U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, which oversees the federal food assistance program, today applauded new measures announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to crack down on fraud and abuse in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The new measures will root out waste, fraud and abuse by combating trafficking - the sale of food assistance benefits for cash - to protect taxpayer dollars. Senator Stabenow has called for a continued federal crackdown on fraud and abuse, including new measures to crackdown on trafficking. Senator Stabenow recently announced a bipartisan proposal to reduce the deficit by tens of billions that included a variety of measures to make sure food assistance resources are going only to those who truly need them.
"At a time with so many Michigan families in need of assistance, it's outrageous that people would cheat and defraud a critical lifeline for families actually struggling," said Senator Stabenow. "So many Michigan families never imagined a day when they would need to depend on these services to feed their children and families, but the recession and joblessness have left many with no choice. Fraud and abuse cannot be tolerated, and I applaud these new measures to crack down on these practices."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's measures to crack down on food assistance abuse include strong sanctions and penalties for retailers, upgrades and enhancements to retailer surveillance system technologies, new and clear guidance to states to combat trafficking, and renewed partnership efforts with states to increase and improve collective efforts against trafficking by retailers and recipients.
Recently, Senator Stabenow announced her bipartisan proposal that would stop lottery winners from receiving food assistance and prevent misuse of those programs by college students still supported by their parents. Her proposal also prohibited liquor stores from accepting food assistance benefits and provided greater enforcement to stop retailers that traffic benefits.
During the summer, Senator Stabenow held an agriculture committee hearing to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue building on past reforms that she authored in the 2008 Farm Bill and to go further to crack down on fraud and abuse in agriculture programs.