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Republican ag platform contains Ryan food stamp block grant

TAMPA — The Republican Party platform’s agriculture section proposes turning food stamps into a block grant to the states, just as the party's vice presidential nominee, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., proposed in the House-passed budget.

“The food stamp program now accounts for nearly 80 percent of the entire USDA budget. In finding ways to fight fraud and abuse, the Congress should consider block-granting that program to the states, along with the other domestic nutrition programs,” says the platform released at the Republican nominating convention here.

Longtime farm lobbyists say that block-granting food stamps and removing the program’s reauthorization from the farm bill would make it difficult or impossible to pass a farm bill, because so many urban and suburban legislators whose constituents benefit from food stamps would no longer have a reason to vote for the bill.

The platform also proposes merging the international food aid programs now run by the Agriculture Department and the U.N. Agency for International Development , saying the programs are “fragmented” and “should be streamlined into one agency with a concentration on reducing overhead to maximize delivery of the actual goods.”

On farm policy, the platform calls for the end of the direct payments program in favor of retaining crop insurance.