The U.S. House passed a massively scaled back five-year farm bill, stripped of the food stamp program used by 48 million Americans, nearly half of them children, on a narrow vote last week, CNN reported.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which accounts for about $80 billion per year of about $100 billion in spending under the farm bill each year, is the largest domestic safety net against hunger.
Republicans in the House – save a dozen who defected to vote with Democrats against the farm bill legislation – want deep cuts in nutrition programs that expanded greatly under the Bush and Obama administrations as a stubborn national recession lingered. Democrats say it leaves poor Americans more vulnerable.
“It is despicable,” North Carolina Democratic Rep G.K. Butterfield said to House Republicans, CNN reported. “What is it about poor people that you don't like?"
The proposed bifurcation is seen as a practical solution, postponing the gnarly partisan debate for a later date and getting a plan in the hands of the nation’s farmers and ranchers. Critics say there’s no guarantee the Republican-controlled House will come back to debate the nutrition side of the program.
TALK BACK IN THE COMMENTS:Is it time for food stamps to come out of the farm bill?
Or does bifurcation leave poor Americans at the mercy of partisan Congress?
Should farm subsidies – which critics argue are heavily tilted toward corporate agriculture, ethanol producers and fossil fuel producers rather than family farmers – be eliminated altogether?
Should subsidies be tied to soil conservation?