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Letter to Leadership of House and Senate Agriculture Committees, Re: Address Hunger Issues Affecting Hard Working Americans

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Letter to Leadership of House and Senate Agriculture Committees, Re: Address Hunger Issues Affecting Hard Working Americans

Senator Clinton Continues to Push Congress to Address Hunger Issues Affecting Hard Working Americans

Clinton Urges Conference Committee to Make Strong Investment in Nutrition Measures to Combat Growing Problem of Food Insecurity

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton joined several of her colleagues in urging the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to make a strong investment in the Nutrition Title for the 2007 Reauthorization of the Farm Bill. In a letter, the bipartisan coalition of senators stressed the need to develop a bill that retains the strength of the Senate's nutrition title provisions, and the structure of the House title which provides a strong level of funding for key nutrition programs.

"It is unconscionable to think that as the wealthiest country in the world, there are still millions of Americans who struggle every day to put food on their tables," said Senator Clinton. "Ensuring that hardworking families have access to programs and services that provide healthy, nutritious food should be a priority for our government, and it is one that I share with my colleagues in Congress. With the upcoming Farm Bill, we can work together to begin to close the gap and address the hunger problem in this country."

The lawmakers impressed upon a need to retain the House approach, which makes permanent improvements to Food Stamps and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). If the House approach is not carried through, there is a risk of losing the major benefits included in the nutrition title after 2012. More than 10 million recipients would experience benefit cuts, while 300,000 low-income people would be cut off from food stamps in 2013. USDA/Census Bureau survey data shows that there are more than 35 million people in the United States who live in households facing hunger. The support of a strong nutrition title in the upcoming Farm Bill will help move the nation closer to a hunger-free America.

Senator Clinton has worked to promote initiatives that increase the availability and affordability of healthy and fresh foods to working families, and has been a supporter of strengthening the Food Stamp program. A strong Nutrition title in the new Farm Bill would provide funding for legislation that was proposed earlier this year by Senator Clinton, which would help deliver fresh food from farms to underserved communities. The Food Outreach and Opportunity Development (FOOD) for a Healthy America Act would increase the supply and availability of locally produced foods by providing innovative financing for small and midsized family farmers and ranchers.

The full text of the letter follows -

The Honorable Tom Harkin
Chairman,
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
United States Senate

The Honorable Saxby Chambliss
Ranking Member,
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
United States Senate

The Honorable Collin Peterson
Chairman,
Committee on Agriculture
United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
Ranking Member,
Committee on Agriculture
United States House of Representatives

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:

As the Conference Committee continues negotiations on the 2007 farm bill, we write to emphasize the critical need to increase investments in federal nutrition programs and to produce the strongest possible nutrition title. This is a concern we know you share. Through a strong nutrition title, Congress has the opportunity to strengthen the economic security of low-income Americans by assisting them with putting food on their tables while also working to improve their health by providing nutritious food options and programs aimed at the adoption of healthy eating habits. This is an important factor for us in analyzing a final Farm Bill agreement.

We urge you to develop a final bill that both retains the strength of the Senate's nutrition title provisions and the structure of the House title which makes permanent improvements to Food Stamps and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Such an approach provides for a strong level of funding for these key nutrition programs, while also including the critical improvements to nutrition programs provided for in the Senate version of this title.

Unless the final farm bill adopts the House approach, all the major benefit improvements included in the nutrition title would end after 2012, and policies would return to current law. Unless Congress later took action to extend the policies, more than 10 million recipients would experience benefit cuts and over 300,000 low-income people would be cut off food stamps in 2013. The difficult fiscal outlook in the future certainly means there's no assurance that resources will be available to extend these provisions in 2013.

Nutrition remains an important priority for this Congress, and there is no better opportunity to strengthen nutrition policy and programs than the 2007 Farm Bill.

Thank you in advance for you consideration of our request. We thank you for your continued leadership to craft a farm bill that protects and assists the most vulnerable of our society: children, seniors, and families who are food insecure. We appreciate your leadership and look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,


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