As Heritage has frequently written, food stamps must be separated from agriculture policy to achieve real farm bill reform. These programs should be analyzed and debated on their own merits. A recent survey shows that Americans agree.
In the recent monthly Food Demand Survey, conducted by Oklahoma State University, the public was asked whether they supported or opposed the following statement: “Separate the food stamp program from the farm bill and debate its merit separately from farm supports and subsidies.”
An incredible 73 percent supported this statement. In other words, close to three-fourths of the respondents support separation.
In addition to the wide public support, the media from across the ideological spectrum support separation. The Wall Street Journal had this to say:
The House majority’s most conservative members joined Democrats to send the nearly $1 trillion farm subsidy-and-food stamp bill down to stunning defeat.… Let’s hope the vote marks the beginning of the end for the long alliance between urban Democrats who support food stamps and rural Republicans dependent on crop subsidies.
The Washington Post’s editorial board argued:
The House has finally passed a farm bill, and we’ll start our discussion by listing the legislation’s good points.… [F]or the first time in many years, representatives passed agriculture-support programs separately from food stamps, ending the old log-rolling arrangement between urban and rural delegations that insulated both programs from scrutiny on the merits.
Separating food stamps from the farm programs promotes accountability and open government. Legislators shouldn’t be able to avoid accountability for a vote on one program by pointing to the need to support or oppose a completely unrelated program. Americans should know precisely where their legislators stand on these programs, especially as the unholy alliance behind the programs typically means pressure to expand both farm and food stamp programs rather than to thoughtfully reform them.
When the country is so bitterly divided over an array of policy issues, the public overwhelmingly agrees on at least one thing: Food stamps and agriculture policy should be separated into separate bills.