7:08 PM EDT

Mike Grimm, R-NY 11th

Mr. GRIMM. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to offer an amendment that would reduce fraud in the SNAP program.

The farm bill currently requires the USDA to create pilot programs around the Nation that leverage Federal-State partnerships to combat SNAP retailer fraud.

My amendment requires the USDA to include at least one of the top 10 largest urban areas as one of the pilot program locations. To be clear, the bill specifically states that any State or large urban area chosen for a pilot program would not be able to divert resources away from recipient anti-fraud efforts; thus, this program only supplements those recipient fraud efforts.

This is a critically important amendment because we must ensure that the pilot programs account for the unique structure of SNAP programs within large urban areas. For instance, in one Midwest State, 75 percent of SNAP benefits were redeemed in just eight large supermarkets or publicly owned convenience store chains.

But the urban environment is distinctly different. As an example, New York City has over 10,000 SNAP retailers--of which 80 percent are small, privately owned retailers. According to recent statistics, while 87 percent of SNAP transactions occur in large supermarkets, they account for only 5.4 percent of retailer trafficking.

[Time: 19:10]

Conversely, 9 percent of SNAP retailers are privately owned--small convenience stores in local neighborhoods--but they account for 80 percent of SNAP fraud.

Therefore, to be successful in combating retailer fraud, we must ensure that we're able to investigate fraudulent activities at these small, privately owned stores. To do this, we must ensure that a large urban area is included in at least one of these pilot programs, in one location. If we fail to include a large urban area in the pilot program, we will miss a large portion of retailers responsible for 80 percent of the retailer fraud.

This amendment will not take a pilot program away from any other State or determine which large urban area must receive a program. It only says that to [Page: H3885]

ensure we receive fully accurate information from the pilots, that we must include at least one large urban area.