On Friday, February 7, the country’s latest Farm Bill was signed into law. The Agriculture Act of 2014 creates policy for the next five years but allocates government spending over the next ten.
The new Farm Bill includes the requirement that pork, chicken or beef sold in the US is labeled as to where the animals were born, slaughtered and processed; replaces direct crop payments (costing $5 billion in direct subsidies to farmers whether they grow their crops or not) with a revised and expanded crop insurance program that transfers the risk of the market to the government at times of poor harvests; fights soil erosion by forcing farmers who would like to receive subsidies to follow a series of conservation practices; protects more prairie land by cutting subsidies in half for farmers who farm on some virgin soil; and gives farmers incentives to grow certain crops, including corn and now sushi rice.
This Farm Bill allocates $956 billion in government spending over the next decade as follows:
- $756 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—cutting food stamps by more than $800 million a year (around one percent of the roughly $80 billion a year food stamp program);
- $89.8 billion to crop insurance;
- $56 billion to conservation;
- $44.4 billion to commodity programs; and
- $8.2 billion to “everything else.”
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the latest Farm Bill will save approximately $16.6 billion overall.
In his remarks before signing the Farm Bill, President Obama announced a new “made in Rural America” initiative to help rural businesses market their goods abroad; White House officials also announced five regional forums on rural exports and an “investing in rural America” conference. President Obama directed the White House Rural Council to host sessions in all 50 states to train Department of Agriculture staff members on how to promote rural exports.