Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) released the following statement on the passage of the Conference Report for H.R. 2419, the 2008 Farm Bill. The House of Representatives today approved the conference report for H.R. 2419, by a vote of 318 - 106. Congressman Baca, who chairs the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry, was instrumental in writing and negotiating a final Farm Bill that included sweeping changes to fundamentally improve federal nutrition programs.
"This is a historic day for America. Currently, over 38 million Americans do not have enough to eat. This Farm Bill takes a significant step towards ending hunger in America. Because of improvements in this bill, we are putting food on the table for over 13 million American families."
"I am extremely proud of my subcommittee's work on the Nutrition title of this bill. Children, working families, seniors, veterans and disabled adults will all see real benefits once this bill is enacted into law."
"We are in an economic recession and the American people are hurting. Gas, food, healthcare, and education costs continue to skyrocket - but food stamps have failed to keep up with these increases. We change that in this bill by raising food stamp benefits and indexing them to keep up with the cost of living. These changes will help an additional 10 million Americans, including 320,000 working poor families, and 780,000 elderly and disabled Americans. And by exempting Special Military Combat pay from food stamp asset limits, Congress is also looking after our families who have a loved one serving overseas."
"This Farm Bill also does more than any bill in the past to remove the stigma associated with the food stamp program, and increase fraud prevention. This legislation eliminates the use of embarrassing coupons, transitions everyone to EBT debit cards, and changes the name of the program to the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program, or SNAP."
"These changes to the food stamp program are especially beneficial to our children and families in California. Over two million Californians use food stamps to supplement their income every month, and 86% of these households who receive benefits are families with children. This bill will help to not only increase the benefit levels they receive, but also expand participation in the food stamp program and reinvest millions of additional dollars into our local economies."
"This Farm Bill also ensures low-income, elementary school children have access to fresh fruits and vegetables in schools, by expanding the USDA Snack program to all 50 states. By increasing access to this critical program, we can make sure that no child is ever left behind in the classroom because of hunger."
"As more and more working and middle class families turn to assistance because of our worsening economy, we must ensure America's nutrition safety net remains strong. This Farm Bill supports America's food banks and soup kitchens at record levels by giving an additional $100 million annually to The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)."
"This bill is also historic in its commitment to diversity in Agriculture. Small, beginning, and socially-disadvantaged farmers play a critical role in American agriculture. This legislation provides traditionally underserved communities with increased access to USDA programs and invests in minority serving agricultural institutions to prepare the next generation of African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asian-Pacific Islanders to succeed in agriculture."
"Passing this Farm Bill has been a long and often winding journey. But after more than two years of hard work to get to this point, we have a Farm Bill that works for all Americans - farmers, ranchers, working families, minorities, urban communities, rural America and all 50 states. I am proud of Congress' work on the vital nutrition assistance and reforms present in this bill, which will help farmers, ranchers, and working families across California and in the Inland Empire."