Ron Nixon, in an article in the NY Times dated Feb. 4, 2014 titled “Senate Passes Long-Stalled Farm Bill, With Clear Winners and Losers” writes:
No one was happier than Danny Murphy, a Mississippi soybean farmer with 1,500 acres, when the Senate on Tuesday passed a farm bill that expanded crop insurance and other benefits for agribusiness.
Few were as unhappy (about the compromise farm bill) as Sheena Wright, the president of the United Way in New York, who expects to see a surge of hungry people seeking help because the bill cuts $8 billion in food stamps over a decade. “You are going to have to make a decision on what you are going to do, buy food or pay rent,” Ms. Wright said.
The article continues:
Over all, farmers fared far better than the poor.
A cut of $8 billion in a decade amounts to $800 million per year. Yet Tom Reed writes:
The recently passed Farm Bill includes a $205 million increase for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), an important program Rep. Tom Reed is pleased to see increased support for in the final Farm Bill expected to be signed into law this week. Reed says the funding will help distribute food to local food banks, pantries and meal programs in New York.
Thus for Tom a $205 million increase in Federal support for foodbanks, as welcome as that is, compensates for a $800 million cut in SNAP funding. Desperate people apply for help at foodbanks, which for many are a last resort. SNAP enables people to buy food for themselves at stores. Tom Reed’s logic and math both stink.
Here are the facts about the $205 million increase for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP):
TEFAP funds the purchase of commodities for distribution through food banks and the emergency food system. Mandatory funding from the Food and Nutrition Act for fiscal year 2013 was $266 million. The conference agreement would raise the grant by $50 million in fiscal year 2015 $40 million in fiscal year 2016, $20 million in fiscal year 2017, and $15 million in fiscal year 2018 and later years (with annual adjustments for inflation in subsequent years). In addition, it would make funds available for two years, giving food providers more flexibility to respond to fluctuations in need for emergency assistance.
Tom, who seldom tells the whole story, neglected to mention that the increase is $50 million, not $205 million, in 2015 and only reaches $205 million in 2021.
© William Hungerford – February 2014