Farm Bill Preview: Farm Bill 101 + Money Flow

Note: This information will be incorporated into the upcoming full Catalyst Commons site. For recent Farm Bill updates, see our blog.

The Farm Bill covers food, farming, nutrition, and land use, and is one of the primary tools for the US government to address issues that affect public health, climate, land and water. The US needs sustainable food and farming policies for a sustainable future.

Only 9% of the $300 billion Farm Bill is directed towards conservation, a primary defense against loss of critical farmland.
75% of the bill’s money is directed toward food stamps, school lunches and nutrition programs.

The Farm Bill is reauthorized every 5 to 7 years.
During its last renewal in 2008, conservation and sustainable agriculture interests won a few important victories, although many of these programs lack funds going into 2012 Farm Bill. With severe budget pressures looming, new money will need to be secured to continue these programs.

Programs are clustered into 15 titles covering America’s health, conservation, labor, trade, and energy sectors. Because the Farm Bill will be renewed in 2012, policy makers are currently debating many issues affecting Americans, from what we eat to how we care for our planet.

The Farm Bill was originally created to support farms, farmers, and Americans during the Great Depression. Over the past eight decades, the bill has evolved into a complicated piece of legislature supporting the production of only a few crops and, some say, indirectly creating food deserts.

The Farm Bill is an opportunity to reexamine U.S. policy and funding to support sustainable and regional food systems, restorative production methods, beginning farmer initiatives, food and worker justice, conservation practices, clean energy, and a healthy population.

Farm Bill 101

What's Next?

View the other Farm Bill Preview page: Our List of Useful Websites for our top picks and descriptions.

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