Van Orden and House GOP delay a new Farm Bill yet again

Van Orden and House GOP delay a new Farm Bill yet again

Nutrition assistance programs for financially struggling families, once referred to as food stamps, go by several names across the country including SNAP and Wisconsin FoodShare.

By Pat Kreitlow

June 26, 2024

The five-year law overseeing the farm safety net, nutrition assistance, and conservation programs is on hold after Republicans’ “magic math” is exposed as a cut to food assistance.

Passing a new Farm Bill has grown substantially less likely now that the Congressional Budget Office has told House Republicans its version falls far short of being financially balanced—and Republicans responded by digging in their heels, especially on cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 

The result may be another delay of updating the package of legislation that oversees everything from crop insurance to food assistance to conservation programs, as Republicans continue pushing for cuts not supported by Senate Democrats or President Joe Biden. 

The Farm Bill is reviewed and modified every five years, but its 2023 renewal is already eight months late. Passage relies on agreement between widely varied contingencies: farmers, consumers, producers, urban interests, rural interests, and more.

“[For Republicans] to make the case that this Farm Bill needs to cut nutrition in order to pay for other programs, that’s just a nonstarter politically,” said Mike Stranz, vice president of advocacy for the National Farmers Union, told UpNorthNews Radio

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates the House Republican proposal could put more than 10 million people—about 1 in 4 SNAP participants, including about 4 million children—at risk of losing food assistance—including a $460 million cut to SNAP food assistance in Wisconsin. Democrats immediately assailed Republicans in vulnerable congressional seats for supporting the idea.

“Derrick Van Orden’s support for a nearly $30 billion cut to food assistance is an absolute betrayal,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Joe Oslund. “More than 30,000 households in the 3rd Congressional District depend on SNAP food assistance, and under the Farm Bill backed by Derrick Van Orden today, every one of these households would receive less to buy groceries in future years. Derrick Van Orden promised no cuts to food assistance, and by backing this bad bill, he’s breaking his word.”

Republicans say they are merely reining in growing costs and using the savings to fund other farm, nutrition, and conservation programs, but Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said the CBO review exposes GOP members’ reliance on “magic math” that mistakenly assumes an increase in one of part of national agriculture policy means a cut somewhere else.

“It’s time to get real,” said the headline in the blog for Ag Committee Democrats. “Year-to-year changes in SNAP spending do not take away funding for other Farm Bill programs. Similarly, year-to-year changes in spending for crop insurance and commodity programs during disasters or economic downturns do not take funding away from SNAP.”

“Republicans are breaking the farm and food coalition by falsely claiming that increased program cost for food security through SNAP has somehow taken resources away from farms or left farms out of the mix,” said committee Democrats. “Such a framing is disingenuous and misleading.”

“When the main savings or the political push seems to be behind making cuts to nutrition programs, we’re starting on the wrong foot right away there,” Stranz said. “Making that assertion that it’s not a cut when there’s clearly a reduction in benefits going on down the road, that’s not a good way to start building a bipartisan bill.”

Former President Donald Trump sought changes that would have cut federal food assistance to 700,000 adults before Biden reversed course upon taking office in 2021. Trump’s former budget director, Russell Vought, is the architect behind plans for a second Trump term that, according to the Washington Post, crafts a 10-year plan with “more than $400 billion in cuts to food stamps; $2 trillion in cuts to Medicaid, the health program for the poor; more than $600 billion in cuts to the Affordable Care Act; hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to educational subsidies; and a halving of the State Department and the Labor Department, among other federal agencies.” 

SNAP is currently “the strongest lever we have against food insecurity,” said Poonam Gupta, a research associate in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, told The New Republic last month. According to the US Census Bureau’s ongoing household survey of scarcity, about 343,000 Wisconsin adults—8.5 percent of the population—report that there was either sometimes or often not enough to eat in the last 7 days. The national figure is around 10.5 percent.


  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.

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