Press Release

Gillibrand Announces Democratic Farm Bill Framework Includes Bill to Expand SNAP to Puerto Rico

May 7, 2024

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is announcing that her bipartisan Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance Fairness Act was included in the Farm Bill framework released by the Senate Agriculture Committee Democrats. The inclusion of this landmark legislation would address inequalities in food assistance to Puerto Ricans and would enable Puerto Rico to fully participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP. Puerto Rico was excluded from SNAP in 1981, which has resulted in the loss of billions of dollars in aid and reduced nutrition benefits; the transition resulted in an immediate 25% reduction in nutrition aid.

“Today, I am proud to announce that the Farm Bill framework introduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Democrats includes my bill to expand SNAP to Puerto Rico. For more than forty years, Puerto Rico has been unfairly excluded from SNAP, which has resulted in billions of dollars in lost aid and reduced nutrition benefits more than one million Puerto Ricans. The bipartisan Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance Fairness Act would correct this injustice and enable Puerto Ricans to participate in SNAP, as well as to receive Disaster SNAP in the wake of natural disasters or emergencies. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I have been fighting for the bill’s inclusion in the Farm Bill, and I’m optimistic that it will be included in the final package.” –Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

According to the framework, Puerto Rico will not be able to transition until 2034 to address budget and cost concerns. This transition timeline aligns with USDA’s prediction that Puerto Rico will take 7-10 years to transition to SNAP. This proposal is supported by the Coalition for Food Security Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi.

Currently, U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico participate in the Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP), a capped block grant that is not needs-based or reactive to increased participation. This has led to lower nutrition benefits for residents of Puerto Rico than for residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Furthermore, the NAP block grant has no equivalent to Disaster SNAP, meaning that Puerto Rican disasters or emergencies require separate, new appropriations from Congress which can take months. There are currently approximately 1.3 million NAP participants.