Title IV: Nutrition
The Nutrition title addresses domestic food and nutrition and commodity distribution programs. The 2018 Farm Bill increased the estimated budget for Title IV by $1.1 billion dollars, but this increase is expected to be cost-neutral in the long-run due to a decrease in estimated spending by other programs.
The largest program in the title, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is also the largest program in the entire Farm Bill. SNAP offers important nutritional support for low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities on fixed incomes. It provides monthly benefits to purchase food at authorized retailers, from grocery stores to farmers’ markets. Changes to SNAP mostly concerned eligibility and benefit calculation rules and policies to reduce error and fraud: state exemptions were reduced to 12%, emphasizes supervised job search, and establishes a National Accuracy Clearinghouse. These policies require state action to ensure only the people qualified for SNAP are receiving its benefits, and they increase the USDA’s oversight of state systems for quality control purposes. While it is important to ensure that SNAP’s resources are going to those who truly need it, efforts to more closely regulate SNAP could also result in needy people losing their benefits. Legislation outside of the Farm Bill proposing cuts to discretionary SNAP spending must be voted against in order to ensure food insecurity is not further exacerbated.
Funding for SNAP Employment & Training Program (E&T) was increased — an annual allocation of $124 million will be given to states to help individualize training and progress monitoring on a case-by-case basis.
Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) processors were limited on the fees they could charge and enables the USDA to have more oversight of the system so users could have more efficient access to their benefits. The 2018 Farm Bill also requires nationwide implementation of SNAP benefits.
The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program was renamed the Gus Schumacher Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program (Gus NIP), and its funding was increased by $417 million over 10 years. This grant program provides financial means for evaluation, training, and technical assistance to organizations that offer bonus incentivizes to SNAP participants for purchasing fruits and vegetables. Participating organizations must provide a $1:$1 funding match to these purchases.
The 2018 Farm Bill also changes programs that distribute USDA foods to low-income households by requiring the government to pay at a minimum 80% of the administrative costs. It also increases funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which “provides USDA foods and administrative funds to nonprofit emergency food providers such as food banks,” by an estimated $206 million over the next decade. This increased funding will partially go towards new projects to reduce food waste in the TEFAP donation process.
Other changes include reduced funding for Community Food Projects competitive grant program, requiring the USDA to enforce school meals’ Buy American requirements, and authorizing new programs for Public-Private Partnerships and Micro-Grants for Food Security.