Perspectives on the 2013 Farm Bill

The last two years have been a challenging period for agricultural policy makers. Budgetary pressures and an increasingly contentious debate about the appropriate role of the federal government in food and agriculture have complicated development of a successor to the 2008 Farm Bill.

In the current debate, much attention has been focused on nutrition programs like SNAP, crop insurance and commodity programs. However, the legislation known as “a Farm Bill” also addresses a host of other issues and programs which are critical to the future of agriculture, food systems and rural communities including: the environmental impacts of farming, conservation, agricultural industry structure, trade policies, food and agricultural research, and the vitality of rural economies.

Whatever the fate of the 2013 omnibus “farm bill,” it is clear that this debate is far from over. To help inform the debate with diverse perspectives, Farm Foundation, NFP, and the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP) have commissioned a series of essays on the various titles of the legislation. Our intent is to enrich the discussion by provide access to the ideas and perspectives of some of the best thought leaders in our nation on how to shape the farm bill legislation.

The perspectives presented here are not always consistent with each other. The assignment to the authors was to comment on the current drafts from the Senate and House.  We offer these essays as a contribution to the ongoing debate taking place among the stakeholders in and the authors of the legislation regarding the future of food, agriculture and rural policies.

Both Farm Foundation and NCFAP are non-advocacy organizations. Farm Foundation works as a catalyst for sound public policy by providing objective information to foster a deeper understanding of issues shaping the future for agriculture, food systems and rural regions. It does not lobby or advocate. NCFAP fosters and conducts objective, non-advocacy research, analysis and education to inform public policy on food, agriculture, natural resources, environmental quality and rural economics.

The papers presented here are solely the opinions of the authors, and not those of Farm Foundation, NFP or the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy.

2013 Farm Bill Reading Room: Compiled by Farm Foundation NFP, the Reading Room offers information and perspectives from a variety of stakeholders on next steps for the farm bill. The Reading Room includes reports on the politics shaping policies, organizational advocacy and viewpoints, and policy references and analysis.

H.R. 1947, Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013

S. 3240 Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act

The Farm Bill
Farm Policy as a Safety Net
Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union

Commodity Title
Declines in Farm Support will Increase Market Failures
Stephen A. Ford, Trustee of NCFAP

Conservation Title
Making Partnerships Work for Conservation
Douglas Lawrence, Blackwoods Group LLC

Yoking Conservation Compliance and Crop Insurance
Bruce Knight, Strategic Conservation Solutions

Trade Title
Updating Programs With and Without Legislation

Former Ambassador Christopher Goldthwait

Energy Title
Consistent Policies will Fuel a Successful Energy Portfolio
James Fischer, Fischer & Associates

Rural Development Title
Supporting the Self-Employed
Stephan Goetz, Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development

Strengths and Weaknesses in the Rural Development Title
Maureen Kilkenny, Senior Fellow, NCFAP

Research Title
Elements of a “Clean Slate” Research Title
David Schweikhardt and James Bonnen, Michigan State University

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