Major Reversal: Food Stamps Blocking Long-Term Farm Bill

As the House and Senate prepare to move their separate versions of the trillion-dollar farm bill through committee next week, it’s important to consider how folks’ perspectives on food stamps have recently changed.  After all, food stamps comprise 80 percent of the spending in the bill.

Last year Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham and Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) explained (sub. req’d) there is an “unholy Washington alliance… between rural lawmakers and their urban and suburban colleagues.”  This alliance “has caused exponential growth in spending by combining farm policy and food stamps in one huge legislative package.”

This needs to change:

Instead of combining farm policy, food stamps, telecommunications, energy, forestry and conservation into a single legislative vehicle, we must begin advancing one issue at a time. Even Americans with differing views on the role of the federal government in U.S. agriculture should agree that any farm bill passed by Congress be a farm-only bill.

Last year, Needham and Stutzman said that it’s “time to have a farm-only farm bill, and move other policies separately.”

Has that time come?

The Washington Establishment certainly hopes not.  They don’t want to reform the farm bill, and they have a big incentive to keep farm policy and food stamp policy tangled up: it helps them get the farm subsidies and food stamp program passed with the votes of lawmakers who would otherwise not feel compelled to do so if they were considered individually!

But in 2013 there is a key difference.  According to the Associated Press, “This year, food stamps are making passage harder.”

In fact, Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union has stated that “It’s probably the largest obstacle that this farm bill faces.”

The “unholy alliance” farm-state lawmakers have counted on for decades is unraveling, not because the Left won’t play ball, but because their constituents are informed and rightly outraged by the dramatic growth, waste and fraud in our nation’s food stamp program.

Conservatives want to rid the food stamp program of fraud and waste, but we believe that the policies coming down from Washington should encourage independence and individual responsibility.  It may be harder for liberals to buy votes that way – but being independent is better for individuals, especially the American taxpayer.

Needham and Stutzman also stated:

15% of the U.S. population is dependent on food stamps. Half of all food-stamp spending goes toward individuals who have been on the program for eight years or more. There can be no doubt that we are in the midst of a dependency crisis, and conservatives especially shouldn’t settle for locking in Obama-era levels of government dependence.

The Obama administration wants to make Americans more dependent on government, not less. Witness its recent decision to gut the federal work requirements for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the program created by the 1996 reform of welfare.

Liberal Democrats want to paint the efforts of conservatives to rein in food stamp spending in an extremely negative light.  To be clear, the supposed savings in the yet-to-be-released bills are all but imaginary – both in terms of food stamps and in terms of farm programs.  Their bills do virtually nothing to cut back spending, as we explained in 2012.  They called for 60 percent more spending than the 2008 farm bill.  Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that proponents of the farm bills overestimated the “savings” in the bills by $10 billion.  The savings are still just as farcical in 2013, as political director Russ Vought explains.

Thankfully, some people in Washington are starting to see the light.

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Please Share Your Thoughts

11 thoughts on “Major Reversal: Food Stamps Blocking Long-Term Farm Bill

  1. Food stamps are being abused by immoral recipients ruining the program for people who use food stamps the way they are supposed to be used … It’s time to hold people accountable for this abuse or get rid of food stamps…

    • John.. if you make $8 / hour and your wife makes $8 / hour.. how are you supposed to put 3 meals on the table for yourself and your 2 or 3 kids? If their employer payed a “living wage” of about $15 or $20 an hour.. then there would be no need for Food Stamps.. you are right… We would save Billions in Taxes and yes… their employer would loose Billions in profits.. so, are we supposed to “supplement” company profits with our taxes?

  2. It’s fun to comment on these boards – but, if we don’t contact our representatives, we are just preaching to the choir. It’s now time to write my “farm-state lawmaker”! It’s time to email articles like this to everyone in our address book and post on social media sites. I’m tired of bills having “catchy” titles that don’t reflect the actual piece of legislation. (It reminds me of our current media!) There is a reason these two (very different) subjects are entwined. Our government has a spending problem and an honesty problem.

    And REALLY – eight years on food stamps? That’s not a “helping hand” – that’s a way of life!

      • Seriously Vlad, was it necessary to call me a name? Does that in someway make your opinion more valid than mine? I’ve read all of your comments on this article. I don’t know if the circumstances that you speak of are yours or the plight of others. But, I still believe that eight years is a long time to receive food stamps. And to this article, I don’t believe that this bill (The Farm Bill) should include the costs of food stamps. Both “programs” should stand on their own, in name and cost to taxpayers – for the sake of transparency.
        I’m not rich (I’m a farmer that has never applied for aid from the government “Farm Bill”) and have made modifications in my own life due to the rising cost of food, gas and everything in between. But, I do my best to help others (financially or otherwise) when I can. Sometimes, the help is appreciated and other times, I’m just the next sucker in line. If we were to be honest here, we both know people that commit fraud through this bill.

    • If a person is on SSI their income has not changed much in 8 years. They may have no other way because of a disability to get any income of any type so SSI and or SSD and food stamps may be their only options.

  3. Let’s get rid for Food Stamps and Farm Subsidies for agribusiness at the same time. Americans have had just about enough of congressional corruption.

  4. We are still in a VERY DEEP RECESSION… people do not have Jobs… how are they supposed to put Food on their tables to feed their children?… Even millions that have Full Time or Part Time jobs are making $7.25 or $8.00 an hour… an IMPOSSIBLE wage to put decent food on the table and still pay housing and living bills… That is why the Food Stamps users are so high now.. oh, and BTW.. yes, the number of receipeints are higher.. but, the amount that they are recieving is MUCH LOWER than what was received just a few years ago… Walmart… just increase your entry wage to 15/hour and we will cut our FOOD STAMPS bill in HALF.

  5. The food stamp / link card program is abused by too many people receiving it. These cards are sold every day to stores selling liquor, alcohol, tobacco and other items not covered under the program. They are also sold to people for drugs and other illegal items. When there is no food for these people to eat, they go to foodbanks, churches, agencies and breadlines to get their food.
    We need food stamp / link card reform! At a minimum there should be pictures of the recipient on the card.

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