Looking Ahead to the Next Farm Bill
As debate begins on the next farm bill, this set of 6 papers surveys the historical evolution and existing safety nets for nutrition, conservation, field crops, dairy, livestock and specialty crops; and frames potential issues for titles that comprise the core of this legislation.
Carl Zulauf and David Orden
The longevity of farm bills reflects the broad reach of its constant farmer, food and land threads as well as evolutionary reform and evolving content. Much is uncertain about the next farm bill, but history offers some implications. Even if enacted by an undivided government, we expect more continuity than change.
Most farm bill spending goes to the nutrition title, especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In the next farm bill, legislators will contemplate major changes in the design of nutrition assistance programs and, more fundamentally, whether to continue including these programs in the same legislation that authorizes farm programs.
Conservation policies have a long history in the farm bill and have been growing in recent years. Also growing are the environmental issues for farmers, such as nutrient loss reduction and sustainable sourcing. These issues may present opportunities for hybrid policies that help farmers manage risk and support conservation practices.
Gary Schnitkey and Carl Zulauf
Farm bill debate on field crop programs likely will focus on reducing spending from Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and crop insurance, with complications added because of cotton’s desire for a new program. Corn and soybean producers likely prefer to preserve crop insurance while peanut and rice producers prefer PLC.
Andrew M. Novakovic and Christopher Wolf
The Agricultural Act of 2014 ushered in a new era when it replaced existing safety net programs with a new Margin Protection Program for Dairy Producers or MPP-Dairy. Nearing its second full year of operation, it seems that MPP-Dairy has not been as helpful as farmers had hoped.
While major row crop producers benefit from a formal farm safety net found in the Commodity Title of farm bills, specialty and livestock producers also benefit from a range of federal programs that help them expand markets domestically and internationally, address environmental concerns, and support research and promotion needs.