Senate Ag Committee digs deep into the nutrition title

The nutrition title of the farm bill is getting a thorough review by the Senate Ag Committee. The hearing comes just a day after the Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of nutrition programs to be at least 83% of the total cost of the 2023 Farm Bill.

Republican lawmakers are critical of the unexpected price tag of the Thrifty Food Plan, a nutrition program used to determine SNAP benefits that had a $250 billion increase during the COVID pandemic. In Thursday’s farm bill hearing, Ranking Member John Boozman a U.S. Senator from Arkansas said the Biden administration’s re-evaluation of the program is expensive.

“In the last farm bill, this had a CBO score at zero, Congressional intent at zero and USDA’s help regarding what was going on at zero and yet, you increased the cost at $250 billion without any Congressional interaction whatsoever.”

USDA Deputy Under Secretary of Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Stacy Dean defended the program updates.

“The law makes clear we were meant to design, and for the past 45 years have had a low cost budget. We made decisions in keeping with where we’ve been for the last four decades.”

Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said the spending increase for the Thrifty Food Plan is now built into the farm bill baseline. Watch the hearing.

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