U.S. House of Reps. passes farm bill
About a week after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a compromise 2018 Farm Bill sending it to the Oval Office, President Donald Trump signed the bill into law Thursday.
The bill, as written, would cost roughly $900 million and would not require the expansion of work requirements for those receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program such as food stamps.
Even though the president signed the bill, his administration soon after sought out to tighten the food stamp regulations that were still loosed by language in the bill.
According to an Associated Press report, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed a rule that would restrict the ability of states to exempt work-eligible adults from having to obtain steady employment to receive food stamps.”
As is current policy, food stamp recipients between the ages of 18 and 49 without children who are able to work are required, according to the AP report, “to work 20 hours a week to maintain their benefits” unless granted a waiver from their state. Such waivers are only available in states with an unemployment rate over 10 percent or a “demonstrable lack of sufficient jobs.”
States, under the current policy, can also extend the benefits for 15 percent of the adult population who is work-eligible without a waiver. If the 15 percent level is not reached, the states save those exemptions for later use.
The new proposed policy would take away the ability of the states to grant waivers, “unless a city or county has an unemployment rate of seven percent or higher,” according to the AP report. The report added, “The waivers would be good for one year and would require the governor to support the request.”
The change in policy would also end the practice of states saving their exemptions if the 15 percent level is not reached.
After signing the bill, the president said, “I have directed (Agirculture Department) Secretary (Sonny) Perdue to use his authority to close work requirement loopholes in the food stamp program. That was a difficult thing to get done, but the farmers wanted it done, we all wanted it done, and, in the end, it’s going to make a lot of people happy.”
The Trump administration changes drew the ire of Democratic leadership including the presumable next Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.). Pelosi said, “Why at Christmas would you take food out of the mouths of American people?”
Even though Pelosi is speaking out against the measure, the only law maker from Louisiana who assisted in writing the compromise bill signed by President Trump voiced his position.
“I’m glad to see that the (USDA) is wasting no time in moving forward with the new authority we gave it to rein in these waivers,” said U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham (R-Alto). “SNAP is not meant to be a lifestyle, and able-bodied adults should only be using the program when they fall on tough times. I want people to work and succeed, not become dependent on the government. This new rule brings accountability to the program and helps set people on the path to success.”
Also here locally, Louisiana farmers expressed their thoughts on the final passage of the Farm Bill that expanded extended farm family members who are eligible for subsidies and preserved the $900,000.00 cap on adjusted gross income for those farmers eligible for federal subsidies and programs.
Louisiana Farm Bureau President Ronnie Anderson said, “Uncertainty is the farmers’ biggest enemy. This gives producers and their lenders a five-year road map, which is critical to the industry.”
LSU AgCenter economist Michael Deliberto added the bill is “more an evolution of farm policy and not a revolution. This Farm Bill does maintain and enhance the crop insurance programs, which are helpful to the growers.”
Representative Abraham added about the bill, “We couldn’t let Nancy Pelosi write the Farm Bill.”