The Atlantic

A Republican Plan Could Worsen Rural America's Food Crisis

The draft Farm Bill in consideration in the House stands to exacerbate poverty, nutrition insecurity, and community collapse in the poorest areas of the country.
Source: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The quinquennial reapproval of the Farm Bill is back before Congress, only this time with a bit more drama than the past. The draft under consideration in the House will implement sweeping changes—including strengthened work requirements in the SNAP program—in nutrition-program eligibility.

The defenses of the proposed changes and the attacks against them both center on a set of racialized urban stereotypes, with conservatives invoking the ghosts of “welfare queens,” and liberals charging the new rule will merely produce more hungry, deserving people. But few of those arguments consider the plight of the rural areas where the Farm Bill most dominates public life. Residents of those areas are already facing rising nutrition pressures. With new restrictions on SNAP, they could see true hunger return.

Many of the arguments in favor of work requirements in the Farm Bill currently cycling through Congress operate from. In his framing, the matter of work requirements in SNAP is one of individual dependency and industriousness, and not one of survival.

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