The Farm Bill & SNAP

The Farm Bill is important to rural communities, and not just in ways you might imagine

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Why Federal Programs Matter to Rural Counties

In rural areas, people benefit from the U.S. Farm Bill in a couple of broad ways. First, it helps farmers weather the ups and downs of crop production and helps them insure against disasters like we see in North Carolina after Hurricane Florence. It helps support 50,000 jobs in agriculture. Although many of its benefits accrue to large farming conglomerates, families still rely on the Farm Bill to help them maintain their farms.

Second, about 16% of rural households depend on SNAP benefits to bolster their food budgets, compared to 13% of urban households. The Union of Concerned Scientists recently showed that out of the 50 counties with the highest use of SNAP benefits, 48 are rural counties. The UCS also found that each dollar of SNAP increases household food spending by 26 to 60 cents; that means that families are able to free up funds they previously used for food for other things such as transportation or medicine.

A strong foundation of scientific evidence shows us that SNAP is an economic engine supporting jobs and livelihoods during recession and downturn; it is a sense of safety and security during unexpected gaps in employment; it is a source of income for our farmers, food producers and retailers; it is better nourishment and health for kids, and fewer hospitalizations for adults; and it is not having to choose between putting food on the table and keeping the lights on. —UCS

One dollar in SNAP spending also generates about $1.80 in economic activity—grocery stores stay open and hire workers because their communities are spending money on food.

This video from the Food & Environment Reporting Network explains the history and some of the basics of the Farm Bill over the years:

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