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December 09, 2016
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Impact of new farm bill on New York State

The bill is also noteworthy for its lack of farm subsidy reform, including especially the elimination by conference committee negotiators of commodity payment limitation reform (the subject of The River Reporter’s editorial on January 24) originally approved by both houses of Congress. The House/Senate negotiators stripped the bills of nearly all subsidy reforms.

Impact on food stamp recipients

Reached in her office in Albany, Hunger Solutions New York Executive Director Linda Bopp outlined the consequences of the food stamp cuts in the Empire State. “The consequence is that approximately 300,000 households in New York State (NYS) will see their SNAP benefits go down approximately $90 a month.” She said that translates into a loss of about 34 meals a month.

New York is among 15 states (mostly states where residents have high heating costs) that will be hit harder because of how heating assistance and food stamps programs are linked. Due to a change in the law, households that previously qualified automatically for higher SNAP benefits when they received any amount of support (no matter how little) under the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program(LIHEAP) must now receive at least $20 in LIHEAP assistance to be eligible for higher SNAP benefits.

When asked who will pick up the slack in New York State, Bopp said, “That’s the exact thing we’re concerned about. There’s no one to pick up the slack. The rationale is that the emergency food system will pick up the slack, but this doesn’t recognize that food organizations are already running at a deficit, unable to meet current demand. Those organizations already saw an astronomical increase last November. There’s no one to fill it. This is a dire situation.”

Hunger Solutions New York is now formulating what to tell local soup kitchens and food pantries. “Donations already are down, and we can’t tell them to create food out of nothing.”

In Bopp’s opinion, “This is not a charity issue; it’s a government responsibility.”

[This week’s editorial on this subject can be found on page 6.]