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As a mother, as a lawmaker, watching a child go hungry is something I will not stand for.

Gillibrand fights for food stamps in Farm Bill

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U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is fighting to stop cuts to the food stamp program. The Senate is currently debating a version of the 2012 Farm Bill that would cut food stamps by $4.5 billion over 10 years. Julie Grant reports.

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Julie Grant
Reporter and Producer

The federal food stamp program has long been paid for as part of the Farm Bill.  Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Senator Gillibrand said 300,000 families would lose food assistance under the Senate version of the bill.

“Under this bill, families in NY, who are already struggling, will lose 90 dollars a month, of food that goes on to their tables. Think of a month long of food, it’s basically the last week.  The last week a family will not have enough food to feed their children,” said Gillibrand.

Gillibrand is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  She made news earlier this year when she was the sole democrat on the committee to vote against the bill.  Her opposition was largely because of the cuts to food stamps, and she said, “As a mother, as a lawmaker, watching a child go hungry is something I will not stand for.  In this day and age, in a country as rich as America is, it is unacceptable and should not be tolerated, and certainly should not be advocated for.”

The Senate agriculture committee voted to cut total spending on the Farm Bill by $23 billion over 10 years, the same figures approved by the House agriculture committee.  Some Republican lawmakers want to make even larger cuts: up to $30 billion, including increased cuts to food stamps.  The Senate is debating cuts somewhere between between $23 billion and $30 billion.

Gillibrand has introduced an amendment to restore the $4.5 billion in food stamps.  It would involve getting the money by reducing federal subsidies for crop insurance companies. Gillibrand said, “My amendment lowers subsidies to companies from billions per year, to hundreds of millions per year.  Anyone who argues that these companies will struggle from this shift needs to meet a family that is dependent on food stamps to feed their children.”

Congressman Bill Owens of Plattsburgh expects Gillibrand’s plight to make a difference.  He’s a member of the house agriculture committee and said, “When you have both the house and senate ag committee agreeing that that number should be around $23 billion, and the general layout of the bills is very similar, I think they’re going to be able to  reach conference and come up with a compromise that works.”

Meanwhile, New York Senator Charles Schumer announced his support of the farm bill on Wednesday.  In a phone call with reporters, he said it will provide a major boost to New York’s fruit and vegetable farmers, who have suffered over the last year because of flooding and frosts.

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