Farm Bill compromises draw opposition from both sides

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When it comes to compromise in government legislation, it’s often said success is achieved when neither side is happy with the result. So not surprisingly, as the U.S. House of Representatives began debating the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (FARRM), opposition to the bill that passed out of the House Ag Committee emerged from both ends of the political spectrum.

A key point of contention is funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as the Food Stamp program. Spending reductions for SNAP account for the widest gap between the current House bill and the version passed out of the Senate. The Senate bill calls for about $4 billion in SNAP cuts over 10 years, while the House version would cut spending on SNAP by $20.5 billion over the same period.

The conservative group Heritage Action believes the cuts in the House bill do not go far enough. In a release titled “Conservatives must reject false choice on farm bill,” the group says the House bill only reduces record-high food-stamp spending by 2.5 percent. That spending, they say, doubled under President George W. Bush and again under President Obama.

“Many recognize our nation’s current agriculture and nutrition programs are in desperate need of reform, but (the House bill) is not the solution,” they say. The Heritage Foundation favors separating nutrition programs from farm programs, and also opposes many of the bill’s provisions for farm-program spending.

On the other side of the issue, faith-based anti-hunger organization Bread for the World issued a release titled “Bread for the World urges Congress to vote no on House version of Farm Bill.”

In reference to the $20.5 billion in SNAP spending cuts in the House bill, Bread for the World president Rev. David Beckmann says: “These cuts would kick nearly 2 million people off the SNAP program, reduce benefits for more than 800,000 families, and leave 210,000 children without free school meals.

“Since the 2008 recession, charities have had difficulty meeting community food needs. Any cut to SNAP will result in hungry people being turned away.”  

 



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