US Rep. Kathy Castor blasts Republican colleagues for proposal to cut more than $20 billion from Food Stamp program

06/17/13 Janelle Irwin
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A House version of the federal Farm Bill would cut more than $20 billion from programs that provide food assistance to low-income families and some individuals. Tampa Bay area member of Congress Kathy Castor, a Democrat, lashed out Monday at House Republicans for going too far.

“They have proposed extreme cuts to SNAP and supplemental nutrition that could have the effect of throwing thousands of children off of food stamps and SNAP.”

Castor said people are continuing to recover from the recession.

“We are going to reduce the level of funding for Food Stamps accordingly.”

She said a Senate version of the Farm Bill which would cut only $4 billion is more appropriate. The current Farm Bill was approved in 2008 for 5 years. The House and Senate failed to re-authorize it last year and instead extended their deadline by 9 months. That extension expires at the end of September.

“I think if my colleagues on the other side of the aisle continue to take the extreme position that would slash children and families from nutrition programs before they’re able to get a job, than the likelihood of the Farm Bill passing is not positive.”

If a House version of the Farm bill is passed, Castor said it would affect thousands of Florida children.

“People would think it’s kind of common sense to know that children are better prepared to learn when they have full tummies – when they get breakfast and lunch. You know, the brain power, the brain works better. Children are better able to concentrate and read. They can sit still in their chairs and listen to their teacher. Imagine if you came to school every morning and you were hungry.”

The program also provides funding to public schools for free and reduced lunch for qualifying students. Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia said that assistance spills over into summer vacation.

“We have over 101 school sites that are serving a summer nutrition program and of those 101, eight of them are mobile sites where we go to partners in the community – the Boys and Girls Club or the Y where students are eligible for breakfast and lunch and we provide that for them.”

The House is expected to take action on their version of the Farm Bill this week. House Democrats, like Castor are likely to vote against it because the cuts are too deep. Some Republicans are expected to vote against it too because the cuts aren’t enough. If the bill passes as-is or with amendments, it would still have to be reconciled with the Senate’s version.

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