The Farm Bill under debate in the U.S. Senate this week doesn’t just impact farmers. Eighty percent of its funds go to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the program that provides food stamps. The Senate proposal would reduce funds to the program over ten years.
As of February, 2012, nearly 1-point-9 million Georgians participated in the food stamp program.
The Senate Farm Bill would cut the program nationwide by $4 billion over the next decade, largely by targeting abuses.
John Becker, executive director of the Foodbank of Northeast Georgia says the USDA found that just over 1 percent of participants engage in food stamp trafficking.
“Rather than penalize the 99 percent by altering this program that’s working really well, why don’t we just deal with that one percent.”
But Chris Edwards with the libertarian Cato Institute believes there is more fraud than the USDA is reporting.
“There’s been investigations in various parts of the country by local news reporters who have found substantial abuse.”
Lisa Davis, with Feeding America, which works with seven food banks in Georgia, says they are already stretched thin.
“And any cuts to federal anti-hunger programs will just drive more people to our food banks. And private charity just can not fill the gap if these programs are cut.”
Edwards says the food stamp program was expanded in the Bush era. He says costs have skyrocketed at a time when the nation faces a huge deficit. He believes food stamps should be cut back to only serve people under the poverty level.
“A substantial number of people above the poverty level get food stamps. And there’s numerous stories these days of how middle class college kids get food stamps.”
Congress is expected to pass a final version of the Farm Bill in September.