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Farm bill cuts food stamp spending as it heads to the House

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The Farm Bill is headed for the House floor for final passage in spite of concerns by critics, according to a January 28, 2014 article published by MSN.com.

This year’s farm bill has the usual assortment of subsidies common to all farm bills. Crop insurance, subsidies for cotton and rice farmers, and renewals of federal land payments to western states are among the many provisions of this generous bill that hands out millions of dollars to farmers and others.

One proposal that isn't going over well with social critics is the farm bill's proposed 1 percent cut to the food stamp program. This reduction will save approximately $800 million per year and is supported by Republicans and others who feel the food stamp program spends too much. A one percent cut isn't a large sum, but it could have a direct impact on families who rely on food stamps for basic needs and cannot afford any reduction, however small.

Food stamps are a popular government program, but like any government spending, they are often considered for reductions regardless of the neediness of the individuals or families who benefit. Under consideration is a provision that indirectly cuts food stamp spending by making it more difficult for consumers to qualify for additional benefits. By making it harder for states to give food stamp recipients a minimum level of heating assistance, it will become more difficult for families to reach a specified level of need that triggers additional food stamp benefits.

Even though some consider the $800 million cut a compromise and emphasize that it amounts to only 1 percent, there are still some in Congress who plan to vote against the Farm Bill for this reason alone.

"They are trying to ram this thing through before anyone has a chance to read it," said Jim McGovern, D-Mass, a staunch supporter of the food stamp program.

Many Democrats have lined up against the bill and they have been joined by Republicans who oppose the farm bill for different reasons. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and House Majority leader Eric Cantor, R-Va, have both endorsed the bill, but it could still be rejected if they cannot convince enough Republicans to support the measure.

The House plans to vote on the farm bill on Wednesday, January 29, 2014.

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