SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — When the next session of Congress considers renewal of farm legislation, farm groups want to ensure their programs are linked to federal nutrition programs. Retaining that combination was stressed by several Illinois farm leaders last week during a Farm Bill hearing at the Illinois State Fair.

Rod Weinzierl of Illinois Corn Growers said his members want to ensure the SNAP nutrition program is included in the next Farm Bill.

“There’s not a lot of congressional districts out of the 435 that really have a lot of production agriculture. And so as you think about just the basics of passing a law in Congress, you have to get to a majority to pass that, and 40 does not get you close to the 218 votes that you need,” Weinzierl said. “So bills are all about putting other issues together, to develop a bigger coalition to get to a bill that has enough momentum to pass, and it only make sense to put food and nutrition programs in a bill that is also about producing food – the Farm Bill.”

“There are people that don’t want to spend all that money on agriculture, and one of their goals is by dividing those two things apart, it makes it much more difficult to pass a Farm Bill,” Weinzierl continued. “So food and nutrition programs, I think everybody is familiar with all the food pantries that are out there, whether it is urban or rural, there are people that do need food, especially with the inflation and the economies and the ups and downs that we have. It does make sense to have all of that in just one legislative package.”

If the House flips to Republican leadership, is there more threat to that SNAP funding?

I don’t know if it’s necessarily related to if it is a Republican or Democrat, but it is related to the super conservatives that are out there,” Weinzierl responded. “It could be related to the opposite end of the spectrum who maybe is not big fans of production agriculture.”

That’s why farmers need urban lawmakers to pass a Farm Bill.