The Farm Bill: What Does It Mean for You?

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If I was to ask what significant piece of legislation is due to expire on September 30, 2023, would you know? I’m going to assume, probably not. You may recall hearing about a farm bill every so many years, but do you really know what it details? I mean, it’s just for farmers right?

The Farm Bill, or as some may suggest calling it, “The Food and Farm Bill,” is an important piece of legislation that guides the direction of sustaining our food supply and national security through mandatory and discretionary spending programs. Going all the way back to 1933, in response to drops in United States commodity prices after the first World War, the Great Depression, and the Dust Bowl, the very first farm bill (called the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933) was signed into legislation as part of the New Deal. Its primary purpose was to support farmers by reaching parity with supply and demand of agricultural products. Ninety years and 18 farm bills later, the purpose has changed based on emerging needs, but remains focused on farmers, consumers, and the environment. As stated by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, “The farm bill connects the food on our plates, the farmers and ranchers who produce that food, and the natural resources – our soil, air and water – that make growing food possible.”  So, what does that mean for you? Take a look at what was included in the 2018 Farm Bill, spelled out by title and a brief description.

Title 1: Commodities. Covers price and income support for the farmers who raise widely-produced and traded non-perishable crops, and also includes agricultural disaster assistance.

Title 2: Conservation. Covers voluntary programs that help farmers implement natural resource conservation efforts on working lands, as well as easement programs.

Title 3: Trade. Covers food export subsidy programs and international food aid programs.

Title 4: Nutrition. Covers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) as well as a variety of smaller nutrition programs to help low-income Americans afford food for their families.

Title 5: Credit. Covers federal loan programs designed to help farmers access the financial credit they need to grow and sustain their farming operations.

Title 6: Rural Development. Covers programs that help foster rural economic growth through rural business and community development, as well as rural housing and infrastructure.

Title 7: Research, Extension, and Related Matters. Covers farm and food research, education, and extension programs designed to support innovation and vital training for the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

Title 8: Forestry. Covers forest-specific conservation programs that help farmers and rural communities to be stewards of forest resources.

Title 9:  Energy. Covers programs that encourage growing and processing crops for biofuel, helps producers and businesses install renewable energy systems, and supports research.

Title 10: Horticulture. Covers farmers market and local food programs; funding for research and support for specialty crops, organic farming, and certification programs.

Title 11: Crop Insurance. Provides premium subsidies to farmers and subsidies to the private crop insurance companies who provide federal crop insurance to farmers to protect against losses in yield, crop revenue, or whole farm revenue.

Title 12: Miscellaneous. A catch-all which currently brings together six advocacy and outreach areas, including beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers and ranchers; agricultural labor safety and workforce development; and livestock health.

At its core, the Farm Bill ensures a stable food supply for all Americans and beyond. Every five years or so, Congress has the opportunity to reauthorize programs that continue to feed the most vulnerable, ensure our rural communities remain competitive, and provide tools to protect our environment. Whether a producer, landowner, rural business, or consumer, the Farm Bill impacts us all.

For more information contact Mac Malloy, County Extension Director and Field Crop Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at (910) 671-3276, by E-mail at, or visit our website.