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Food Stamps

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In July, the House of Representatives approved a farm bill that did not include food stamps and decided that the food stamp program would be handled in a separate bill. When this problem is addressed in August, most are expecting that the new bill is going to have a $20.5 billion cut to the food stamp program. The farm bill that was failed to pass in June mentioned cuts of a similar amount. Latinos, who are among those who have been hit the hardest by the economic problems, are going to experience a significant impact.

Information from a 2010 report from the Urban Institute determined that Hispanic families are less likely to use the food stamp program because they often have non-citizen family members in their household. Only legal permanent residents and citizens are able to participate in the program. However, a 2008 report from the Department of Agriculture found that over four million Latinos participated in the program during that period. This amount accounted for one in seven of all participants.

In July when the farm bill that lacked funding for nutrition programs passed in the House, Representatives Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) and Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona) released a joint statement: “The removal of the nutrition provisions from the bill will make life harder for working Americans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to feed their families. Republicans have cleared dinner tables around the country before our children have a chance to eat.”

Congressman Ben Ray Lujan (D-New Mexico) had argued that Congress shouldn’t attack any programs that are feeding those who need it the most. He also criticized the farm bill for not supporting any of the dairy producers in his state. “House Republicans have said this is a necessary step to extend farm programs, but it is nothing more than a cynical attempt to hide the fact that a significant number of my Republican colleagues, especially Tea Party Republicans, want to gut nutritional programs that help so many New Mexico families. In fact, this bill does nothing to support New Mexico’s dairy producers.”

According to Israel Ortega, editor of the Heritage Foundation’s Libertad site, the food stamp program should be viewed as a temporary means to fight hungry. “The Foundation has always understood that there is a role for the federal government for short-term assistance for those who are in need and going through difficult times,” he explained. “However, we are convinced that the best way to help people get out of poverty is by creative economic opportunities.”

Although there is a significant battle going on in Congress for the food stamp program, there is a good chance that there won’t be a lot of substantial cuts to the program. Many of the proposals for high cuts have been met with negative reactions and lack of support from groups that have higher influence on the decision.

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