Illinois farmers staying out of debate over work requirements for food stamps in federal farm bill

Illinois farmers staying out of debate over work requirements for food stamps in federal farm bill

ILLINOIS (IRN) — Illinois farmers are mostly staying out of the back-and-forth over whether the farm bill should include work requirements for food assistance.

The federal farm bill, which contains a slew of government programs for crop insurance, farm credit, research and more, is in conference committee where U.S. senators and representatives are hashing out the differences between two separate versions.

One sticking point is over whether able-bodied adults should be required to work or get job training in order to be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which used to be called food stamps.

President Donald Trump last week on Twitter said, “Work requirements are imperative and the Dems are a NO. Not good!

“Democrats are totally against approving the Farm Bill. They are fighting tooth and nail to not allow our Great Farmers to get what they so richly deserve,” Trump tweeted.

Illinois Farm Bureau District 10 board member Mark Reichert said it’s common sense to have able-bodied people pull their own weight, but “everybody comes down on hard times and they need assistance and so [the farm bill] is the avenue to where those folks can get some assistance.”

“As far as a strict policy that Illinois Farm Bureau has, we’re not taking a side that stringent [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] reform needs to be part of that farm bill,” Reichert said. “We just want a farm bill.”

Ladage Farm operator Brent Ladage of Auburn, Illinois, urged for a standalone farm bill.

“I wish that wasn’t in part of the farm program,” Ladage said. “I know its food and it needs to be taken care of, but it shouldn’t be what makes this farm bill go or not go. We need to vote on it by itself.”

Supporters say the requirement is a pathway for individuals to get out of needing government assistance while opponents say the requirement won’t lift people from poverty.

It’s unclear if a farm bill will pass the conference committee before the Sept. 30th deadline, when the current legislation expires.