The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Please Register for Delta Caucus in Little Rock Before Deadlines--Event Is Only 6 Weeks Away

Posted on September 14, 2018 at 11:23 AM

Please RSVP ASAP and register for the Oct. 31-Nov. 1 Greater Delta Region conference in Little Rock. We are only six weeks away. While we expect to have enough places, space is limited.

You register by paying the early registration fees on or before Oct. 15. Registration information is below in this email.

You can reserve a place now by replying by email to LeePowell@delta.comcastbiz.net or by phone at (202) 360-6347; or by paying the registration fees on the website at mdgc.us by going to the PayPal link that says “Donate.”

The opening session is Wednesday evening Oct. 31, 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Arkansas State Capitol Rotunda; then Thursday, Nov. 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Clinton Library.

We will have grassroots leaders from all 8 states in a dialogue with state, local and federal powers that be to urge them to do more for the region’s community and economic development.

Among the highlights are nonpartisan forums in major elections: Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Democratic nominee Jared Henderson; Congressman French Hill and state Rep. Clarke Tucker in the nationally watched 2nd Congressional District race; and Congressman Rick Crawford and Chintan Desai in the First District—the heart of the Arkansas Delta. These are Arkansas races but have issues basically similar to the entire region.

We will have two questioners for the candidates, including Bud Cummins, former US Attorney and distinguished lawyer, and Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell. This is bipartisan and we will not endorse any candidate, but want to hear from all of them about what they would do to improve the region’s economy if elected.

Key issues: Most of the speakers over the two days will be grassroots leaders, nonprofits, business leaders, universities and colleges, and experts on key issues like health care, job creation, transportation and other infrastructure, SNAP and other USDA programs, education, and Delta heritage tourism.

As always, we are inviting President Bill Clinton to give a live call-in presentation about the Clinton Foundation’s great work on domestic policy initiatives like improving nutrition for 40,000 schools nationwide in collaboration with the American Heart Association, renewable energy/energy efficiency, fighting the opioid crisis by expanding access to naloxone, early childhood initiatives led by Chelsea Clinton, and other philanthropic activities in the Delta and across the USA.

List of speakers from across the region is below in this email.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. REGISTRATION

II. BASIC SCHEDULE

III. GROUP HOTEL

IV. LIST OF PARTICIPANTS

A. REGISTRATION

You register by sending in the early registration fees, which are $125 for those who have paid annual membership dues, or $100 for those who have paid their dues.

GROUP DISCOUNT: We offer a substantial discount if you can organize a group of four or more people, down to $60 each.

Registration fees are an essential part of our budget and we have to ask for fees from everyone at the conference except for President Bill Clinton, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Members of Congress and Congressional candidates.

The easiest way to pay the registration fees is on the website at mdgc.us by going to the PayPal link and clicking on the link that says “Donate.”

If you prefer to pay by check, please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

B. SCHEDULE:

The opening session is Wednesday evening, Oct. 31 at the Arkansas State Capitol Rotunda from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

(There is an informal, optional socializing dinner after the opening session ends at the Camp David restaurant at the group hotel Holiday Inn Presidential, which can be useful for networking and sharing information in a relaxed setting.)

Clinton Library session–Thursday, Nov. 1 at the Great Hall of the Clinton Library from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Most speakers will be grassroots leaders, including nonprofits, educators, local elected officials, experts in health care, nutrition and other issues relating to the development of the region.

We have shortened the conference so it is just a relatively brief opening session on Wednesday evening Oct. 31 and then a morning and lunch session the next day Nov. 1, with no afternoon session. The condensed schedule makes it easier for people to be there for both sessions. Last year we were very pleased that virtually everybody stayed until the end and we did not have any issue of people leaving early, and aim for the same positive result this year.

C. GROUP HOTEL

The Holiday Inn Presidential in the Little Rock River Market district close to the Clinton Library is the group hotel.

To get the low group rate of $89 for Oct. 31, please call the hotel at (501) 375-2100 and say you are with the Delta Caucus group, before the reservation deadline of Oct. 15.

This is a very good rate for a high quality hotel in the Little Rock River Market area. We were negotiating with three hotels and received good offers from all three, and the rate kept going down the longer we haggled. The sales manager was afraid if she kept negotiating with me she might wind up giving us the rooms for free, so she was relieved when the negotiating process finally ended😃!

Most people will only stay one night to cut down on expenses, but we also have a smaller number of rooms for the night of Nov. 1 in case anyone wants to stay an extra night.

D. PARTICIPANTS

Confirmed participants in addition to the nominees from both parties for Governor and Members from the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts (AR) as of now include:

· Chancellor Debra West, Arkansas State University Mid-South, West Memphis, Arkansas;

· Mike Marshall, CEO, Sikeston Missouri Economic Development organization and Regional Chamber of Commerce;

· Bob Nash, community and economic development expert, former USDA Under Secretary of Rural Development, and Director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel in the Clinton administration;

· Randy Henderson, Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, Blytheville, Arkansas, veteran Delta regional leader;

· Brad Cole, Executive Director, Municipal League for the state of Illinois;

· Bo Ryall, CEO, Arkansas Hospitals Association, expert on the Arkansas Works health insurance program;

· Rupa Dash, CEO, World Woman’s Federation, a national and international women’s issues organization;

· Ginny Blankenship, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families;

· Joey Keys, Southeast Missouri Food Bank, based in Cape Girardeau and serving the southeast Missouri Delta area;

· Southeast Missouri State University Economic and Business Engagement Center;

· Millie Atkins, community leader from Monroe, Louisiana, Co-Chair of the Economic Equality Caucus;

· Heifer International, international nonprofit with programs serving the Delta—Perry Jones and Tyler Pearson;

· Alan Gumbel, Director of Grants and Special Initiatives, Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce, Memphis, Tennessee;

· Glendscene Williams, Director, Center for Business and Entrepreneurial Research, Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi;

· Nathan Pittman, Senior Vice President for Communications, Southern Bancorp Community Partners;

· Mayor Sheldon Day, Thomasville, Alabama, in the Alabama Black Belt;

· Tracey Barnett, professor in the School of Social Work, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, conducting research on the SNAP program in Arkansas;

· Will Staley, Director, THRIVE nonprofit based in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, with projects across the Delta;

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Tribute to the Legacy of Carol Willis: A True Champion for the Delta

Posted on September 07, 2018 at 12:08 PM

The Delta lost one of its greatest and most forceful leaders this week with the passing of Carol Willis. We would like to pay tribute to his tremendous dedication to racial, social, political and economic justice.

Carol Willis was one of President Clinton’s closest advisers. They first met in the 1970s when Carol was a law student in then Professor Bill Clinton’s classes at the University of Arkansas Law School. Carol played a key role in Bill Clinton’s rise to state, regional and then national leadership.

Lee Powell and many other Delta Caucus partners worked with Carol Willis on the Delta regional initiative and related good causes during the Clinton administration, and he also came to many Delta Caucus activities after the Clinton Presidency. He was quite a presence at all of our meetings, and we always admired his leadership and courage.

Janis Kearney, White House diarist and senior aide to President Clinton, author, and founding publisher of WOW Publishing in Little Rock, said: “Carol Willis was a friend whose friendship I greatly valued. He was truthful even when it hurt. He saw everyone on the same plane no matter how much or little one owned. He kept us all grounded and forever reminded us what the struggle was about.”

“There will never be another Carol Willis,” Janis Kearney continued, “and the space he’s left inside my heart will never be filled by anyone else, but by 30 years of memories; wonderful memories.”

Kevin Smith of Helena, long-time Delta regional advocate, said “I am deeply saddened. He was a Delta hero.”

Harvey Joe Sanner of Des Arc, president of the American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas, said “The Delta has lost a great friend and champion.”

Carol Willis was a tremendously valiant, assertive and knowledgeable leader for the Mississippi Delta region, in addition to his many other services to our state and nation. He was not afraid to get on the case of powers that be, regardless of which party they were from or how powerful they were.

When we advocate to the state and federal powers that be about the ongoing problems of poverty, racism and injustice in our region, we should honor the legacy of Carol Willis by telling truth to power even when it is difficult or even painful to do so.

He grew up in the heartland Delta community of McGehee, Arkansas, and no one knew better than Carol Willis how far our region has to go to join fully in the American dream of equality and opportunity for all.

President Clinton wrote the most moving tribute to his old friend. We would like to do our part to honor his legacy.

The one comment that resonates most with many of us in the Delta Caucus from President Clinton’s poignant tribute to Carol Willis is the following comment about his dear friend’s courage in being candid about painfully difficult issues:

“He was also a good, loyal friend who was never afraid to speak hard truths if I needed to hear them.”

Some people just can’t be replaced. We believe Carol Willis was one of them.

Never forget the courageous example of Carol Willis: stand up and be counted, speak truth to power about the dilemma of poverty and injustice in the Greater Delta Region and across our country.

President Clinton’s tribute is below. We send out our thoughts to his wife Joyce and family at this sad time:


Public Statement from President Bill Clinton on the Passing of Carol Willis

I loved Carol Willis. We met more than 40 years ago when he was a student at the University of Arkansas Law School and I was teaching there. At a time when African-Americans were just beginning to attend the school in substantial numbers, he was a voice for inclusion and was an important part of my efforts to help more African-American students earn law degrees there.

From the time I entered state politics until I left the White House, he was one of my most effective and trusted campaign aides and advisors.

He was a brilliant political organizer who really cared about people and making sure that their voices were heard. He was also a good, loyal friend who was never afraid to speak hard truths if I needed to hear them.

He always had my back, in victory and defeat. In the toughest times, he could always make me laugh. The harder the fight, the better he did.

And no matter how busy he was, he was always willing to be a mentor to younger people, especially African-Americans, looking to get involved in politics and make a difference. His legacy will live on in his beloved Arkansas and across the country through the many people he inspired and whose lives he touched.

Indispensable in campaigns, full of down-home wisdom, a real friend. That was Carol Willis.

Carol lived a good, full life, and Hillary and I will always be grateful to have shared so much of it with him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Joyce and their family.

Leaders from 8 Delta States, Nationally Watched Congressional Race & Governor's Race at Oct. 31-Nov. 1 Little Rock Event

Posted on August 03, 2018 at 01:43 PM

The Oct. 31-Nov. 1 Greater Delta Region conference in Little Rock will feature forums for the candidates in the nationally watched Second Congressional District campaign and the governor’s race in Arkansas, as well as grassroots leaders from all eight states of the region from southern Illinois and Missouri to New Orleans.

We have confirmed Rep. French Hill and the Democratic nominee, state Rep. Clarke Tucker in the nationally watched Second Congressional District election in Arkansas, as well as Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Democratic nominee Jared Henderson speaking on Nov. 1 at the Clinton Library.

We have invited Congressman Rick Crawford and the Democratic nominee Chintan Desai from the First Congressional District.

The Delta Caucus will not endorse any candidate, but we want to hear from both sides in a bipartisan setting.

Key issues will include job creation and economic development, health care, nutrition and other major safety net programs, education, workforce development, transportation, broadband access, housing and other infrastructure improvements, Delta heritage tourism, and equal economic opportunity for all, including women, minorities, and people in rural areas who have been too often left behind.

We will invite President Bill Clinton to speak about the vital work of the Clinton Foundation in nutrition, health care, energy policy, and other initiatives in the USA and across the globe, by a live call-in.

Please RSVP by replying to this email or calling Lee Powell at (202) 360-6347. You register by paying the registration fees and that info is below in this message.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. Basic Schedule

B. Registration information

C. Group Hotel

D. Preliminary list of regional leaders confirmed on the program thus far

A. SCHEDULE

OPENING SESSION: Wednesday evening, Oct. 31, 4:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., Arkansas State Capitol Rotunda

(Informal, optional socializing/networking dinner at the group hotel restaurant, after the opening session ends, beginning about 7 p.m., Camp David Restaurant at the Holiday Inn Presidential. This gives an opportunity for people to have a dialogue in a relaxed setting, unlike the time-pressured conference sessions.)

CLINTON LIBRARY SESSION: Thursday, Nov. 1, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Library

B. REGISTRATION

You register by sending in the early registration fees, which are $125 for those who have paid annual dues and $100 for those who have paid annual dues.

For those who can get together a group of five or more people from your network, we will give a further group discount and knock the registration fees down to $60 each.

After Oct. 15, late registration fees go up to $150 to provide an incentive to get the fees in on time.

The easiest way to pay the registration fees is on the website at mdgc.us by going to the PayPal link and clicking on the link that says “Donate.”

If you prefer to pay by check, please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

C. GROUP HOTEL

The Holiday Inn Presidential in the Little Rock River Market district close to the Clinton Library is the group hotel.

To get the low group rate of $89 for Oct. 31, please call the hotel at (501) 375-2100 and say you are with the Delta Caucus group, before the reservation deadline of Oct. 15.

This is a very good rate for a high quality hotel in the Little Rock River Market area. We were negotiating with three hotels and received good offers from all three, and the rate kept going down the longer we haggled. The sales manager was afraid if she kept negotiating with me she might wind up giving us the rooms for free, so she was relieved when the negotiating process finally ended😃!

Most people will only stay one night to cut down on expenses, but we also have a smaller number of rooms for the night of Nov. 1 in case anyone wants to stay an extra night.

D. Preliminary list of regional leaders confirmed thus far

In addition to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Democratic nominee for governor Jared Henderson, Rep. French Hill, and Democratic nominee for the Second Congressional District, State Rep. Clarke Tucker, we have confirmed the following grassroots leaders from the Greater Delta Region:

· Nathan Pittman, Senior Vice President for Communications, Southern Bancorp Community Partners, Arkansas and Mississippi;

–Shelley Ritter, Executive Director, Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale, Mississippi;

· Brad Cole, Executive Director, Illinois Municipal League (originally from Carbondale in southern Illinois)

· Millie Atkins, Economic Equality Caucus Co-Chair and community leader from Monroe, Louisiana;

· Mike Marshall, CEO, Sikeston Missouri Regional Chamber of Commerce and Area Economic Development Corp.’

· Bob Nash, former USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development, President Clinton’s White House Director of Presidential Personnel;

· Tracey Barnett, professor of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville School of Social Work, leader of a research initiative on the impact of SNAP nutrition program in Arkansas;

· Alan Gumbel, Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce, Memphis, Tennessee;

· State Rep. Chris Richey, Director of Phillips County, Arkansas Chamber of Commerce, Helena-West Helena, Arkansas;

· Kyle Miller, Director, Delta Cultural Center, Helena-West Helena, AR;

· Kevin Smith, long-time Delta regional advocate, Helena-West Helena, AR;

· Harvey Joe Sanner, President, American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas, Des Arc, Arkansas;

· Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director, Federation of Southern Cooperative, East Point, Georgia—this organization is active all across the South;

· Heifer International will have an information table, with Perry Jones of their USA domestic programs;

· Johnny Pettis, Society of St. Andrew in Arkansas, with an information table on their innovative project for increasing fruit and vegetable production In the region;

· Bud Cummins, distinguished lawyer, former US Attorney, one of the two nonpartisan questioners for the gubernatorial and Congressional candidates.

Delta Caucus Pays Tribute to Legacy of Ralph Paige, a Great American, this July 4

Posted on July 04, 2018 at 01:33 PM

As we celebrate America’s Independence this July 4, the Delta Grassroots Caucus would like to pay tribute to a great American champion of social, economic and racial justice, Ralph Paige, who led the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund for 30 years.

Ralph Paige passed away on June 28, 2018 after a life-time of service for low-income people in the South, African American and other minority farmers, and organizing 70 cooperatives and 18 community development credit unions over a broad range of rural America.

Among his many achievements, Mr. Paige spearheaded efforts starting in the mid-1990s and continuing for two decades to bring justice to many African American and other minority farmers who were discriminated against at USDA in credit, conservation and rural development.

These efforts culminated in the Pigford I and Pigford II class action cases, becoming the largest successful discrimination lawsuit against the US federal government, bringing payments of $2.5 billion in payments to thousands of black farm families.

Mr. Paige also supported discrimination settlements for Hispanic, Native American and women farmers who were discriminated against by USDA.

Bob Nash, Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development and later Director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel for President Clinton, praised Ralph Paige by saying he “literally saved farms and lives all across the South. Ralph will be remembered by thousands across the South who still have their land because of him.”

Bob Nash’s wife, Janis Kearney, White House diarist for President Clinton and founding publisher of Writing Our World Press in Little Rock, said “Ralph Paige was a passionate and strong advocate for all those who lived in rural areas.”

Delta Caucus partners remember the great work of Ralph Paige–Delta Caucus director Lee Powell and long-time family farmer advocate Harvey Joe Sanner of Arkansas worked with Mr. Paige over the decades. Powell recalls working with Ralph Paige when Powell was a Presidential appointee at USDA in the Clinton administration, as President Clinton was supporting efforts to redress the sad history of USDA’s discrimination against African Americans and other minorities.

Powell recalls that senior USDA officials in the Clinton administration clearly saw it was time for the Department to change its climate toward minorities, including aiding limited resource farmers. This led–among many other initiatives–to an expansion of the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and later to farmers’ market programs for seniors, greater use of food stamps at farmers’ markets, and other efforts to promote smaller-scale farmers. It was a difficult struggle and we still have a ways to go, but Ralph Paige’s leadership in working with grassroots, state and federal levels led to substantial progress over the many years of his leadership.

To cite just one smaller-scale but interesting anecdote, Secretary Dan Glickman decided that USDA national headquarters needed to practice what it preached and instructed Powell to use the senior executives’ parking lot on the Mall for a farmers’ market for produce farmers in the mid-Atlantic region. After some dismissive comments from some of the executives who didn’t like the inconvenience and predicted that the USDA Farmers Market would fade away soon, with the support of Ralph Paige the first USDA Farmers Market was held in 1996 before a big crowd at the national headquarters.

Ralph Paige brought up a group of farmers all the way from Georgia to support the effort (and also sell a lot of their produce to the throng at USDA)—and they had to get up very early in the morning to make it there on time for the opening of the market.

Contrary to the nay-sayers, that USDA market on the national Mall still exists today. This was a minor example (well, okay, it wasn’t minor if you were one of the small farmers from Virginia, Maryland and Georgia who made some income from it) of Ralph’s dedication, but it shows that he was always ready to help projects large and small.

The larger-scale WIC Farmers’ market, EBT use for SNAP, senior farmers’ market programs, and the farm-to-school efforts that Paige began promoting in the late twentieth century in cooperation with many other nutrition and small farmer advocates provided significant new markets for many smaller-scale farmers across the country, while increasing access to fresh, nutritious produce for many low-income Americans.

Of course the monumental Pigford litigation was just beginning in the 1990s, but thanks to the network of leaders Ralph Paige worked with, they persevered and the gains became much larger over time.

The Federation’s creation of so many cooperatives and credit unions across the South were a victory for all lower-income people in the rural South, and not just minorities.

Harvey Joe Sanner, Delta Caucus senior ag adviser. president of the American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas, and a long-time advocate for family farmers, recalls working with Ralph Paige and lobbying for a variety of initiatives to help farmers over many years.

Sanner lobbied President Clinton for Ralph Paige and Jim DuPree, an Arkansas farmer who is very knowledgeable about agriculture policy, to serve on the 21st Century Commission on Production Agriculture, founded by President Clinton and continued in the Bush administration. On that commission, Paige, DuPree and others recommended that the family farm system was the best for our country, that farm safety net programs for farmers were essential in downturns such as declines in prices, and it was not wise to concentrate all land-ownership into corporate agriculture’s big business.

We all know that corporate agriculture has continued to grow in recent years—just as corporations and wealthier Americans have fared very well across all sectors of the US economy with our unfortunately increasing economic inequalty—and the Commission’s recommendations were not followed anywhere near as much as farm advocates like Paige, DuPree and Sanner would have liked; Nonetheless there is still a safety net for some funding to farmers when prices decline and other vicissitudes, and positive programs such as crop insurance.

Sanner emphasized that “Ralph Paige was greatly respected and liked by family farmers and rural development advocates all across the South.”

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives is currently led by Executive Director Cornelius Blanding. Ralph Paige worked out a succession before he retired in 2015 so that his work could go on after him. We know the Federation will continue the great work of Mr. Paige.

We would like to pass along extended excerpts from the Federation’s eulogy for Ralph Paige, who will truly be sorely missed.

Ralph Paige, former Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, dies at 74

It is with the saddest regret that we announce that Ralph Paige, former Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, died Thursday, June 28th. Mr. Paige served as Executive Director for 30 years from 1985 to 2015. He began working for the Federation in 1969 and served the organization for 46 years.

During his thirty years as Executive Director, he built the Federation into the premier organization representing Black farmers and low-income rural people in the South. He helped to organize 70 cooperatives and 18 community development credit unions during his tenure as Executive Director. He supported the development of the Federation’s unique Rural Training and Research Center in Epes, Alabama, including an agro-forestry component and forestry demonstrations.

He spearheaded efforts from the mid-1990’s forward to file suit against USDA for discrimination in credit, conservation and rural development. These efforts led to the historic Pigford I and Pigford II class action cases, which became the largest successful discrimination lawsuits against the U. S. Federal government and yielded $2.5 billion in payments to thousands of Black farm families. He also supported discrimination settlements for Native American, Hispanic and Women farmers who were also subjected to discrimination by USDA.

He worked on legislation to reform farm and rural policies to allow for the formation of the National Co-op Bank, creation of the Section 2501 Outreach and Technical Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers, expansion of farm credit to include Micro-loans, appropriate to family-size farming operations; and the creation of the Rural Cooperative Development Program to support cooperative development and training centers, like the Federation’s at Epes.

His greatest legacy is that the Federation has continued and flourished, celebrating its 50th anniversary in August 2017. A succession plan that he initiated has replaced the ‘founding generation of core staff’ with a new generation of capable leadership to guide the organization for the next generation and into the future.

He received numerous awards including induction in to the Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2004, Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award from SCLC, George Washington Carver Hall of Fame at Tuskegee, Congressional Black Caucus Leadership Award, NCBA Co-op Month Leadership Award and many others.

Ralph leaves to cherish his memory, a wife of 51 years, Bernice, two children, Bernard and Kenyatta, five grand children and many relatives and friends.

**The wake for Ralph Paige: Thursday, July 5, 2018: The wake will be held at the Warren Temple United Methodist Church (416 E Depot St, LaGrange, GA 30241) from 6:00-8:00 pm(EST)**

Sen. Boozman, Broad Bipartisan Coalition in Senate Preserve SNAP & Ag Programs in Farm Bill

Posted on June 29, 2018 at 01:19 PM

The Delta Caucus praised Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and a bipartisan coalition in the Senate for passing a Farm Bill that preserves vital SNAP nutrition programs as well as agriculture and conservation programs. The margin was an overwhelming 86-11.

Caucus Director Lee Powell, a senior USDA official as a Presidential appointee in the Clinton administration, said “Sen. Boozman as an Ag Committee member and co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, and Sen. Roberts, Ag Committee chair, worked with many Democrats to preserve the basic SNAP nutrition program that is the vital safety net against hunger in America, as well as vital agriculture provisions that are crucial for our farmers across the Delta.”

The Senate version of the Farm Bill protects Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit levels and eligibility for children, seniors, people with disabilities, lower income working families, veterans and those seeking work.

In addition to the SNAP provision, the bill renews vital farm programs for crop insurance and land conservation at a time when farmers are facing low prices and the possibility of a trade war that could depress commodity prices even more.

Harvey Joe Sanner, senior Ag adviser to the Delta Caucus and a leader of the Tractorcade farm protests in the 1970s, said “The House Bill is totally unacceptable on many levels. The SNAP program is a great program that consumes a good portion of the farm products grown in the U.S. It also supports families and children who deserve our compassion and support.”

Sanner said “On the political side, a coalition of producers, exporters, processors, conservationists and those focused on the nutrition programs are necessary to pass farm legislation. The Senate Bill does a far better job of addressing all of these diverse, vital views and concerns.

“The Senate version of the bill is vastly superior to the House version, which cuts SNAP benefits, eligibility, and would cause many children in SNAP households to lose their direct connection to free school meals. We also commend the 68 senators who defeated a detrimental amendment that would have made hunger worse by inflicting harsh work rules on struggling families and would require food retailers to check photo identification for SNAP EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card customers,” Powell said.

“We would like to thank Joel Berg of Hunger Free America, all our colleagues at the Food Research and Action Center, Feeding America, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, and the many partners who made calls and other contacts to their Members of Congress across the country and in the eight-state Greater Delta region in supporting passage of the Senate version of this legislation. This is one of the most, if not the most important bill for the Delta region,” Powell said.

“The Delta Caucus urges all our partners to work for the Senate version of the bill to prevail as the House and Senate work to reconcile the two versions,” Sanner said.

Addendum–USDA Food Insecurity Data for Delta region:

Delta states unfortunately had five of the six worst food insecurity levels in America in the USDA 2016 data. Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama were the three worst, with Arkansas and Kentucky respectively fourth and fifth. The only state outside of our region in the worst six states was New Mexico.

Food insecurity in 2016 data from the USDA Economic Research Service (states with worst food insecurity):

Mississippi: 18.7%

Louisiana: 18.3%

Alabama: 18.1%

New Mexico: 17.6%

Arkansas: 17.5%

Kentucky: 17.3%