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Chairwoman Jahana Hayes Opening Statement at Hearing, "A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Stakeholder Perspectives on SNAP"

WASHINGTON House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations Chairwoman Jahana Hayes delivered the following statement at today's hearing titled "A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Stakeholder Perspectives on SNAP"

[As prepared for delivery]

Good morning and welcome to today’s hearing, “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Stakeholder Perspectives on SNAP." This hearing is one in a series of hearings we are hosting to review the 2018 Farm Bill and prepare for the 2023 Farm Bill.

Today we will receive stakeholder input on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the 2018 Farm Bill provisions hat impact the program, how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected SNAP operations and what we can do in the upcoming Farm Bill to build on the decades of success of the SNAP program in combatting hunger and food insecurity in America.

41 million Americans currently participate in SNAP. Each of their stories are unique and every person faces different challenges, so it is important that we understand that as part of our decision-making process.

The positive impacts of SNAP have been particularly felt during the pandemic and are continuing to grow as participants receive more adequate benefits as a result of the 2021 Thrifty Food Plan reevaluation, which I know we will hear more about from our witnesses.

In 2020, SNAP is estimated to have lifted 2.9 million Americans out of poverty. It provided economic stimulus to households in every community across the nation – supporting local grocery stores, farmers, distributors, and jobs.

It is clear that SNAP works, and it works for our entire economy, from farmer to consumer. Today, I am interested in hearing the ways we can improve SNAP and help make the program more equitable and accessible to those in need.

SNAP is also a highly responsive, means-tested program which serves as a stabilizer in times of economic downturn. Participation rates are high right now because of the pandemic. However, we are already seeing participation decrease as Americans begin to recover.

In September 2020, SNAP participation peaked at 43 million. As of February of this year, participation has dropped by nearly 2 million people. That is how SNAP works. It responds in times of need.

Similarly, our farm support programs spend more when commodity prices are low. Our Farm Bill programs are designed that way because it makes sense, and spending on both SNAP and farm programs fluctuates as a result.

Increased SNAP costs are also due to continued COVID-19 relief, which is tied to the end of the Public Health Emergency, inflation, and the Thrifty Food Plan reevaluation, which ensured that SNAP provides recipients with adequate support.

Finally, in Fiscal Year 2021, 1 in 8 Americans – or 13 percent of our country – participated in SNAP. That means 1 in 8 Americans were not sure if they would be able to put food on their tables, but SNAP offered stability and assurance.

Thank you again to the Members and witnesses joining us today as well as those who have tuned in and are listening.

I look forward to hearing more today about how we can improve outcomes for Americans facing food insecurity.

I’d now like to welcome the distinguished Ranking Member, the gentleman from Nebraska, Mr. Bacon, for any opening remarks he would like to give.

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