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Food Stamps

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A new plan provided by House leaders to cut around $40 billion from the food stamp program — which is twice the amount of the cuts that were proposed during June — is now threatening to cause issues with the efforts for the Senate and the House to work together to complete a farm bill before the agriculture program expires on Sept. 30th. The new bill which will double the cuts was announced on Thursday by representative Frank D. Lucas, a Republican of Oklahoma state and the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, also a Republican, said that a vote on the food stamp cuts would take place before a meeting with senators to work out some of the differences between the House and Senate farm bills.

The Senate passed its version of the farm bill in May. The House approved the bill last month but didn’t include the food stamps program because a vote on the previous farm bill failed during June. The June bill had included$20.5 billion in proposed cuts to the program and amendments that would require mandatory drug tests for recipients of benefits, as well as employment. Democrats protested the food stamp cuts, while in contrast, Republicans said that the cuts were not enough. The new proposal has been said to also include the drug test and work requirements again.

During a conference call with reporters last Thursday, Michigan Democrat Senator Debbie Stabenow and the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee shared their disapproval for the cuts and what they consider to be obstacles in getting a farm bill passed before the programs expire in September. “It makes no sense to continue to see political gamesmanship that is going on that is blocking us from getting a farm bill,” Ms. Stabenow said.

The announcement about the extensive cuts to the food stamp program came a day after the Health Impact Project determined that 5.1 million people would lose their benefits under the previously proposed cuts listed in the House bill. This includes nearly half a million food stamp recipients who are already struggling to be able to have food already. Without the proposed cuts, food stamp recipients are still facing cuts from other areas. A report from Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that the 45 million people who are currently receiving food stamps will see their benefits reduced by November because of a provision that is expiring in the stimulus bill passed during 2009. The stimulus law was providing a few extra benefits for food stamp recipients as part of a bill to help strengthen the economy and remove some of the burden that the unemployed were dealing with.

Although cuts would be substantially difficult for many families to deal with, there are many resources available online to help food stamp recipients figure out ways to budget themselves and create a meal plan that would be able to fit within the proposed cuts, whether they are approved or not.

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