Fifteen percent of Americans received federal food stamp benefits in the 2013 fiscal year, according to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report. That includes about 936,000 people in Missouri and 316,000 in Kansas. The program is the most controversial issue for negotiators working on a new farm bill.
Both the House and Senate propose billions in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s often referred to as food stamps and the program is the most expensive piece of the farm bill. But while the Senate wants to cut $4 billion in funds, the House wants to cut $40 billion.
Whatever the final deal is, it will affect a lot of people. 47 million Americans benefit from the program.
Pat Westhoff, of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, says that number of recipients has been a point of controversy in itself.
“People who think that we have too many people in the program want to do things that restrict the number of beneficiaries," said Westhoff. "Others are concerned that given the tough economic times, that we don’t want to do things that would reduce food availability to Americans.”
The farm bill expired in October and lawmakers have been crafting a new bill for months.
Harvest Public Media, based at KCUR, is a collaborative public media project that reports on important agriculture issues in the Midwest. You can read more about the project on their website.