Today, Congressman Marlin Stutzman (IN-03) commended the House Committee on Agriculture for making credible reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program). Following the reconciliation instructions laid out in the House-passed budget, The Path to Prosperity, the Agriculture Committee passed legislation to achieve over $33 billion in savings from SNAP.
Stutzman first raised a number of the policy reforms considered by the House Agriculture Committee in his Rural Economic Farm and Ranch Sustainability and Hunger (REFRESH) Act, H.R. 3111. Introduced on October 5, 2011, the bill provided an estimated $40 billion in savings over the next ten years.
"As a conservative, I firmly believe that we can meet our fiscal obligations and act on our convictions to help those who are truly in need," said Stutzman. "When you take a look at SNAP's exploding costs, there appears to be a disconnect between the expansion of these programs and the ultimate goal of self-sustainability. I believe that the Agriculture Committee has taken responsible and important steps to close loopholes. These are common sense solutions I've worked on in the past and I'm glad to help the Committee move forward."
The nutrition title of the REFRESH Act is expected to save taxpayers nearly $14 billion over the next 10 years, accounting for roughly one-third of the REFRESH Act savings, but less than a 2 percent reduction in overall nutrition program spending. Over the past decade, SNAP has grown 300%. "By focusing on closing eligibility loopholes, eliminating overlap in programs, and improving the efficiency of SNAP, we can make a reasonable and important step toward cutting government costs," said Stutzman.
Specifically, the REFRESH Act proposed eliminating broad-based categorical eligibility for SNAP benefits, terminating one of the 47 duplicative federal government job-training programs, and removing the funding for "bonus" payments made to the states that demonstrate "high or most improved performance" in implementing the SNAP.
"The REFRESH Act offered real solutions to this challenge -- solutions that achieve actual budget savings while not demolishing the underlying programs -- and I'm happy to see them included in the Committee's package today," said Stutzman.
Congressman Stutzman, a freshman member of the House Committees on Budget and Agriculture, has advocated agriculture policy reform long before serving in the House of Representatives. A fourth-generation farmer from Howe, Indiana, Stutzman is co-owner of Stutzman Farms. Together, with his father, two brothers, and brother-in-law, the Stutzmans farm 4,500 acres in northern Indiana, growing soybeans, green beans, and seed corn.