The first farm bill was passed during the Great Depression in order to give financial assistance to farmers who were struggling due to an excess crop supply, which in turn created low prices.
Subsequent versions of the farm bill have stabilized prices for farm products and secured the food supply for Americans.
On February 7, 2014 the President signed into law the latest installment of the farm bill. Most of the funding under the farm bill will go toward nutrition programs, while the remainder will go to commodities, conservation programs, university research and risk management.
For Idaho farmers the benefit will be that crop insurance will become cheaper. The premiums will be less, and benefits will be paid at lower levels of risk.
In exchange for better crop insurance the government is ending the practice of guaranteed payments that farmers receive regardless of harvest quality or crop prices.
The farm bill also merges or outright ends many USDA programs, cuts approximately $8 billion in food stamp funding, establishes a new wool trust fund, discusses emergency food supplies, and addressed farm-raised fish and industrial hemp.
The 2014 farm bill additionally provides additional funding for farmers markets, local food promotion, and community food projects. The farm bill also authorizes a number of “pilot projects” and twenty different grant programs.
Since fewer and fewer people are taking up farming, the law also puts special focus on new and beginning farmers and ranchers, including our nations veterans, so that we can ensure a new generation of farmers and ranchers.
Lastly, it took lawmakers more than three years to write and approve the 959-page bill. Maybe if they get started now they will have the next farm bill finished when we need it in another five years!