The fiscal cliff left policy junkies across the country on the edge of their chairs though the New Year.
Yet while we wonks all speculated about the destiny of the Bush Tax Cuts and the ominous sequestration, parents feared the milk cliff and the prospect that their growing teenage sons might drive them to financial ruin with $7 per gallon milk.
Provisions of the Farm Bill, if left untouched by Congress, would have expired and caused the nation’s dairy policy to revert to 1949 rules, resulting in the drastic price increase. Fortunately for dairy lovers, the act passed by Congress on Jan. 1 included a partial extension of the 2008 Farm Bill.
More importantly for the millions of American households who struggle with hunger, this 9-month extension of the farm bill included NO cuts to SNAP benefits (formerly known as Food Stamps), although it did include a $110 million cut to SNAP-ED, which funds healthy eating programs. This legislation allows hunger advocates to take a deep sigh of relief that the largest nutrition program in the nation has been protected from the worst cuts for the time being. As the end of this extension draws near we must be prepared to see cuts proposed to the program similar to those we saw in 2012. These included a proposed $4.5 billion cut from the Senate while the House pushed for $16 billion in cuts.
Here in Texas we’ve seen a steady decrease in the amount of families receiving SNAP. This is encouraging news and signals that families are beginning to secure employment once again. As Texans, we should be proud that programs such as Unemployment Insurance and SNAP were there to get families through the financial storm. Ensuring SNAP remains available will ensure the continued growth and strength of Texas.