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Area Farmers React to SNAP Being Left Out of Farm Bill - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Area Farmers React to SNAP Being Left Out of Farm Bill

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Republicans want to negotiate the costly SNAP program in a separate bill. Republicans want to negotiate the costly SNAP program in a separate bill.

Central Virginia farmers are keeping a close eye on Washington.

This week, the House of Representatives passed a farm bill that leaves out SNAP - the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Some farmers say that would hurt people who rely on food stamps to buy farm fresh products.

SNAP has been a part of the farm bill for 40 years.

So on Saturday morning at the Charlottesville Farmer's Market, concerns were swirling over this potential separation.

Kyle Gardiner helps families supported by the SNAP program buy groceries at the Charlottesville Farmer's Market through the non-profit market central.

"When you talk about SNAP, the reality is that you can buy almost anything that is food related on it. But here at the Farmer's Market, everything that you're getting is straight from the ground, you know the farmers, you know that it probably doesn't have any pesticide attached to it, but even more important, you know that this money is going back into the local economy," he said.

Republicans want to negotiate the costly SNAP program in a separate bill.

The owner of Radical Roots Farm is wary of the change.

She says many of her farmers market and CSA customers are supported by food stamps.

"I really want our food to be accessible to everyone," Lee O'Neill said. "So it really raises my heart when we do, when I feel like people can come and buy organic vegetables with SNAP money so thinking about not having that or having that affected so it's not so easy makes me feel like we won't be able to reach the people that we want to be reaching."

O'Neill and Gardiner agree the bill backs big business, rather than fostering local economies.

"To suggest that the best way to create a healthy and happier, and more diverse America, is by pumping money into farm subsidies instead of the people who are out here working with their hands every single day of the week and when they're not in the fields, they're here meeting people and selling to them, is just false. It's wrong," Gardiner said.

Farmers in Charlottesville say they will keep a close eye on the House as it debates a potential food stamps bill. They're encouraging the community to get involved in the conversation as well.

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