By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday Congressman Robert Aderholt (R) from Haleyville released a written statement after the Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Audrey Rowe testified before the subcommittee Aderholt chairs.
U.S. Representative Aderholt said, “In FY12 the federal government spent over $106 billion on nutrition assistance programs, that accounts for nearly 80 percent of the total resources in the Ag Appropriations bill. While the USDA’s nutrition assistance programs were designed to provide a vital safety net for those in need, most can agree that given the size of the taxpayer’s investment, these programs certainly deserve their fair share of oversight.”
Rep. Aderholt continued, “The Administration claims to be curbing waste, fraud and abuse in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), however they estimate that more than $800 million in federal food aid is spent fraudulently every year. SNAP also reported $2.7 billion in improper payments in FY11. That’s a staggering amount of taxpayer money that’s being misused in just one of the USDA’s nutrition assistance programs, especially given the current fiscal environment.” SNAP is what was formerly known as Food Stamps.
Rep. Aderholt said that during President Obama’s first term the number of SNAP participants have increased from 28 million to 47 million last year. Similarly the costs of the SNAP program have exploded from $40 billion to $80 billion last year.” Aderholt said, “The Subcommittee realizes the economy has certainly been a factor in this increase; however, we cannot deny other federal and state eligibility policies have contributed to this growth.”
Rep. Aderholt continued, “The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly known as WIC, is a program that provides grant money to states, tribal organizations and territories that is struggles with program eligibility requirements and managing its program vendors. For example, there are WIC vendors selling Cheerios at $10 a box, abuse which cost taxpayers $50 million from one state alone. Fortunately, new rules have been implemented to combat this in the future, but it makes me question how many other problems are yet to be found?”
Congressman Aderholt said that new Obama Administration rules and food standards for the National School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program have raised the cost of the programs even though participation in these programs is down nearly four percent. Rep. Aderholt said. “The Department needs to look seriously at the costs versus the benefits of these new rules so our schools are not literally throwing money away.”
Aderholt said that the goal of the Subcommittee is to ensure the integrity of these nutrition assistance programs and make sure taxpayer dollars are spent as wisely as possible. Aderholt said that the Food and Nutrition Service at USDA has some serious work to do to be better stewards of taxpayers’ limited dollars.
Aderholt is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies for the powerful House Appropriations Committee. The North Alabama Congressman is also a member of the Committee’s Commerce, Justice and Science; and Homeland Security Subcommittees, and serves on the Helsinki Commission.
Congressman Aderholt represents Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District.