When President Barack Obama signed the farm bill, he set off a cascade of effects. The most obvious were agricultural measures, including provisions to aid dairy farmers. Then there were the much discussed budget reduction measures — a necessity for Republicans in Congress. The cuts were intended to be made through tightening loopholes in the Food Stamp (SNAP) program, but ultimately led to a $8.6 billion cut in the program to take place over the next ten years, and have an effect on fifteen states and countless families.
After the bill was signed into effect, and the programs began adjusting to meet the new rules, it became clear that states were able to avoid some of the cuts through a “heat and eat” assistance program that allows them to qualify for additional aid. A heating bill can be shown in order to gain more SNAP benefits, but certain states were choosing the option of people proving they receive aid from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This has led to a great deal of coverage on whether or not the cuts were even effective and claims that cuts were being dodged regardless of the legislation.
Even so, Republican leadership insists that appropriate budget reduction will be managed. “The press reports assume that the change in behavior of these states eliminates the savings estimated from the reforms included in section 4006 [of the farm bill],” explained a memo from Republican leaders, obtained by Politico. “This is false and fails to recognize CBO [Congressional Budget Office] considerations included in the savings estimate.”