Nation Briefs

House bill would cut food stamps, farm subsidies

WASHINGTON – The House Agriculture Committee on Thursday unveiled its approach for a long-term farm and food bill that would reduce spending by $3.5 billion a year, almost half of that coming from cuts in the federal food stamp program.

The legislative draft envisions reducing current food stamp spending projections by $1.6 billion a year, four times the amount of cuts incorporated in the five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill passed by the Senate last month.

Food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, look to be the most contentious issue when the Agriculture Committee begins voting on the bill Wednesday and when the full House begins debating it in the future.

Conservatives in the Republican-led House are certain to demand greater cuts in the food stamps program, which makes up about 80 percent of the nearly $100 billion a year in spending under the farm bill. Senate Democrats are equally certain to resist more cuts in a program that now helps feed 46 million people, 1 out of every 7 Americans.

After weak June, retailers to sweat out summer

NEW YORK – Retailers could be sweating it out this summer.

Shoppers, worried about jobs and the economy, pulled back on spending in June, slowing sales for most retailers to the weakest pace since 2009. And that could leave merchants on edge, wondering if Americans will spend more when the back-to-school season starts in late July.

The June results, based on revenue at stores opened at least a year, are considered an indicator of a retailer’s health. Only a small group of chain stores report monthly sales figures. But the results offer a snapshot of consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of all economic activity.

The figures have shown an uneven recovery. Discounters and high-end stores, for example, notched stronger growth last month.

But for most, sales were disappointing. Big chains such as Costco, Kohl’s and Macy’s, as well as teen retailer The Wet Seal, were among stores whose results fell short of Wall Street expectations.

Associated Press