On Thursday afternoon, the US House of Representatives passed a severely reduced version of The Farm Bill. This version of the bill eliminated the food stamp program and the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP). The bill passed in a close vote of 216 to 208 along stark party lines.
In 2013, 48 million Americans, approximately 1 in 7, utilized the Food Stamp program. Between April of 2012 and April of 2013, 39 states and the District of Columbia saw an increase of SNAP beneficiaries, with Maryland, Illinois, and Wyoming recording SNAP caseload increases of 8% or higher.
The food stamp provision was originally added to the farm bill 50 years ago in an effort to bring partisan support to legislation for farm subsidies during an era when rural congressional members were decreasing in numbers. Since that time the amount of spending within the farm bill for SNAP benefits account for 80% of the bill.
The separation of the Food Stamps program from the Farm Bill was protested formally by a collection of 532 farming organizations that drafted a letter to House representatives stating their desire for the two pieces of legislation to remain together.
Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) stated that the House would try to draft a separate bill for the Food Stamp program. Earlier this year, both the House and Senate passed other versions of the Farm Bill with the SNAP program intact, but with significant reductions.