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Farm Bill 101
An introduction to the farm bill

The farm bill affects American farmers, connoisseurs, international farmers, and millions of the world’s poorest people around the world. So, how is it that legislators have failed to come up with a farm bill that truly addresses the needs of all these people?

Some farm bill history
The farm bill, which originated in the Great Depression, emerged as a temporary boost to farm income. Since then, it has evolved into a variety of detailed programs that provide payments and special loans to farmers to guarantee stability, as well as income.

More recent farm bills heavily favor a few of the wealthiest farms. Two-thirds of the money goes to the richest 10 percent of farmers. Farmers who need the most help get the least. This is why millions of American farmers are still struggling to stay in business.

The bill costs taxpayers billions of dollars, subsidizes the least healthy food, and drives millions of the world’s poorest people into extreme poverty.

What is the farm bill?
A new farm bill passes roughly every five years. It gives billions of dollars to farmers and other agricultural businesses.

It was believed that the 2008 Farm Bill, formally known as the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, marked a historic moment in American agricultural policy. It shifted the political landscape and laid the groundwork for continued reform. However, while the 2008 Farm Bill sounded like a big advancement, the future’s best interest suggests that great change, rather than small adjustments, must take place.

Unsurprisingly, Congress is showing little concern for most farmers or consumers. They are the ones that are affected the most, and yet Congress always manages to overlook them.

The farm bill impacts:

  • international trade
  • environmental preservation and conservation
  • food safety
  • the well-being of rural communities
  • payments to farmers to support the prices for crops
  • nutrition programs such as food stamps
  • energy

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by Jen Picariello, Hearts & Minds volunteer
Copyrights: Entire website 1997 - 2015 by Hearts and Minds Network, Inc., This web page - http://www.heartsandminds.org/poverty/farmbill.htm - online July 26, 2010, latest changes July 26, 2010


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