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Airline travel and more disrupted by global tech outage; Nevada gets OK to sell federal public lands for affordable housing;Science Moms work to foster meaningful talks on climate change; Scientists reconsider net-zero pledges to reach climate goals.

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As Trump accepts nomination for President, delegates emphasize themes of unity and optimism envisioning 'new golden age.' But RNC convention was marked by strong opposition to LGBTQ rights, which both opened and closed the event.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Anti-hunger advocates warn NM SNAP benefits at risk in Farm Bill

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Thursday, May 30, 2024   

Anti-hunger groups are alarmed over a draft of the next Farm Bill which significantly cuts benefits for those enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, including $340 million in New Mexico.

There are two competing bills, with the U.S. House Agriculture Committee's bill set to make deep SNAP reductions.

Lauren Bauer, associate director of The Hamilton Project and fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, said when SNAP benefits were increased during the pandemic, families purchased healthier foods. She cautioned the proposed change could put a healthy diet out of reach for millions of people.

"When they have adequate resources, they tend to purchase more nutritious food," Bauer explained. "When benefits go up, the nutritional content of their grocery basket goes up as well."

Bauer noted there was evidence food-insecurity decreased among low-income households when benefits were boosted during the pandemic. The House proposal would remove a 2018 Farm Bill requirement the U.S. Department of Agriculture reassess the cost for a frugal, healthy meal every five years to update its Thrifty Food Plan, which is used to determine SNAP benefit levels.

Some conservative Congressional representatives argued the food safety-net program is too generous. Bauer believes it energizes economic activity in both urban and rural settings. She pointed out people typically enroll for a short time when they lose a job, or have a life-altering circumstance upending their financial stability.

"SNAP is an economic stimulus program," Bauer emphasized. "For every dollar that the federal government spends on SNAP, it generates more than that in local economic activity. It supports jobs, it supports grocery stories, it supports communities and it supports families."

The latest report on food insecurity showed it rose in New Mexico and across the country from 2021 to 2022, now affecting 13.5% of all Americans, and 18.5% of children.

Disclosure: The Rural Democracy Initiative contributes to our fund for reporting on Environment, Health Issues, Rural/Farming, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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