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SNAP cuts coming in November, more possible with Farm Bill

By Emily Adamson, KECI Reporter, eadamson@keci.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:34:07 AM MST
Updated On: Oct 22 2013 07:04:57 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a huge part of what's dividing the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill.

The Senate bill would cut about $4 billion over 10 years, by closing loopholes in the process for determining how much assistance an individual qualifies for.

The House wants to cut more than $39 billion, and a big chunk of that would impact SNAP.

Regardless of what the joint Conference Committee decides to do with the Farm Bill, people who receive SNAP benefits will see a cut November 1.

Lorianne Burhop is the Public Policy Manager for the Montana Food Bank Network. She just got back from Washington, D.C., where she spent time talking with Montana leaders.

“I talked to them about the importance of the Farm Bill to get updates from them on what's happening, and just share some numbers on what we're seeing in Montana in terms of need.”

SNAP benefits fall under the nutrition title -- one of 15 titles in that make up the Farm Bill. The nutrition title is the largest of the Farm Bill -- and arguably, for some, the most important.

“You see individuals, you see families, working families, seniors, individuals with disabilities,” said Burhop.

In Montana more than 125,000 people are enrolled in the program, or more than 10 percent of the state's population. At about $127 per person a month SNAP benefits total more than $16 million monthly just for Montana.

“To cut the program so dramatically it would simply increase hunger in Montana,” Burhop said.

A joint Conference Committee made up members of the House and Senate will work to combine the two Farm Bills and come to a compromise. Sen. Max Baucus (D) is part of it.

But no matter what that committee decides, people who receive SNAP benefits will see a cut next month when part of the stimulus package expires. Households will see $30 to $36 less a month or roughly three meals a week.

That's why people at the Montana Food Bank Network are keeping a close eye on what happens in Washington.

“They'll be working to hopefully find some compromise between the two versions which is definitely going to be a challenge,” said Burhop.