The Buzz

Farm subsidies explode as food stamp program goes under the knife

Criticism of the agriculture price supports in the 2014 Farm Bill is starting to escalate — even as House Republicans consider cutting the food stamp program embedded in the bill.

The Environmental Working Group says the 2014 bill will be the “most expensive ever” because of unanticipated additional spending on farm insurance programs. The group bases its conclusions on a new report from the University of Missouri.

“The new analysis confirms that the promised cost savings of 2014’s subsidy ‘reforms,’ which were much touted during the farm bill debate, are turning out to be pie in the sky,” the EWG says.

Here’s more from Slate.

The Farm Bill was supposed to cost about $1 trillion over the next ten years. About 20 percent would go for farm price supports, loans, and other spending. The rest goes for food stamps, now called SNAP payments.

The new Republican House budget, released Tuesday, calls for making SNAP a block-grant program administered by states. It doesn’t suggest any specific number for reductions in SNAP spending, but such cuts seem inevitable.

“This budget assumes the conversion of the program into a flexible State allotment tailored to meet each State’s needs,” the document says.

But Republicans in the House and Senate may be forced into the interesting and difficult position of supporting higher spending for ag subsidies at the same time they’re cutting food assistance to the poor.

Sen. Pat Roberts is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He’s looking at the food stamp program.