Farm bill deal would cut food stamps, end direct subsidies to farms
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — A group of bipartisan lawmakers on Monday agreed to a deal on a farm bill that would end direct subsidies to farms in favor of crop insurance.
The deal could trim as much as $90 a month from food stamps for 850,000 recipients.
The farm bill would last five years and needs to pass both chambers and then be signed by the president.
The bill could be passed before the spring planting season. That’s significant because farmers need to know early how it might affect prices and what to expect for their corn, wheat or tobacco yields.
The bill changes the current agricultural subsidy system. It ends direct payments to farmers for planting crops and replaces it with a revamped, beefed-up crop insurance program.
“Today’s bipartisan agreement puts us on the verge of enacting a five-year Farm Bill that saves taxpayers billions, eliminates unnecessary subsidies, creates a more effective farm safety-net and helps farmers and businesses create jobs,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate agriculture panel.
The changes to food stamps would trim $8 billion from the program over the next 10 years, according to congressional aides. That’s less than the $39 billion that Republicans had wanted to cut from the program, but double what Democrats had suggested.
Lawmakers say the deal will prevent 17 states from doling out more generous food stamps to people who get federal help to heat or cool their homes, even if the help is as little as $1. They stress the move won’t cut families from food stamps, it will just shrink the amount some families get.
Advocates for the poor are irate. The newly-proposed reductions come just months after the $11 cut from food stamp checks that went into effect on Nov. 1, when the recession-era boost in funding ended.
Since then, food pantries have reported larger crowds, as families exhaust their allotment before the month ends.
Currently, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the official name for food stamps, feeds 47 million people.
Meanwhile, the bill ensures that the federal government will avoid re-implementing a 1940s era subsidy program that could have caused the price of milk to double to $7 a gallon from the current national average of $3.50.
By Jennifer Liberto