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  • Farm Bill Misses Crucial Food Stamp Reform

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture appears to be on a mission to recruit food stamp participants. Radio advertisements, Spanish telenovelas (soap operas), and reaching across the border to partner with Mexico are some of the highlights of their advertising campaign.

    This, along with massive growth in program spending, indicates critical need for reform. While the House Agriculture Committee’s recently passed farm bill does take a step to get food stamp spending under control, the proposal misses a very crucial element of reform: work requirements.

    While the farm bill may sound like it focuses on farm policy, about 80 percent of the funding for the massive bill goes to food stamps (now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP). SNAP is the fastest growing government welfare program, and today, about one in seven Americans participates in SNAP. However, the food stamps program does basically nothing to encourage work among its recipients.

    Work requirements are overwhelmingly supported by the American public. In a recent Rasmussen poll, over 80 percent of those surveyed said that welfare recipients should be required to work. Work requirements are not only popular; they are also effective.

    The welfare reforms of 1996 did much to encourage self-reliance and saw much success. Because of the work requirement at the heart of the reform, welfare caseloads shrunk by more than half in just five years after the law’s implementation. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 1995, 4.54 million families received what was then known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (renamed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, after the reform). Today, fewer than 2 million families receive benefits from TANF—a 58 percent decline. Prior to welfare reform, the caseload had never decreased significantly.

    Critics of the reform argue that caseload reduction is meaningless if those leaving the rolls remain in poverty. However, in the few years after the reforms, child poverty also declined significantly. For black children, the rates dropped to their lowest levels in U.S. history. The same occurred for single-mother families (who are the primary beneficiaries of TANF), with poverty rates declining from 41.9 percent in 1996 to 33 percent in 2000.

    Despite the current recession, the poverty rate for single-mother households is still lower than it was in 1996. This is especially true of black and Hispanic mothers, whose poverty rates have declined more precipitously than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts.

    Regrettably, the work requirements in TANF have been watered down since 1996, and just two weeks ago, the Obama Administration issued a new policy to gut this crucial element of the reform law. Restoring TANF’s work requirements and changing the current food stamps program to include solid work requirements for able-bodied recipients would do much to help those in need achieve dependence and solidify self-reliance as a cornerstone of American society.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Farm Bill Misses Crucial Food Stamp Reform

    1. paula anderson says:

      ….but how do you work if you can't find a job?

    2. Lyn Jones says:

      Several inaccuracies in this article:

      "The food stamps program does basically nothing to encourage work among its recipients".
      Wrong. Every unemployed person over the age of 16 who is not in school, or who does not have very young children in the home, is required to participant in a job search program. Additionally one of the many cuts is to the work program, decreasing the ability of the states to require a work component in providing SNAP benefits.

    3. lyn jones says:

      "The welfare reforms of 1996 did much to encourage self-reliance and saw much success. Because of the work requirement at the heart of the reform, welfare caseloads shrunk by more than half in just five years after the law’s implementation".
      Not likely. There is a federal lifetime limit of 5 years for anyone to receive cash benefits. States that implemented a 3 year limit saw caseloads shrink in just three years after the laws implementation. Poverty did not decrease, just the caseloads and not even that is true. "Caretaker Relatives" can receive unlimited benefits. When mom no longer qualifies the children go to "live" with grandma who continues to get benefits with NO work requirement and no lifetime limit.

    4. lyn jones says:

      "Obama Administration issued a new policy to gut this crucial (work requirement) element of the reform law."
      Another untruth. The Obama admisnistration made it possible for states to request waivers to improve the work and training requirements by minimizing federal red tape and gearing the program to it's unique situation. There will be no loosening of work requirements.

      "Work requirements in TANF have been watered down since 1996" .
      Please… work requirements have increased steadily since 1996, as prescribed in the original welfare reform implimentation process.

    5. Bobbie says:

      There's just no discipline! The anti American government creates the means to meet the anti American government controlled end. Please put a stop to this!!! People are eating good off of us while we can't afford to feed ourselves!

    6. RIchard says:

      We should just cut all government assistance. People would starve but maybe that would shine light on just how useless they really are. The job market sucks but I PROMISE you if you get out and apply yourself you can find one. Even if its not a glorious job. What ever is left after food stamps/WIC/government funded housing is completely abolished will be able to stand on its own and has been proven worthy.

    7. HFL says:

      Does the constitution authorize government to be in the food stamp business?

    8. Priss says:

      The food stamp program is one of the many programs that needs reform, along with many other social welfare programs. It's purpose is to provide assistance for purchasing food to low income or no income people in the United states. The idea was first started by Henry Wallace in the late 1930's and ealry 1940's. It is controlled by the United States Department of Agriculture. This summer, ironically around the presidential election time, The United States department of Agriculture teamed up with the Mexican government to encourage Mexican's to come to America and get of social welfare programs like the Food stamp program. Ads were placed on the radio, encouraging the food stamp program. Rather than both America and Mexico trying to eliminate the poverty in their countries, they are encouraging dependence on government, which we know only leads to a bigger government to more control. This seems to be a goal in the Obama administration, more government dependency. Does anyone else see the problem with this? We should we encourage people to get on these programs, when it already costs billions of dollars and one in every seven people is on this program. This is an outrage for people who pay their taxes and their money goes to people that abuse this program. I know people abuse this program because my brother, who has been on this program for a two years on and off , abusesthis program. He lives at home, and is twenty five. He goes from job to job and gets fired from them because of his drug problem which makes him irresponsible. He got on this program by simply filling out an application and doing an interview on the phone. He buys this like candy and sweets and cigarettes with his card. He is a perfect example of why this program is stupid, and should not be encouraged. It should at least be more regulated if not completely destroyed.

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