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U.S. Agriculture Secretary discusses potential changes to SNAP in 2018 Farm Bill

Patrick Center

As Congress works on its 2018 Farm Bill one consideration is making food assistance recipients work. Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue visited Grand Rapids’ Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery meeting with local farmers. This is where Perdue was asked about what could be in store for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.

Perdue made it clear the Trump administration and a Republican Congress won’t eliminate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, rather there’s a need for the nutrition program to, as Pedue put it, work for Americans.

“Republicans, like most American are very compassionate and generous people. We understand there are poor among us who need help and we want them to get the help they need those truly in need.”

However, it’s the able bodied adults without dependents who are not looking for work, that’s where Perdue says language in the 2018 Farm Bill will need to change explaining the original intent of SNAP was a temporary, supplemental assistance program.

“We want those truly in need in those situations to get even more. But the fact is when people make it a part of their permanent lifestyle, stacking up benefits from the state, local and federal government as their lifestyle, that’s what we want to send a signal that we want people to have the dignity of a job to care for their own families in an independent way.”

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Agriculture. Last month she stated she won’t support cuts adding, "Many, many people on food assistance are working. Certainly we're going to do what's fair and right and encourages people to have more work opportunities."

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.