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The 2023 US Farm Bill

Courtesy of White Buffalo Land Trust

Image courtesy of Swanson Family Farm

What is the Farm Bill?

The Farm Bill is an omnibus bill (meaning it covers many different areas of legislation) that governs much of the US food and agriculture system. With provisions for nutrition, crop insurance, conservation, rural investment, land access and more, the Farm Bill is one of the most important pieces of US legislation, and has considerable ramifications for farmer livelihoods, the environment, and national food security and access. Renewed every 5-7 years, the 2023 Farm Bill will last through at least 2028.

The Farm Bill is developed and written by the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, and is voted upon by both Chambers of Congress. However, all members of Congress vote to pass the Farm Bill, and they all have the opportunity to influence the development of the Farm Bill by signaling their support for key issues through marker bills.

How does the Farm Bill impact farmers?

The Farm Bill impacts nearly every aspect of farmers' lives and work, influencing what they produce, in what quantities, and the practices that they are able to implement on their lands.

The Farm Bill sets the priorities of the U.S. agriculture system, often encouraging certain crops and production systems over others - for example, after Nutrition, the Crop Insurance and Commodities titles receive the next largest amounts of funding. Soil health-focused programs that help rebuild soils currently receive less than 1% of overall funding in the Farm Bill, which means that regenerative agriculture systems are currently not supported to the same extent that conventional agriculture is. In turn, the farmers and ranchers that are making the effort to build healthy soils are not supported in their work, and in fact can be discouraged from it.
White Oak Pastures farm tour

Image courtesy of White Oak Pastures

bean pods

Image courtesy of Knuth Farms

How does the Farm Bill impact consumers?

The Farm Bill affects our entire food system--from how food is grown, what types of food is available, and who has access to it. For example, the current Farm Bill subsidized commodity crops like corn and wheat which are often used in heavily processed food, while fruits and vegetable production does not receive subsidies--making produce comparatively more expensive than processed foods. But the Farm Bill also helps 42 million Americans put food on the table through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), providing essential nutrition to families in need. In fact, over 75% of all Farm Bill funding goes toward SNAP and other critical nutrition programs like WIC.

How is Regenerate America™ changing the Farm Bill?

Regenerate America™ aims to ensure support for regenerative agriculture in the 2023 Farm Bill. By applying pressure to key leverage points within the agriculture system - education, infrastructure, and crop insurance, to name a few - we can create a system that works for farmers of all scales, but that rewards those that are doing better for the planet, the land, and the people.
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Image courtesy of Oatman Flats

The Corse Farm Dairy

Image courtesy of The Corse Farm Dairy

What are the main areas covered by the Farm Bill?

The Farm Bill covers 12 areas (12 “titles”), ranging from crop insurance to federal nutrition assistance programs. Per the Congressional Research Service, the full list is as follows:

Title I, Commodity Programs: Provides support for major commodity crops, including wheat, corn, soybeans, peanuts, rice, dairy, and sugar, as well as disaster assistance.

Title II, Conservation: Encourages environmental stewardship of farmlands and improved management through land retirement and/or working lands programs.

Title III, Trade: Supports U.S. agricultural export programs and international food assistance programs.

Title IV, Nutrition: Provides nutrition assistance for low income households through programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Title V, Credit: Offers direct government loans to farmers/ranchers and guarantees on private lenders’ loans.

Title VI, Rural Development: Supports rural business and community development programs.

Title VII, Research, Extension, and Related Matters: Supports agricultural research and extension programs.

Title VIII, Forestry: Supports forestry management programs run by USDA’s Forest Service.

Title IX, Energy: Encourages the development of farm and community renewable energy systems through various programs, including grants and loan guarantees.

Title X, Horticulture: Supports the production of specialty crops, USDA-certified organic foods, and locally produced foods and authorizes establishing a regulatory framework for the cultivation of industrial hemp.

Title XI, Crop Insurance: Enhances risk management through the permanently authorized federal crop insurance program.

Title XII, Miscellaneous: Covers other programs and assistance, including livestock and poultry production and support for beginning farmers and ranchers.

From https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF11126

Regenerative Agriculture is the solution to our nation's soil crisis.