Political Fight on Farm Aid and Food Stamps Hits Home in the Delta

The New York Times

December 10, 2013

 

BELZONI, Miss. — Thomas Bond, a cotton grower whose onetime 8,500-acre partnership of farms received $4 million in federal subsidies in the last seven years, thinks that many residents in the surrounding Mississippi Delta need food stamps. But he says the program is too big and rife with fraud. “There are a lot of people on food stamps who shouldn’t be,” Mr. Bond said in a recent interview at the Yazoo Country Club. “They could be working, but don’t.” Attitudes like that anger Monica Stokes, who works as a clerk at a local check-cashing store and has been cut off from $167 a month in food stamps because her income rose slightly. “Maybe I should go out and plant me a couple acres so I can get some of that money the farmers get,” she said as she took a smoke break on a recent morning outside the store, in Belzoni, the seat of Humphreys County. “The farmers make a lot more than I do, and they still get money from the government. How is that fair?” This fertile alluvial plain, once home to the plantations that made it one of the richest cotton-growing regions in the country, is now at the epicenter of the acrimony over a new farm bill in Congress. The conflicting views of residents about cutting food stamps and overhauling the farm subsidy program mirror those in Washington, but here the talk is more about real lives than government policy.
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