Press Release

Welch-Led Bills to Improve Nutrition Programs Included in Senate Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill 

May 1, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, the Senate Agriculture Committee unveiled the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act, a multi-year Farm Bill proposal that includes several bills championed by U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, to improve access to nutrition programs for Vermont families. 

“Everyone deserves access to fresh, nutritious foods. But right now, thousands of Vermonters are facing food insecurity and hunger—including many children. This Farm Bill includes priorities I’ve led to bolster and improve access to nutrition assistance programs, such as legislation to streamline the SNAP application process and make SNAP more accessible to foster youth. I’m also pleased to see that this Farm Bill adopts important policies that aim to expand hot and fresh food options for seniors and families who utilize these programs. Congress must urgently pass this Farm Bill to ensure every family has help they need to put food on the table,” said Senator Welch

In addition to Senator Welch’s legislation to improve access to nutrition programs, several bills led by Sen. Welch’s, such as bills to expand rural development opportunities and increase rural clean energy production; strengthen our local food systems and expand markets; and make our communities more resilient to flooding, were included in this Farm Bill.  

The Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act includes the following Welch priorities to improve nutrition programs: 

  • This Farm Bill makes The Emergency Food Assistance Program Farm-to-Food Bank program permanent while increasing yearly funding from $4 million to $8 million and increasing the federal portion of the cost-share to 90%. 
  • This Farm Bill increases the federal match for Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program projects from 50% to 80%
  • This Farm Bill authorizes a study and pilot program to allow hot foods in SNAP, a priority of hunger advocates Sen. Welch raised after the summer 2023 floods. 
  • This Farm Bill includes maple syrup in the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, as directed by Sen. Welch’s bipartisan MAPLE Act
  • This Farm Bill includes foster youth in SNAP for college students and directs coordination between USDA and the Department of Education to help young people access nutrition benefits. 
  • This Farm Bill allows individuals previously convicted of a drug related felony to access SNAP.  

The Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act contains more than 100 pieces of legislation that aim to support our farms, create jobs, improve rural infrastructure, expand access to childcare and health care, support rural education and skills training, build out high-speed rural broadband, help rural homes and build more housing in rural America, assist homeowners and farms transition to greener energy and lower their utility bills, clean up our drinking water, conserve our land, and more. 

Read more about how the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act would strengthen rural development and expand rural clean energy production and infrastructure. 

Read more about how the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act would help promote Vermont’s local food markets and systems, help Vermont farmers transition to organics, and support Vermont’s dairy farmers. 

Read more about how the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act would provide disaster relief and resiliency for Vermont farmers and communities. 

Read a summary of the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act here.  

Read a section-by-section of the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act here.