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Reforming the 2014 Farm Bill: Farm Policy for the 21st Century
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Farm Bill Overview

So what exactly is the “Farm Bill”? The Agricultural Act of 2014 recently passed by Congress is a multi-year legislation that establishes U.S. agricultural and food policy for the next five years.

Farm Bill programs affect every single American from farmers to consumers. The bill contains programs that cover farm commodity support, farmland conservation, horticulture, livestock, nutrition assistance, international trade and food aid, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, bioenergy, and forestry. The Farm Bill represents the single largest federal investment in private, farmland conservation in the United States.

Budgetary pressure was a major theme driving the 2014 Farm Bill, with over tens of billions in potential cuts proposed for farm, nutrition, and conservation programs. American Farmland Trust, working with key allies on Capitol Hill, fought hard to protect critical conservation funding. AFT was successful in protecting over $57 billion in conservation funding over the life of the bill that will reinvest in programs for farmland protection, clean air and water, and wildlife habitat.

With American Farmland Trust’s input, conservation programs were streamlined for better efficiency and effectiveness. As a result, new programs such as the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) will help protect and conserve farmland resources while targeting conservation delivery at the local level where it can achieve maximum effectiveness.

American Farmland Trust was also a key driver in accomplishing major policy reforms. With the need for accountability and transparency greater than ever for every taxpayer dollar spent, we successfully worked to repeal direct farm subsidies which paid farmers regardless of what they produced and wasted $5 billion taxpayer dollars annually. With the farm safety net shifting to a risk-based system, American Farmland Trust achieved historic reform by advocating for conservation compliance in exchange for farmers receiving taxpayer assistance through crop insurance premium subsidies. This important reform will help prevent billions of tons of soil erosion, will provide protection for millions of wetland acres across the country while at the same time providing farmers an effective safety net to manage their risk.

Finally, American Farmland Trust worked to create opportunity and new markets for farmers by advocating reinstatement of programs that help beginning farmers, that support farmers markets, and that ensure access to fresh, healthy food.
While the continuing economic recovery means tighter purse strings for the federal government, American Farmland Trust’s efforts to protect program funding and achieve critical policy reforms will ensure continued ability to protect farmland, to improve sound farming practices, and to keep farmers on the land.

 

We couldn't do this work without the financial support of our community. Please consider making a donation to support AFT's efforts.

 
American Farmland Trust