July 16, 2012 –The House Agriculture Committee approved legislation late last week that will cut $35 billion from the federal food and nutrition budget, about $16.5 billion of which come from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — more commonly known as SNAP or food stamps. The cuts work by eliminating “categorical eligibility,” which provides assistance to families whose assets or income put them slightly above the technical line for SNAP eligibility. Repealing categorical eligibility means that between two and three million Americans will lose access to food stamps and roughly 280,000 children will drop out of their automatic enrollment in the free lunch program at school. SNAP assistance saved five million American from poverty in 2010 and halved the number of children in poverty in 2011.
Bowing to pressure from agribusiness combines, the House Agriculture Committee also approved an amendment that will deny states the ability to regulate any farm product, overturning animal welfare, food safety and environmental laws related to any farm product in all 50 states. The midnight vote, at the end of a marathon debate on the five year agriculture measure, would block California’s ban on the sale and production of foie gras, and a voter approved measure requiring that caged veal calves, breeding sows and laying chickens should be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and freely extend their limbs. Also gone will be state laws that limit pesticide use on fruits and vegetables.
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