Runaway farm subsidies, not SNAP spending, are the real problem

Runaway farm subsidies, not SNAP spending, are the real problem rcoleman March 21, 2023
Some people think the biggest problem facing legislators updating this year’s farm bill is that we’re spending too much on feeding too many hungry people.  The real problem is there are too many hungry people. We’re giving away billions in farm subsidies to folks who are simply hungry for more taxpayer handouts, including thousands of people who don’t even live or work on farms Farmers in the districts represented by the 24 House Republicans seeking to deny hungry people food assistance have received at least $41 billion in farm subsidies since 1995. And 3,310 of the farmers in those districts have received subsidies for 37 consecutive years, according to Department of Agriculture data. Even worse: Four members of Congress trying to make it harder for hungry people to simply get a meal are getting farm subsidies themselves, either directly or through family members. For example:
  • A ranch owned by Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) has received at least $369,735 in farm subsidies.
  • A farm owned by the husband of Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ind.) has received at least $991,435 in farm subsidies.
  • A farm owned by the father of Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-Okla.) has received at least $123,165 in farm subsidies. 
  • Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) received $69 in subsidies in 2013.
These four lawmakers joined with 20 other Republicans members of Congress to introduce legislation to kick hungry people out of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. None of these members has introduced or co–sponsored bills to limit the number of “city slickers” who receive farm subsidies, or to deny subsidies to thousands of farmers who have received taxpayer funding for 37 straight years “Work is the best pathway out of poverty,” according to Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), the lead sponsor of the bill to deny SNAP help for hungry people. But farmers represented by Johnson received more than $18.8 billion in farm subsidies since 1995. 1,714 of the farmers represented by Johnson received farm subsidies for 37 straight years. If enacted, Johnson’s bill would put about 10 million people at risk of losing anti-hunger assistance, including about 4 million children. SNAP cuts could not come at a worse time for hungry people. Food inflation remains high and a temporary increase in SNAP benefits to offset the Covid-19 pandemic just ended in February.  Meanwhile, the largest farms who collect the lion’s share of farm subsidies are doing great, according to USDA data.  Net farm income levels set records in 2021, and the largest farmers enjoyed household incomes of nearly $2 million, according to the USDA. Nevertheless, the top 10 percent of farm subsidy recipients got almost 66 percent of all commodity subsidies in 2021, and almost 60 percent of all crop insurance subsidies between 2012 and 2020. 
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