WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), winner of the Farm Bureau’s prestigious Golden Plow Award in 2009, today expressed disappointment over the Senate’s rejection of his amendment to separate welfare programs from the Farm Bill. The amendment would have cut food stamp funding and converted it into a discretionary block grant to the states. The amendment failed yesterday by a vote of 36-60.
“The farm bill being considered by the Senate today is not really a Farm Bill,” said Inhofe. “Of the bill’s total cost, 80 percent of it is made up by the food stamp program; only one fifth of it is actually agriculture related. My amendment would have separated the two programs and would have made reasonable cuts to the food stamp program, which has grown significantly in recent years. Because of changes that have been driven by the Obama administration, the program’s enrollment has increased by 70 percent since 2008, and its cost has doubled. Enrollment has even increased as the unemployment rate has declined nationwide. Clearly there is something wrong, which is why my amendment would give full control of the program to the States.”
This amendment would return the food stamp program’s funding levels to that of the mid-2000s and converts it into a discretionary block grant.
Funding would be distributed among the states proportionately, determined by the number of people living under the federal poverty line.
States would be responsible for designing their programs; the federal stipulations will be limited to work requirements, verification of citizenship, and drug testing. States would also not be allowed to authorize the use of benefits for things like alcohol, tobacco, and dog food, in line with the program’s current restrictions.
Over ten years, the amendment would save between $250 billion and $300 billion.
The underlying text of the Farm Bill includes only $4 billion in cuts to the program over 10 years, or less than 0.5 percent.