Bipartisan Final Farm Bill Cuts About $8B from SNAP over 10 Years


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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — House and Senate negotiators announced Monday night that they have struck a final bipartisan agreement on a five-year farm bill, scoring about $23 billion in total deficit reduction over a 10-year window.
The five-year bill is scored over a 10-year period by the CBO, but is expected to cut about $8.5 billion worth of SNAP benefits over 10 years — far less than the GOP sought (nearly $40 billion over 10 years), but double what the Democratic-led Senate had approved in its own bill last year. Additionally, the bill makes about $25 billion in additional cuts, while adding about $10 billion in new investments for risk management and other initiatives to help farmers create agriculture jobs in crop insurance, research, promoting exports, support for specialty crops, bio-manufacturing, bio-energy, horticulture and rural development.
According to an aide close to the negotiations:

  • The farm bill cuts $19 billion from farm programs (ending direct payments, other Title I farm subsidy programs);
  • Saves $6 billion in conservation programs (combines 23 programs into 13, increases flexibility and strengthens investment in top priorities, approach supported by 650 conservation groups across the country); and
  • Saves $8 billion in nutrition programs (by addressing misuse; no one removed from program, every beneficiary gets 100 percent of benefits they are intended to get under current rules of the program).

House Speaker John Boehner called the agreement “a positive step in the right direction” and indicated he would vote for it.
“While I hoped many of these reforms would go further, the status quo is simply unacceptable,” Boehner, R-Ohio, stated. “I have voted against the last two farm bills because, in my view, they made farm and food stamp policy worse rather than better.  This legislation, however, is worthy of the House’s support. Chairman Lucas and his colleagues should be commended for the important reforms they secured in this agreement.”
The deal also provides a permanent livestock disaster assistance program for producers affected by natural disasters, and also covers producers who were affected by recent droughts and winter storms.
According to a senior GOP committee aide, in regard to SNAP, the deal also:

  • Closes the “heat-and-eat” loophole that artificially increases benefit levels when a SNAP beneficiary receives nominal LIHEAP assistance.  Sets minimum $20 LIHEAP payment to trigger standard utility allowance;
  • Invests in pilot projects to empower 10 states to engage able-bodied adults in employment & training programs. ($200 million upfront money for states to develop program);
  • Prohibits USDA from engaging in SNAP recruitment activities;
  • Prohibits USDA from advertising SNAP on TV, radio, billboards and through agreements with foreign governments;
  • Ensures illegal immigrants, lottery winners, traditional college students and the deceased do not receive benefits;
  • Ensures SNAP recipients are not receiving benefits in multiple states;
  • Prevents abuses such as water dumping to exchange bottles for cash;
  • Demands outcomes from existing employment and training programs;
  • Prohibits states from manipulating SNAP benefit levels by eliminating medical marijuana as an allowable medical expense;
  • Allows states to pursue retailer fraud through a pilot investigation program and crack down on trafficking through data mining, terminal ID, and other measures; and
  • Increases assistance for food banks ($205 million).

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