Health & Human Services

How House, Senate Negotiators Agreed on Food Stamp Cuts in the Farm Bill

January 29, 2014

House and Senate negotiators have reached an agreement on a new farm bill that includes a roughly $800 million reduction in annual food stamp funding, a 1 percent cut to the $80-billion-a-year program.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers have come up with a deal on a farm bill. As part of this deal, food stamp benefits will be cut by about $800 million dollars a year. That means 850,000 people could lose as much as $90 worth of food stamps every month -- and that's on top of $5 billion that were cut from the program back in November. The new farm bill would last for the next five years. House leaders expect to pass the bill Wednesday.

The 949-page agreement, announced on Monday by members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, comes after almost two years of congressional infighting over the $1 trillion farm bill, which outlines federal spending on a range of agricultural and nutritional issues over the next five years.

Much of the political sparring was over the depth and scope of proposed cuts to food stamps, formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a program that has rounded out in recent years to include about 1 in 7 Americans. Republican lawmakers were pressing for cuts of no less than $40 billion over 10 years. President Obama and Senate Democrats voiced staunch opposition to such slashes, calling for a more modest trim of $4 billion over the same period.

The compromise would cut $8 billion from food stamps over a decade and would do so without ousting any current enrollees from the program, committee members said. It also largely sidesteps Republican lawmakers’ demands to taper spending with tighter food stamp eligibility requirements, instead cutting funding through provisions to curb fraud.

The broad measure also includes an end to expensive and controversial direct payments to farmers and an expansion of government-backed crop insurance. Overall, the proposal trims federal spending by about $23 billion over the next 10 years.

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