Food stamp cuts in Farm Bill may lead to action

November 19, 2012 at 9:30 am 1 comment

Amid the debates about the “fiscal cliff”– the spending cuts and tax increases to take effect on January 1, which could plunge the economy back into recession– farmers and advocates from across the country have also been pushing for the passage of a new farm bill. The 2008 farm bill expired at the end of September and compromise between the House and Senate toward a new farm bill was stalled as Congress went into recess. Now that Congress is back for the “lame duck” session, the House and Senate have just weeks to reach a decision on the farm bill and take action to avert the fiscal cliff.

The Washington Post reports that spending cuts in the farm bill may be a component of an agreement on the fiscal cliff, and could expedite the passage of a new bill.  At hand is the significant cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) in the House version of the farm bill. While the Senate version cut the program by $4 billion, the house quadrupled that for a $16 billion cut. Given that legislators are looking for ways to cut spending ahead of the looming January 1 deadline, these cuts could become part of a compromise.

Farm advocates like the American Farm Bureau Federation are pushing for the new farm bill to be passed as a part of a package along with the fiscal measures.  While this may be expedient for farmers and agriculture, the 47 million Americans who receive food stamp benefits are hanging in the balance. As both the unemployment and the poverty rates remain high, SNAP provides necessary aid to struggling families. We have blogged before about how SNAP and other safety net programs help keep many families out of poverty– without them, the poverty rate would be much higher.

A new farm bill is needed to provide policy and regulatory guidance for a strong, healthy and sustainable agricultural industry in the U.S. This bill should also the preservation of SNAP and the essential service it provides to millions of families across the nation. It’s important that in any compromise, the viability and importance of agriculture policy and safety net programs like SNAP are preserved. Both are needed to address hunger, food access, and poverty.

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Entry filed under: Agriculture Policy, Economy, Farm Policy, Healthy Foods. Tags: , , , .

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