Proposed cuts to food stamps, particularly those being talked about in the House of Representatives in the 2012 Farm Bill, “are unacceptably high,” says Tom Vilsack, United States Department of Agriculture Secretary.
The 2012 Farm Bill is a huge appropriation, expending nearly $1 trillion over a 10-year baseline. Food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—SNAP for short—accounts for nearly 80% of that total. And that makes it a ripe target for budget cutters.
The Senate version of the bill would cut $4 billion from SNAP. House discussions have ranged from $33 to $130 billion in cuts, says Vilsack.
“It is penny wise and pound foolish to have such steep cuts in SNAP,” says Vilsack. For every $1 spent through SNAP, $1.80 in economic benefit is generated through the food system, he notes.
Plus, there is a real need for the program. Forty-six million Americans rely on food stamps to meet their nutritional needs. Most of the recipients are the unemployed, the elderly and children. Only 8% of SNAP recipients receive welfare payments, says Vilsack.
The reason the cuts are so deep in the House version of the Farm Bill is that some departments such as Defense are totally spared from budget cuts. But in these times of dire deficit budgets and burgeoning national debt, “everybody has to share the burden,” says Vilsack.
More information on the SNAP program can be found here