Republicans target food stamp benefits in new farm bill
11 April 2018
As lawmakers return to the capital after a spring recess, Republicans are preparing to release a new five-year farm bill that would impose tougher requirements for eligibility for food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The farm bill is a nearly $1 trillion piece of legislation that includes provisions for crop insurance, conservation programs, and commodity price and income support programs for the agriculture industry. But the vast majority of its funding is allocated for food stamps. In the 2014 bill, SNAP’s 10-year cost was $756 billion, or 80 percent of the entire $956 billion bill.
Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee are proposing to add further work requirements to SNAP. Under the current proposal, adults between the ages of 18 and 65, who are able-bodied and without children, would have to be working to be eligible for food stamps. Those without a job would be required to attend a minimum of 20 hours a week of new job-training classes, which would increase to 25 hours in 2026.
The program currently has work requirements for most people between the ages of 18 and 49, but governors in states with high unemployment are able to waive them. SNAP’s current provisions include exemptions from work requirements for those who are elderly, disabled or have school-age children. The new bill would end the waiver allowances for high-unemployment states.
According to Politico, the draft of the farm bill also calls for severing ties between SNAP and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps low-income households pay their energy bill. Most states use a provision in SNAP that increases a household’s food…