Farm Bill

What is the Farm Bill?

The U.S. Farm Bill is a comprehensive piece of authorizing legislation that governs an array of federal agricultural and food programs.  The Farm Bill covers most federal government policies related to agriculture in the United States and is typically renewed every five to seven years. Once passed, the Farm Bill moves into appropriations (a process that determines how much money each Farm Bill program receives). This happens every year until a new Farm Bill is written.


The provisions of the Farm Bill are divided into what are called “Titles” – overarching categories related to food and farming. The 2014 Farm Bill has 12 titles: commodities; conservation; trade; nutrition; credit; United States rural development; research; forestry; energy; horticulture; crop insurance; and miscellaneous. New titles can be added during the reauthorization process that happens every five to seven years.


Farm Bill programs are generally administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). State and local agencies help implement and manage certain conservation, nutrition, and rural development programs. Public-private partnerships are also authorized in research and crop insurance programs. For example, crop insurance policies are sold by private insurance companies, but they are subsidized by taxpayers and overseen by the USDA.


What is the History of the Farm Bill?

The first Farm Bill – the Agricultural Adjust Act of 1933 (each Farm Bill has its own name, the current version is the Agricultural Act of 2014) – was created to address low commodity prices, national hunger, soil erosion and a lack of credit. Legislation was passed sporadically until Farm Bills were passed in more regular intervals beginning in 1965. Unfortunately, many of the original programs that were designed to ensure that there was healthy food for all and fair prices for farmers, have been stripped away or replaced with programs that benefit corporate interests over the interests of farmers and eaters.

The 2008 documentary Food Fight provides a substantial look at the evolution of American agricultural policy and food culture over the course of the 20th century.

Photo credit: USDA Website,


Open Farm Bill Grants

CFSA maintains this page as a service to our members and others to raise awareness of some USDA -funded grant opportunities that may be relevant to our members. We do not guarantee that the site provides information about all available grants for local, organic growers or processors. For a complete list of grants available from USDA, please visit The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition also has a chart that provides a quick guide to Farm Bill related programs and grants, organized by issue and by who is eligible to apply or sign up.


Many of the Farm Bill services that are authorized directly to farmers are administered by local agencies and offices. Please contact your local Farm Services Agency office (NC, SC) or Natural Resource Conservation Service office (NC, SC) to inquire about grants and services available directly to farmers.





Close Date

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Applications may only be submitted by a collaborative state, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of qualified public and/or private entities. These collaborations may include the following entities: State Cooperative Extension Services; Federal, State, or tribal agencies; community based organizations; nongovernmental organizations; junior and four-year colleges or universities or foundations maintained by a college or university; private for-profit organizations; and other appropriate partners. Inclusion of beginning and/or non-beginning farmers and ranchers as part of the collaborative group is strongly encouraged.


Community Food Projects Grants Program

USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Eligible entities include public food program service providers, tribal organizations, or private nonprofit entities, including gleaners, meeting specific requirements as set out in the RFA. Among other requirements, applicants must have experience in one or more of the following areas: community food work, particularly concerning small and mid-sized farms, including the provision of food to low-income communities and the development of new markets in low income communities for agricultural producers; job training and business development experience for food related activities in low-income communities; or efforts to reduce food insecurity in the community, including food distribution, improving access to services, or coordinating services and programs.


N.C. Specialty Crop Block Grants Program

USDA, N.C. Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services

NCDA&CS will accept grant requests ranging from $20,000 to $200,000 from nonprofit organizations, commodity associations, state and local government agencies, colleges and universities. Grants are not available for projects that directly benefit or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual.


Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers (Section 2501)

USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

The 2501 program provides grants to organizations that develop outreach programs and provide technical assistance to underserved farmers. Organizations that are eligible to apply for grant funding include: land grant institutions, tribal governments and organization, hispanic serving institutions, American Tribal Community Colleges, Alaska Native Cooperative Colleges, state controlled institutions of higher education, and community-based and non-profit organizations. Organizations must have demonstrated expertise in working with underserved, socially disadvantaged and/or veteran farmer communities.