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Farm Bill Legislation Preserves Income Inequality

One of the most relevant issues in modern America is the overwhelming level of income inequality. The Barack Obama administration plans to establish 2014 as a ‘year of action’ and hopes to address the pressing issue of income inequality substantially.

Currently, 66% of Americans believe the government ought to take action to narrow the gap between upper and lower economic classes.

In addition to harming the middle and lower classes of society, income inequality also has a significant impact on federal debt. As more people move from the middle class to the lower class, federal welfare spending increases to accommodate, which contributes to the United States’ already tremendous debt.

However, bipartisan legislation has already been brought up that may do more harm to lower classes. Revisions made to the Farm Bill—“a five-year congressional funding program for agriculture and hunger programs”—will result in an $8.7 billion funding cut to food stamps for Americans over the next 10 years. The food stamp program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) aids one in seven people.

The Farm Bill revisions additionally secure government subsidies to Koch industry subsidiaries in biomass and exempts chemical runoffs from forestry sites from government regulation under the Clean Water Act. Lobby reports indicate that Koch industry lobbyists were heavily influential in the Farm Bill legislation.

The funding cuts are expected to impact 850,000 American households through the next decade. Unfortunately, the congressional measure also comes after a $5 billion reduction to the food stamp program on November 1, 2013.

The lower income populations of Pennsylvania and New Jersey are two of many states that anticipate significant harm. In Pennsylvania, “roughly 175,00 households will lose an average of $65 a month,” which can be particularly devastating for the poor.  A source quotes, “In New Jersey, an estimated 157,000 households will have their benefits cut.”

The Farm Bill legislation, signed by Obama, arrives surprisingly shortly after his recent declarations of action towards income inequality. It continues to subsidize large agricultural corporations at the expense of lower income individuals and will expect to provide difficulties for food stamp recipients over the course of the next decade.

– Jugal Patel

Sources: Philly, Huffington Post, ABC News, CNN, The Nation
Photo: RI Future