In an "Isn't It Weird That" post yesterday, we noted that Washington state Democrats' cheers for the farm bill Congress finally adopted yesterday seemed a bit over-enthusiastic, given that the bill cut nearly $9 billion from food-stamp benefits for impoverished families (not to mention cuts to conservation programs and a program that supports critical plant pollinators like honeybees).
We wrote that "the farm bill, which Republicans have repeatedly delayed because they want even more draconian cuts to food stamps and conservation programs (as well as more giveaways to Big Ag), is still a pretty terrible deal, if you believe food stamps are important, that consumers deserve information about what they're eating, that the government has an obligation to fund conservation and environmental programs for future generations, or we should protect pollinators such as honeybees."
Two of Washington state's representatives in Congress, Reps. Jim McDermott (D-WA,7) and Adam Smith (D-WA, 9) voted against the farm bill. We asked Rep. Smith (who represents Southeast Seattle, the city's lowest-income area) why he parted ways with his Democratic colleagues on the farm bill.
The SNAP cuts to nutrition programs are enormously important to me. I’ve worked with Food Lifeline. I’ve worked with Northwest Harvest. These cuts are going to lead to more hungry children and more hungry people. I understand that it was a compromise in the context of a $40 billion cut the Republicans were asking for, and there were some things in the bill I didn't like.
I understand that in the deficit environment we’re not going to get as much money as I would like for a variety of different things. Obviously, it was better than what it was. But it’s still over $8 billion in cuts to nutrition programs. I don't think there's anyone on the nutrition program who shouldn't be on it.