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Government and Politics

Ohio's Sen. Brown says the farm bill could have been worse
But, given the weather, food stamp cuts come at a particularly bad time

Ohio's Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown says the bill has problems, but makes progress.
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The House of Representatives passed a compromise farm bill today. Among other provisions, it makes some cuts to food stamps. Supporters, including Ohio’s Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, say overall the bill does a lot of good. But, as WYSO’s Emily McCord reports for Ohio Public Radio, critics say it leaves many Americans in the cold.

LISTEN: Perceptions on the farm bill

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The deal includes $8.6 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Sen. Sherrod Brown says that’s a lot better than the $40 billion Republicans originally wanted.

“This bill will help growth. It’s good on rural development. It’s good on conservation. We’ve saved billions dollars by ending the ludicrous, wasteful farm subsidies that have gone to big corporate farmers for decades.”

And Brown says these SNAP cuts won’t affect any Ohioans. That’s because the bill would get rid of a provision that automatically increases food stamp benefits to people who qualify for heating assistance. Ohio is not one of the 17 states who offer what’s known as “heat and eat” benefits.

Still, Lisa Hamler Fugitt with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks says that’s cold comfort for many low-income Americans.

“All of us are going to be shivering from our very high utility bills. And we know that for low-income folks that they’re are making choices because their benefits aren’t adequate.”

One-in-six Ohioans are dependent on food stamps. And those benefits have been whittled down in recent months. A new work requirement has gone into effect statewide and in November, a portion of the federal stimulus act expired, cutting SNAP by $5 billion.

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