SNAP payment error and fraud rates have alarmed U.S. lawmakers and further fueled the food stamp spending fight, central to writing the new farm bill. The total SNAP FY 2022 error rate of 11-and-a-half percent prompted bipartisan howls from the four Ag panel leaders, who called it “unacceptable” and a threat to SNAP’s integrity.
Iowa’s Joni Ernst complained at an earlier Senate Ag hearing that SNAP fraud rates are also shockingly high; “I do believe it’s important that we’re providing critical assistance to those citizens that are most vulnerable, but we also have an obligation to ensure that these federal funds are not abused. So, as we’re considering ways to cut back governmental spending, we do have to maintain program integrity.”
USDA Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Deputy Undersecretary Stacy Dean blamed the pandemic and staffing shortages for reduced oversight. Dean; “The appropriations that we received both in 2022 and 2023 provided a significant increase in staffing for FNS resources that had fallen to a historic low while our program had gotten larger, while many more stores had joined the program. So, we just needed more capacity.”
But FNS also says Congress dropped the requirement—now resumed–for states to do quality control reviews during the pandemic. Meantime, GOP lawmakers charged FNS abused its authority to expand SNAP by a quarter of a trillion dollars during the pandemic. USDA says it did what Congress allowed.
The Congressional Budget Office now projects nutrition costs will consume more than 80 percent of the next farm bill, or 1-point-2 trillion dollars, forcing a reckoning over SNAP’s cost. Ernst added; “We’re under extreme constraints with our budget and appropriations, and we need to find a way to make sure that those dollars are going as far as we can, with the people that actually need those assistance and programs.
Lending more fuel to the fight over a GOP push to expand farm bill SNAP work requirements but likely bipartisan support for efforts to reduce fraud, waste, and abuse in the food stamp program…