Washington –– Connecticut’s House members, all Democrats, voted unanimously Wednesday against a farm bill that would spend nearly $1 trillion on farm programs over the next five years — but would cut food stamps.
The farm bill was approved by a 251-166 vote in the House and now goes to the Senate, which is also expected to approve the bill.
The bill is a compromise reached this week after nearly two years of bickering over how much to cut subsidies and nutrition programs. In the end, neither were cut as much as conservatives wanted.
But Connecticut’s lawmakers, and other Democrats, objected to the farm bill’s $8 billion reduction in the food stamp program.
“There is nothing American about making it harder for growing children — or adults looking for jobs, for that matter — to get enough food,” said Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3th District, called the bill “reverse Robin Hood legislation” because it would continue to provide subsidies to wealthy farmers.
Like DeLauro, Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, said the farm bill “puts the needs of big agribusinesses ahead of the small farmer and families in need.”
Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said he was pleased the farm bill would make changes in the dairy program that would help farmers in the state.
“However, after closely reviewing the bill’s changes to nutrition assistance programs with the state budget office, it is clear that these cuts would disrupt Connecticut’s existing nutrition and energy assistance programs,” Courtney said.
The farm bill would cut the food stamp program, official known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, by penalizing governors like Connecticut’s Dannel Malloy who offer low-income people as little as $1 in heating assistance money so they can qualify for more money in food stamps. The farm bill would set a minimum of $20 in heating assistance for people to be eligible for more food stamps.
The Connecticut Department of Social Services said 68,000 Connecticut households could lose benefits.