Trump leans in on SNAP work requirements

 In Politics

With Helena Bottemiller Evich, Catherine Boudreau and Maya Parthasarathy

TRUMP LEANS IN ON SNAP WORK REQUIREMENTS: President Donald Trump on Thursday jumped into the farm bill debate once again — on Twitter, of course — in an effort to tip the scales toward House Republicans ahead of conference negotiations.

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“When the House and Senate meet on the very important Farm Bill – we love our farmers – hopefully they will be able to leave the WORK REQUIREMENTS FOR FOOD STAMPS PROVISION that the House approved,” the president wrote on Thursday afternoon.

Senate griping: Trump again suggested that the Senate needs to eliminate its filibuster rule — an apparent recognition of the fact that new work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would not attract the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture to overcome any filibuster on a bill that includes such requirements, which Democrats largely oppose.

Math note: It’s worth noting that it’s far from clear the GOP would have 51 votes for SNAP changes, even if you got around the 60 vote threshold. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), for example, wrote a letter this week urging a rejection of the House SNAP work requirements calling them “completely unworkable” for her state.

Anti-hunger pushback: Anti-hunger advocates were, predictably, unimpressed with the president’s tweet. “Taking food from people who don’t meet a work requirement will hurt many people who are already working but in low-wage jobs with unsteady hours as well as people with serious health conditions who fail to overcome red tape and bureaucratic hurdles to qualify for an exemption,” said Stacy Dean, vice president for Food Assistance Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Children, too, would be harmed because when parents lose SNAP benefits, they have fewer resources to feed their families.” Dean urged lawmakers to go with the Senate farm bill’s SNAP policy.

Right flank pumped: The Foundation for Government Accountability, a hardline conservative welfare reform group, lauded Trump’s tweet. “The president is right — the House’s improved food stamp work requirements should stay in the Farm Bill,” said Kristina Rasmussen, vice president for federal affairs at FGA. “There has never been a better time for welfare reform with today’s booming economy.” Brush up on Trump’s tweet from Pro Ag’s Helena Bottemiller Evich here.

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U.S. SEAFOOD PROTESTS TRUMP TARIFFS: The U.S. seafood industry is starting an education campaign to convince Trump and other policymakers that American workers would be hurt, not helped, by his proposed new tariffs on China. The National Fisheries Institute, which represents the seafood industry, has rebranded its website to tell the stories of American seafood workers threatened both by the proposed tariffs, as well as the retaliatory tariffs that China has already imposed in response to U.S. duties on more than $34 billion worth of Chinese goods.

“To understand the negative impact these tariffs will have on American workers, you have to go see them, you have to talk to them, you have to hear their concerns,” National Fisheries Institute President John Connelly said in a statement. “We’re bringing those stories to policymakers so they understand; this is not a theoretical, economic chess game. These tariffs have the potential to do a lot of harm to the seafood community and that community’s jobs are right here in the U.S.”

Political opposition: Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) both raised concerns about the impact of China’s retaliatory duties on their states’ lobster exports during a hearing last week with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Their complaints were echoed by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who told Lighthizer China’s actions have “clearly rattled my state.” The increased duty affects about 40 percent of the state’s salmon exports and 54 percent of its cod exports that went there last year, she said.

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CHINA’S HOG SECTOR CAN SURVIVE U.S. SOY LOSSES: The average pig business in China is facing an increase of up to $5.30 for raising one hog because of Beijing’s decision earlier this month to levy a 25 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. soybeans. But farmers have adapted by changing the animals’ diets and looking for alternatives to soybean meal, which normally accounts for about 20 percent of hog feed, reports Mandy Zuo for the South China Morning Post.

“We won’t die … but our profits will be somewhat affected,” said Li Xueya, head of the purchasing department of Xinda Muye, a farming company in the central province of Henan.

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