Friedman Experts: The 2018 Farm Bill

Reauthorized every five years, each new iteration of the farm bill may establish new programs, end old programs, and modify continuing programs related to how our food is grown, how our citizens are fed, and how our land is used. Food and agricultural policy can be exceedingly complex, so, in advance of the 2018 reauthorization, bolster your farm bill knowledge with this helpful infographic and some wise words from our Friedman community experts.

 A guide for understanding 2018's most important food-focused legislation

what is the farm bill? The Farm Bill is a federal law that governs an array of agricultural and food programs. The Farm Bill is renewed about every five years, giving politicians a predictable opportunity to reassess and reallocate funds for food growth and distribution. The most recent Farm Bill was enacted into law in February 2014 and expires in 2018.

whats in the farm bill? The Farm Bill is separated into twelve thematic sections called “Titles.” Four of these titles account for the vast majority of farm bill funding. The 2014 Farm Bill cost a total of about $489 billion dollars, distributed over the course of five years.

 Encourages environmental stewardship of  farmlands and improved management through  land retirement and/or working lands programs. Next segment is Commodity Programs 5%: Provides payments and loans triggered by low market prices for major commodities such as wheat, corn, soybeans, sugar and dairy as well as disaster assistance  for livestock. Next segment is Other (1%): Trade, Horticulture, Research, Energy, Rural Development, Forestry, Food Safety. End of pie chart segments.

what does the farm bill have to do with nutrition?Agricultural policies are important for nutrition science professionals, for at least 3 reasons: 1. The Farm Bill feeds more than 1 in 7 Americans through federal food programs. The bill is a massive government lever for improving nutrition, improving health, reducing disparities and reducing health care costs. 2. The bill influences the manner, location, and quantity of production for agricultural commodities, which are the ultimate source of food and nutritional status for consumers. 3. The bill affects conservation practices with influence over the sustainability and healthfulness of the food system.

What issues are likely to dominate the 2018 farm bill debate? 1. Debate over SNAP’s nutritional integrity, including fruit and vegetable incentives, retailer requirements, and removing unhealthy foods from eligibility. 2. Debate over SNAP’s fiscal integrity, including increasing the benefit, introducing bimonthly payments, and modifying work requirements. 3. Debate over crop insurance programs, specifically how best to enable farmers to make sound production decisions while also managing operational risk. 4. Debate over balancing land conservation programs with farm productivity.

Sources: M. Ismail, P. Wilde, “Beyond the Farm Bill: What Nutrition Professionals Need To Know about the Nutrition Title,” Nutrition Today, 52(6): 273-280, 2017. P. Wilde, “Farming and Food Production: What Nutrition Professionals Need to Know About the Agricultural Parts of the Farm Bill,” Nutrition Today, 52(6): 281-284, 2017. Congressional Research Service, “The 2014 Farm Bill,’ March 12, 2014.
Information compiled by Grace Flaherty. Information design by Sarah Cronin.

 The 2018 Farm Bill (guotes from friedman community members follow below)

 Friedman Dean Dariush Mozaffarian pictured in front of greenery. His quote as follows. The Farm Bill’s funding is more than the budgets of the NIH, CDC, and FDA combined. When you think about means for improving public health, the Farm Bill is a massive opportunity to make a difference.

 Friedman Professor Jerry Mande pictured in front of an American flag. His quote as follows. The 2018 Farm Bill provides a long overdue opportunity to help make the diets of SNAP recipients healthier, improving their wellbeing and reducing their health costs.

Friedman Professor William A. Masters, pictured up close, smiling. His quote as follows. For 85 years successive farm bills have shaped and reflected our changing food system.  Congressional leadership is in the driver's seat, providing a clear test of values and priorities for all Americans -- especially how we treat family farmers and children in low-income households.

Friedman Professor Parke Wilde pictured at an outdoor market. His quote as follows. The Farm Bill aims to provide a safety net for America’s farmers, seeking to support and stabilize their incomes and protect them from the many hardships and random events of growing food and fiber outdoors in the real world.

student mehreen ismail, pictured outdoors smiling. Her quote reads as follows. Seemingly arcane changes to farm bill legislation can have meaningful effects for millions of rural and urban households. For students of food and agriculture policy, watching the 2018 Farm Bill debates unfold will offer insight into how such changes might promote public health. end quote.

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