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Survey finds strong support for farm program spending, less for SNAP.

By a significant majority--76 percent--respondents in a recent poll said they wanted federal spending for farm subsidies either to be increased or kept the same when the next farm bill is written. Only 19 percent wanted to see farm subsidies cut, "a significantly lower percentage than the 32 percent who wanted to see food stamps cut," while 5 percent of the poll respondents didn't know or declined to answer the question.

The results appear in the latest edition of the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. In the latest round of polling, Princeton surveyed 1,012 adults from May 31 to June 3. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

One poll question noted that enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as the food-stamp program is formally known, 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. However, according to the report, "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," says the report.

Farmers' markets and federal support for these enterprises are popular with the public as a near majority, 48 percent, wanted more money spent on this, while only 15 percent wanted such funding cut, and 32 percent wanted it kept about the same.

And, 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 poll is the latest in a series of national surveys that track the public's priorities for Congress--and its assessment of Washington's performance--during most weeks that Congress is in session during this election year.
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Publication:The Food & Fiber Letter
Date:Jun 11, 2012
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