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Food Stamps

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A farm bill that the Senate is likely to approve is set up a collision course with the House over funding for one of the fastest growing food stamp programs. The cost of the food stamp program has risen substantially since Obama took office in 2009 during the worst economic downturn in 80 years.Those House is on the track to cut around 20 billion dollars from the program over the next decade or over 3 percent. The bill that the Senate is expected to pass on Monday would cut food stamps by around 4 billion over a decade. The food stamp funding is part of a broad piece of legislation that would authorize a range of programs that dictate how farmers are able to gain support from the government.

Passage of the farm bill is considered to be likely since the vote for the bill was fairly high last week. The House is expected to bring its own version of the bill to the floor on the following week but the prospects for the passage are going to be more difficult to determine. A thrust of both bills would be to end a program that is known as direct payments, which would cut the checks to farmers despite the market prices, economic circumstances, and current crop yield. A federally subsidized crop insurance program would replace this.

The funding for nutrition programs account for around 800 billion dollars of the nearly $1 trillion in spending over the next decade that would be handled by the farm bill. The Senate bill would handle the requirements for people who qualify for food stamps and those who receive aid from a separate federal program that helps to defray home energy costs. The House bill also makes this change and considers some changes in the rules for eligibility. Even if the House would be able to pass its version of the bill, the amount of cuts to food stamps is certain to be reduced if it comes to negotiations with the Senate.

The prospects for the bill in the House are considered to be unclear. The Heritage Action Forum, which is the lobby arm of the conservative think tank, believes that the bill is spending too much on food stamps. A failure by lawmakers to be able to reach a compromise on the bill would cause the farm and nutrition programs to go on autopilot for at least a year. Some believe that the bill itself is going to cut down the benefits that have become standard and will remove the needy families from the use of the program, although there has not been much proof from the program itself that this would be a problem or even a possibility based on who the program helps and some of the cuts that would be caused. It is believed that the actual final cut to the food stamp program is going to be much less than what the public has been exposed to over the past few weeks since the information was announced.

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