RALEIGH, N.C. -

The state agency responsible for tracking food stamp benefits in North Carolina expects to have a big backlog created by a problematic computer system cleared up in about two and a half months.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said Friday it's culled thousands of duplicate applications from its list of people waiting more than a month for food stamp benefits. The backlog is now about 24,000 cases in the NC FAST computer system, which was supposed to speed up the process.

The state agency told the U.S. Agriculture Department this week it would catch up on the backlog by the end of March. The USDA last month threatened to cut federal funding for food stamps over the backlog and state officials' failure to provide adequate responses.