West Texans affected differently by Farm Bill failure

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Updated: 6/20/2013 10:17 pm
"Disappointment, because we've been going at it so long already."

That's Slaton farmer Steven Brosch's reaction to the House of Representatives rejecting the five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill. He had been looking forward to having some security in the years ahead. 

"It might have given us a little more stability knowing which way to head, especially when it comes to crop insurance," Brosch said. "That's what we're all worried about right now. If we don't have crop insurance, there's no reason to farm. Nobody could sustain that, especially a young farmer like me. There's just no way."

"It was going to have a very negative impact on poor people, and low-income people who are hungry in Lubbock and across the nation." 

David Weaver, CEO of the South Plains Food Bank, said he's relieved for now. He's worried about the federal food stamp program, SNAP. He said the $10 billion in cuts over five years would have meant drastic changes for many in our area.

"Probably one in six people are utilizing SNAP," Weaver said. "I don't know exactly what that would equate to. Probably 30,000 to 35,000 people in Lubbock. I think in our service area, which we serve 20 counties, probably 3,700 people would have been eliminated from that program."

He said some last-minute amendments could have made the impact even worse. 

"There was an amendment that was being looked at, I'm not sure if it was passed or not, that would require drug testing for all SNAP recipients, which would include children, elderly, working poor," Weaver said. "It's like saying, 'Just because you're poor, you have to be drug tested.' And I think that puts a stigma on people that really doesn't need to be there."

Democrats had suggested leaving food stamps alone and cutting farm subsidies instead. What happens next isn't clear. More than one member said reviving the bill won't be any easier, given the way Thursday's events played out. 

The current one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill expires Sept. 30. 
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