About That Farm Bill…Part 2

Congress adjourned in mid-September without passing the Farm Bill of 2012. Every five years, the bill comes up for renewal, supposedly to aid and subsidize farmers. But with 80% of its’ 1 trillion budget dedicated to Food Stamps (or SNAP),  “Farm Bill” is a misnomer…

So how about we be honest and call it the “Food Stamp Bill” or “I Want Free Food Bill”.  Or even better, the “I Am Entitled Bill”.

Originated during the Great Depression to help the poor, the Food Stamps program was discontinued during World War 11 until Lyndon B. Johnson again implemented it in 1964 as part of his War on Poverty.

Kate Harvard writes, “Spending on food stamps has always increased steadily, but over the last decade it has exploded. From 2001 to 2006, the budget for food stamps doubled; by 2013, it will have quadrupled. And as of June, a record 46.6 million people were enrolled.”

In Mississippi alone, 22.2 percent of all residents receive food assistance. That is almost one-in-four residents, making Mississippi #1 in food stamps. Nationally, food assistance has risen from a total of about 16.9 million people in 2000 to more than 46.7 million people today.

So, why the increase in enrollment?

Many would like to blame it on high unemployment. However, according to Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute, “Unemployment and food stamp participation…do not appear to have a strong relationship.” 

Yes, people are poorer today, but again Kate Harvard writes, “The growth of the food stamp rolls can’t be chalked up to an abysmal economy. While the share of the population in poverty increased only 25 percent, spending on food assistance grew 400 percent.”

Furchtgott-Roth adds, “Food stamps have become more of a permanent entitlement rather than a temporary stop-gap for the temporarily unemployed.”

The increase in food stamp enrollment comes after a decade during which federal guidelines for the program became not only more generous, but according to CNN the government has also been recruiting more participants through radio ads.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture began running radio advertisements encouraging those eligible to enroll.  The primary targets for these paid radio ads were the elderly, working poor, the unemployed and Hispanics-spending between $2.5 and 3 million. USDA employees are also trained to increase enrollment. States get bonuses for increased enrollment-to the tune of $50 million a year.

No one disputes the need for a food stamp program. There are those in need for various reasons including people who are unemployed through no fault of their own, single mothers working to support their families, the disabled and the elderly.

The major dispute can be summed up with one question:  Why is the government actively pursuing others to apply for food assistance.

The reason?  VOTES.

Think about it.  Who wants to “bite the hand that feeds them”?




Lydia Susanne has conducted exclusive interviews with Israeli author Lela Gilbert, activist and lead singer of KANSAS John Elefonte, Todd Daniels of International Christian Concern, and Bob Fu of China Aid, among other notable subjects for PolitiChicks.com.

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