The Republican controlled House of Representatives, while still delaying its own version of the farm bill, is likely to insist on deeper cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly known as the Food Stamp Program) in the final congressional negotiations.
The Senate farm bill, which finally passed after weeks of delay and debate, contains about $24 billion in agricultural spending cuts. Included in those cuts were the elimination of direct payment subsidies, reductions in conservation funding, and cuts to the Food Stamp Program. Despite these cuts, nearly $80 billion of the more than $1 trillion farm bill goes to food stamps and nutritional assistance.
Supporters of these programs say that they keep more than 5 million Americans from slipping into poverty each year.
The GOP controlled House of Representatives, however, has made reducing these programs a top priority. Earlier this year, the House passed a budget that would have cut food stamp spending by about $13 billion a year for the next decade. In May, the House Agriculture Committee approved a $3.3 billion annual cut in food stamp benefits as part of the Republican plan to avoid automatic across the board budget cuts that will go into effect next year.
While the House has not yet begun crafting its own farm bill (and their efforts to include serious food stamp cuts in various budget bills have been blocked in the Senate) many political commentators believe that the House will include steep cuts in their version of the farm bill, setting up a battle between Senate Democrats and House Republicans in the final farm bill negotiations.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer