Cuts to Food Stamp Program Approved by Congress

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February 6, 2014 — 911 views  

The food stamp farm bill, which was long overdue, finally got a nod from Congress. The bill will bring about changes in how food stamps are issued in over 12 states, and could cut the benefits of nearly 850,000 Americans.

The Underyling Cause

The debate cam into play as the spending and enrollments in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, hit record levels. The US is said to have spent over $78 billion as part of the program in the last fiscal year, with the enrollments regularly exceeding 47 million citizens, from the time of  the Great Recession.

The cuts will put an end to a practice employed by nearly 16 states and the District of Columbia, to run their food stamp program registrations. Earlier, these states could make use of the utility-bill assistance program so as to reach out to a larger number of people for stamps, which would improve their food assistance every month. Lawmakers, in the Senate and the House, felt the need for the practices to be curtailed or put to an end, and they included the change in both farm bill versions, before the versions were merged.

What it Entails

The change means that there will be a cutback of $8.55 billion, with respect to the spending costs on food stamps, in the coming decade. It is also estimated that each year, nearly 850,000 Americans will see a fall in their benefits by around $90 per month. As of now it isn't clear as to how these changes will reflect in the affected states. But a few states like Maine, District of Columbia, Oregon and Maryland come under those who had the highest food stamp registrations, with a minimum of one in every five residents collecting food stamps. Other states like California, New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania also observed the practice.

The originally proposed change would have meant cuts of $40 billion, which would have put an end to benefits of about 4 million citizens, just in 2014. The reductions come in the light of other reductions that came into play previously, of a cutback of $5 billion among all recipients, and a cutback of $36 on the monthly benefits of a four member family.

The measure addressed other concerns as well, with norms on eligilbilty clarifications for lottery winners and college students. It also looks at limiting benefit trafficking, along with a few other issues.

 

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