Stabenow, Boozman claim credit for omnibus ag, nutrition provisions

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, today issued news releases claiming credit for the inclusion of agriculture-related provisions in the fiscal year 2023 omnibus appropriations bill that was released early today.
Stabenow limited her accomplishments to nutrition programs.Stabenow highlighted what she called “a comprehensive approach to summer meals for children. This is accomplished by establishing a nationwide summer electronic benefit (EBT) program and more flexible meal delivery options. This is an important victory for children and families because it is the first permanent investment Congress has made in child nutrition in over 10 years.”
Stabenow also noted that she “secured assistance to protect families who are victims of SNAP fraud.”
“We know too often children who are able to get healthy meals in school go hungry during the summer. This investment is a critical step to ending childhood hunger. I want to thank Ranking Member John Boozman and House Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott [D-Va.] for their partnership on this important effort. Our work is far from over, and I remain committed to passing a comprehensive child nutrition reauthorization, and also protecting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as we begin work on the 2023 farm bill.”
Here are the details of the provisions Stabenow highlighted:
▪ Permanent funding to help children receive meals during the summer: Provides families $40 per month per eligible child through a permanent EBT program to buy groceries to supplement traditional summer meals programs. The bill also establishes flexibility for alternative meal delivery for rural areas such as grab and go, mobile delivery, backpack programs, or shipping meals. The legislation will make it easier for states to operate P-EBT for summer 2023. This will allow 29 million children to have healthier food.
▪ Protecting families whose nutrition EBT are stolen: States are seeing alarming increases in cases of SNAP EBT being stolen from households through no fault of their own. These households are victims of skimming, where thieves use electronic devices to steal a household’s EBT. This legislation gives USDA and states the authority to reissue nutrition EBT to victims of this fraud and to increase security measures to protect families from losing their SNAP EBT due to fraud technology. This will also help to gather more data on these types and occurrences of SNAP fraud so that the Senate Agriculture Committee can further investigate and respond to this issue in the 2023 farm bill.
Scott pointed out in a news release today that his committee had advanced the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act, which would have reauthorized all the child nutrition programs. Republicans objected to some of the provisions, and it was not enacted.
“The child nutrition language included in the end-of-year funding bill incorporates parts of the House’s reauthorization, Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act,” Scott said. “For example, it includes a provision to permanently authorize the summer EBT program. This proposal falls far short of a comprehensive reauthorization that America’s children and families deserve, although I am grateful we will be able to make some progress toward our ultimate goal of eliminating child hunger.”
Boozman also listed the nutrition provisions among his accomplishments but provided a much longer list of agriculture — and Commodity Futures Trading Commission — related provisions.
“I am pleased that we came together to close the loop on several outstanding ag and nutrition concerns. We were able to secure relief for rice producers who have had a difficult year in the wake of soaring input costs which, as documented by two separate studies out of Texas A&M University, had a disproportionate impact on rice producers. Additionally, I am particularly pleased to see the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which passed overwhelmingly in the Senate, was included, as well as a long overdue modernization of our summer meals program based on ideas I have championed for years,” Boozman said.
Boozman said he and Stabenow had worked with their counterparts in the House of Representatives to ensure the year-end deal included:
▪ Assistance to rice producers: Provides $250 million for the Agriculture Department to make a one-time payment to U.S. rice producers who planted rice in 2022. A recent study conducted by Texas A&M University that looked specifically at the increase in fertilizer prices across an array of commodities, found rice farms would be hit hardest by rising costs. A second study conducted by the university focused solely on the impact of rising input costs found that two-thirds of the rice farms they monitor will fail to break even in 2022.
▪ Summer meals program modernization: Updates the summer food service program to permanently allow states to provide non-congregate meals and summer EBT options nationwide to eligible children in addition to meals provided at congregate feeding sites. Non-congregate meals, such as grab-and-go or home delivery, would be provided in rural areas to eligible children, and summer EBT benefits would be capped at $40 per child per month. This provision is fully offset and based largely on the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act, which Boozman authored and introduced earlier this Congress.
▪ Growing Climate Solutions Act: Incorporates updated language from the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which directs USDA to establish a program to register entities that provide technical assistance and verification for farmers, ranchers and foresters who participate in voluntary carbon markets with the goal of providing information and confidence to producers.
▪ Pandemic assistance to cotton merchandisers: Provides $100 million for USDA to make payments to merchandisers of cotton that endured significant financial losses caused by pandemic-related supply chain challenges. Cotton merchandisers serve as the link between producers and textile mills. Those that purchased cotton from U.S. producers, or marketed cotton on their behalf, and experienced economic losses during the pandemic would qualify for this relief.
▪ Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA 5) reauthorization: Reauthorizes pesticide registration and review process user-fee programs administered by the Environmental Protection Agency and increases registration and maintenance fees to support a more predictable regulatory process, create additional process improvements, and provide resources for safety, training, bilingual labeling, and other services to advance the safe and effective use of pesticides.
▪ Pesticide registration review deadline extension: Extends deadline for EPA to complete registration review decisions for all pesticide products registered as of Oct. 1, 2007. EPA is facing a significant backlog of pesticide registrations due to a variety of factors over the past several years, which raises potential implications for continued access to numerous crop protection tools. The agency will be allowed to continue its registration review work through Oct. 1, 2026, as a result of this extension.
▪ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program EBT skimming regulations and reimbursement: Requires USDA to coordinate with relevant agencies and stakeholders to investigate reports of stolen SNAP benefits through card skimming, cloning and other similar fraudulent methods. This provision aims to identify the extent of the problem, develop methods to prevent fraud and improve security measures, and provide replacement of benefits stolen through these fraudulent actions.
▪ Livestock Mandatory Reporting extension: Extends livestock mandatory reporting requirements until Sept. 30, 2023. LMR requires meatpackers and importers to report the prices they pay for cattle, hogs, and sheep purchased for slaughter and prices received for meats derived from such species to USDA who then publishes daily, weekly, and monthly public reports detailing these transactions.
▪ Commodity Futures Trading Commission Whistleblower Program extension: Enables CFTC to continue payment of salaries, customer education initiatives and non-awards expenses related to the whistleblower program to ensure it can continue to function even when awards obligated to whistleblowers exceed the program fund’s balance at the time of distribution.
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