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New Farm Bill cuts food stamps, local pantries concerned

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- A new Farm Bill heads to the House floor Wednesday. Disagreement between the House and Senate has held up a new bill since 2012.

One of the most contested points was the decrease in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. This new bill will cut $8 billion from SNAP recipients over the next decade, which is much less than the $39 billion Republicans wanted to cut. But, anti-hunger advocates aren't happy with the deal.

The director of the Thea Bowman House in Utica, Jane Domingue, said families who rely on SNAP are already struggling after benefits were decreased back in November. Many of them are finding it hard to make their food stamps stretch to the end of the month, so they frantically turn to pantries to put food on the table.

In the past two days, their emergency pantry has been crowded with about 150 people- about half they see in an entire month.

Now about 850,000 recipients could see $90 dollars less a month, forcing some people to make some painful decisions.

"One person that said they can pay their rent, but they have to live in soup kitchens because they can't do both. They can't do food and rent both, so they have to frequent food kitchens and food pantries," said Domingue.

Domingue said if the problem gets worse, they may not be able to keep up.

But on the other side, the American Farm Bureau Federation is urging House and Senate members to pass this bill. They say it will restore certainty for farmers and ranchers who need to plan for the spring.

The House will vote Wednesday. It's unclear when the Senate will take up the legislation.

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