OPINION  A proposed rule to change the eligibility guidelines for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would erode food security in the United States, according to the Alliance to End Hunger. If the rule is implemented the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 3.1 million hungry Americans would lose food assistance, and more than 500,000 children from affected families would also lose automatic eligibility for free and reduced-price school meals.

As a member of the Alliance to End Hunger, National Farmers Union advocates policies that decrease hunger by improving access to safe, nutritious and affordable food. Because the rule would achieve just the opposite, the National Farmers Union reiterated the alliance’s opposition and emphasized the importance of the nutrition safety net.

Too many Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from. This past year about one in nine families experienced food insecurity. That number is still far too much, but it’s at its least level in more than a decade – thanks in large part to SNAP and other nutrition-assistance programs. Though there’s abounding evidence that the nutrition safety net works, this administration seems determined to limit its effectiveness and its reach. The latest proposal would remove one of the last lines of defense and leave millions of Americans – including hundreds of thousands of children – more vulnerable to hunger. We urge the USDA to protect this critical program and ensure all Americans are able to put food on their tables.

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Roger Johnson is the president of the National Farmers Union, which advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. Visit nfu.org for more information.