The recession has boosted the number of Americans on food stamps to 44 million.
The recession has boosted the number of Americans on food stamps to 44 million. - 
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Jeremy Hobson: The Senate has started working on a five year extension of the Farm Bill. Well, it's called the Farm Bill, but in fact, 80 percent of the bill goes to fund food stamps.

From our Wealth and Poverty Desk, Krissy Clark reports.

Krissy Clark: Elizabeth Lower-Basch has been glued to the debate about the farm bill. She's a poverty expert at the Center for Law and Social Policy, and she's keeping a close eye on the fate of the food stamp program this year. But she says that's not why most people pay attention to the farm bill. 

Elizabeth Lower-Basch: The people who pay a lot of attention to it are frankly the agricultural interests. And so they're really mobilized to defend subsidy programs.

What people are not so mobilized to defend is food stamps, Lower-Basch says. And that worries her. Especially now, when 44 million Americans depend on them -- nearly double pre-recession numbers.

And as food-stamp spending has grown, it's become more of a target for big cuts. Robert Rector is with the Heritage Foundation.

Robert Rector: It's a one-way handout, so we have to look at this spending in a reasonable way when we're making choices about how to reduce future deficits.

What some see as making hard choices about future deficits, others see as balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. That's a debate we're going to be hearing a lot more of this election year.

I'm Krissy Clark for Marketplace.

Follow Krissy Clark at @@kristianiaclark