Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Friday 08/31/12

Lawmakers Differ from GOP Platform on Food-Aid Funding

As the Republican National Convention wrapped up in Tampa, DTN Correspondent Jerry Hagstrom filed this report on the party's platform.

BY JERRY HAGSTROM

DTN Political Correspondent

TAMPA, Fla. (DTN) — The Republican Party platform’s agriculture section proposes turning food stamps into a block grant to the states, just as the party's vice presidential nominee, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposed in the House-passed budget.

That position runs counter to the House Agriculture Committee's version of the farm bill that keeps the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program under the federal purview of USDA.

The platform also proposes combining international food aid programs that use American commodities.

Ryan and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney became the official candidates of the Republican Party on the last night of the Republican convention Thursday evening.

“The food stamp program now accounts for nearly 80 percent of the entire USDA budget. In finding ways to fight fraud and abuse, the Congress should consider block-granting that program to the states, along with the other domestic nutrition programs,” says the platform released at the Republican nominating convention here. (Agriculture Department statistics show that, while all domestic nutrition programs make up about 80 percent of the USDA budget, the food stamp portion is about 72 percent.)

Longtime farm lobbyists say that block-granting food stamps and removing the program’s reauthorization from the farm bill would make it difficult or impossible to pass a farm bill, because so many urban and suburban legislators whose constituents benefit from food stamps would no longer have a reason to vote for the bill.

The platform also proposes merging the international food aid programs now run by the Agriculture Department and the U.N. Agency for International Development , saying the programs are “fragmented” and “should be streamlined into one agency with a concentration on reducing overhead to maximize delivery of the actual goods.”

On farm policy, the platform calls for the end of the direct payments program in favor of retaining crop insurance.

Both House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., have opposed turning food stamps into a block grant to the states.

Lucas told DTN this week here that, while he sees positive in the addition of Ryan to the ticket he is still trying to educate the Wisconsin congressman about agriculture.

Asked about his reaction to Ryan becoming the vice presidential nominee after an agricultural lunch on Wednesday , Lucas said he was pleased that Ryan has connections to Oklahoma, noting that the candidate’s wife, Janna Little Ryan, comes from a prominent Democratic family.

He also said that the selection of Ryan “will help draw a clear distinction” between the two presidential campaigns on fiscal issues.

But Lucas also said he has spent “a lot of time” discussing the budget with Ryan.

“On agricultural policy, like many members of the House I continue to educate my good friend,” Lucas said.

I can be found on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 7:49PM CDT 08/31/12 by Chris Clayton
Comments (1)
As long as the top 1% doesn't pay taxes things will just trickle down! Give it to the people with money, they know how it works!!!!
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 6:13AM CDT 09/04/12
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