[EDITOR’S NOTE: Ahead of yesterday’s successful U.S. House vote on the Farm Bill which passed 213-211, Republican Main Street and House Committee on Agriculture members Reps. Don Bacon, Rodney Davis, Jeff Denham, John Faso and Roger Marshall penned an OpEd highlighting their support for the key workforce reforms included in the bill. ]
If you’ve eaten today, you should thank a farmer. If you regularly shop at your local grocery store or farmer’s market, then you should care about the stability and success of our nation’s farms and ranches.
Across our country, more than 3 million producers operate farms that generate food for families around the world. As members of the House Agriculture Committee, we represent areas from California to New York, each of which rely heavily on our local farms that promote jobs and support countless workers and their families.
Together, we supported this year’s farm bill, which strengthens programs important to the farmers and ranchers who are the backbone of our economy and countless communities.
But for the first time ever, this bill is also focused on ending the cycle of poverty that so many American families face every day. Some in our conference have prevented passage of this bill due to unrelated policy issues, but hopefully, they will get another chance this week to do the right thing and vote for this bill that is critical to farmers and getting people back to work.
What many Americans don’t know is that a majority of
the farm bill includes the funding and support of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps feed families in need. While the program has helped feed millions of hungry families, there is still more to be done to help lift these Americans out of poverty. This bill makes reforms to focus on welfare-to-work by helping pair the millions of work-capable adults on SNAP with a job or a workforce training program.
Our economy is growing and creating new jobs each day. There are currently 6.6 million job openings in the U.S., but we have 9 million more people on SNAP today than we did at the height of the recession when unemployment was more than double today’s rates. Today 60 percent of work-capable adults receiving SNAP are without work.
The 2008 recession led to many Americans losing their jobs, facing reduced wages, or dropping out of the workforce entirely. We want to bring these Americans back into the workforce. By investing historic amounts into workforce training programs, we can help these families get back to work.
In 1996, President Bill Clinton and a Republican-led Congress passed welfare reform by championing welfare-to-work, through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This year’s farm bill puts in place work requirements that are similar to this bipartisan effort, simply putting 20 hours per week of work, or work training, requirements for work-capable adults receiving SNAP benefits. There are notable exceptions for children, seniors, the disabled, the
caretakers of a child under 6, pregnant women, and 18 year olds still enrolled in high school. We want to make this program work for all recipients.
For too long, many of these families have been at or below the poverty line, trapped in a cycle that keeps wages low or without a job at all. As our economy continues to grow, it’s critical that we work to pair work-capable adults with employment opportunities and help them receive the training needed to succeed in today’s job market. Statistics show that individuals who
hold full-time jobs are 10 times less likely to fall into poverty.
As members of the Republican Main Street Caucus and supporters of the 3 million farmers that help our economy thrive, we are calling on our colleagues to pass these reforms that will help get millions of families back to work. This is our opportunity to not only assist our nation’s most vulnerable men, women, and children, but help them climb out of poverty as well. This farm bill helps accomplish both.
Reps. Don Bacon, R-N.E., Rodney Davis, R-Ill., Jeff Denham, R-Calif., John Faso, R-N.Y., and Roger Marshall, R-Kan. are members of the Republican Main Street Caucus and serve on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture.