Should Food Stamps Be in Farm Bill? Congressman Seeks to Split Legislation

Kelsey Harris /

Bill Clark/Roll Call Photos/Newscom

Bill Clark/Roll Call Photos/Newscom

Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), a fourth-generation farmer, is asking his House colleagues to separate the food stamp program from the “farm” bill.

Stutzman said he filed an amendment that would allow the House to vote on a farm-only farm bill. Lawmakers begin debate on the bill Tuesday. Stutzman outlined similar concerns during a Heritage Foundation briefing last week.

In a statement, Stutzman said:

Right now, this trillion dollar spending package is a farm bill in name only. Congress must remove welfare provisions from the farm bill and give taxpayers the honest debate they deserve on both. It’s simple: food stamp policy isn’t farm policy. Yet, most Americans are shocked to learn that about 80 percent of the farm bill’s spending goes to Washington’s out-of-control food stamp program. With our nation nearly $17 trillion in debt, the American people deserve an open, transparent debate and that can only happen when Washington stops playing games with deceptively named spending bills.

With 80 percent of farm bill spending allocated to food stamps, and roughly one in seven Americans dependent on the program, Stutzman couldn’t have introduced these amendments at a more appropriate time.

Food stamps and farming are two issues far too important to lump together in a nearly $1 trillion bill. Even Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, admitted that including food stamps in farm bill was done for political reasons because it “helps get the farm bill passed.”