Peterson Statement at Hearing to Review State SNAP Options

Mar 4, 2016

“Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing. I’m looking forward to hearing from today’s witnesses, welcome to the Ag Committee. 

“I’ve been urging, for some time now, that the Committee take a good look at the flexibility states have when administering SNAP. I understand that this is done to simplify the process but I worry that it’s gone too far and they now have too much leeway.

“During the last farm bill debate I offered a plan to reform categorical eligibility. Of course that didn’t happen but I still have a hard time understanding how states, with both Democratic and Republican governors, are allowed to exceed federal eligibility guidelines and then charge the federal government for the additional expense. This creates a system where we treat people differently in different parts of the country and I don’t think that’s right. 

“My district, for example, borders North Dakota. North Dakota and Minnesota have different income and asset tests to qualify for SNAP. So people in the same community are being treated differently. 

“I hope we’ll also be able to take a look at the impact of turning SNAP into a block grant. This, in my opinion, is not a viable option. It would only lead to the creation of an unaccountable slush fund for the states. Block granting SNAP has been supported by some in the past and I hope we don’t find ourselves on that path again.

“Again, I look forward to today’s testimony. I thank the Chair and I yield back.”