The Department of Agriculture is asking for comments on a proposed rule that USDA says would strengthen state training and employment resources by helping Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program enrollees move toward jobs.

The proposed rule announced Thursday would allow employment and training funding to be used for subsidized employment like apprenticeships while also allowing states to provide job retention services for a minimum of 30 days once a participant receives a job.

It would also add workforce partnerships for SNAP participants to meet work requirements and establish a funding formula for reallocated employment and training (E&T) funds, while increasing the minimum allocation of 100% funds for each state agency to $100,000.

“There’s in excess of $100 million that Congress provides to states to operate these programs,” said Brandon Lipps, USDA's deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services. “That is an increase from around $90 (million) prior to the 2018 farm bill.”

Lipps also noted Congress provided 50-50 matching funds in legislation to help with funding.  

While all states have E&T programs mandated by Congress, Lipps said the USDA was not content with the level of services provided by some state agencies and hopes this proposal will hold them more accountable.

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He also said with the low employment rate businesses are hungry for workers.

“There are more job openings than job seekers and employers are desperate for workers,” Lipps said in a call with reporters. He also argued FNS is fully capable and funded to operate E&T programs.

“USDA remains committed to partnering with and empowering state agencies to best leverage SNAP employment and training to ensure that all SNAP participants have the opportunity to experience the transformational power of work,” he said.

The proposal would also add workforce partnerships for veterans operated by the Department of Labor or Department of Veteran Affairs to the list of programs for ABAWDs, the rule states.

The rule will be published in the Federal Register sometime next week.

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