food stamps

Farm Bill, Food Stamps, It’s Time To Go Your Separate Ways

The Heritage Foundation explains that the number of Americans on food stamps is at historic highs.  At no other time in our nation’s history has one in seven Americans received food stamps.  This high food stamp participation costs American taxpayers nearly $80 billion per year.

Strangely, this spending is authorized by the so-called “farm bill,” 80 percent of which is for food stamps.  It would be more aptly named the Food Stamp Bill.

Many who want to maintain the farm and food stamp bill status quo erroneously argue that Congress shouldn’t touch food stamp spending at all.  In fact, some argue the food stamp program is actually a form of economic stimulus!  Heritage explains that that argument is complete nonsense:

First, food stamps are intended to serve as a temporary safety net for those who face economic hardship, not as an economic stimulus. To justify food stamps as a stimulus to raise government revenue ignores the long-term economic consequences of welfare spending.

Not only can high debt from increased spending reduce opportunity, but welfare spending itself can impose substantial non-economic costs: discouraging work, rewarding government dependence, and eroding personal dignity.

Additionally, the food stamp program is riddled with fraud and abuse; the federal government has loosened requirements for food stamp enrollment; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture actively recruits people to become dependent upon food stamps.

None of the above is okay.  But until the farm bill and food stamps are considered separately, these issues will not be resolved.

The reason food stamp policy has not been successfully reformed is because food stamps are tied to the farm bill and have been for years.   Farm policy has not been properly reformed for that same reason.  For too long, food stamps have helped the farm bill get passed, and politicians are well aware and ready and willing to use this to their advantage.

Dan Holler explains:

[L]awmakers from deep-red states seem intent on locking in another five years of exorbitant and reckless food stamp spending. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) has said he is “proud” of his bill. Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, has called the Senate bill a “job creator.”

Why are self-styled conservatives doing this? The answer is as simple as it is cynical. Cochran recently explained that “purely from a political perspective” the inclusion of food stamps “helps get the farm bill passed.”

Cochran’s logic is not unique, but it is time to put this type of thinking out to pasture. The inclusion of massive food stamp spending is one reason a five-year “farm bill” was derailed last year, which therefore begs the question: Could $80 billion in food stamp spending be reauthorized if farm subsidies weren’t?

This unholy alliance is bad for all Americans – farmers, food stamp recipients, taxpayers and consumers alike.

Please Share Your Thoughts
  • letjusticerolldown

    Does the Food Stamp program need reform?
    Does the Agriculture program need reform?

    Why does breaking them apart make reform of either one more likely?
    I have always considered this the “Cheap Food and Fuel for Cities” bill.

    But I don’t know if Heritage’s beltway frame of reference is fundamentally any different that Capital Hill or the Washington Bureaucracy. All of you should take a year off and go farm with the black farmers whom the government has taken decades to get around to treating fairly (the ones that are left). Live in the Black Belt with dirt poor wages–cutting timber and eating food stamps. See what the world looks like you seek to change–before taking on your Washington fights that trample the land.

    • PMM

      I think you have mistaken a federal government hand out program that plays favorites for someting that is fair. Fair would be we got rid of subsidies altogether for everyone, and everyone either made it on their own or found another line of work they could actually earn a living and support their families doing. And that is not a black problem. Talk to some of our hard working Amish friends up in Pennsylvania who are “subsidizing” themselves with cottage businesses in addition to running their farms because they aren’t making ends meet just being farmers (this was duly noted when we visited some of the farms during a trip up there not very long ago). The difference between them and you……….they didn’t go looking for a handout but instead became very creative and industrious. As far as the food stamps go, mostly right now besides providing food and “other things”, they are maintaining loyalty to a president that deserves no one’s loyalty, because he has done worse than a terrible job. With all of the things coming out daily and the corruption and cover ups, he should be removed from office.

      • letjusticerolldown

        I could change the post and urge advocates at Heritage, USDA bureaucrats, and legislators to go live with Amish farmers in Pennsylvania. My point is that Heritage engages on this kind of fight from the same urban, politicized framework of Washington DC as does the legislators and bureaucrats. None see the world from the soil of Amish famers or Black Belt farmers in Alabama. They churn out policies that end up decimating corn producers in Mexico–that in turn spurs illegal immigration. U.S. agriculture is marvelous and a travesty. But the political and ideological equations have little to do with the environment, with good food, with realities of poverty, or a robust valuing of farming. It has to do with Washington politics. That is the point of my post.

        And my comment was triggered by a ridiculous political ad Heritage is running in Alabama against one of the representatives here–focused on this bill. But all it does is demonize and obfuscate very important issues–which leads me to think Heritage’s interest has nothing whatsoever to do with agriculture or nutrition support to impoverished households.

        • PMM

          As with many organizations, Heritage has their main office in Washington, but they have members at all walks of life, all levels financially and in all types of businesses and careers, so (although I know you are upset), please don’t try to make this sound like Heritage came into Alabama and don’t know a soul there, because that would NOT be true. Heritage has members all over the country. Heritage is not about “Washington politics” either. They are a conservative think tank that has been around for a very long time, and they know and understand the impact of things like the farm bill (which by the way is 80% food stamps which is an outrage………it has very little to do with farms and farming).
          The Amish don’t need to be subsidized. As I said they have come up with cottage industries and a means to subsidize themselves and their farms instead of asking the tax payer to support them, and that is not to say that I don’t understand that costs have gone up and many farmers are having a rough go of it. The problem is we have to climb out of a rather large hole that spending more money than we had has created, and to continue digging isn’t exactly a solution for that problem. Personally, I am not now and never have been a fan of the federal government picking winners and losers which is exactly what subsidies do. And as far as the food stamp program…………..it can’t be permanent and it is a train wreck waiting to happen, because it is being used as a political tool (and certainly not by Heritage). This farm bill is about a trillion dollars, and 80% of it is food stamps.

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  • Malcolm Heard

    LOL Katherine Rosario how much is the Heritage Foundation paying you to post these ridiculous lies? Obviously somewhere high considering they were able to make a senior senator leave his post. 1st There is hardly any fraud this is just lies drafted from right wing extremists (including the Herritage Foundation.) According to the USDA food stamps has a 96.1% payment accuracy.
    Why do you lie? Do you really HATE America so much that you feel the need to not tell the truth

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