• Domestic Hunger and Nutrition:
In contrast to the bill passed by the Senate, the bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee found more than $30 billion in budgetary savings over a ten year period, with the largest portion of those savings coming from a $16 billion cut in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). The bill achieves these savings by changing the rules about who is eligible for SNAP, changes that would cut benefits to 500,000 households by $90 per month; eliminate food assistance to 2 to 3 million individuals; and deny free school meals to nearly 300,000 children.
In addition, proposed cuts in administrative fees paid to states would likely lead to cuts in personnel, slower processing of applications and fewer people receiving benefits. An attempt to restore full funding to SNAP failed to pass the committee, as did an attempt to replace that portion of the bill with the Senate’s version.
• Rural Development and Conservation:
The House bill funds rural development programs at about 88 percent below the 2008 farm bill, with substantial cuts in funding for programs that support water and sewer projects in rural areas.
Conservation programs were also subject to larger cuts than in the Senate bill, with funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program, which encourages farmers to adopt conservation practices on working lands, cut by $3 billion dollars and the number of acres allowed to enroll in the program, which already has a substantial waiting list, cut by nearly one-third.
Funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and for Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers were cut in half in the House bill.
• Commodity Subsidies and Crop Insurance:
Like the Senate’s bill, the House bill shifts some of the farm price support programs from a system based on market price to a system based on loss through expanded use of federal crop insurance. However, unlike the Senate’s version, the House bill does not require that farmers receiving federal crop insurance subsidies comply with basic soil and water conservation practices. In addition, the House Committee bill would actually raise the amount of commodity payments any one farm can receive, vastly increasing the total based on current law from $130,000 to $250,000.
The Senate bill set a still high, but more reasonable cap of $100,000. Also unlike the Senate bill, the House Committee bill includes no income test for maximum taxpayer subsidies for crop and revenue insurance. Whereas the Senate bill includes a very modest 15 percentage point reduction in the subsidy rate for participants with more than $750,000 in adjusted gross annual income, the House Committee did not even consider or debate any limits on government subsidies for the crop and revenue insurance programs — programs projected to cost taxpayers nearly $10 billion a year over the next decade.