The long-awaited new farm bill finally passed the U.S. House on Wednesday, January 29, by a vote of 251-166. The legislation also passed the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, and will likely be signed into law by President Obama shortly after that. The new farm bill will reduce overall federal spending, will reduce total CRP acreage and will make some significant changes to farm commodity programs. The new farm bill will govern federal farm programs for the next five years (2014-2018), and commodity programs will be implemented for the 2014 crop year.
The new legislation, which is 959 pages in length, will cost the Federal government approximately $956.4 billion over the next ten years (2014-2023), which is a reduction of about $16.5 billion from the baseline spending in the previous farm bill. The reductions are approximately $14 billion from the farm commodity programs, $4 billion from conservation programs and a little over $8 billion from the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), with a projected increase in expenditures of about $6 billion for crop insurance programs. The overall spending under the new farm bill will be approximately $756 billion (79.1%) for SNAP programs, $90 billion (9.4%) on crop insurance programs, $57.6 billion (6.0%) on conservation programs, $44.4 billion (4.6%) on farm commodity programs, and $8.4 billion (.90%) on all other programs.
The farm bill has a total of 12 “titles”, with the most commonly discussed titles being Commodities (Title I), Conservation (II), Nutrition (IV), and Crop Insurance (XI). These four titles account for over 99% of the estimated Federal spending on the new farm bill. The other farm bill Titles are Trade (III), Credit (V), Rural Development (VI), Research (VII), Forestry (VIII), Energy (IX), Specialty Crops and Horticulture (X) and Miscellaneous (XII). The last eight titles, which account for less than one percent of expected total Federal expenditures from the legislation, include programs for export enhancement of agricultural products, foreign food aid programs, support for rural utilities and emergency response, support for agriculture research and extension at land-grant universities, support for bio-energy research and development, as well as support for local farmer’s markets and organic food production.