Farm Bill

Today’s post is an overview of a piece of American legislation called the Farm Bill. If you don’t know much about what it is, you’re in the right place.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act was first passed in 1933. It has been renewed 17 times since then under various names, and is often referred to as the Farm Bill. Because it is such a long piece of legislation, hundreds and hundreds of pages, and covers a wide array of programs, it is broken up into sections called Titles. The Titles in 2014 were:

  • Commodity Programs
  • Conservation
  • Trade
  • Nutrition
  • Credit
  • Rural Development
  • Research
  • Forestry
  • Energy
  • Horticulture and Organic Agriculture
  • Crop Insurance
  • Miscellaneous

It’s quite the handful, and you can see that it encompasses A LOT. Though it is referred to as the Farm Bill, it actually affects the lives of every American, covering things like agricultural research, conservation efforts, food stamps, rural development, and food safety to name a few.

It goes through the same process in Congress as most bills including the House, Senate, and President. I won’t go into details of that here, but if you need a civics refresher, I think Schoolhouse Rock can help you.

Once passed, rulemaking and implementation falls to the USDA largely through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). These are long processes that can take many years, depending on the topic at hand.

The most recent Farm Bill was passed in 2018. There are a lot of changes and updates due to changing demographics across the country, specifically that farmers have dropped from over 20% to under 2% of the population since the 1930’s. To say the industry has faced conglomeration would be an understatement.

Now that I’ve done a broad overview, stay tuned for posts going into specifics of the most recent changes to legislation and funding. There’s a lot to cover, so I’ll do separate posts rather than one that’s hundreds and hundreds of pages long.

Image by: Timothy Eberly

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