Illinois’ representative for fed farm bill supports work requirement for food stamps

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WASHINGTON D.C. (Illinois News Network) — The lone Illinois voice in the coming battle over whether there should be a work requirement for able-bodied food stamp recipients said it’s time to get them jobs.

Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, gave his introductory statements Wednesday at the first conference committee meeting. He said there are a number of aspects from both the Senate’s version of the farm bill and the House version that he supports. He said the final version needs a work requirement for those receiving food assistance who are able to work.

“Our country’s economy is growing at its strongest pace in four years, and our unemployment rate is at an 18-year low,” he said. “There are 6.6 million open jobs in this country and small business optimism is the highest it’s been in 35 years. If not now, Mr. Chairman, when?”

Other representatives from Illinois have been selected to help negotiate the farm bill but only in limited capacities unrelated to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the federal food assistance commonly referred to as food stamps.

According to federal labor statistics, 67 percent of Illinoisans who get food assistance aren’t working.

“This isn’t because they don’t want to work, it’s because many have been discouraged by a recession that lasted too long and many lack the education and training necessary to get a good-paying skilled job,” Davis said.

President Donald Trump tweeted out his support for the work requirement Wednesday morning.

“The Trump Economy is booming with help of House and Senate GOP,” he said. “#FarmBill with SNAP work requirements will bolster farmers and get America back to work. Pass the Farm Bill with SNAP work requirements!”

Trump has warned that a farm bill devoid of a SNAP work requirement could be vetoed.

Opponents of a work requirement say the red tape involved will leave some eligible recipients that make mistakes go hungry.

The existing farm bill expires at the end of September. Each lasts for five years.