It’s important to understand that the Farm Bill has a major impact on our entire nation’s food system. What farmers grow, how food prices are set, and how much funding goes into programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as well as other food and nutrition research projects is determined through the Farm Bill.
What is the Farm Bill?
The Farm Bill is an in-depth legislation (body of laws), that governs an array of agricultural and food programs and is addressed approximately every five years. The 357-page Agricultural Act of 2014 contains 12 titles and indirectly affects every American in the U.S. It is also one of the most expensive pieces of legislation Congress addresses.
Since its introduction in the 1930’s, the main goal has been to keep food prices fair for farmers and consumers, ensure an adequate food supply, and protect and sustain the country’s natural resources.
A look at the current titles under the Agricultural Act of 2014
Title I: Commodities: covers payments to farmers who grow widely-produced corps crop, such as wheat, corn, soybeans, peanuts, rice and even livestock, during unforeseen circumstances like natural disasters, weather, over-production, and price fluctuations.
Title II: Conservation: covers programs that help farmers conserve vital natural resources such as healthy soil, lean water and wildlife habitat.
Title III: Trade: covers trade exports and international food aid programs.
Title IV: Nutrition: covers nutrition assistance for low-income households through programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and several other smaller programs.
Title V: Credit: covers direct government loans to farmers and ranchers especially for beginner farmers and small family farms.
Title VI: Rural Development: covers rural business and community development programs.
Title VII: Research and Extension Title: covers farming and food research, education and extension programs to help farmers become more efficient, innovative and productive.
Title VIII: Forestry: covers forestry management programs.
Title IX: Energy: covers the opportunities and development of farm and community renewable energy and bio-based manufacturing to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
Title X: Horticulture: covers speciality crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and nursery crops including farmers market and local food programs.
Title XI: Crop Insurance: covers the subsidies and improvements of the Federal Crop Insurance Program.
Title XII: Miscellaneous: covers additional programs for the limited-resource and socially disadvantaged farmers as well as others that do not fit into a category.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics was actively involved in the reauthorization of the Farm Bill in 2014 and will continue to work with Congress to advance a Farm Bill that maintains the integrity of nutrition assistance programs, ensures vital nutrition education and nutrition research, and enhance access to healthful food.
Registered dietitians can advance nutrition, food and health legislation by educating their federal Representatives on the urgency of funding nutrition prevention programs that combat childhood obesity, reduce health disparities in low socio-economic communities and help lower the incidence of diabetes.
We will continue to follow the progression of the Farm Bill for 2018, and share any important information that may affect us from a nutrition standpoint.
To learn more about what the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has to say, click here.
More resources on the Farm Bill from the USDA can be found here and here.