Native Sun News: Farm Bill includes heavy cut to food stamps

The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

Kristi Noem, the lone SD voice in the U.S. Congress, voted to pass the new Farm Bill which includes a heavy cut to the food subsidies programs.

Farm Bill includes heavy cut to food stamp program
By Karin Eagle
Native Sun News Staff Writer

RAPID CITY - After a three-year battle Congress passed a new version of the Farm Bill. The bill, which now heads to the Senate, will see a cut to the aid that low income families receive.

A five year $100 billion dollar a year farm bill has been approved by the House of Representatives. If approved by the senate, it will be put on President Obama's desk where it could sign into law.

The bill was passed by a vote of 251 to 166. South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem was one of those who voted yes.

Noem says the new bill has many positive provisions that will help ranchers and farmers in South Dakota. She says one benefit is the Livestock disaster title that offers assistance to South Dakota ranchers hit by the October blizzard.

Other members of the SD congressional delegation don’t see the bill as entirely positive for all of South Dakota. Senator John Thune has his reservations. He says he has not made a final decision about how to vote in the Senate.

"This one in view is just really problematic in terms of future of American agriculture," said Thune. Thune says he's worried with the Commodity Title of the Bill, which pays farmers to grow certain crops.

"I'm concerned it's going to invite retaliation from trading partners from around the world and planting distortions by encouraging farmers to plan for government instead of market," said Thune. The bill eliminates a $4.5 billion dollar a year subsidy program which offered direct payments to farmers.

Both Noem and Thune declined to include any mention of the $8 billion to be cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Food Stamps, over the next 10 years in their prepared statements.

Senator Tim Johnson also voiced concerns about the entire bill, and in previous drafts has said that he felt the cuts to food subsidy programs were “enough of a compromise.”

In the end, Most of that savings comes from states that tie eligibility for food stamps to heating bill programs, the Associated Press reported. The cuts are estimated to reduce SNAP payments by $90 a month for about 850,000 households.

The bill also prohibits the Agriculture Department from spending money on ads to recruit food stamp beneficiaries. Also out are illegal immigrants and college students.

The full bill is nearly $1 trillion, with an estimated $16.6-$23 billion over 10 years vs. the 2008 Farm Bill.

Corinna Robinson, Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative spoke at a campaign stop in Brookings a day after the bill was passed in congress. Robinson had strong words in her reaction to Noem’s participation in the drafting of the bill and her vote as the lone SD voice in congress.

"It is time to bring Kristi Noem home. For almost four years now, South Dakota has effectively not had a voice in the U.S. House. Instead, Kristi Noem regularly and almost exclusively puts her own political interests ahead of the interests of all South Dakotans," the Rapid City native Robinson said.

"The Farm Bill is nowhere near as comprehensive as when it was first passed. I know Kristi is going to try to take a lot of credit for getting that bill passed. The question still remains: why did it expire in the first place?"

In addition to criticizing the partisanship that seems the most obvious point of blame for Congressional inaction Robinson implies that a possible answer to why the Farm Bill expired is the failure of House committees and committee members to show up and do their job.

(Contact Karin Eagle at

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