WASHINGTON — An $867 billion farm bill that includes food aid programs for roughly 440,000 Nevadans and promotes rural agriculture programs beneficial to the state’s farmers and livestock producers was passed by the House on Wednesday after Senate approval earlier this week.
President Donald Trump called the bill, approved by a 369-47 vote, “a big win for the farmers,” and he is expected to sign it into law. Nevada’s congressional delegation — Democrats Dina Titus, Jacky Rosen and Ruben Kihuen and Republican Rep. Mark Amodei — voted for the bill.
Titus called passage of the five-year authorizing legislation a “victory for families, animals and the environment.”
Senators voted 87-13 on Tuesday to pass a compromise version of the legislation that stripped out a House GOP measure requiring states to impose work requirements on food stamp recipients ages 18 to 59. The work requirement for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was taken out of the final conference committee version of the bill to advance the legislation through the Senate.
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., voted to approve the conference bill. She said it preserves “food assistance programs and includes provisions that prioritize the needs of tribal communities.”
Titus said the conference committee that crafted the final bill rejected “House Republicans’ cruel cuts to SNAP and instead makes investments in farmers markets and food banks to boost nutrition among families and seniors.”
About 15 percent of Nevadans received food aid under SNAP in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That is higher than the roughly 12 percent national average.
Of that total, about 1,300 Nevadans received SNAP benefits through the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
The average monthly SNAP benefit for each household member in Nevada in 2017 was $118, according to the USDA.
Rosen said protecting the programs was imperative for families and senior citizens “who rely on these benefits to make ends meet.”
A congressional nonpartisan budget estimate projected 1.2 million people nationwide, or 4 percent of SNAP recipients, would have lost benefits under the original bill.
The legislation approved Wednesday tightens accountability of the food stamps with a program designed to prevent people from getting benefits from multiple states.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., praised measures in the bill to provide accountability to nutrition programs and provide training and educational assistance to put people back to work.
“This legislation is about empowering the individual,” Ryan said.
Ryan also said the legislation expands farm subsidies and provides stability for those producers growing crops and livestock that have been subjected to tariffs because of a trade dispute between the United States and China.