SNAP benefits decrease as Congress debates Farm Bill

By WEEK Producer

October 29, 2013 Updated Oct 29, 2013 at 10:27 AM CDT

A change is coming for families who use the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps. On November 1, the benefits will decrease.

The food stamp cuts will affect more than 2 million low-income families in Illinois, about 23 million nationwide.

The cuts are a result of the expiration of the 2009 Recovery Act, a provision enacted to reduce hunger during the recession.

Come this Friday, a family of four will see a $36 decrease in monthly SNAP benefits.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos said the food stamps program is a controversial issue heading into this week's discussions on the Farm Bill.

"Right now what needs to be worked through is the Supplemental Nutrition Program. There's a very big difference between the House version and the Senate version," Bustos said.

The Senate wants to cut about $4 billion over 10 years, while the House is looking to make over $39 billion in cuts.

Farmers like Jay Riddell are less worried about food stamp cuts in the Farm Bill, and more worried about protecting their investments.

"The biggest concern is that they won't fund crop insurance as adequately as they have in the past," Riddell said. "We have such a large investment in the acres of corn that we raise that we need some sort of a safety net if we have a drought like last year."

Riddell said he wants the food stamp program to remain connected to the farm bill. He said the program helps the Farm Bill gain support from urban lawmakers.

"Even though I believe 80 percent of the Farm Bill money now is going to the SNAP and the food stamps, I think the programs need to be tied together. It will allow us to get funded easier," Riddell said

Bustos said she is optimistic that a 5 year Farm Bill will come out of this, although it may take some time.

"I would say the sooner the better but I also say it's better to do things right than to do things fast," Bustos said.

Farmers like Riddell are hoping for a decision soon so they can start planning ahead.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.