The federal Farm Bill is the focus of the latest political battle on Capitol Hill. And in that fight rests the future of SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
1.7 million people here in Michigan and 47.5 million people nationwide receive federal help to buy food. Spending and participation in the food stamp program is at an all-time high.
Funding for the food stamp program is part of the big five-year Farm Bill. Both the House and Senate have approved Farm Bills, but there's a big gulf between the two versions.
The Senate's version would cut about $4 billion from food assistance programs. Senate Democrats say that would root out waste but not strand people in need.
The House version would have cut much deeper, around $20 billion. House Republicans say now that the economy is recovering, food assistance can be cut back, and they maintain that President Obama's expansion of food aid during the recession went well beyond what was truly needed. GOP House leaders stripped food aid out of its farm bill to get it passed.
So now what? The clock is ticking, because the Farm Bill and food stamp programs expire at the end of September.
What does this all mean for those Michiganders who receive federal food assistance?
Melissa Smith is a senior policy analyst for the Michigan League of Public Policy, a Lansing-based group that focuses on social services. She joined us today.
Listen to the full interview above.