The Puerto Rico Chamber of Food Marketing, Industry and Distribution (known as MIDA by its Spanish acronym) expressed concern Tuesday about President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps.
The Trump administration is looking to slash more than $192 billion from food stamps over a decade, according to published reports.
“Although the budget presented appears to contain no dramatic reductions for the program on the island, its importance to our economy should put us all on alert,” said Manuel Reyes-Alfonso, executive vice-president of MIDA.
“This is not a social welfare program exclusively, but an economic development program because since its conception responded to the desire to encourage the purchase of agricultural products,” he siad. “That is, it encourages production, something we should remind President Trump.”
More than 44 million Americans participated in the food stamp program in 2016, ABC News said, citing U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
Puerto Rico receives funds differently than mainland states, which means about $450 million less than what corresponds to the island based on need, so to reduce it further would be “extremely unfair,” Reyes-Alfonso said.
The attorney and spokesperson of the food industry trade group said the local government and citizens “should be aware that this subsidy has an impact beyond those who receive the benefit directly.”
“The existence of this program helps to keep prices down for the rest of the population because it generates more volume. This in turn creates jobs throughout the island’s food distribution chain,” he said.
MIDA accepted there is room for subsidies such as SNAP to encourage work, as well as as room to minimize fraud.
“But unlike health funds, needed when homeless people get sick, these funds are needed every day to survive,” he said. “We call on the government and the whole island to go together to Washington to defend the need for these funds.”