This site is privately owned and is not affiliated with any government agency. Learn more here.

Food Stamps


One of the biggest things critics of the food stamps program like to point to is abuse of the system. They cite figures and statistics that, in their minds, shows widespread fraudulent use, and that the system needs major overhauling, if it won’t be scrapped. But one thing they conveniently forget to mention is context. The SNAP program is one of the biggest in the country with 1 in 7 Americans using it, and ascertaining its efficiency needs to be read in relation to other big programs. To get a sense of if it’s working smoothly or not, let’s take a look at its sibling in the Farm Bill, crop insurance.

What is Crop Insurance?

It’s exactly what it sounds like: a form of insurance that workers in the agricultural industry take out to protect themselves against losses. It works pretty much exactly like all other forms of insurance, and acts as a safeguard against either crop yields or crop revenues. If a farmer has a bad year and weather spoils the crops or world events reduces the prices that normally apply to crops, they’ll be able to cash in a little bit on their crop insurance policy.

Crop Insurance Fraud

Crop insurance is a big, big business, so it’s reasonable to expect that some fraud will happen. Last year, the crop insurance fraud totaled $556 million, or a total error payment rate of 5.23%. Sounds pretty low, right? Well, it’s a number that’s been steadily increasing over the last few years. In 2012, the error rate was 4.08%, which means millions more paid out erroneously this year than the previous.

Another number to focus on is the overpayment rate, or the amount of money farmers get in crop insurance that’s over and above what they really should have gotten. This year, the overpayment rate was 4.84%, all of which came from taxpayers’ dollars.

And Now, Let’s Look at Food Stamps

In 2012, the error payment rate for the SNAP program was 3.42, which was almost half of the crop insurance rate. And when looking at the overpayment rates for both, food stamps once again is much cleaner, with 2.77% compared to crop insurance’s 4.84% — again, almost double.

We’re not denying that fraud, error payments and overpayments don’t happen in the food stamps program; they do, and even one case is too much. But what we do have a problem with is critics using any negative figure in the food stamps program to tar and feather it.

Further, it’s an even bigger problem when the critics’ words get turned into law, particularly with so much of the American population not getting enough to eat. We mentioned earlier than 1 in 7 Americans uses food stamps, but in terms of actual numbers, that works out to 49 million adults and 16 million kids. Those are huge numbers that mean the SNAP program not only shouldn’t be cut, but strengthened.

Because when so many Americans can’t fulfil one of the most basic necessities of life, we’ve all got a really big problem.


There are currently no comments, be the first to post one.

Find Food Stamps Office Locations

Additional Reading