Two-Faced Farm Bill Subjects Hungry Americans, Not Farm Subsidy Recipients, to Stricter Work Requirements

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Anyone who has been following the debate over the House farm bill knows lawmakers are closely watching the stricter work requirements proposed for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. But the same bill widens farm subsidy loopholes, so even more recipients won’t need to work or live on farms to receive their share of taxpayer dollars.

The sweeping changes to SNAP would reduce or eliminate benefits for more than 2 million hungry Americans.

In stark contrast, the House farm bill is riddled with farm subsidy loopholes that will make it easier for wealthy individuals, members of corporations, and even cousins, nieces and nephews of farmers to collect farm subsidies regardless of whether they live or work on the farm.

The current farm subsidy system is badly in need of reform. EWG’s recent analysis of federal data found that nearly 18,000 individuals living in the nation’s 50 largest cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago received more than $63 million in farm subsidies in 2015 and 2016. The additional loophole to allow farmers’ extended families to collect farm subsidies will only put more money in the wrong hands. 

An amendment offered by Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., seeks to close the new subsidy loopholes created in the bill. And one offered by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., would ensure that farm subsidies only flow to individuals who are "actively engaged" in farming and would permit only one farm manager per operation to claim subsidy payments, as recommended by President Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal.

Meanwhile, SNAP already requires working-age adults to register for work, and individuals aged 18 to 49 without children can only participate in SNAP for three months out of every three years unless they are working 20 hours per week.

If House Republicans really want to focus on work requirements, they should look to farm subsidy loopholes – not SNAP.


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