According to Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), a proponent of splitting the bill, many conservatives in the chamber are torn about supporting the bill because of the skyrocketing cost of the food stamp program in the last decade.
“Regardless of what side you’re on, you want to see these two issues stand on their own,” Stutzman told a room full of bloggers at the Heritage Foundation Tuesday.
While he acknowledges that there are people with hunger needs who benefit from food stamps, he knows that many people out there abuse the program – hence the concerns about the rising costs in recent years.
“We’ve created a commodity where people, if they have $40 on a SNAP card, will sell it for $25 and buy whatever they want,” Stutzman continued. “This is not a delivery system that we should be proud of.”
A fourth-generation farmer from Indiana, Stutzman says he knows how important the farm bill is to the survival of America’s agricultural industry.
“In this bill we would be eliminating direct payments that subsidize agriculture by sending money out to farmers whether they farmed it or not, this manipulates the market,” he said.
In 2002, the federal government spent $260 billion on food stamps. Today, that number is $780 billion. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture estimates that the number of Americans receiving subsidized food assistance has risen to 101 million in recent years – or nearly one in every three American citizens. Just under half of that – 47 million – take part in the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a.k.a. food stamps.
The House failed to pass the original farm bill in a vote late last month, with opposition coming from both sides of the aisle. Many Democrats believed that cuts to the food stamp program went too far, while many conservatives wanted to see more cuts to the expensive program and subsidies.