House Farm Bill Alters Nutritional Programs

Given the House of Representative’s concern over deficit spending and their desire to significantly reduce farm spending, it’s unsurprising that their proposed farm bill cuts funding from and significantly alters several nutritional programs contained in the omnibus farm legislation. While the bill may pass the House, it is facing growing opposition from the Senate and from some farm advocacy groups.

Like the Senate farm bill, the House of Representative’s legislation is concerned with reigning in unnecessary farm spending. While the Senate bill attempts to limit expenditures by reducing and eliminating several farm subsidies, the House bill does so by cutting funding for nutritional programs like the Food Stamp Program.

Opposition to these cuts is already brewing from the Democratic controlled Senate as well as some farm advocacy groups. In particular, these groups point out the unnecessary nature of the House cuts, claiming that they will undermine the point of nutritional programs.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, for example, criticized the House for focusing on cutting benefits rather than rooting out inefficiencies. “I am very concerned about some of the differences between the two bills — for example, rather than focusing on fraud and misuse like the Senate bill, the House bill takes far greater cuts in food assistance by changing eligibility rules so that some people truly in need will not receive the help their family needs.”

Some farm groups are also concerned at changes made to school nutritional programs that seem to offer no financial benefit. The House bill, while maintaining funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program (which was set up to encourage healthier eating choices in American schools), expands the criteria for fruits and vegetables, allowing canned and frozen produce to be included in the program, which some opponents say will undermine not only the snack program, but the school breakfast and lunch programs that it was meant to supplement.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer