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 current farm bill is set to expire on September 30, 2018.
The provisions of the farm bill are divided into what are called “Titles” – overarching categories each dealing with a different aspect of food and agriculture. The most recent farm bill, the “Agricultural Act of 2014,” has 12 titles: commodities; conservation; trade; nutrition; credit; rural development; research; forestry; energy; horticulture; crop insurance; and miscellaneous. These titles are not required and Congress can change, add, or remove titles as it sees fit during the reauthorization process that happens every five to seven years.
The farm bill is the most critical part of federal efforts to support organic agriculture and local and regional food systems. The programs and funding for many federal investments in these areas are directed by the farm bill, including the National Organic Cost Share Program, Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, Value Added Producer Grant, Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, Community Food Projects , Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive, Specialty Crop Block Grants, Farm to School, Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers & Farmworkers. These programs have made millions of dollars in investments in farmers, food businesses, programs and projects, and research throughout the Carolinas. Please visit the website of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, of which CFSA is a member, to learn more about farm bill programs and grants.
During each farm bill cycle, CFSA works with our allies in Washington to ensure that the bill contains sufficient supports for local and regional food system development, beginning farmers, organic seed breeding and research, conservation and crop insurance that works for farmers producing a wide-variety of crops and goods.
To learn more about the farm bill, please visit the website of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, of which CFSA is a member.
Much of the conversation around the 2018 Farm Bill began with the President’s 2018 budget proposal, released in May, which projected budget cuts for a number of programs usually included in the farm bill. While this budget proposal will likely not become law, it is an important frame of reference for the current administration’s priorities on food and agriculture. Visit our web-page to read more about the President’s budget proposal and the ongoing 2018 budget process.
There are now several marker bills that are making their way through Congress as the first steps towards full reauthorization of a new farm bill in 2018. A marker bill is basically a compilation of several related provisions to be eventually incorporated into a larger spending bill (in this case, the full 2018 Farm Bill). Instead of fighting for each provision individually, legislators will group them together to streamline the process of getting them through Congress and garnering support for full inclusion in the new farm bill. Click on the links below in the “Take Action” section to learn more about these bills.
Click on the links below to learn more about these important marker bills and for information on how YOU can take action today in support:
- Local Food and Regional Market Supply Act of 2017
- Organic Agriculture Research Act (link coming)