Agri Leader

Fix food stamp budget and get farm bill passed

Central Florida's Agri-LeaderThe federal farm bill waiting for approval is hung up in a big way, and as expected, itís all due to political wrangling and hot air. Itís crazy because this farm bill is important for so many sectors of agriculture but only one part has everyone stymied. House Republicans wonít approve the bill unless $2.5 billion a year is trimmed from the food stamp program, which is now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The Senate wants much less cut from SNAP. Thereís no doubting that the SNAP program has grown. It costs $80 billion a year for this and thatís about 80 percent of the total farm bill. The Great Recession forced a lot of people to seek food aid over the last several years. The amount spent mushroomed. It makes sense that members of Congress want to shrink that amount as they deal with budget issues. More important, though, is making sure Americans who need food are getting it. No needy person in nation as rich and with such resources as ours should go hungry. That said, there is waste and fraud, and that must be managed.
The problem, though, is that a lot of politicians are grandstanding this issue. They want to come down hard on people on the lowest economic rungs of our society. Itís easy to make their lives more difficult because many donít vote or have no voice. Some members of Congress do this using food stamps and unemployment benefits back home. Itís sickening. Beyond the argument concerning food for needy folks, though, our agricultural community needs to have resolution on the farm bill. Critically needed research and crop insurance issues are at stake, and itís impossible to plan when everything is in limbo. Congress needs to make reasonable cuts to food stamps, as long as the people who need it can get it, and move on. This process needs rectified.