Conservative Coalition to Congress: Food Stamps and Farm Programs Must Be Separated
America Cannot Afford the Status Quo: Food Stamps and Farm Programs Must Be Separated
In the coming weeks, the House is expected to consider H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, often referred to as the Farm Bill. However, less than 20 percent of this nearly $1 trillion piece of legislation actually contains agriculture-related programs. The remaining 80 percent is composed of food stamps–formally referred to as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of our organizations, we urge you to support efforts to split the bill and allow lawmakers to consider agriculture policy and food stamps funding in separate pieces of legislation.
In 2000, 17 million individuals received food stamps, but by 2008 that number ballooned to nearly 31 million. Now, nearly 48 million individuals are on the program. Spending on food stamps has doubled since 2008, with taxpayers spending nearly $40 billion on the program in 2008 to an unprecedented $80 billion in 2012. Roughly 1 in 7 Americans are currently on food stamps, reflecting both the expansive growth of government and the troubling dependence of Americans upon it. Out of nearly 80 means-tested welfare programs, food stamps serve as the starkest example of government excess. Nearly everyone agrees that it is time to reform this out-of-control program.
Unfortunately, the politics of the Farm Bill make needed reforms nearly impossible. The urban and rural logrolling deemed necessary to pass this bill has created an unholy bipartisan alliance that has long served to thwart fiscally responsible efforts to restrain spending and limit the growth of government. The “cuts” to food stamps in the House version of the bill are miniscule–amounting to roughly 2.5 percent of the current rate of spending over the next ten years. With our nation approaching $17 trillion in debt, these “cuts” simply do not go far enough.
Separating food stamps and considering them in an alternate piece of legislation is not only sound policy, but also good politics. Through separation, lawmakers will be able to consider both food stamps and farm programs on their own merits without having to compromise their principles. Furthermore, lawmakers have promised to stop the practice of packaging unpopular pieces of legislation together in order to bring business as usual in Washington, D.C. to an end. Separating food stamps from the Farm Bill would be a clear sign that Members of Congress are making good on their word to the American people. We urge you to support this effort so that much-needed reforms for both food stamps and farm programs can finally take place.
Sincerely,Michael A. Needham, CEO, Heritage Action for America James Valvo, Director of Policy, Americans For Prosperity Chris Chocola, President, Club for Growth Matt Kibbe, President and CEO, FreedomWorks Phil Kerpen, President, American Commitment Thomas A. Schatz, President, Council For Citizens Against Government Waste Andrew Moylan, Senior Fellow, R Street Institute Timothy Lee, Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, Center for Individual Freedom Brandon Arnold, Vice President of Government Affairs, National Taxpayers Union Joshua Sewell, Senior Policy Analyst, Taxpayers for Common Sense Frances B. Smith, Adjunct Fellow and Board Member, Competitive Enterprise Institute David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance Robert C. Sisson, President, ConservAmerica Al Cardenas, Chairman of the American Conservative Union