The farm bill died in the House—but could it live again?
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is reportedly pushing to split up the old farm bill and take food stamps out of it.
The Heritage Foundation has argued that it didn’t make sense to combine the bloated food stamp program with farm-related programs in the first place. It is supposed to be the “farm” bill, after all. And with food stamp costs doubling under President Obama, it’s a program that deserves a careful look on its own.
Splitting up the bill is the first step toward reforming both food stamp and farm spending. In a new paper, Heritage experts Daren Bakst and Rachel Sheffield write that “The House now has a second chance to pass a farm bill that benefits taxpayers, farmers, and food stamp recipients.”
It’s incredibly important, they point out, that the House does not add costly new programs to existing farm policy, which already imposes major costs on taxpayers and drives up food prices.
The farm programs have been filled with pork and functions that are simply unjustified. It’s past time to trim the fat and save taxpayers money.
And as for food stamps—which made up 80 percent of the nearly trillion-dollar bill—an overhaul is needed. It’s time to convert food stamps into a work activation program.
Speaking of second chances, food stamp reform would give just that to Americans in need. As Bakst and Sheffield put it:
Converting food stamps into a work activation program is a crucial step to promoting self-sufficiency and personal responsibility among food stamp recipients.…When President Bill Clinton signed the 1996 welfare reform—which inserted work requirements into the largest cash assistance welfare program—he stated that it would “make welfare what it was meant to be, a second chance, not a way of life.”
Heritage Action for America CEO Michael Needham and Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) called for a farm-only bill a year ago. Now the idea is resonating in the media and with leaders like House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). It’s up to House leaders to capitalize on the momentum and make this happen.