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Talks between the leading members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees broke down late last week. At the heart of the disagreement is continued division over both crop subsidy and food stamp reforms. This means that the Farm Bill Conference Committee will be unable to come to an agreement by Thanksgiving as they had hoped, but the Farm Bill Conference Committee plans on continuing discussions over conference calls during the Thanksgiving recess.

This also means that time is short for there to be an agreement to pass a new five-year Farm Bill. Congress will be in session for two weeks at the start of December before breaking again until the end of the year. If there is no agreement on the Farm Bill by Dec. 13, then there will either have to be an agreement to continue the current 2008 Farm Bill in a continuing resolution to give the committee more time to work out an agreement or the Budget Conference Committee (led by Senate and House Budget Chairs, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan) may pick up the Farm Bill negotiations in order to find savings in our federal budget.

Additional cuts to SNAP in either the Farm Bill or in a budget agreement will mean that hungry Americans who rely on SNAP will suffer. The cuts that took place on Nov. 1 mean that SNAP will be cut by $11 billion over the next three years. In Washington state alone, the Nov. 1 cuts will mean that 47 million meals will be missed over the next year. These are meals that despite our best efforts, the emergency food network will not be able to make up. Cuts to SNAP deepen hunger, and none of us can afford that.

We need a five-year Farm Bill in order to ensure a healthy and safe food system for all, but in order to achieve that goal, we need a Farm Bill that doesn’t cut SNAP any further.

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