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The Issue: The 2013 farm bill and food stamps

This news story was published on May 20, 2013.
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Farm bill has more to do with food stamps than corn.

Farm bill has more to do with food stamps than corn.


The biggest issue in the U.S. farm bill has little to do with agriculture and everything to do with partisan politics and the role of government in caring for the poor: food stamps.

It has a catchier name now, SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The mark-up of the $500 billion measure approved 36-10 by the House Agriculture Committee last week cuts $20.5 billion in food assistance over 10 years to rein in SNAP’s growth. The program, which serves 47 million Americans, averages $70 billion a year, about 70 percent of farm bill spending and eclipsing the crop insurance program.

Predictably, Republicans say the cuts to SNAP should be bigger while Democrats argue they’re too big.

The program has doubled since the recession hit in 2008 and Congress approved a temporary expansion of the program, which expires later this year.

The Trust for America’s Health issued a statement criticizing the cuts, saying they would damage the nation’s health and noting a competing Senate Agriculture Committee measure makes much smaller cuts.

“That said, if the nation continues to underfund vital public health programs, we will never achieve long-term fiscal stability as it will be impossible to help people get/stay healthy, happy and productive,” the statement said.

Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the trust called the cuts “disproportionate” and “deplorable,” noting nearly half the beneficiaries are children.

The cuts, he said, would take 3 million people off the eligibility list and deny 280,000 children school meals.

Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., disagreed.

“I like to think we have a well-balanced bill and that we can draw from all sides,” he told Roll Call. “The extremes will never support us. I think we have enough of a coalition.”

Ranking Democrat Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota said lawmakers have to recognize SNAP needs to be modified.

“We have the middle ground. I worked with Frank on this. He thinks he has what he needs to get the bill through his caucus.”

In addition to the SNAP cuts, the farm bill cuts direct payments to farmers, who get some $5 billion whether or not they grow corn, soybeans, wheat and other crops mainly in the Midwest and Plains. Some of the money will go toward trimming the deficit but the rest goes to new subsidies for southern crops: peanuts, cotton and rice. A late amendment also preserved the Christmas tree-promotion program, which would raise $2 million annually at 15 cents a tree for a program similar to those for beef and milk.

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., admits the bill is far from perfect but sees it as a good compromise.

“The fact that Democrats and Republicans could come together with a 36-10 vote meant that we have to compromise on some things,” Bustos told

“Whenever I talk with farmers, their No. 1 concern is that they want certainty. Our bill does that. It gives farmers certainty. When we have severe weather, they can deal with that.”

The omnibus farm bill requires reauthorization every five years. In addition to SNAP, crop insurance and crop subsidies, it covers trade and marketing, rural development, conservation and agriculture research.

The last farm bill — the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 — increased spending by $288 billion and provided increased subsidies for such things as biofuels, which the World Bank has blamed for increased food prices worldwide. It initially was to expire last year but was extended through Sept. 30 in the deal that averted the so-called fiscal cliff.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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20 Responses to The Issue: The 2013 farm bill and food stamps

  1. Pee Wee Reply Report comment

    July 13, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Republicans cause this we been going down hill ever since Lincoln free the slaves he was Republican. Least back then the only slaves that was fat was cooks the rest was not fat they had to work if they want to eat. Streets was safer to when they had kids them kids did not make trouble they had to work to their was no back talk yes.

    • Uncle Abe Reply Report comment

      July 13, 2013 at 4:24 am

      Are you making an argument for slavery? You are arguing to turn the clock back not 20 years, not 50 years but over 150 years?

      Are you some kind of retard or something?

      • bodacious Reply Report comment

        July 13, 2013 at 8:27 am

        Uncle Abe,
        You must not pay a lot of attention to posts on this site. The post by PeeWee is typical of his way of thinking. And he is mentally challenged not retard.

      • Pee Wee Reply Report comment

        July 13, 2013 at 10:25 am

        Abe back then black kids did not kill other black kids, familys stay together, they all felt good about themselfs, they was working. Some them slave did ok when they got free look at Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben. Most slaves was not capable of freedom, what we got now. Back in the day when they breed like rabbits it was good for America now its bad. Read you will see Lincoln want to send them away after the war then he got shot that is why there still here yes.

  2. Jesus Iberra Reply Report comment

    July 12, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Food Support Rules~! I pity the fools who have to pay retail for that junk. The previous commenter is correct. The healthiest foods cost the most. Spinach leaves are more than little debbies.

    It’s all about JEALOUSY. You’ll complain if a poor person gets a free penny and say nothing when the military takes a free $10,000. One year of your war on Iraq cost more than ALL the years of food stamps combined.

  3. Hacker Reply Report comment

    July 12, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Food stamps should be independent from farm bill. We have way too many farmers farming for the government and getting huge checks. we have lots of area farmers getting several hundred thousand dollars each year. Get backto the original purpose of the farm bill-food security for Americans and affordable food.
    food stamp program needs to be revised. Do a bar code and restrict what items cab be scanned in and that would help too.
    We are a very obese country. Lack of exercise, motivation and poor food choices.
    The Blue Zones is trying to help with this but more people need to be engaged in this to make big changes.

  4. LVS Reply Report comment

    July 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    I have no problem with feeding the people who need it and there are a lot of people out there who do. The problem as I see it is identifying who really needs it and who is just drawing because they are to lazy to work and there are also a lot of them too. I don’t have a problem in taking food stamps out of the farm bill. It should be a stand alone so it could be monitored more closely. I know when I went to DHS for a relative they asked as soon as I walked in if I wanted food stamps. When the government promotes it it does nothing but promote fraud.

    • Just My Opinion Reply Report comment

      July 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      C’mon, LVS. Let’s be realistic. If they asked you this as soon as you walked in, they probably needed to know which person to send you to, or which line you should stand in. I doubt they’re handing food stamps out left & right.

      Not attacking you. Just questioning whether this could be the case.

      • Sikastupd Reply Report comment

        July 12, 2013 at 7:07 pm

        They were going to direct him to the correct office. They weren’t offering stamps to him.

        • LVS Reply Report comment

          July 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm

          @Sika-“they were trying to direct him to the correct office not offer him food stamps”. Do you remember now. My post had nothing to do with you and was not in response to anything you had posted. I was commenting to My Opinion.

        • Sikastupd Reply Report comment

          July 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm

          So was I. Last time I checked that was my right. I didn’t insult you, I only clarified why they asked you that. Stop trying to start a fight.

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        July 12, 2013 at 7:09 pm

        @My Opinion-why don’t you go there and find out for yourself?

        • Just My Opinion Reply Report comment

          July 12, 2013 at 8:48 pm

          Not planning on doing that, LVS. I happen to know our local DHS office does an outstanding job. They’re the cream of the crop.

          No, I’m not on welfare, but would use it if I needed it. Some of us are lucky. Others aren’t.

          Yes, I know you’re not against welfare. You’re just dead-set against Obama.

        • LVS Reply Report comment

          July 13, 2013 at 9:43 am

          I didn’t say anything bad about DHS. They serve a very useful function. I just said the first thing that was said to me when I went there was do you want food stamps. I guess you could ask Sicka. She seems to know her way around there. No, I am not against welfare for those who need it. I am against it for those who are able to work and are just to lazy to do it so they live off the system. I don’t know how you separate them but it should be done. You are correct that I am against Obama. In my opinion any thinking person with any values would be.

        • Sikastupd Reply Report comment

          July 13, 2013 at 11:57 am

          Is there some reason you felt the need to throw in that snarky remark about me? Just so you know, that is often the way it works in government offices – one person is at the front and directs you to the other department or departments in their immediate area. Don’t start with me, LVS.

        • LVS Reply Report comment

          July 13, 2013 at 1:07 pm

          @Sika-yes there was-It was in response to your comment about me. Don’t you start with me Sika. I have left you alone and intend to keep on doing that as long as you leave me alone.

        • Sikastupd Reply Report comment

          July 13, 2013 at 2:45 pm

          I did not insult you in any way. I simply said they were directing you the the correct office. So cram it. Don’t threaten me, pal. You’re trying to start something and I’m not playing.

  5. Sikastupd Reply Report comment

    July 12, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Since you work at Walmart, you barely make enough to live. You, of all people, know that the cheaper foods are the ones high in fat and carbs.

    People on food stamps buy generic macaroni and potato meals because they’re cheap and stretch their food dollars. They also buy cheap fat filled hamburger and garbage filled hot dogs. They eat a lot of bread and pasta and canned soups and vegetables, which are filling, cheap and fattening. Fresh vegetables and high dollar fish and meats are out of their reach.

    I am so personally offended by your ugly comment that I am having a hard time typing a civil post, but somebody has to tell you what a nasty person you are.

    If somebody wants to buy a few candy bars for their little kids, it’s no damn skin off your hateful nose. Why don’t you worry more about your awful outlook on life? Just because you’re filled with selfish hatred doesn’t mean the rest of us are.

    My dollars go to help feed the poor – and I’m proud. The teatards attempting to slash food while letting big banks go scott free make my blood boil.

    And people like you, too stupid to look at the big picture, stand there and judge your fellow man while the politicians you adore are ripping you off to feed their greedy rich buddies. What a fool.

  6. kceb Reply Report comment

    July 12, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Keep up the pressure, revamp FOOD STAMPS NOW!!!!! As a retail associate in the largest retail store chain in the world, I see so much waste and abuse. Increase the senior citizen amount of food stamps, they have worked and earned the help. The 18 and up generation that goes on this program, after having numerous babies out of wed lock to avoid getting a job is revolting. If you can’t make it on one part time job, try two.

    Junk food, powdered sugar candies in plastic bottles, seasonal candy, soda pop…are not on the new national food plate,but are covered under food stamps. Obesity is enhanced by this program. Put a camera in a Dahls or Hy Vee and watch what they buy with this program. Junk food and steak and lobster are prime choices. the working class and retired can not even afford to buy the things our tax money lets them purchase. Lets crack down, save money, and get the over weight problem under control!!!!!

    How about a WIC check once a month equal to the number of kids a broken home has as an alternative. IE: three kids…30 dollars per month. WIC promotes only healthy products

    • Jesus Iberra Reply Report comment

      July 12, 2013 at 10:48 pm

      What store do you work for. We are able to employ you because food support money is spent in our stores. Please let us know your real name so we can take the appropriate action.