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Poll shows support for programs in farm bill

As the Senate begins debating the farm bill, three-quarters of Americans think that spending on farm subsidies should be kept the same or increased, and nearly two-thirds of Americans think that spending on food stamps should be kept the same or increased, according to a poll released by National Journal Daily earlier today.

The results of the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll indicate there is support for continuing or increasing farm and nutrition programs, even though both have been criticized and subject to much debate.

The poll was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between May 31 and June 3 of 1,012 adults age 18 or older, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

If the 3.7 percent margin of error is considered, about the same percentages of Americans favored keeping spending on farm subsidies and food stamps the same, but there were differences in whether they should be increased or decreased.

Asked whether ”subsidies for farmers and agribusinesses to help guarantee that prices for their crops don’t fall too low” should be increased, decreased or kept about the same, 37 percent of respondents said they should be kept the same while 39 percent said they should be increased and only 19 percent said they should be decreased.

Democrats and independents were more likely to favor keeping spending on farm programs the same or increasing it. About 40 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of independents favored keeping farm spending the same while 40 percent of each group favored increasing it.

Among Republicans, 35 percent favored keeping spending the same while 33 percent favored an increase and 27 percent favored a cut.

Asked whether foods stamps should be increased, decreased or kept about the same, 42 percent of Americans said they should be kept about the same, 20 percent said they should be increased and 32 percent said they should be decreased.

Told that since President Barack Obama took office in 2009 that the number of Americans on food stamps has risen from 32 million to 46 million and asked the most important reason for this increase, 45 percent said more people needed food stamps because of the recession and slow recovery, 12 percent said it is because of loose eligibility requirements or fraud and 39 percent said both factors are equally responsible for the increase.

In an analysis of the results, National Journal Daily editor Matt Cooper wrote that only 4 percent of Republicans favor increasing spending on food stamps while 55 percent wanted to see it cut. Republicans were also three times more likely than Democrats (21 percent to 7 percent) to blame loose eligibility and fraud for increasing food stamp rolls. (See link below)

White men were particularly critical of food stamp spending, with 44 percent of college-educated white males and 41 percent of white men with some college education wanting it cut.

The poll also showed big support for both farmers’ markets and for the promotion of agriculture exports.

Thirty-two percent of respondents said funding to promote local farmers should be kept the same, while 48 percent thought it should be increased and only 15 percent thought it should be cut.

Thirty-five percent of respondents said funding to promote the sale of American agricultural products overseas should be kept the same, 32 percent thought it should be increased and 27 percent thought it should be cut.