FNS Farm Bill FAQ Responds to States’ Queries Related to SNAP

June 23, 2014 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

vancouver-hemp-rally-1-jpg-407664-mThe Food and Nutrition Service this month released a memo that should essentially be called “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Farm Bill (But Were Afraid to Ask).” The memo, which FNS officially titled “Question & Answers Concerning the Agricultural Act of 2014 Sections 4005, 4007, 4008, 4009, 4015, 4022, 4025 and 4031,” responds to state agency concerns about the effects of the Food Bill on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

For example, right off the bat it gets interesting. Question 1: “Can marijuana can be deducted as a medical expense determining SNAP benefits?” OK, so now I’m interested! The answer: “No. Longstanding SNAP policy dictates that medical marijuana is not an allowable deduction for SNAP purposes. Under federal law, marijuana is a controlled substance that cannot be prescribed for medicinal purposes. SNAP conforms to federal law regarding illegal substances, and the act directs FNS to codify this longstanding policy in regulation.

Another question along this same vein asks if marijuana dispensaries are eligible to accept SNAP benefits. FNS states that such dispensaries are not eligible to serve as authorized SNAP retailers and cannot accept SNAP benefits because they don’t meet SNAP requirements for retail stores.

Further down in the FAQ comes this question: “Does the provision [in the act] disqualifying convicted felons from participating in SNAP apply to individuals complying with the conditions of their probation or parole?” The answer: “No, it applies only to individuals convicted or aggravated sexual abuse, murder, sexual exploitation and abuse of children, sexual assault as defined in the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, or a similar state law, and who are also not in compliance the terms of their sentence or are a fleeing felon.”

Then there’s a section of questions related to persons receiving substantial lottery or gambling winnings. A provision in the legislation states that persons receiving substantial lottery or gambling winnings will lose SNAP eligibility immediately.  States wanted to know what defined “substantial winnings;” how this would be implemented in states with simplified reporting; and if states would be required to send notice of adverse action to such winners before making them ineligible for SNAP. FNS responded that it will outline the implementation of this provision, including the steps recipients and states must take to ensure compliance, in regulation.

These are only a handful of the more interesting questions raised in the memo. It definitely makes for interesting reading. States ask the darndest questions.

Do you have any questions about how the Farm Bill will affect your grant programs? Let us know.

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