Legislative Report…Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

It looks like we are under attack again – by Congress! This time it’s the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps. Whatever we call it, it is the difference between starvation and a full belly. Nothing is worse than deciding which bill to put off in order to eat, or worse, what foods to put back on the grocery shelf, in order to pay the bills! The upcoming Farm Bill needs to address the current economic reality of the American farmer and those who benefit from SNAP, as well as others who need this bill to help, rather than keep the status quo of 2014, when prices were higher and things were looking good for the farmers.

With the 2018 version of the farm bill having been voted out of committee for consideration by the full House, Catholic groups and other rural advocates are voicing their misgivings about many of its provisions.

Conservation programs that reward farmers and ranchers were zeroed out of the bill passed April 18 by the House Agriculture Committee. “Safety net” programs were boosted only marginally to aid farmers who have been getting dwindling prices for their crops and who could be the first victims of a trade war as tariffs are imposed on their produce.

Another part of the bill rewrites the eligibility requirements for SNAP, which could kick out 2 million Americans from the program, according to six Catholic leaders. “Eighty percent of the farm bill is around the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s significant when we hear it’s going to include some dramatic cuts,” said James Ennis, executive director of Catholic Rural Life.

This is our time to shine! We need to write our members of Congress to keep SNAP off the chopping block! (Might want to let them know to make sure the farmers and ranchers get help, too!) Go to https://action.aarp.org and find the letter to send to your Congressman/woman regarding SNAP! Let them know how important it is to you!

On a lighter side, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer is the latest senior Democrat to call for decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level. Schumer also said that he would support legalization in his home state of New York, in a well-timed interview with VICE News which aired Thursday night.

“My personal view is legalization is just fine,” Schumer said. “The best thing to do is let each state decide on its own. I’m doing it because I think it’s the right thing to do. I’ve seen too many people’s lives ruined by the criminalization,” Schumer said in the interview. “If we benefit, so be it. But that’s not my motivation.”

The concern about the Justice Department asserting its authority to enforce federal law regarding cannabis is particularly real in states like Colorado and California, which have a regulated state industry.

Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner announced last week that he had reached an understanding with President Donald Trump that DOJ would not be getting in the way of the marijuana business in his home state, despite the withdrawal of guidance along those lines from then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole during the Obama administration.

Perhaps no federal official has been more skeptical of legalizing marijuana over the years than current Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Hmmmm, maybe we should get a free pass from President Trump as well……