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U.S. Farm Report Mailbag

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Comments, questions, opinions...this is your chance to speak out regarding anything and everything reported on U.S. Farm Report. Viewer feedback updated regularly.

A Viewer Responds: The "SNAP" Debate

Jan 22, 2013

Your comments this morning about rural folks receiving more SNAP (Food Stamps) benefits than urban folks really got me thinking and I said to myself there is no way that comment was true since populations in urban areas far exceed those in the rural areas (never more evident than in recent elections) - so I did some checking and found that there is not one Midwest state in the top ten states by participation rates, in fact Arkansas enters in at #13. But those figures were by state so I looked into it some more and found that over 14% of our rural population receives food stamps compared to just under 11% of our urban neighbors making John's statement slightly true. But when you delve into those numbers you realize that the urban population is over four times that of the populations in the rural areas which means there are far more urban folks receive SNAP benefits that rural folks (over four times more). This reminded me that anyone can take "so called facts" and twist them to present their point of view as factual. So although what John stated was basically true the real numbers reveal that there are four times more city folks using food stamps than country folks! However I do enjoy your show especially the tractor/church shows along with Baxter Black's humor but I do wish John was not such a liberal announcer - he seems to make at least one controversial remark during each show. I'd like to hear more from Al Pell instead. Thanks, Bob Simcox US Army Retired and currently still-working-American who is not on SNAP Small Town Rural America 

***Editor’s Note: Below are John’s comments from the Mailbag segment regarding “SNAP” that aired on the January 19-20, 2013...  

Last week during the news we had a report about the growing cost of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP – which used to be called food stamps. The video we used to illustrate the story was of shoppers checking out using SNAP cards. While the video was essentially accurate, the shoppers were all African American. During the week I did some research and discovered such images may inadvertently perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes. The most likely SNAP recipient is not an adult African American – it is a white child under 18. Children receive just under 50% of all benefits. Whites account for 43%, African Americans 33%, and Hispanics 19%. The growth in the program cost is largely due to growth in those eligible – a result of recession and wage stagnation. Even so the cost could be much higher as only about ¾ of those who qualify participate in the program. Only 10% of SNAP recipients receive cash welfare payments, and the average duration of benefits is 9 months. But most surprising to me was that in the last few years rural use of SNAP has exceeded urban participation rates – the percentage of those eligible who sign up. These numbers and images matter because this year the ag budget will be fiercely debated between ag programs and food assistance. When farmers realize SNAP cutbacks will impact kids in their local school, not just adults in a city, they might decide to split those dollars differently.

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