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Farm Policy in Trumpistan: Subsidize Rich Farmers, Starve the Poor

Donald Trump throws $28 billion at farmers (mostly at the rich ones) to make up for wrecking their markets and calls them patriots for taking his welfare checks, but he wants hungry people to go hungrier. A new Urban Institute report shows that to save $4.2 billion, proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would kick 3.7 million people off food assistance:

If implemented in 2018, the combined changes would have had the following effects:

  • The number of households participating in an average month of the year would have fallen by 2.1 million (10.8 percent).
  • The number of people receiving SNAP would have fallen by 3.7 million (9.4 percent), and the total SNAP benefits paid would have fallen by $4.2 billion (7.8 percent) [Laura Wheaton, “Estimated Effect of Recent Proposed Changes to SNAP Regulations,” Urban Institute, November 2019].

Since hungry children don’t vote for Trump, they come out net losers under the changes:

About 0.5 million households with children would lose eligibility, 1.1 million would have lower benefits ($28 less on average), and 1 million would have higher benefits ($13 on average) [Wheaton, Nov 2019].

One of the biggest changes, eliminating Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility, would have no impact in South Dakota, as we have not implemented that policy. South Dakota would see the largest reduction of the utility allowance (the income deduction applied to eligibility calculations to account for how much people have to spend for things like electricity and communications), knocking 500 South Dakotans off SNAP for a savings of $14.7 million. Tightening the Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents work requirements would remove 300 South Dakotans from SNAP’s rolls, with a savings of $800,000.


  1. bearcreekbat 2019-12-01 11:28

    This post’s reference to the Trump Administration action aimed at eliminating 3.7 million people from SNAP food assistance is confusing and troubling, particularly from a conservative/libertarian constitutional perspective.

    Under our Counstitution setting eligibility standards for SNAP is a legislative function rather than an administrative function. Once Congress has exercised this power vested in it by the Constitution, and determines eligibility standards for these 3.7 million people, then the executive adminstration is required by the Constitution to carry out that Congressional determination. Thus, the executive is limited by our Constitution from changing eligibility standards to deny these folks what Congress previously has decided they are eligible to receive.

    In other words, those folks targeted by Congress are entitled by our Constitution to these SNAP benefits once Congress passes statutes defining their eligibility. The Constitution vests no power or authority in the executive branch to change this Article I eligibility decision.

    Likewise, even if some members of Congress wanted to allow the administration to set or revise eligibility rules, the non-delegation doctrine would be implicated.

    The non-delegation doctrine is a principle in administrative law that Congress cannot delegate its legislative powers to other entities. This prohibition typically involves Congress delegating its powers to administrative agencies or to private organizations.

    While non-delegation doctrine does not prevent Congress from delegating some discretion in how to spend funds to the executive branch in some statutorily designated programs or circumstances, it is my understanding that determining standards for SNAP eligibility has never been delegated to the executive. Rather, Congress has enacted statutory eligibility rules that must be followed by the executive branch.

    Hopefully, this Trumpian power grab will result in another class action in which a public interest law firm brings the matter before the federal Courts for a determination that the Trump adminstration, once again, exceeded the powers granted to the executive branch by the U.S. Constitution.

  2. Porter Lansing 2019-12-01 11:38

    BCB – Thanks for the informative clarification.

  3. jerry 2019-12-01 11:57

    This attempt by Chubby and accomplices proves that wall street farmers are not really farmers anymore, they are just corporate lackeys it seems. Real farmers would be calling the three bozos representing us and demanding that SNAP be strengthened as it means money in the pockets of real farmers. Corporate farmers just whine and get money for nothing.

    BTW, corporate farmers have gotten more of bailout taxpayer money than the banks and auto industry in 2008. Booyah! And you thought the banks were crooked, look around at your wealthy farmers to see they’re in cahoots. Now ya know how they got that way. Welfare cheats all.

  4. mike from iowa 2019-12-01 12:37

    Like someone to ask SD wingnuts in Washington for comments on taking SNAP benefits, just to see if they repeat the failed “I watched them buy steak and lobsters with SNAP cards, buy cigarrettes and lotto tickets with the change and drive off in new SUVs with Obama phones” garbage.

  5. Porter Lansing 2019-12-01 12:56

    Trump’s Brain … “If you stop impeaching me, I’ll stop making blacks and Mexicans suffer.” Kind of a quid pro quo.

  6. grudznick 2019-12-01 13:10

    I don’t know about this Snap business, but Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents should be required to work even if it costs us more in the welfares. Make people have to work instead of lounging about getting free stuff is in the best interests of everybody, libbies and conservatives alike. I didn’t realize Mr. Trump could unilaterally change the Snaps and don’t really have an opinion on that, although Mr. bat makes some good points. What really gets grudznick’s goat all up in hackles is able bodied adults without dependents just slacking about on the public dole.

  7. Porter Lansing 2019-12-01 13:23

    grudz. Do you know of any able bodied adults with no dependents that are receiving SNAP or is this just something you think might be happening? Because if you’re not just making up a story to demean people (like you often do) then give me their name and I’ll turn them in to the USDA for fraud. Below you’ll see the SNAP requirements for able bodied people with no dependents to get a job if they want to get help with food until they make enough not to meet the low income threshold.

  8. bearcreekbat 2019-12-01 13:30

    It might be appropriate to advise anyone under the frequently debunked impression that able bodied people who get public assistance are allowed to be “lounging about getting free stuff” to immediately seek medical help in dealing with such hallucinations. Untreated hallucinations can often get much worse and make life almost unbearable for the loved ones of someone constantly seeing or hearing things that are simply not there. For example

    SNAP has two sets of work requirements. If you are age 16 – 59 and able to work, you will probably need to meet the general work requirements to get SNAP benefits. The general work requirements include registering for work, participating in SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) or workfare if assigned by your state SNAP agency, taking a suitable job if offered, and not voluntarily quitting a job or reducing your work hours below 30 a week without a good reason.

  9. mike from iowa 2019-12-01 14:07

    Make people have to work instead of lounging about getting free stuff is in the best interests of everybody, libbies and conservatives

    Right on, Grudzilla. I’ll pass this on to Marlboro Barbie, Cardboard Mike, Dusty’s Trail and Noem, none of whom are earning anywhere what they suck from the gubmint teat.

  10. grudznick 2019-12-01 14:07

    Mr. Lansing, grudznick does NOT know any able bodied adults without dependents who are receiving benefits. I am, in fact, shocked there is such a category. If you read the study, as did I, you will find that the author, a young Ms. Laura Wheaton, is studying such a group. Also, Mr. H references them in the last sentence of his blogging, where he says:

    Tightening the Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents work requirements would remove 300 South Dakotans from SNAP’s rolls, with a savings of $800,000.

    So no, grudznick is not demeaning people or making up a story, I am reading the bloggings and learning things. You, sir, have some phone calls to make, while I go feed your goats.

  11. Porter Lansing 2019-12-01 14:21

    My goats are Rocky Mountain goats. They feed themselves.
    Making it harder on someone who’s already working is different than the person you imagine to be lounging around and not working. Here are the requirements which Trump wants to make tougher.
    The Able Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD) Work Requirement and Time Limit
    If you are age 18 – 49, able to work, and don’t have any dependents, you might need to meet both the general work requirements and an additional work requirement for ABAWDs to get SNAP for more than 3 months in 3 years (the time limit). You can meet the ABAWD work requirement by doing any one of these things:

    Work at least 80 hours a month. Work can be for pay, for goods or services (for something other than money), unpaid, or as a volunteer;
    Participate in a work program at least 80 hours a month. A work program could be SNAP Employment and Training or another federal, state, or local work program;
    Participate in a combination of work and work program hours for a total of at least 80 hours a month;
    Participate in workfare for the number of hours assigned to you each month (the number of hours will depend on the amount of your SNAP benefit.)

  12. grudznick 2019-12-01 15:27

    When I get your goats, Mr. Lansing, they are soft and fluffy and smell like fancy Colorado shampoo. I toughen them up, put them in a pen filled with mud and straw and cause them to fight other, tougher South Dakota goats just to get a drink of clean Rapid Creek water.

    It does seem that making able-bodied people without dependents work 80 hours a month is not much of a stretch. They should have to work 160 hours a month, and not spend half their time lounging about eating free off the public dole. The harder they work, the more they get ahead in life. Like your goats, they will quickly learn that life is not easy lounging about on the public dole and you will have to duke it out with other fellows who want to climb higher in life.

  13. Porter Lansing 2019-12-01 15:58

    Tell it to Cory. I find no benefit to communication with you.

  14. grudznick 2019-12-01 16:16

    grudznick wins in the debates, again!

  15. Debbo 2019-12-01 21:05

    Mean Mango is just that. He’s a mean SOB who doesn’t have an empathetic nerve cell in his body. As Cory has indicated in this post, the “Wall Street farmers” are taking in vastly larger welfare sums while sitting on their hind ends doing nothing but slurping oysters off their half shells.

    In addition, we know that corporate USA slugs down enormous amounts of welfare, also known as our tax dollars. Yet, Mean Mango targets the politically weak and vulnerable because he is an indecent, cruel, sadistic, semi-human being.

  16. Debbo 2019-12-01 23:39

    Per Robert Reich’s tweet:

    Trump’s proposed cuts to food stamps would affect:

    – 400,000 people in Texas
    – 328,000 in Florida
    – 225,000 in Pennsylvania
    – 176,000 in Washington State
    – 165,000 in Michigan
    – 118,000 in Wisconsin
    – 97,000 in Georgia

    That can’t be good for votes, unless his GOP manages to suppress all their votes.

  17. mike from iowa 2019-12-02 07:29

    drumpf is a sub-human mongrel.

  18. Debbo 2019-12-02 11:38

    Mike, that’s only on his very best days.

  19. jerry 2019-12-02 21:54

    Instead of making the fat cat banker farmers richer, that money should go to the rural areas for development of better infrastructure. Anyone remember Chubby, EB5 Rounds, old Stretch and even “Crystal” GNOem braying about the trillion dollar infrastructure Chubby and their badselves were gonna churn out. To this day, only Obama money on infrastructure projects that had been in the works since before he left office. Natta from the grifters.

    Look what rural areas are getting in Missouri. Security when there is a bad storm that knocks out power. Anyone in South Dakota familiar with that?

    “And residents of the tiny northern Missouri town of Green City (pop. 608) are getting 2.5 MW of solar plus four hours of battery storage from the state’s public utility next year. The solar power won’t go directly to townspeople, but instead will back up the town’s substation, reducing the risk of a potential shutdown. It’s part of a $68 million project to improve the reliability of remote substations far from electric generating stations.

    “It’s a pretty big deal for us,” says Chad Raley, who manages technology and renewables at Ameren, a Missouri utility that is building three rural solar-plus-storage projects to better manage the flow of electricity across the local grid. “It gives us so much flexibility with renewable generation. We can’t control the sun or clouds or wind, but we can have battery storage.”

    Here, we have quid por quo, there you have power with the dough.

  20. jakc 2019-12-03 00:21

    Please explain this math to me

    “knocking 500 South Dakotans off SNAP for a savings of $14.7 million. Tightening the Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents work requirements would remove 300 South Dakotans from SNAP’s rolls, with a savings of $800,000”

    So the first calculation implies an annual benefit of $29,400. In SNAP assistance. In SD, that would take a household of 17 (presumably with 15 kids under the age of 18). The second calculation implies an annual benefit of $2,666 – for a single adult – or a monthly benefit of $222, or $30 in excess of the MAXIMUM benefit.

    In other words, these numbers are nonsense. And that doesn’t even take into account that the benefits are going to be spent in SD (very little cross border leakage here), so saving $15.5 million in SNAP also means that SD grocers lose $15.5 million in sales

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-03 05:33

    Jakc, I’m puzzled by the per-head breakdown, too, but such are the numbers in the chart.

    The plain fact is that those folks need to eat, and they need that assistance more than the big incorporated farmers who are getting six-figure checks from Uncle Sam.

  22. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-03 05:36

    We give able-bodied farmers huge Trumpfare checks under the pretense that they’ve just had a rough year and need some help to carry them over until they can support themselves. We don’t require them to take second jobs. We don’t limit how many years they can receive that support.

    SNAP doesn’t write anyone a six-figure check, and certainly doesn’t do so for multiple years. We can get regular folks over their rough patches with a fraction of the aid we hand out to farmers.

  23. Porter Lansing 2019-12-03 05:43

    I’m afraid this quote is a more common attitude in SD than our empathy and compassion, Cory. It’s not factual but it boosts the competitive ego of those whose self esteem is unsustainable.,
    “They should have to work 160 hours a month, and not spend half their time lounging about eating free off the public dole. The harder they work, the more they get ahead in life. They will quickly learn that life is not easy lounging about on the public dole and you will have to duke it out with other fellows who want to climb higher in life.” – grudznick

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