The author of the recent “Maine Voices: Let them eat cake: one of many reasons to care about the Farm Bill” (April 30) told many truths – about the incredible level of food insecurity in Maine, about the lack of access to healthy food for those living and working in poverty, and about the gaping holes in our social safety net.

They were also right about SNAP food assistance reforms proposed in Farm Bill legislation that will soon be headed to the House floor. Namely, that the proposed work requirements will waste millions of dollars, erect unnecessary and wasteful bureaucratic hurdles to assistance and ignore the harsh choices our families face on a routine basis.

I remain steadfast in my opposition to the Farm Bill in its current form. As a longtime organic farmer and a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, I’ve advocated to help more people put nutritious food on the table. But Republican leaders effectively shut out any Democratic input from this partisan bill. Unless there are radical changes, I will vote against it on the House floor.

Our country doesn’t have a problem with people staying on SNAP because of so-called “government dependency.” On average, beneficiaries receive assistance for less than a year – benefits they paid for with their federal taxes.

Losing a job, becoming ill and caring for children or an aging parent shouldn’t be reasons for being denied that assistance. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients don’t need a new, untested job training program. What they need are livable wages and help getting through a difficult time without being shamed or persecuted for it.

Chellie Pingree

Democratic 1st District U.S. representative


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