Letter: Sensible cuts
A letter to the editor in area papers was published the day the House Agriculture Committee voted to report out the latest agriculture bill (“FARRM”) to the full House. Our local congressman, Republican Scott Tipton, a member of the Agriculture Committee, voted in favor of advancing the bill out of committee.
The letter to the editor expresses concern about one aspect of the bill, indicating that it would cut $21 billion from the SNAP (food stamp) program. A summary of the bill published by the committee uses essentially the same number (“over $20 billion”), but indicates that the savings come because the bill “makes common-sense reforms, closes program loopholes, and cracks down on waste, fraud, and abuse” and “strengthens program integrity and accountability while better targeting the federal nutrition programs to serve those in need of assistance.”
The Agriculture Committee’s summary of FARRM cites such reforms as tying SNAP assistance to households otherwise entitled to welfare type benefits, stopping fraudulent dumping of food for cash, requiring participating retailers to stock more fruits and vegetables, and allowing more service options for homebound elderly and disabled SNAP recipients. The summary also recognizes that local food banks, such as the Roaring Fork Valley’s Lift Up, “have been struggling to provide enough food to needy families in the current economic climate.” Therefore, FARRM increases funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which the summary states will “help food banks supplement the diets of low-income individuals.”
So, far from representing heartless cuts to federal food programs as depicted in the recent letter to the editor, FARRM is designed to strengthen programs to help meet the nutritional needs of people who are suffering because of current economic conditions. The bill tries to do this by reforming programs where needed and by increasing assistance to the most effective programs. Unless our legislators are prepared to take a critical look at a range of federal programs, we will continue to throw good money after bad and still not serve the needy among us. In fact, the amount of money available to meet the most pressing needs of our citizenry will be greatly diminished.