U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a leading Senate conservative, introduced several amendments to the Agriculture Improvement Act that would restore the integrity of the farm bill and make needed reforms to support Oklahoma’s agricultural community.
Inhofe’s first amendment, co-sponsored by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), would convert Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, into a block grant program run by individual states.
“I’ve long been concerned that the SNAP program has been plagued by runaway costs fueled by an utter lack of accountability and oversight, and am disappointed this year’s farm bill doesn’t make needed reforms to the program. My amendment would reform SNAP by converting it from an entitlement program in state-run block grant—saving taxpayers at least $260 billion over ten years and giving states flexibility to design and implement the program according to their individual needs. My proposal would also increase accountability by requiring recipients meet work requirements, pass drug tests and demonstrate proof of citizenship or legal residency. Moving to a block grant program would also strengthen Congressional oversight by requiring SNAP to be funded each year, instead of as an automatic handout.”
Inhofe also introduced an amendment that would create greater accountability by ending broad-based categorical eligibility for SNAP benefits, which would save $4 billion dollars over 10 years.
“About 90 percent of the individuals receiving SNAP benefits receive them because they qualify for other state or federal assistance programs, leading to opportunities for waste, fraud and abuse. By ending the practice of broad-based categorical eligibility, we can ensure that only those who truly need them receive benefits.”
Sen. Inhofe introduced several farm-focused amendments that would support Oklahoma’s agricultural community, including an amendment that would give community banks greater regulatory flexibility when a disaster is declared. This amendment is similar to language from Sen. Inhofe’s Wildfire Regulatory Relief Act.
“Local banks are important partners when farmers and ranchers have to recover from drought, wildfires or other natural disasters. Too often, regulations keep them from lending money to their customers to help them get back on their feet, especially when federal aid is held up due to bureaucratic red tape. By giving banks greater regulatory flexibility, they can help with community recovery efforts when it is needed most.”
Inhofe also introduced an amendment that would protect farmers and ranchers if dealers become insolvent during the purchase and resale of livestock. This amendment, also introduced as a standalone bill, was cosponsored by Sen. Daines, Sen. Fischer and Sen. Moran.
“Farmers and ranchers know that livestock are their livelihood. This legislation will create common-sense protections for Oklahoma’s cattle producers and provides necessary stability and accountability for all livestock transactions.”
The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) praised Inhofe’s amendment, saying: “LMA appreciates the leadership of Senator Inhofe in the introduction of the Senate SALE Act. In doing this, Sen. Inhofe is standing up for ranchers and the livestock auction markets that sell on their behalf to help ensure they get paid for their livestock,” said LMA President, Tom Frey. “We encourage Congress to take swift action on this matter.”
Inhofe also cosponsored several key amendments that will support farmers and ranchers:
- Exempting agriculture transporters from the hours of service requirements to provide them greater flexibility,
- Granting the USDA greater flexibility to make partial advance payments under the Emergency Conservation Program, which will help agricultural communities get back on their feet after a disaster,
- Directing a study to on whether student loan payments for farmers and ranchers should be restructured according to the agriculture income cycle.