Concerned about ever-increasing federal food stamp spending and the incentives it affords to the poor, conservatives in the House of Representatives managed to cut the federal food stamp program out of the Farm Bill for the first time in nearly 50 years.
The decision could drive a wedge between urban and rural lawmakers, who traditionally work together on the Farm Bill, according to the Washington D. C. magazine Politico. Such a wedge could make the Farm Bill much harder to enact in the future.
The Senate also passed its version of the Farm Bill, which still contains the food stamps program, so the food stamp program might be stitched back to the bill in coming days by a conference committee, consisting of leaders of both houses.
The effort to reign in food stamp spending is a conservative effort, but at the same time the House version increased government subsidies for crop farmers, moreso than the Senate, Politico said.
Several conservative groups, such as The Heritage Foundation, Club for Growth and Taxpayers for Common Sense, are opposed to the crop and crop insurance subsides in the bill.
The Farm Bill is enacted every five years. Crop farms and their suppliers have grown to count on the subsidies. Congressional representatives of farm states typically strive to do what it takes to get the farm bill passed, because it is an economic boost to their state.
Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska said splitting off the food stamp program "is not the process I would have preferred, (but) passage of the bill is a step in the right direction."