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Should Food Stamps be Taken off Table in Farm Bill Debate? Iowa Patch Poll

Farm bill debate is usually a bipartisan love fest between rural states like Iowa that support farm programs and urban states that like the nutrition side of the program. But there’s a divorce shaping up and it’s contentious.

Children make up about half of the nation's 48 million food stamp recipients. Should they be cut from farm bill spending? Photo: USDA
Children make up about half of the nation's 48 million food stamp recipients. Should they be cut from farm bill spending? Photo: USDA

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?

SteveW July 14, 2013 at 12:58 PM
It's always interesting to me that any stories you see online or elsewhere about food stamps or SNAP always have images of minorities associated with them. I don't think there was any ill intent, but there seems to be a pattern. The truth is that Whites comprise 36% of recipients, Blacks 22%, Latinos 10%, etc. This is per U.S. Gov statistics. It's more about being poor than being a particular race. Over 400,000 of our fellow Iowans are on food stamps, that's 13.6% of the population. These are indeed hard times because of the recession. However, we continue to feed certain stereotypes across the country.
Beth Dalbey (Editor) July 14, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Great point, Steve. As you suggest, there was no ill intent. In retrospect, we should have considered the image, taken from the USDA web site, more carefully. Thanks again for your comment.
David Leonard July 15, 2013 at 12:07 PM
SNAP should be left in the farm bill so the massive agriculture lobby can continue to advocate for it, along with everything else they want.
Rob Wilson July 15, 2013 at 03:11 PM
It is interesting that certain Democratic legislators like to pit rich against poor whenever they are against something their Republican counterparts support. I tend to view this move by Republicans to simplify the measures that are being voted upon. By doing this you don't hold fellow legislators hostage by combining desirable items with undesirable ones and then beating the opposition over the head for not "caring for/loving the poor". Now I am not so naive to think that Republicans, when they have had the majority, didn't employ the same tactics. It would be valuable for both sides of the political spectrum to view food stamps as a necessary evil. This could open up the possibility that the individuals that really need food stamps can receive full assistance and abuses can be minimized.
Greg Tagtow July 15, 2013 at 03:29 PM
The Food Stamp program should rightly be stripped from the Ag bill. The two programs have little to do with each other and they both can be better regulated and stripped of fraud, waste and abuse if separated.

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