Advocates for Mississippi families and policy experts are expecting a finalized Farm Bill from Congress this week. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports, some are concerned about what's in the legislation.
The U.S. Farm Bill includes some $84 billion in funding for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program commonly referred to as SNAP or food stamps. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2016, a monthly average of over 580,000 Mississippians received assistance. Cassandra Overton-Welchlin is with the Mississippi Women's Economic Security Initiative. She's concerned about potential cuts to the program.
"Sixty-two percent of young children live in families that fall below the federal threshold virtually led by single moms and 76 percent of these parents work, but they don't have enough resources," said Overton-Welchlin.
Overton-Welchlin says the average benefit in 2016 was $247, depending on income and household size. So, far there have been no cuts to SNAP. Reported attempts to add a work requirement for those ages 49 to 59 and parents with children 6 to 12, failed. The Farm Bill also provides billions in loans and subsidies to farmers. Jameson Taylor with Mississippi Center for Public Policy says the deal isn't what's best for the state's small farmers.
"Mississippi Farmers can benefit most from the opportunity to innovate. That kind of innovation is going to come from state reforms that deregulate our farming industry. Farmers wouldn't be as dependent upon the federal government if they had an opportunity to more easily bring their crops and bring their products to market," said Taylor.
The Farm Bureau Federation of Mississippi says they're following the bill but it's too soon to say what it will mean for farmers in the state.