WASHINGTON, June 17 The White House threatened
to veto a five-year farm bill on Thursday because of
"unacceptable deep cuts" in food stamps for the poor that could
increase hunger across America.
In a statement on the eve of debate in the House of
Representatives, the Obama administration said the bill should
cut crop subsidy rates and crop insurance subsidies rather than
Food stamps are the major dispute in the farm bill. The
House would cut food stamps by $20 billion over 10 years, the
deepest cuts in a generation. Some 2 million people would lose
benefits under the House proposal.
"The bill makes unacceptable deep cuts in (food stamps),
which could increase hunger among millions of Americans who are
struggling to make ends meet, including families with children
and senior citizens," said the White House.
It said there are better ways to reduce the deficit,
including by reducing crop insurance subsidies. Spending on the
taxpayer-supported crop insurance program would rise by 10
percent under the farm bill. The House bill also would boost
so-called target prices for crop subsidies by 45 percent.
The House could begin debate on the farm bill as soon as
Wednesday. More than 200 amendments have been proposed. Some
would cut much deeper into the program. Three dozen Democrats
sponsored an amendment to eliminate the food stamp cuts and to
cut two new crop subsidies by $20 billion.
Some 47.7 million Americans received food stamps at latest
count, with the average benefit of $132 a month or the
equivalent of $1.50 a meal.
Enrollment has doubled since 2004 and costs, at $78 billion
in fiscal 2012, were nearly triple.
Republican critics say the program is out of control and
unaffordable. Defenders say enrollment soared as a result of the
financial distress of 2008 and reflect continued high
The Senate version of the farm bill, passed a week ago,
proposes a $4 billion cut in food stamps as part of $24 billion
in overall savings. The House gets half of its savings from food
The House bill would end "categorical eligibility," created
during welfare reform in 1996 to streamline state handling of
welfare programs. It lets poor people apply for food stamps even
if their assets are larger than usually allowed.