WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Agriculture Department has come out with new steps to fight fraud in the federal food stamp program, which has taken central stage as Congress struggles to come up with a long-term farm policy bill.
The actions include giving the department new authority to both permanently disqualify and fine retailers who traffic in food stamps and requiring states to make use of federal databases, including prison and death records, to ensure that food stamp benefits go to those who are eligible.
The department says food stamp fraud is already at record lows due to increased oversight. But it is sensitive to any reports of abuse as Congress tries to pass a farm bill that provides almost $80 billion a year for the 46 million receiving food stamp benefits.
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