people (with) disabilities — put food on the table,” Butterfield tweeted.
In a follow-up Tweet, following the vote, he characterized the act as “shameful.”
“This fight isn’t over,” he said. “Now we must work even harder to make sure this bad bill doesn’t become law.”
Titled the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, or House Resolution 2, it would toughen work requirements for food stamp recipients.
It proposes requiring able-bodied adults ages 18 to 59 to work or participate in job training for 20 hours a week to receive food stamp benefits that average about $450 a month for a family of four. Government auditors estimate that in 10 years, the SNAP caseload would shrink by about 1.2 million people in an average month if the bill becomes law.
According to a January 2018 profile of SNAP households released through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, SNAP provided about $2.25 billion in food benefits to a monthly average of more than 1.56 million North Carolinians in the fiscal year 2016.
The profile assessed that every dollar in new SNAP benefits results in $1.80 in total economic activity.
The report provided data from the American Consumer Survey, which provided data about each congressional district in 2016.
According to the survey, Butterfield’s district had 57,858 households receiving SNAP assistance.
Of those households, 50.6 percent were with children younger than the age of 18, and 43 percent were with disabled individuals.
Vance County’s Department of Social Services had 5,979 cases related to SNAP at the end of May this year, and 12,743 participants.
Democrats have argued the changes for SNAP would cause food insecurity for millions of Americans.
The USDA defines food insecurity as “the household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.”
According to data from the Food Bank of Central East North Carolina, of Vance County’s 44,829 population between 2016-2017, 10,520 residents were food insecure.
Of the 10,520, 2,800 were children under the age of 18, and 997 were residents older than 65 living in poverty.
At the time, Vance County’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent in June 2017.
The latest numbers released in May from the North Carolina Department of Commerce, assessing April’s data shows 1,000 Vance County residents were unemployed at that time at a 5.6 percent rate.
Of Warren County’s 20,468 population, 4,770 were food insecure, with 1,010 children under the age of 18 and 649 residents older than 65.
At the time, Warren County’s unemployment rate was 6.4 percent.
The N.C. Department of Commerce’s report assessing April’s data shows 398 Warren County residents were unemployed at that time, at a 5.9 percent rate.
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the changes in the bill will “close the skills gap, better equip our workforce, and encourage people to move from welfare to work, so more Americans have the opportunity to tap into the economic prosperity we’re seeing right now.”
The measure also renews the safety net for farmers.
A news release through the House Committee on Agriculture said the legislation “addresses economic challenges facing the nation’s farmers and ranchers, while making significant investment opportunities” for SNAP.
“It was about providing certainty to farmers and ranchers who have been struggling under the weight of a five-year recession and about providing our neighbors in need with more than just a hand out, but a hand up,” said Michael Conway, R-Texas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
The House bill differs from the Senate’s proposed companion bill, which proposes adjustments to existing agriculture programs but does not contain the same proposed cuts related to SNAP.
The current farm bill expires Sept. 30.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.