American Heart Association reacts to farm bill proposed by House Republicans

April 12, 2018 Categories: Advocacy News

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 12, 2018 — American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement on the House Agriculture Committee’s farm bill:

“We are closely monitoring the farm bill negotiations which were kicked off today with the House Agriculture Committee’s proposed legislation. What Americans put on their plates daily is vital to their well-being, and a critical component of the association’s mission to keep our nation heart healthy.

The changes proposed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are deeply concerning because they potentially cut millions of Americans out of these benefits, putting their health in jeopardy. SNAP plays a vital and positive role in addressing food insecurity and nutrition which has an impact on the health, educational attainment and economic self-sufficiency of its participants. Even though SNAP needs to focus more on improving diet quality, we must keep the program strong while dealing with this issue and this legislation as written does not accomplish that goal.

In addition, the association cannot support the $4 million decrease in total funding for SNAP nutrition education initiatives. The initiatives offer lessons on topics such as food budgeting and guidance on how to select healthier foods, which help to mitigate the effects of food insecurity and poor nutrition for SNAP participants.

Another point of contention is this bill’s approach to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Purchase Program. While we are glad that funding to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for schools is extended to 2023, the association is opposed to changes to the program that would allow all forms of these foods to be purchased. The program is currently fresh-only for a good reason. It provides the most disadvantaged children in our country with much-needed education and exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables that they may not get elsewhere. The association will continue to oppose any effort to undermine the integrity of the program.

The legislation does contain some policies we have advocated for and were pleased to see in the bill. They include consistent data collection on the purchasing behavior of SNAP participants and improving Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) technologies. We also applaud the significant budget increases for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program so that it achieves baseline funding by 2023, along with other changes to the program that would expand training, evaluation and information, and encourage access.

The bill would also require a regular evaluation of Thrifty Food Plan. While we want SNAP to be aligned with the low-cost food plan, this is a move in the right direction to connect benefits with current nutrition patterns and economic realities.

Despite these important provisions that help SNAP participants achieve a healthy diet, we cannot support provisions that would hurt many low-income Americans and exclude them from a program proven to work.

As Congress takes it first step in what is likely to be a long negotiating process, we hope our lawmakers make protecting vulnerable populations, diet quality and health top priorities in fashioning the final farm bill.”

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the American Stroke Association

The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke — the No. 2 cause of death in the world and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat stroke. The Dallas-based association officially launched in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit StrokeAssociation.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the Association's science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at http://www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

For Media Inquiries:

Retha Sherrod: retha.sherrod@heart.org, 202-785-7929

For Public Inquiries: (800) AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and strokeassociation.org