Survey Shows Support for Farm Subsidies


Princeton Survey Research Associates International surveyed 1,012 adults from May 31 to June 3 to discuss a number of topics including the farm bill.  The opinions given on that legislation during the “Congressional Connection Poll” were discussed in the following portion of an article from the National Journal:

The mammoth, multibillion-dollar measure must be renewed by this fall, and while the Senate Agriculture Committee passed a bipartisan measure in April—a rare hopeful sign of bonhomie in Congress—there are still any number of issues holding up an agreement, including price-support and insurance provisions that rice, peanut, and cotton growers have vowed to fight. Southern senators on the Senate Agriculture Committee voted no when the bill came up for a vote at a markup last month.

Funding for food stamps is also a divisive issue. The budget resolution that passed the House calls for program cuts that face overwhelming Democratic opposition; the more modest changes in the food-stamp program in the Senate Agriculture Committee bill earned a no vote from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York over the bill’s treatment of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as the food-stamp program is formally known.

One poll question noted that enrollment in SNAP has risen from 32 million when President Obama took office to 46 million today. Asked what caused the increase, 45 percent of respondents attributed the sharp rise to the recession and slow recovery, while only 12 percent chalked it up to loose eligibility requirements or fraud. A sizable slice of the public—39 percent—saw the economy and fraud or loose eligibility as equal causes of the increase.

When asked if spending on the food-stamp program should be increased as part of the farm bill, 20 percent responded that it should be, 32 percent said it should be decreased, and 42 percent said that spending should be kept about the same—a pattern that would seem to suggest House Republicans need to do more to sell the public on the idea of substantial cuts in SNAP. Not surprisingly, the poll found Republicans more likely to favor cutting spending on food stamps. Only 4 percent of Republicans favored increasing spending on food stamps, while 55 percent wanted to see it cut. Republicans were three times more likely than Democrats (21 percent to 7 percent) to blame loose eligibility requirements and fraud as the cause of the increase in food-stamp rolls.

White men were particularly critical of food-stamp spending. A full 44 percent of white males with college educations wanted food stamps cut; 41 percent of white men with some college education or less wanted the program cut. Each demographic was more likely than the national average to see fraud and loose standards as the cause of the hike in the food-stamp rolls.

Despite the pressure on Congress to cut spending, the poll found strong support for either increasing or keeping spending about the same for subsidies to farmers and agribusinesses to help guarantee that prices for their crops don’t fall too low. Thirty-nine percent of the public wanted the amount spent on such subsidies to go up, while 37 percent wanted it to stay the same. Only 19 percent wanted to see cuts, a significantly lower percentage than the 32 percent who wanted to see food stamps cut. Five percent of the poll respondents didn’t know or refused to answer the question.

The public showed enthusiasm for increasing the amount spent to promote local farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and other direct sales from producers to consumers. A near majority, 48 percent, wanted more money spent on this, while only 15 percent wanted such funding cut. Thirty-two percent wanted it kept about the same. The bill that was voted out of the Senate Agriculture Committee included expanded funding to help farmers sell directly to consumers. A recent poll by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation found that 80 percent of the public says Washington should do more to increase access to locally produced food. Although the question was worded somewhat differently than the one posed in the Congressional Connection Poll, the results suggest that these programs may have a political constituency waiting to be tapped.

Despite all the talk about American competitiveness overseas, respondents showed no great enthusiasm for spending more “to promote the sale of American agricultural products overseas.” Only 32 percent of those surveyed thought that Washington should spend more to help U.S. farm exports, while 35 percent wanted to spend about the same and 27 percent wanted to see such programs cut.

The article above, written by Matthew Cooper, also discusses healthcare views and the Affordable Care Act.  CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Source:  National Journal

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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