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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What is the Farm Bill?

Renée Johnson and Jim Monke
Specialists in Agricultural Policy

The farm bill is an omnibus, multi-year piece of authorizing legislation that governs an array of agricultural and food programs. Titles in the most recent farm bill encompassed farm commodity price and income supports, farm credit, trade, agricultural conservation, research, rural development, bioenergy, foreign food aid, and domestic nutrition assistance. Although agricultural policies sometimes are created and changed by freestanding legislation or as part of other major laws, the farm bill provides a predictable opportunity for policymakers to comprehensively and periodically address agricultural and food issues. The farm bill is renewed about every five years.

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246, “2008 farm bill”) is the most recent omnibus farm bill, and was enacted into law in June 2008. The farm bill is due for reauthorization, as portions of the 2008 farm bill expired in 2012. The farm bill was extended, however, for an additional year in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-240, the “fiscal cliff” bill). In 2013, Congress developed a Senate-passed farm bill (S. 954) and a combination of House-passed farm bills (H.R. 2642 and H.R. 3102).

The most recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) “baseline” budget (May 2013) estimates that about $973 billion of mandatory outlays are available for farm bill programs over the next decade (FY2014-FY2023). Within this total, an estimated $764 billion (79%) would be available for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) as part of the bill’s nutrition title. Another $143 billion (15%) would be available for farm commodity support and crop insurance, and $62 billion (6%) for agricultural conservation.

Date of Report: October 11, 2013
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: RS22131
Price: $19.95

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