When the House passed its “farm-only” farm bill last week, there was plenty to be critical about, including how the bill was rushed through the process and didn’t provide real reforms to agriculture policy.
The bill did take the important procedural step of separating food stamps from agriculture policy so that each could be considered on its own merits in two distinct bills. The food stamp program would get much-needed attention by being split from agriculture policy.
But numerous commenters and politicians are complaining that the agriculture-only farm bill would in essence starve Americans because food stamps weren’t included in the bill. They are willingly or ignorantly hiding the fact that the bill was supposed to focus on agriculture issues only, and then the House would focus on food stamps in another bill. A recent AP article captured the spin well:
One after another, angry Democrats took to the House floor to say Republicans would increase hunger in America by stripping food stamps from the farm bill.
In reality, though, the bill passed by the House on Thursday didn’t deal with food stamps at all. And the lack of congressional action on food stamps could keep the $80 billion-a-year program untouched by any cuts.
That didn’t stop several Democrats from stating that the legislation “takes food nutrition from working families.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Republicans just before the bill passed on a narrow 216–208 vote: “You are taking food out of the mouths of your own poor constituents.”
Criticizing the agriculture-only farm bill for what it doesn’t include is misleading. It doesn’t have anything on space exploration, either, but that doesn’t mean bill supporters want to get rid of NASA.
By putting the food stamp program into its own bill, there’s a much better chance to ensure that the food stamp program receives much-needed reforms to reach those truly in need and to promote self-sufficiency.