U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and author of new measures to crack down on fraud and abuse in food assistance programs, issued the following statement today regarding news that a lottery winner in Southeast Michigan is still collecting food assistance.
"At a time when so many out-of-work Michigan families are in real need of assistance, it's outrageous for people to cheat and defraud the system like this," said Senator Stabenow. "Last year I introduced tough new accountability measures, including a requirement that every state implement protections to stop lottery winners from collecting food assistance. Action must be taken to ensure states permanently stop lottery winners and others from wrongfully taking support meant for families that are truly struggling to put food on the table."
Last year, when the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction (a.k.a. the "super committee") challenged each congressional committee to submit its plan for reducing the deficit in its area of jurisdiction, the Senate and House Agriculture Committees were the only committee on Capitol Hill to agree on a detailed, bipartisan recommendation to streamline programs and cut $23 billion in spending in their area of the budget. Included in those recommendations were provisions to crack down on abuse in food assistance programs, including a measure to require every state to prevent major lottery winners from collecting assistance. Stabenow's reforms will also prevent misuse by college students, bans liquor stores from accepting benefits, and improves enforcement to catch more retailers engaged in benefit trafficking.
With the failure of the super committee to reach bipartisan agreement on a deficit reduction package, Senator Stabenow is now working to include these accountability measures in this year's Farm Bill. The Farm Bill sets the nation's agriculture and nutrition program policies for five years. The current Farm Bill expires this year.