The right’s food stamp embarrassment: A history lesson for the haters – CAITLIN RATHE MONDAY, SEP 1, 2014 7:00 PM UTC


While conservatives love to beat up on the SNAP program, there’s an awkward little fact that might horrify them

The right's food stamp embarrassment: A history lesson for the haters

Food stamps became part of American life 50 years ago this Sunday when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Food Stamp Act into law on Aug. 31, 1964. The program has been a whipping boy almost ever since, especially from conservatives who call the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, the contemporary name for food stamps) a costly and demoralizing example of government overreach.

But SNAP was not an idea first created by liberal do-gooders of the 1960s. Food stamps emerged three decades earlier with active participation of businessmen, the heroes of the exact group of people who want to see the program dissolved today.

The early Great Depression was marked by a “paradox of poverty amidst plenty.” Massive crop surpluses led to low prices for farmers. At first, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration tried paying farmers to plow under surplus crops and kill livestock. In theory, decreasing the supply would raise farm prices incentivizing farmers to get their crops to market. But the plan was met with outrage from hungry citizens who said they could have put the destroyed “surplus” food to good use.

After this failed start, Roosevelt tried another plan. Government purchased excess crops at a set price and distributed them at little or no cost to poor Americans. But this system was also met with criticism, this time from the sellers of food goods. Wholesalers and retailers were upset that government distribution bypassed “the regular commercial system,” undercutting their profits.

The Roosevelt administration started the first pilot food stamp program in 1939 to integrate businesses in getting food to the hungry. However, there were concerns about the food stamp program’s success. A newsmagazine at the time reported, “there was no difficulty in selling the idea to grocers,” but some feared that the “real beneficiaries” wouldn’t cooperate. Unlike the image conjured up today of the poor clamoring for government aid, in the time of perhaps the greatest need in the past century, businesses were more excited about the federal assistance than the hungry individuals who were to benefit.

 

Are Stores Making Bank Off Food Stamps? – —By Tracie McMillan | Tue Apr. 22, 2014 3:00 AM PDT


Dennis Chamberlin/FERN

How much of Walmart’s revenue comes from its shoppers’ food stamps? The store isn’t required to say. But a January Court of Appeals ruling could change that. If the unanimous decision by the 8th Circuit’s panel of three judges holds, the United States Department of Agriculture will be required to release data indicating exactly how much of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s $80 billion in annual sales is paid to specific retailers and individual stores.

The Argus Leader, a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, paper, brought suit against the USDA in 2011 after the agency denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking data on USDA’s annual payments to grocers, gas stations, and other retailers in the SNAP program. The USDA routinely tracks the payments, which retailers process as they do credit cards: The stores accept recipients’ Electronic Benefits Transfer cards as payment, and in turn the government pays the stores.

Walmart executives estimate that 18 percent of all SNAP sales are conducted at its stores—about $13 billion annually, Marketplace reported.

Stephanie Bengford, the US attorney representing the USDA, argued that under federal code, specific details about SNAP revenue should be considered private business information. In the appeals court opinion, Chief Judge William Jay Riley held that the USDA had misread the code, and issued a decision in favor of the Argus. The agency has until April 28—90 days from the January decision—to file an appeal with the US Supreme Court. If the USDA does not file an appeal, the case will likely return to the District Court.

The Argus case follows a 2010 incident in which Massachusetts officials threatened reporter Michael Morisy of Muckrock.com with fines or imprisonment for publishing SNAP retailer sales data obtained from the state’s welfare agency under a basic information request. The state released the data, but when Morisy mapped out sales by store and published it online, the agency said the information had been released erroneously and demanded that he remove it, citing the same statute on which the USDA centered itsArgus case.

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GOP Food Stamp Cuts Would Kick 170,000 Vets Out of the Program —By Erika Eichelberger | Mon Nov. 11, 2013 9:26 AM PST


Republicans will salute America’s veterans Monday, while simultaneously trying to deny them benefits. In addition to reducing housing aid, and denying health care to vets, the GOP is also trying to remove thousands of vets from the food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

At least 900,000 veterans rely on SNAP. The House Republican version of the farm bill, the five-year piece of legislation that funds nutrition and agriculture provisions, would slash funding for the food stamps program by nearly $40 billion and boot 2.8 million people off the program next year. That includes 170,000 veterans, who would be removed through a provision in the bill that would eliminate food stamps eligibility for non-elderly jobless adults who can’t find work or an opening in a job training program.

CHARTS: The Hidden Benefits of Food Stamps.

Veterans returning home from service have more trouble finding work than other folks, and rely more heavily on the food stamp program. The unemployment rate for recent veterans—those who have served in the past decade—is about 10 percent, almost 3 points above the national unemployment rate. War-related disabilities are one reason why. About a quarter of recent veterans reported service-related disabilities in 2011. Households that have a disabled veteran who is unable to work are twice as likely to lack access to sufficient food than households without a disabled service member, according to the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

This month, SNAP funding was reduced by $5 billion as extra stimulus money for the program expired. While the Senate will never approve the $40 billion in further cuts to the food stamps program that House Republicans want, deeper cuts are pretty much inevitable. The two chambers are in the middle of negotiating a final version of the farm bill, which will contain food stamp reductions somewhere in between the $4 billion level the Senate wants and the level the Republicans want.

Whatever the final number, veterans will likely feel the pinch.

Article continues: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/11/veterans-food-stamp-cuts-republicans-snap

Are too many Americans on food stamps? – BBC News 1 November 2013 Last updated at 15:44 GMT


To see the video click this photo or the link below.

To see the video click this photo or the link below.

VIDEO: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-24767136

As countless Americans lost jobs during the recent recession, the US government expanded its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Snap), also known as food stamps.

But now, that stimulus money has expired and there is less cash to pay for the programme – even as participation is at an all-time high.

Republicans want to cut funding for Snap because they say the costly programme is being abused by Americans reluctant to look for work.

So what exactly are food stamps? The BBC breaks it all down in this short explainer.

Produced by David Botti

Sources: US Department of Agriculture and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Additional images: Thinkstock and Getty Images

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-24767136