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AG Notes

Press Release | 115th Congress
House Seal

Peterson Statement at Hearing on Pros and Cons of Restricting SNAP Purchases

February 16, 2017

Opening Statement by Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson
Pros and Cons of Restricting SNAP Purchases

--As Prepared for Delivery--

“Thank you Mr. Chairman. After 16 hearings on SNAP last Congress the Committee is back at it, taking a look at what SNAP recipients are purchasing with their SNAP dollars.

“Before we get too far today, I think it’s important to again note that the overwhelming theme of the testimony we heard last Congress was that, while there are some areas for improvement, SNAP works. We heard testimony opposing efforts to block grant SNAP and on the importance of keeping SNAP within the farm bill.

“Those of us who have been around for a while know that this is a complicated program and I would urge members to keep that in mind as we begin work on the farm bill this year. I don’t think there is just one issue that is a problem and doubt that there is a single solution to improving SNAP efficiency.

“Looking specifically at SNAP food choice it would seem pretty straightforward that we not allow SNAP dollars to be spent on junk food. But how do you define junk food? We tried this in Minnesota. In 2004 Minnesota asked FNS for a waiver to disallow candy as an EBT purchase but candy was defined as anything that did not contain wheat. So, a Kit Kat bar would be okay but a Hershey’s bar would not. Going down this route could open a real can of worms. Grocery stores have no interest being the food police and USDA has been resistant to that effort as well.

“So, I’m hopeful we can have an open-minded, productive discussion on these issues and continue our efforts to learn more about how SNAP actually works. I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses and yield back.”