The bloated farm bill making its way through the new Congress is not only a budget-buster. It is chock full of corporate welfare and environment-ravaging ethanol subsidies, and is seen as contributing to pollution and obesity on a grand scale. Moreover, it prevents the U.S. from negotiating trade deals that would open up new markets for our exports, and impoverishes Third World farmers. And that’s just the fairly understated criticism of the farm bill you read in the liberal Washington Post!
To camouflage its big rip-off of American taxpayers for the benefit of wealthy agribusinesses, the farm bill contains an increase in food stamp payments, to make it seem like a direly needed safety net for the poor.
But as I have explained elsewhere, the increase in food stamp payments, while only a small part of the farm bill, is unnecessary, too. Sponsors of the bill claim that food stamps are insufficient for a poor person to live on, and two liberal Congressmen went on a bogus “Food Stamp Challenge” in which they ate junk food while on a food-stamps budget to make it seem like that’s all you can afford when you live on food stamps.
But I myself have lived on less than a food stamps budget, without consuming any junk food. Indeed, the healthy food I was able to purchase in the mid-1990s for around $15 a week (which is less than half the $32 per-person weekly amount that the poorest food stamp recipients currently receive) was quite sufficient to support a balanced diet. (Although I did end up eating a lot of cheap vegetables, like potatoes, and purchased in bulk — for example, I bought 500 cans of tuna when they went on sale for 20 cents each, and filled the back of my Saturn with them). Others have also found ways to eat well on a food stamps budget.