The Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus (MDGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders throughout the eight-state Delta region, which stretches from southern Illinois down to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Space Limited for June 12-13 Delta Event at Clinton Library--Please RSVP Now

Posted on April 17, 2014 at 03:11 PM

Please RSVP for the Delta Caucus conference on June 12-13, 2014 at the Clinton Library. We will have grassroots leaders from all eight states.

Space is limited and will have to be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, so please RSVP now if you have not already done so.

It is always crucial to have a candid dialogue with the powers that be about what actions they will take regarding the region’s economic progress. Confirmed speakers from both parties include:

–Candidates in the hotly contested governors’ race in Asa Hutchinson and Mike Ross,

–Sen. Mark Pryor, Rep. Tom Cotton, US Senate candidates in a race that is drawing national attention;

–Rep. Rick Crawford, incumbent, and 1st District Congressional candidate Mayor Jackie McPherson of Heber Springs,

–former FEMA Director and 4th District candidate James Lee Witt (Democrat), (Republican nominee will be invited when we know who that is after the late May primary);

–2nd District candidate Patrick Henry Hays (Democrat), (Republican nominee will be invited when we know who the nominee is, after the late May primary);

Early registration deadline is May 16, 2014. RSVPs are flowing in rapidly each day now. We hope the space does not run out, but if it does it will have to be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

You register by sending in the registration fees to the address listed below in the “Registration” section of this newsletter. There is no registration form, to reduce unnecessary paperwork.

Registration, basic schedule, group hotel, and information about speakers are below in this message.

Gov. Mike Beebe has spoken eight years in a row and is invited again this year. Gov. Beebe’s leadership in the passage of the innovative Arkansas private option health care plan with bipartisan support in the Arkansas legislature has drawn national attention and other states are considering it as a model to follow. The governor has done a great job on a wide range of economic development, educational and other initiatives.

President Bill Clinton spoke in person and spent over an hour with us this year. He is invited again this year to speak, probably in another of the superb live call-ins he has done on many previous occasions.

Grassroots leaders from across the region: We will focus on job creation, workforce development, women and children’s issues due to the alarmingly high poverty rates for women and children in our region, renewable energy and the Climate Change Initiative, transportation, broadband expansion and other infrastructure improvements, implementation of the farm bill, health care for underserved areas.

The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation stress a range of key issues that are especially poignant for the Greater Delta Region, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and green jobs; economic empowerment for distressed populations; nutrition and especially childhood nutrition; and Secretary Hillary Clinton is one of the leading women’s issues in the world today and is currently leading the global no Ceilings initiative to uplift women and girls in the Delta, the USA and across the world.

DISTINGUISHED WOMEN SPEAKERS

LIST OF DISTINGUISHED WOMEN PARTICIPANTS AT JUNE 12-13 DELTA CONFERENCE

Kay Goss, former Associate Director of FEMA; CEO, GC Barnes Group, LLC; Executive in Residence, University of Arkansas Department of Political Science; Interim Director for International Studies, University of Arkansas; Visiting Professor, Istanbul Technical University;

Ruby Bright, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, a major philanthropic foundation funding initiatives for women and children in Tennessee and the Mid-South;

Betty Dobson, nonprofit leader in western Kentucky who highlights the famous Hotel Metropolitan, the only hotel in the area where African Americans could stay in the Jim Crow era and that hosted Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Ike and Tina Turner and civil rights leaders;

Jessica Vermilyea of New Orleans, Louisiana state director for Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response, a leader in helping the recovery from Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill;

Millie Atkins, Louisiana broadband expansion manager for CenturyLink, an organization that promotes broadband expansion for lower-income people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas Delta areas;

Martha Ellen Black, Missouri nonprofit director, Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center in the southeast Missouri Delta, former director of the Southeast Missouri Enterprise Community that was a key partner in the Clinton administration’s Delta Regional Initiative;

Janis Kearney, Founding Publisher of Writing Our World Publishing, Little Rock, AR, and former White House aide in the Clinton administration;

Director Annette Dove of the TOPPS nonprofit in Pine Bluff was featured by Chelsea Clinton in an excellent national NBC television report with Brian Williams that highlighted her work for nutrition, education, job training and other initiatives for lower income families in Pine Bluff, AR;

Charlie Cole Chaffin, former state Senator, gubernatorial candidate and educator;

Beatrice Shelby, nonprofit director in Phillips County AR of the Boys, Girls and Adults organization, an excellent organization that has won national recognition for their work in the Delta;

Blanche Hunt, Vice President of Community Relations at Arkansas Northeastern College in Blytheville, AR, who has an impressive track record in helping women and children in the Delta;

Karama Neal, Director, Southern Bancorp Community Partners, a major organization promoting community and economic development in the Delta that was founded by then Gov. Bill Clinton, First Lady of Arkansas Hillary Clinton and other key leaders 25 years ago.

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Jobs, Women & Children's Issues, Elections Key for June 12-13 Delta Event, Clinton Library

Posted on March 27, 2014 at 03:23 PM

For the June 12-13, 2014 Delta Grassroots Caucus conference at the Clinton Library, we have confirmations from leading gubernatorial candidates Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson, Fourth District Congressional candidate James Lee Witt (former Director of FEMA). We have invited Gov. Mike Beebe, Sen. Mark Pryor, Rep. Tom Cotton, Rep. Rick Crawford, Sen. John Boozman, and will invite the nominees from both parties for the three contested Congressional races in Arkansas. We will have grassroots leaders from all eight states of the Greater Delta Region.

President Bill Clinton gave a superb in-person presentation at our conference last year, and this year we are inviting Secretary Hillary Clinton to speak by live call-in about her work with the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation on women and children’s issues.

Single mothers heading households have alarmingly high poverty rates in our region, as do children, so these are especially poignant issues for the Greater Delta Region.

Women and children’s issues: We have an impressive line-up of women leaders from across the region on the program, and we are very interested in Hillary Clinton’s leadership in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on No Ceilings; The Full Participation Project, which will assess progress made since the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 and plan a path forward to give women and girls the opportunity to participate fully in society in the USA and across the globe. Our Delta partners are very interested in getting involved in this initiative.

REGISTRATION, SCHEDULE AND GROUP HOTEL INFORMATION ARE LISTED BELOW IN THIS MESSAGE.

President Clinton has made numerous live call-ins to our conferences with excellent results over the years, and these are far easier to arrange than in-person presentations from either President Clinton and/or Secretary Clinton, due to their super-hectic schedules. They confirm very late in the process, so we will not know about whether and when they may be able to speak until shortly before the conference.

The Arkansas gubernatorial and Congressional races will address economic issues that are generally similar to those in all eight Greater Delta region states.

We will hear from the Congressional and gubernatorial candidates on what they plan to do to promote community and economic development in the Delta if elected. Many of us have never seen so many hotly contested major races as we have in Arkansas this year.

Clinton Foundation initiatives: We want to devote time to key issues that are top priorities for both the Delta Grassroots Caucus as well as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation: job creation and economic progress for impoverished areas, women and children’s issues–particularly for single mothers and lower-income women, nutrition–including childhood and youth nutrition, and renewable energy, energy efficiency and the Climate Change Initiative.

Other key issues include transportation and infrastructure investments to create jobs and improve our deteriorating infrastructure, health care for under-served areas, broadband expansion, small business/entrepreneurial development, Delta heritage tourism like the Delta Queen Senate bill, USDA-related issues, and other key regional initiatives.

The conference is bipartisan, of course, and the Clinton Foundation does great philanthropic work.

We also look forward to hearing Gov. Mike Beebe’s valedictory presentation to the Delta Caucus as governor. He also confirms late in the process due to his hectic schedule, but he has spoken to our group for nine straight years and is highly thought of in our coalition.

Most of our partners thought it was a great step forward that the governor recently signed Arkansas’ innovative private option health care plan into law, with bipartisan support.

This private option plan has received national attention as a model that other states may wish to adopt. It differs from the national Affordable Care Act in giving greater emphasis to individual consumerism and the private sector, and somewhat less to the federal government role.

Unusual number of hotly contested, major elections:

We can’t remember when we have seen so many hotly contested election campaigns in Arkansas that are very important for the Delta. We have contested races with Sen. Mark Pryor vs. Rep. Tom Cotton for the US Senate, Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson for governor, James Lee Witt against the Republican nominee is in the Fourth District (we will know who that is by June), Patrick Henry Hays against the Republican nominee in the Second District, and Mayor James McPherson of Heber Springs against Rep. Rick Crawford in the First District. We will grill all of them in a nonpartisan way.

PLEASE RSVP ASAP:

This time of year is when we begin to get reservations at a rapid pace. To be assured of space please RSVP as soon as possible either by sending in your registration fees to the address below or contacting us by email at leepowell@delta.comcastbiz.net or (202) 6347.

BASIC SCHEDULE:

The conference schedule as a whole is:

Thursday evening, June 12, 2014, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at the Clinton Library Great Hall

Friday, June 13, 2014, from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the Clinton Library Great Hall

Note that both sessions are at the Clinton Library Great Hall this year.

REGISTRATION:

You register by sending in the registration fees $125 for those who have paid annual membership dues and $100 for those who have paid their dues. The levels are:

–$125 for those who have not paid their annual dues at a minimum of $25 once for the calendar year of 2014.

–$100 registration for those who have paid their annual dues.

–Group discounts are available for those who can bring five or more from your local area.

PLEASE MAKE OUT THE CHECK TO “DELTA CAUCUS” AND MAIL TO:

DELTA CAUCUS

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

LATE REGISTRATION:

Early registration ends on May 16, 2014, Friday. After that, all registrations go up to $150 each. This is to give an incentive to get the registrations in on time.

We hope the space does not run out but if it does we would have to allocate space based on a first-come, first-served basis, so we are asking people to RSVP early this year.

GROUP HOTEL

The group hotel is Comfort Inn Presidential in downtown Little Rock near the Clinton Library, 707 Interstate Frontage Rd, 72202. To get the reduced group rate of $82 for Thursday, June 12 (and if you would like to also stay on Friday, June 13, the reduced group rate is available for that night as well), please call the hotel at (501) 687-7700 and say you are with the Delta Caucus group.

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Delta Caucus Praises Arkansas' Passage of Private Option Health Care--March, 2014

Posted on March 05, 2014 at 01:43 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus congratulates the Arkansas legislature and Gov. Mike Beebe on passage of funding for Arkansas’ private option health care plan, which has received national attention for being an innovative alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

The decisive vote took place March 4 in the Arkansas House of Representatives, which passed the funding with bipartisan support by 76 to 24.

The Delta Caucus will monitor the progress of Arkansas’ expansion of Medicaid at our annual conference at the Clinton Library on June 12-13, 2014.

We will be inviting Gov. Beebe, as well as the gubernatorial candidates Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson, Members of Arkansas’ Congressional delegation, state legislators, and grassroots leaders to participate at the conference, which will focus on job creation, workforce development, transportation, broadband expansion and other infrastructure improvements, Delta heritage tourism, the USDA budget and health care for under-served populations.

Schedule, group hotel and registration information for the June 12-13, 2014 conference are below in this posting.

For our leaders receiving this message in the other seven Delta states and across the entire country, we ask you to consider adopting a similar alternative to the ACA in your state.

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS NEWSLETTER

I) ARKANSAS PASSES FUNDING FOR THE PRIVATE OPTION

2) SCHEDULE, REGISTRATION, AND GROUP HOTEL FOR JUNE 12-13, 2014 DELTA CONFERENCE AT CLINTON LIBRARY

3) SUMMARY OF DELTA CAUCUS REPORT ON THE PRIVATE OPTION BASED ON ASSESSMENTS FROM HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS

ARKANSAS PASSES FUNDING FOR THE PRIVATE OPTION

The Senate earlier passed the bill and Gov. Beebe has said he will sign the measure, which authorizes the use of $915 million in federal Medicaid dollars to buy private health insurance for more than 100,000 lower-income Arkansans.

The House had earlier rejected the measure four times. Arkansas’ plan has been praised as a model that other states may follow. The private option has less of a role for the federal government and a larger role for the private sector and individual consumerism than the national Affordable Care Act.

The Delta Caucus commends the many members of the Arkansas legislature who joined in this bipartisan initiative to improve health care in Arkansas, including House Speaker Davy Carter, Rep. Mark McElroy, Rep. Jonathan Dismang, Rep. John Edwards, Rep. Monte Hodges, Rep. Reginald Murdock, Rep. Shelia Lampkin, Rep. Kim Hammer, Sen. David Sanders, Sen. Joyce Elliott, Sen. President Pro Tempore Michael Lamoreux and many others. In Arkansas this funding required a three-fourths majority, so it passed the House by one vote more than the number required.

The Delta Caucus prepared an assessment of the private option that was distributed to Members of the Arkansas House of Representatives at the state Capitol in Little Rock by Rep. Mark McElroy. We were in frequent communication with many senators and representatives in Arkansas throughout the process.

Rep. McElroy and Caucus Director Lee Powell both did separate radio interviews in support of the private option on Little Rock radio stations, the favorable assessment was distributed to east Arkansas media, and the majority of Delta Caucus partners have been strong supporters of the private option throughout this debate in 2014-2015.

We know that not everyone was for the private option and we respect their point of view. We would ask everyone to keep giving feedback as to how to improve and adjust the private option health care plan as we move forward.

A summary of the Delta Caucus assessment of the private option based on information from hospital administrators, physicians, nonprofit health care organizations, specialists, insurance professionals is below in this message. The full report is on the website at www.mdgc.us under the “Caucus Articles” link.

The federal government will pay 100% of the costs of the private option for three years.

Beginning in 2017, the state will pay 5% of the cost, or about $45.75 million, if the total expenditure stays at $915 million. Arkansas’ share of the costs will grow to 6% in 2018, 7% in 2019, and will reach the cap at 10% in 2020.

The expanded Medicaid program extends private option eligibility to adults with incomes of up to 138% of the poverty level, which is $16,105 for an individual and $32,913 for a family of four.

Approximately 127,051 Arkansans have been approved for coverage under the expanded Mediciaid program, or slightly more than half of the estimated 250,000 who are eligible, according to the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Of those who have been approved for coverage, thus far 93,966 have been enrolled.

The state of Arkansas cited figures from an actuarial firm it hired (Optumas, based in Arizona) that indicates that the state’s actual costs will be lower than the figures cited above, because of economic multiplier effects caused by the private option, such as new state tax revenue from a surcharge on health insurance premiums, savings from spending less money for medical care for uninsured people, and other state government savings.

The actuarial firm also indicated that the federal funding will generate economic activity and increase state tax revenue by tens of millions of dollars each year. Optumas predicted that there will be a net savings of over $670.3 million over 10 years from the private option and the state’s share of the program in 2021 is estimated at $8.9 million.

SCHEDULE, REGISTRATION, AND GROUP HOTEL INFORMATION FOR JUNE 12-13, 2014 DELTA CONFERENCE AT THE CLINTON LIBRARY

BASIC SCHEDULE

THURSDAY, JUNE 12, 2014, 4:30 P.M. TO 7:45 P.M., CLINTON LIBRARY GREAT HALL

Note: This is a substantive session with speakers beginning promptly at 4:30 p.m.-this is NOT a reception.

FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2014, 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., CLINTON LIBRARY GREAT HALL

REGISTRATION:

You register by sending in the registration fees, which are $125 for those who have not paid their 2014 annual membership dues.

Registration is $100 each for those who have paid their 2014 annual membership dues.

For a local area that can bring a group of five or more people from your local network, we will give a group discount down to $75 each.

Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

GROUP HOTEL:

The group hotel is the Comfort Inn Presidential in Downtown Little Rock near the Clinton Library. To get the reduced group rate of $82 for the nights of June 12 and/or June 13, please call the hotel before the deadline of May 25, 2014 at (501) 687-7700 and say you are with the Delta Caucus.

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East Arkansas Professionals Assess Benefits of Private Option, February, 2014

Posted on February 09, 2014 at 09:23 PM

Health care professionals and other leaders in east Arkansas assess the private option health care plan’s benefits as clearly outweighing the minuses, and they indicate that not funding the plan would be costly to the region’s hospitals and would miss an opportunity to expand coverage for many previously uninsured people.

Arkansas’ private option was passed with bipartisan support by the Arkansas legislature and Gov. Mike Beebe in 2013, and received national attention as an innovative approach to health care reform that many other states might want to imitate.

In compiling a report based on feedback from across the east Arkansas Delta, the Delta Grassroots Caucus found support from:

–Hospital administrators like Ray Montgomery of White County Medical Center and many other hospital executives;

–Physicians like Dr. Steven Collier of ArCare in east Arkansas, ophthalmologist Dr. G. Edward Bryant in West Memphis and others;

– Bipartisan elected officials like Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) and Rep. Mark McElroy (D-Tillar);

–Insurance executives and many others are supportive of revising and improving the plan, but warned against the consequences of pulling the funding altogether.

–Many other local leaders across east Arkansas who are concerned about health care problems in the Delta and the major missed opportunity that would result from blocking funding for the private option.

Through the private option, Arkansas would use federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for approximately 100,000 poor Arkansans in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

CEO Ray Montgomery of White County Medical Center, the largest health care provider for a 6-county area in east central Arkansas said “If the Private Option Healthcare Plan is not supported, hospitals throughout Arkansas will endure a profound financial impact. Cuts to Medicare reimbursement that are slated to occur this year will be far more serious; our communities will suffer and jobs will be lost.”

CEO John Heard of McGehee Hospital in southeast Arkansas supported Montgomery’s position, and emphasized that the private option will have a major impact on rural hospitals like the one in McGehee.

Administrators from St. Bernard’s Medical Center and NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital in Jonesboro indicate that if the private option is not funded, losses just to their two hospitals would be $8 million annually on a conservative estimate.

Dr. Steven Collier of Augusta, CEO of ArCare, a nonprofit health care organization serving 11 east Arkansas counties, said “Funding the Private Option Healthcare Plan is the right thing to do for Arkansas… one thing is certain, a healthier population with access to health care is long overdue in eastern Arkansas. Funding the Private Option will be a significant step in the right direction.”

Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) said he has consulted with many health care professionals in his district covering a large area of eastern who are supportive of the private option.

He emphasized that “What we’re doing with the bipartisan Arkansas plan is re-creating Medicaid by placing greater emphasis on the private sector and individual consumerism and much less emphasis on the federal government.”

Rep. Mark McElroy (D-Tillar) reported he had received similar feedback from health care professionals in his district in support of the private option. “We have people signing up by the thousands, and the worst thing we could do now after we decided to do the right thing on this issue last year is to pull the plug on those people before we even give the privation option a chance.”

Dr. G. Edward Bryant, an ophthalmologist based in West Memphis who serves a number of east Arkansas counties, and emphasized that improvements can and should be made with the private option, saying “I support the private option, but we should always remain mindful of human nature in forming programs. We should not get stuck in a rut so that we cannot see better options.”

• Dr. Bryant is a specialist, and one of the issues regarding the private option concerns the plan’s impact upon specialists such as opthalmologists, radiologists, heart surgeons, optometrists, dermatologists. He suggested that Blue Cross/Blue Shield have an extensive dialogue with specialists in Arkansas to find ways of treating those categories of health care professionals moving forward. He also suggested that expanding health care savings accounts would be another improvement that could be made for the private option.

Licensed insurance agents like LeVaughn Smith of Smith Insurance Agency in Helena-West Helena said that the enrollment process when it began last fall encountered serious difficulties, but has steadily improved since then and he is succeeding in signing up more and more clients. He reports increasing interest in signing up as people become more informed about the process, and he is beginning to see more younger people interested in enrolling.

Smith said that he has seen many people in their 40s and 50s who have gained health insurance for the first time after having worked hard all their lives. This has caused a deep impact on many people who had worked at low-paying jobs for many years and only with the private option have they been able to become insured.

Negative impact on the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and many other institutions of higher education in higher Arkansas if the private option is not funded:

Gov. Beebe has indicated that UAMS would lose $28 million if the legislature fails to authorize continued funding for the private option.

More broadly, east Arkansas educators like ASU System President Charles Welch have warned that rejecting the private option will result in approximately $89 million in state budget cuts, and higher education will bear the brunt of those cuts.

There is a budgetary gain of $89 million for Arkansas that will be lost if the private option is not funded.

Expansion of Medicaid facts: The expansion of the Medicaid program extended eligibility to adults with incomes up to 138% of the poverty level of $15,860 ro an individual or $32,500 for a family of four. With the private option, most recipients could enroll in private plans on the state’s health-insurance exchange and have the premiums paid by Medicaid dollars.

Health care is especially poignant for the Delta because our health problems in obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many other issues are much worse than the national averages. A baby born in the Delta today on average has a life expectancy of 10 years less than one born in northwest Arkansas.

In the extended contact section, a Table of Contents and then the detailed report follows. This is very in-depth and few will want to read the entire report, but we suggest that you can look over the table of contents in the next section and read those sections that you find most interesting.

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Farm Bill Is an Imperfect Compromise, as All Bipartisan Compromises Will Be--January, 2014

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 05:39 PM

Most Delta Grassroots Caucus partners see the farm bill as an imperfect compromise that is likely to be the best deal available in this environment of divided government. The Caucus disagreed with cuts of approximately $8.6 billion over 10 years in the SNAP program but acknowledge that this is over $30 billion better than the House version, and the agriculture provisions contain pluses for the region’s farm sector.

As always, there is a range of opinion on this issue. We want to respect all points of view, and there are organizations and individuals who would take a different position. One crucial consideration is that multiple sources on Capitol Hill have informed us that if this conference report is rejected, there could be legislation that is far worse, or even no farm bill at all.

“The majority of our partners would have preferred no cuts at all to the SNAP program, which is a vital safety net against hunger and helps create jobs. The rejection of the extreme $40 billion cuts and coming much closer to the Senate level of $4 billion in cuts was likely the best deal we could get in this budget-cutting environment, and the agriculture provisions contained some pluses,” said Caucus Director Lee Powell.

“If we don’t get this compromise we could wind up with something much worse or no farm bill at all. They’ve been wrangling over this for two years and it’s time to resolve this,” Powell said.

State Rep. Mark McElroy, Caucus vice chairman, said “We’re not 100% happy with this but it’s probably the best deal we could get under the circumstances. I’d rather have a farm bill with flaws in it than none at all.”

Among the key Members of Congress developing the bipartisan compromise were Sen. Mark Pryor, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture (D-AR), Sen. John Boozman–a conferee on the farm bill (R-AR), and Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR), a conferee on the farm bill; and others across the Greater Delta Region.

For agriculture, the bill moves from the subsidies model to a risk management model, where farmers have to incur losses before getting government payments. It contains greater funding for the national crop insurance program and payments for cotton and rice should be substantial.

Harvey Joe Sanner, one of the Caucus’ senior advisers and president of the American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas, said the SNAP program is good for agriculture and helps many people struggling in the Delta’s distressed economy. He said both the agriculture and SNAP provisions could have been better, but “After two years of partisan fights at this stage we need to grin and bear it, move on and try to correct the problems later on.”

Powell said it is vital to inform the public about the great importance of the SNAP program, especially in Arkansas, which according to USDA data suffered from the worst severe food insecurity in the country at 8.1% and the second worst overall food insecurity at 19.7%. Across the Delta region, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama joined Arkansas and Mississippi with 7 out of the 11 worst food insecurity levels in America.

SNAP spending is high because the economy has been suffering for so long, and the fundamental way to reduce SNAP costs is to create many more decent-paying jobs.

On some other nutrition programs, the farm bill has some positive provisions, such as increase in funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) that aids food banks, farmers’ market programs, improved SNAP education and training programs, and the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. These are good but much smaller than SNAP.

BRIEF FACT SHEET ABOUT SNAP:

–68% of families with children suffering from food insecurity had at least one employed family member.

–Conservative estimates are that the number of children receiving SNAP is about 40%, while the Food Research and Action Center calculates that nearly half of SNAP enrollees are children.

–SNAP creates about 17,900 jobs for each $1 billion in spending, according to the Joint Congressional Economic Committee.

–Moody’s Analytics reports that every dollar spent on SNAP increases Gross Domestic Product by $1.73 to $1.79.

–SNAP benefits are very small as it is–averaging about $4.50 a day. The vast majority of SNAP enrollees either have low-paying jobs or would love to have a job, and would not wish to remain unemployed or under-employed to obtain $4.50 a day.

–92% of SNAP recipients do NOT receive welfare, and only 8% do.

–Waste and abuse in SNAP have been reduced from 4% in the 1990s down to slightly over 1% today. Any waste is bad but it is in fact much more efficient than most huge government programs.

–SNAP cuts make diabetes problems worse: according to the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnston Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts, $40 billion in cuts over 10 years would increase medical costs for diabetes nationwide by $15 billion–again pointing out the relief that the extreme figure was rejected. But the lower costs will be harmful to the diabetes problem in the Delta, which already suffers from alarmingly high rates of diabetes.