Last year's Farm Bill stalled in the House when Tea Party Republicans decided not feeding the poor was a winning meal ticket in the 2012 elections. That worked well for folks like Allen Quist, sent him back to his rural Nicollet County farm instead of the big hotdish contest in the Beltway.
The National Journal reports in Food Stamps Are Key Component to Getting Farm Bill Passed:
. . .Some House Republicans, often from the rural Midwest, began proposing putting food stamps—which make up more than 70 percent of the Agriculture Department budget—into a separate bill. This would be a way to reduce food-stamp spending or get the program turned over to the states. These members seem to have forgotten that Congress created food stamps as part of the farm bill in the 1960s, when the declining rural population translated into fewer rural representatives in the House and fewer votes for the farm bill, and that the number of rural representatives continues to decline. . . .
. . . The participation in food stamps appears to remain higher than anticipated, however, because wage rates are so low. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has suggested that the way to resolve the problem is to help food-stamp beneficiaries improve their skills and get better jobs.
Meanwhile, House Republicans press for cuts and most Democrats resist. House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he has told his panel’s chairman, Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., that he wants to be part of any decision-making on food-stamp cuts. Peterson also defended food stamps with a statement that is sure to raise hackles in farm circles: “There is less fraud in food stamps than in any government program. There is five times as much fraud in crop insurance than in food stamps.”
Even an old Blue Dog can stay on point when the scent's strong even.
Agriculture.Com business editor Daniel Looker notes in Farm bill in works, still difficult:
Leaders of congressional ag committees from both parties seem optimistic that there will be a farm bill this year, but tough negotiating remains, especially if committees have to trim spending even more than they did when putting together bills in 2012. . . .
The House ag committee's ranking Democrat, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, seems to be a strong supporter as well. But he is hearing complaints from some of his farmer constituents about insurance not being limited for very large farms. . . .
Just as a year ago, negotiating changes to the commodity title of the farm bill and the spending level for the nutrition title remain difficult.
Peterson said that more money could be saved from SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, if the federal government and not states, determined the income level for eligibility for what used to be called food stamps.
The federal threshold for food stamp eligibility is 130% of the poverty level, Peterson said, but in red states, it's actually higher--200% in North Dakota, 165% in Texas and 185% in Arizona, versus 130% in Peterson's state of Minnesota."The states that you would think would use this (the lower, federal level) are not," he said.
Peterson said he's urging his committee colleagues "we should be looking at policy here, instead of a number."
A good point, dawg.
Photo: Minnesota Seventh District Congressman Collin Peterson.
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