Congress sends Farm Bill to President Obama for signature

Congress gave final approval to H.R.2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, on Tuesday, after nearly four years of debate.

The $956.4 billion package includes a significant cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Food stamps will be reduced by $8 billion over the next decade, a move that will impact hundreds of thousands of American Indian and Alaska Native families.

The cuts are likely to put more pressure on the Food Distribution Programs on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). Indian families will look for assistance from tribes as SNAP funds dry up.

“We’re going to see a ripple,” Janie Simms Hipp, the director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law and a former Department of Agriculture official, told Indian Country Today. “If you take the lesson of the shutdown as an example of what could happen upon full implantation of cuts to SNAP, we (tribes and tribal citizens) really need to be prepared.”

The Farm Bill isn't all bad news for Indian Country though. It authorizes a study to determine whether tribes can manage food assistance programs for their citizens instead of leaving it to state governments.

The bill also creates the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations Traditional Foods Demonstration Project. The goal is to include more Indian farmers, ranchers and producers in the FDPIR.

Another provision ensures traditional foods can be served in schools, hospitals and care facilities.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday.

Get the Story:
Senate sends farm bill to Obama (AP 2/4)
How Will Farm Bill & Food Stamp Cuts Impact Indian Country? (Indian Country Today 2/5)
Farm bill passes after three years of talks (The Washington Post 2/5)
Why the food stamp cuts in the farm bill affect only a third of states (The Washington Post 2/5)
Senate Passes Long-Stalled Farm Bill, With Clear Winners and Losers (The New York Times 2/5)

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