Shortly after the November elections, Congress will reconvene for the lame duck session and consider the farm bill at the behest of a bipartisan coalition of statists. The farm bill is really a food stamp bill. The House version (H.R. 6083) authorizes $957 billion in spending over 10 years, $756 billion of which will be spent on food stamps and other nutrition programs. The Senate version (S. 3240) authorizes $969 billion in spending over 10 years, $772 billion of which will be spent on food welfare programs.
To put this in perspective, the 2008 farm bill authorized roughly $400 billion in food stamp spending. In other words, the current farm bill proposals would consummate Obama’s food stamp presidency into the permanent welfare structure.
Instead of doing Obama’s bidding in the lame duck session, John Boehner should bring real welfare reform to the House floor – the State Nutrition Assistance Flexibility Act (H.R. 6518). This legislation, sponsored by Reps. Tim Huelskamp, Paul Broun, Steve Chabot, and Jim Jordan, would combine 6 food welfare programs into one entity, and block grant it to the states. Believe it or not, there are 17 different programs dedicated to providing food assistance. This bill would combine the following 6:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
- Community Food Projects
- Commodity Supplemental Food Program
- Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)
Unlike the current system in which states are incentivized to increase their food stamp rolls, the block granting plan will cap spending at 2008 levels. States will also be subject to the work requirements that are supposed to be applied to TANF. Additionally, the financial aspects of the program will be subject to annual, independent audits that shall be made available to the U.S. Treasury Secretary, the state legislatures, and the general public.
If a bill that is comprised of 80% in food stamp spending can be referred to as a farm bill, then there’s no reason why this bill cannot be used as an alternative to the “farm bill.”
Ask your members of the House if they plan to co-sponsor this bill and implore leadership to bring it to the floor.