Keeping the food-stamps program in the farm bill is key to getting it passed.
Read the article by Jerry Hagstrom in the NATIONAL JOURNAL
“Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., defended federal nutrition programs Tuesday to a group of agricultural journalists, and in the process demonstrated why dealing with food stamps may be harder this year than in 2012 when it comes to writing a farm bill.
“Cochran told the North American Agricultural Journalists that food stamps—formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP—should stay in the farm bill rather than be put in a separate bill, as some tea-party House Republicans have proposed.
“[Food stamps] should continue to be included purely from a political perspective. It helps get the farm bill passed,” Cochran said.
“He went on to defend federal nutrition programs, including food stamps and subsidized school meals. “I come from a state where we have higher-percentage participation [than the national average]. It is part of my representation of the state that I make sure that those interests get represented,” Cochran said.
“”I have never had to apologize in Mississippi for supporting it,” he said, referring to food stamps.
“Those are rare words from a Republican these days. But Cochran is an old-school Southern Republican who has long recognized that his and other Southern states with the highest rates of poverty in the country need food assistance as much as they need cotton, rice, and peanut subsidies. Midwestern Republicans supported food stamps because the program led to an increase in food sales.
“That changed in the last Congress. 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 number of people on food stamps has risen above 47 million during the Obama administration, and Republicans have noted that the numbers have not gone down much even as the economy has improved. They want to make it harder for people to qualify for the program, and both the farm bills passed by the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee in 2012 included cuts to SNAP.
“Cochran has shown no enthusiasm for those cuts, and on Tuesday he said only that there would need to be “consensus” on any proposal to trim the program….. Keep reading the article in the NATIONAL JOURNAL