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Robert Longley

Farm Bill Will Cut Food Stamp Benefits

By December 31, 2013

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In early January 2014, hopefully before the price of milk soars to $7 a gallon, Congress might pass a new Farm Bill, but only if Republicans and Democrats can agree on how much to cut food stamp (SNAP) benefits. Of course, that's about a $35 billion "if."

Largely ignored by Congress last year along with immigration reform and postal service reform bills, the Farm Bill authorizes funding for most elements of the national farm safety net, as well as most food and nutrition programs, such as food stamps and school meal programs.

Also See: When the Last American Farmer Dies

Food stamp benefits, already cut by about $5 billion in November 2013, will be cut again, no matter which of the two competing farm bills finally makes it through the legislative process to President Obama's desk.

Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress support cutting food stamp benefits, but are far apart in agreeing on the size of those cuts. President Obama has stated his opposition to any "major" changes to the food stamp program.

Republican's Bill: $40 Billion in Cuts

In the House of Representatives, the Republican majority has succeeded in passing a version of a Farm Bill that would cut $40 billion from food stamp benefits over the next 10 years, mainly through stricter eligibility requirements potentially disqualifying as many as 4 million recipients.

The House bill would eliminate existing food stamp eligibility waivers that allow healthy adults without dependents to receive benefits indefinitely, and would allow the states to make having a job a requirement for getting food stamps.

Democrat's Bill: $4.5 Billion in Cuts

Meanwhile, the Democrat-controlled Senate has passed a Farm Bill calling for $4.5 billion in cuts in food stamp benefits.

While cutting food stamp benefits, the Senate bill would increase spending for the federal farm safety net with a 10% expansion of the crop insurance program and a boost in commodity crop support rates.

Possible Compromise: $8 Billion in Cuts

Clearly, between the two farm bills, House and Senate negotiators have some compromising to do. That compromising will be done by a 41-member select reconciliation committee chaired by Iowa's Democratic Senator Tom Harkin.

On December 19, Sen. Harking was cited by Reuters as stating a compromise farm bill would likely end up cutting food stamp benefits by about $8 billion over 10 years, a figure that will require some major concessions by Republicans.

According to Harkin, the compromise bill would generate a majority of the $8 billion in savings by closing loopholes in the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that automatically award food stamp benefits to certain low-income families getting government assistance in paying their utility bills.

Also See: LIHEAP Fraud Costs Taxpayers At Least $116 Million

In January 2013, Congress extended the existing 2008 Farm Bill for nine months. Congressional leaders of both parties now agree that a further extension is not acceptable. A new Farm Bill is needed.

Also See: Cutting US Deficit Means Sacrifice for All

Comments

December 31, 2013 at 7:55 pm
(1) timmy says:

how about cutting the $200 billion this country gives to other countries

January 9, 2014 at 11:31 pm
(2) cheryl smith says:

my food stamps were cut by 40 dollars a month last year and I cld barely make it before that ….if they keep on cutting food stamps there will be more crime. Maybe you should check these Chaldeans who have families that have businesses and drive around in expensive cars and use their food stamps for treats at their parties. Better start thinking about us Americans…

February 4, 2014 at 4:21 pm
(3) Sue says:

they can’t keep cutting food stamps ,my husband is a veteran and we went from getting $367,to $122,to $102 ,to $97 dollar to eat on. this has taken place in less than one year from all the cuts now. Are we suppose to go hungry. We never asked for help ever but he got sick4 years ago and lost a lung and had to quit working. So punish him and i because of others whom cheat.

March 12, 2014 at 10:25 am
(4) mo says:

yes they can do u hear the word FARM bill it has nothing to do with food stamps

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