President Barack Obama is scheduled to sign a controversial farm bill into law on Friday.
It’s a bill that both of Pennsylvania U.S. senators voted against, but for different reasons.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said that while the bill includes “some very good policies,” the bill also includes significant cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, S.N.A.P., better known as food stamps.
Citing statistics from the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, Casey said that 175,000 Pennsylvania households will lose, on average, $65 for food each month.
“The S.N.A.P. program plays a critical role in the battle against hunger for children, seniors and families across our commonwealth and throughout our nation. For every dollar invested in this program, it is estimated that the economy gets $1.75 in return. The program fuels consumer spending while providing much needed nutrition for 1.7 million Pennsylvanians. Therefore, I could not support this bill,” he said in a statement.
Toomey, R-Pa., cited several reasons for his “no” vote, saying in a statement that the Senate missed “a vital opportunity to reform some of our government’s largest spending programs.”
He added: “The farm bill legislation continues to subsidize big agribusiness through non-means tested crop insurance and unjustifiable price supports.
“It does not even make token reforms to the sugar program — a program so indefensible that even the Department of Commerce acknowledges that it destroys three manufacturing jobs for every sugar producing job it protects.
“Finally, the food stamp program accounts for nearly 80 percent of the spending in this bill. Despite total food stamp spending quadrupling since 2000, the Senate could only agree on 1 percent in savings,” Toomey said.
The bill will cost about $96 billion annually.
Obama said in a statement that the farm bill isn’t perfect, but “on the whole, it will make a positive difference not only for the rural economies that grow America’s food, but for our nation.”
– John Guerriero