The passage of the next five-year farm bill, set to expire this fall, is one of the top agenda items for both the Senate and House this summer. This legislation addresses a wide range of agricultural-related issues, however a large portion of the funding deals with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program.

SNAP is an important component of the farm bill since one in eight Americans participate in the program – and it is the reason the farm bill is on the radar for the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations and its members. The legislation includes a large appropriation for the SNAP, along with funding for several programs targeting rural areas that would provide resources for community facilities and infrastructure (i.e. broadband).

The House version of the farm bill, H.R.2, failed in an initial House vote last month, as it became intertwined with another major and highly controversial  issue – immigration. Congresswoman Kristi Noem supported the House version of the farm bill.

Now, the Senate version of the bill, which is still in draft form, is poised to move forward and is scheduled for markup in the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee on June 13. South Dakota Sen. John Thune played a major role in drafting the legislation and hopes his provisions will be incorporated into the final version.