Jun 10 2013
Legislation Will Invest in Nutrition Programs, Support Rural Communities
WASHINGTON D.C.— Senator Jay Rockefeller today supported passage of the 2013 Farm Bill, legislation that will protect vital nutrition programs and invest in businesses and infrastructure in rural communities.
“Nutrition assistance programs are a lifeline for West Virginia’s children and families,” said Rockefeller. “The farm bill includes important safety net programs so those most in need don’t go hungry. And it goes a long way toward helping to alleviate stressful situations many families face when it comes to finding their next meal. This is the least we can do to help the most vulnerable. It’s time to get this legislation signed into law.”
The Senate’s Farm Bill strengthens the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by cutting down on fraud and abuse to ensure that those who need the assistance most receive it. The bill also requires participating retailers to stock more nutritious offerings like fruits and vegetables, and encourages projects that boost physical activity among SNAP beneficiaries. And it increases assistance for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which supplements the diets of low-income individuals, and provides emergency food and nutrition assistance.
Furthermore, the Farm Bill supports fresh health and local foods through a variety of programs. The bill reauthorizes the Fresh Program, which distributes fresh fruits and vegetables to schools and service institutions; the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which gives low-income seniors coupons to exchange for fruits and vegetables at local farmers’ markets; and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, which encourages direct producer to consumer sales. It also promotes health for school children by maintaining the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program which gives school districts with a high proportion of low-income students free fruits and vegetables for elementary school students to eat throughout the school day.
The five-year Senate Farm Bill also invests in the development of rural communities by:
• Expanding broadband service to rural communities. The bill gives the USDA the ability to provide grants and loans for the construction, improvement, and acquisition of broadband facilities and equipment. The funding targets communities that are isolated from significant population centers. The bill also provides grants and loans for distance learning initiatives.
• Continuing grant and loan programs that support rural business and entrepreneurship. The bill maintains grant and loan programs that provide business development and technical assistance, and help rural businesses hire and train employees.
• Improving water and waste disposal infrastructure. The bill provides support for water treatment, distribution, and disposal in rural communities through grants and loans to public agencies.