The Farm Bill: Everybody has an Opinion

Jul 23, 2013


The farm bill is fraught with opposition.  Some want the bill to stay intact, some want nutrition separated, some want stricter requirements to obtain nutrition assistance, and one blogger wonders if misperception is what’s driving the SNAP debate. 

Here are some of the views:

Harvest Public Media reports the Secretary of Agriculture does not want SNAP removed from the farm bill.  Secretary Tom Vilsack said farmers are less than 1/10 of 1% of the population in the United States and farmers must keep the other 99 percent engaged or they won’t be heard.  He also stated splitting nutrition programs from farm policy shows the lack of understanding of the alliance between the two. 

Kansas policy makers seem to be on the front lines pushing to make it more difficult for low-income Americans to buy food.  Kansas Health Institute says restrictions were loosened in 2001 and 2008 during the economic recessions, but conservative Republicans, including Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp want to expand the work requirements.  Huelskamp says it’s an opportunity to apply some, “real work requirements” on food stamps.  Robert Greenstein, founder of The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington D.C. think tank, disagrees.  He says, “There is a bright yellow line down the middle of the road between: 1) Requiring people to try to find jobs, to take jobs that are offered, and not to quit jobs, and 2) Denying benefits to people who do everything they can to get jobs but can’t find them and aren’t ever offered a work program or job training slot. The former is reasonable. The latter is not, and it should offend anyone with a sense of fairness and compassion.”

Zack Wilson, Executive Director of the High Plains Food Bank in Amarillo, Texas, said on his blog the heart of the argument is the presumption that SNAP participants don’t need help.