It’s not just the mom-and-pop stores that see a bump from food-stamp spending in small towns and rural areas. Wal-Mart reported in a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing that a decrease in SNAP benefits last year could affect the retail giant’s bottom line.
Average SNAP benefits nationally fell about $30 a month per family in November after a temporary increase that was part of the 2009 economic stimulus package. More funding decreases are on the way.
This summer, Congress agreed to trim about $8 billion from SNAP over the next decade. Backers of the cuts said the program had expanded too much in recent years and was creating too much reliance on government assistance. SNAP expenditures increased 135 percent between 2007 and 2011.
U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.-R) backed a measure that would have removed SNAP from the farm bill entirely.
“While [SNAP] is an important part of our safety net, our overriding goal should be to help our citizens with the education and skills they need to get back on their feet so that they can provide for themselves and their families,” Cantor said during congressional debate.
Food stamps have been part of the farm bill for the past 50 years. The legislation’s combination of farming and nutrition programs has helped ensure the bill receives broad backing from farm-country representatives and more urban-based members who support anti-poverty programs.
That alliance was tested but held with the passage of the 2014 farm bill.
Data for this article came from USDA Food and Nutrition Services, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census. The data was compiled and analyzed by Roberto Gallardo, Ph.D., associate Extension professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Funding for this report came from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Daily Yonder (www.dailyyonder.com) is an independent rural news site published by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Rural Strategies.