Food Stamps Work Rules Not in Senate Farm Bill

12:29PM Jun 08, 2018
Leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee released their version of the 2018 Farm Bill Friday, with plans to debate the legislation Wednesday June 13.
( MGN )

(Bloomberg) -- A Senate committee released a farm bill Friday that doesn’t impose new work requirements on food stamp recipients as sought by President Donald Trump and many House Republicans, setting up a potential fight between the two chambers.

The legislation adds complications to negotiations underway in the House, where a version of the bill failed last month because of an unrelated fight over immigration. Lawmakers in that chamber are seeking to revive the bill with the work requirements included.

Democrats almost universally reject new food stamp work requirements. Unlike in the House, where Republicans can pass legislation without the help of Democrats, a more bipartisan approach is needed in the Senate because the GOP has a narrow majority and often needs Democrats’ votes to pass legislation.

The farm measures in both chambers would renew for five years agricultural subsidies and government-backed crop insurance that’s popular with farmers.

"We have to show farmers we’ve got their back" by getting a law through Congress, said Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican who is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "We have something we think we can work with."

Pilot Programs

The Senate plan boosts funding for pilot programs that study the effectiveness of job-training for food-stamp recipients, but doesn’t change work rules nationwide. That House version changes eligibility rules for food stamps and shifts funds from food aid to job training in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The Senate’s farm bill also would lower the adjusted gross income threshold at which farmers are no longer eligible for farm subsidies to $700,000 from $900,000. In addition, it would increase funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture trade-promotion initiatives. Roberts said more money is necessary to help maintain exports as Trump threatens to impose new tariffs against major U.S. agricultural buyers such as Canada, Mexico and China.


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