Domestic Food Assistance: The 2007 Farm Billand Other Legislation in the 110
The nutrition title of the omnibus 2007 “farm bill” is the focus of legislativeproposals affecting domestic food assistance programs in the first session of the 110
Congress. The program areas that are addressed include the regular Food Stampprogram, programs operating in lieu of food stamps (e.g., Puerto Rico, Indianreservations), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the CommoditySupplemental Food Program, Community Food Projects, the Seniors Farmers’Market Nutrition Program, fresh fruit and vegetable initiatives, and nutrition andhealth promotion projects. Other nutrition assistance — for example, regular childnutrition programs and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women,Infants, and Children (the WIC program) — is not a significant part of the activelegislative debate, although a number of bills noted in this report address theseprograms, and some legislative changes are part of the FY2008 appropriations bills.The most significant issues that have been raised legislatively are thosesurrounding the Food Stamp program (eligibility, benefits, administrative provisions)and fruit and vegetable support policies. But any action taken will depend heavilyon budgetary considerations: finding offsetting savings or revenues to pay for anynew initiatives or program expansions.On July 27, 2007, the House adopted its version of the 2007 farm bill (H.R.2419). On October 25, 2007, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, andForestry approved its version (S. 2302; S.Rept. 110-220). The nutrition title (TitleIV) of the House bill has a new budget authority cost of $4.2 billion over the nextfive years (FY2008-FY2012); the Senate’s nutrition title is projected to generate $5.4billion in new budget authority. The major share of this spending in both bills is dueto changes in food stamp rules ($3.3 billion in the House, $3.6 billion in the Senate).Perhaps the biggest divergence between the two bills is the amount allocated to anexpanded program for free fresh fruits and vegetables in schools; the Senate providesmore than triple the amount made available by the House.Despite cost differences, the House and Senate bills are very similar in the typesof policy changes they propose. For the Food Stamp program, their nutrition titleswould rename the program, increase benefits, loosen some eligibility rules, andincrease the minimum benefit. They increase spending for TEFAP, add support forthe fresh fruit and vegetable program, and allow exercise of geographic preferencewhen procuring food for child nutrition programs. However, they differ in somepolicy aspects. The House proposes to impose substantial limits on states’ ability to“privatize” their administration of food stamps; the Senate opts for greater scrutinyof these initiatives. And the Senate committee’s bill includes a number of initiatives(some with significant new funding) not covered in the House relating to food stampeligibility for able-bodied adults without dependents, eased access to the Food Stampprogram, support for farmers’ markets, projects to promote health and nutritionthrough the Food Stamp program, and dietary supplements.This report will be updated as warranted by legislative action.