There are big laws and small laws. The Farm Bill is a very big, very important law that includes funding and regulations on agriculture, forestry, conservation, and nutritional assistance. It comes up in the U.S. Congress every five years or so. The last Farm Bill was passed in 2018 and expired in September 2023. Congress was not able to pass a new one, so they got a year’s extension. How are the Farm Bill and Puerto Rico connected? This year, there is a controversy in the Farm Bill that affects Puerto Rico directly: should Puerto Rico be part of the SNAP program, instead of NAP?

NAP to SNAP: What’s the Difference?

Two Farm Bills

The House has approved their version of the Farm Bill without including Puerto Rico in SNAP. Instead of SNAP, the food stamp program used in all states and some territories, Puerto Rico has NAP, a much less generous plan. NAP is a block grant with a maximum allowed amount of funding, regardless of the level of need. SNAP adjusts to meet the needs of the people it serves. This difference means that it is harder to qualify for food stamps in Puerto Rico and the amount of food provided for those who receive it is less than the amount in any of the states.

The House version of the Farm Bill cuts SNAP funding by $30 billion, and leaves Puerto Rico out.

The Senate has its own version of the Farm Bill. In that bill, Puerto Rico will be included in SNAP.

The Coalition for Food Security Puerto Rico made a statement on this:

“We have been advocating for Puerto Rico’s right to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), along with many allies and supporters across Puerto Rico and the states, for many years. The Farm Bill is the appropriate vehicle for transitioning Puerto Rico into SNAP. We are grateful to Senator Stabenow, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, and Senator Gillibrand, who introduced and leads on the provisions calling for Puerto Rico’s inclusion in SNAP, for their steadfast leadership to provide U.S. citizens in the territory with the nutrition benefits already available in the states, D.C., Guam and USVI.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, made a statement, too, criticizing the House version and asking his fellow Senators to support the SNAP provision: “The Farm Bill should provide vital anti-hunger assistance for the millions of Americans who rely on programs like SNAP, and should extend SNAP benefits to our friends in Puerto Rico, who have been excluded from this program for decades.”

Equity for Puerto Rico

40% of Puerto Rico residents struggle with food insecurity, according to George Washington University. The poverty rate in Puerto Rico is much higher than that in any state. 85% of food eaten in Puerto Rico is imported. Sales tax on food is 7% — much higher than the rate in any state. Puerto Rico’s need for nutrition assistance is greater than any of the states. And yet Puerto Rico receives less.

Why is this the case? Because Puerto Rico, as an unincorporated territory, does not have the full protection of the U.S. Constitution.  Congress is legally allowed to treat Puerto Rico differently from the states, and “differently” usually means worse. Puerto Rico has no senators, and our single Member of Congress has no vote on the Farm Bill or any other law.

If Puerto Rico is included in SNAP in this Farm Bill, it will be a good thing. But Puerto Rico was in SNAP before. Being included in this Farm Bill doesn’t mean that the territory of Puerto Rico will still be included in SNAP in future Farm Bills.

As a state, Puerto Rico will have equality with the current states. Contact your representatives today and make sure that they know that you want to see their support for Puerto Rico statehood.



No responses yet

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up for our newsletter!

We will send you news about Puerto Rico and the path to statehood. No spam, just useful information about this historic movement.