Farm Bill

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

The Farm Bill enacted earlier this year was supposed to save taxpayers money, in part by reducing subsidy payments to farmers. But a massive drop in prices for the nation’s largest crops means that many farmers may rely on the farm safety net this year and could herald large government payouts.


Setting the course for almost a trillion dollars of government spending, the 2014 Farm Bill attracted hundreds of companies eager to find their slice of the pie.

Recently, Harvest Public Media took a look at the new Farm Bill, and what they found might surprise you.

On Monday's Up to Date, we discuss how little influence farmers and agricultural groups had in shaping the bill and look at who the major players actually were.


David Kosling / Courtesy USDA

When U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced passage of the Farm Bill in February, she echoed a refrain from a car commercial.

“This is not your father’s Farm Bill,” she said.

On Feb. 4, Congress passed the farm bill, a piece of legislature that will cut food stamps by $800 million a year, consolidate dozens of agriculture subsidy programs and provide crop insurance to farmers. Harvest Public Media's Jeremy Bernfeld share details on the changes to one of the largest spending measures congress passes.


  • Jeremy Bernfeld, multimedia editor for Harvest Public Media at KCUR
greetarchurch / Flickr--CC

The U.S. Senate passed the farm bill Tuesday by a vote of 68-32, sending it to the president’s desk and ending years of political wrangling.

greetarchurch / Flickr--CC

It’s getting so close now … Last week the U.S. House passed the Agriculture Act of 2014, the new farm bill. The Senate is expected to take it up Monday. President Obama’s signature could be on it in the coming days and then … boom!

Senate To Consider Farm Bill

Feb 3, 2014

The U.S. Senate is set to take up the long overdue farm bill Monday.

The bill passed the U.S. House last week and if it makes it through the Senate, many Midwest farmers will be taking a close look at how they spread the risk of growing commodities. Sstarting immediately, direct payments would not be available to prop up the bottom line.

Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

For the second straight year, farmers are heading into a new year without a farm bill. The massive package provides government support for farmers and ranchers. But, divisions in Congress, including over the nutrition programs that make up the bulk of the spending, have kept it from the president’s desk.

Farmers say it’s difficult to plan their crops and make other business decisions without a farm bill. Instead, Iowa State University agricultural economist Chad Hart says farmers must focus on the information they have.

No need to hoard milk and ice cream over New Year’s Day. Turns out, the “dairy cliff” isn’t as steep as we may have once thought.

For over a year, farm bill watchers have warned that the milk prices would balloon to $7-8 per gallon if the farm bill expires without a replacement – sending us over what has been termed the “dairy cliff.”

U.S. Senate

  We’re nearing the end of this year’s legislative session in Washington, but things aren’t cooling off quite yet.

In the second part of Tuesday's Up to Date, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joins Steve Kraske to discuss the future of the farm bill, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the recent House budget deal and what’s going on with John Boehner after his speech about the Tea Party to Republican lawmakers.


House Agriculture Committee / Facebook page

If it seems like Congress just can’t get the farm bill done, well … that’s because it can’t.

All year long, Washington lawmakers have been saying they want to pass a full five-year farm bill. But even though leaders of the House-Senate conference committee say they are close, they have acknowledged it just won’t get done this year. They’re pushing it off until January.

Congress won’t pass a farm bill before early next year.

That was the message from Washington Tuesday, when the principal farm bill players emerged from negotiations and announced they won’t have a full bill ready before the House adjourns for the year on Friday.

Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

Republican Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts says he isn't satisfied with the pace of negotiations on the farm bill. The legislation is in a conference committee where negotiators will try to work out differences between versions passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

The current farm bill has already expired, which means some programs will end later this month and prices for commodities like milk will go up if there isn't some kind of agreement.

Bruce Liese / KCUR

You may have heard that the farm bill expired at midnight on Monday, but chances are, you probably haven’t noticed. The farm bill is buried in Washington under a mountain of significant and controversial legislation, from the government shutdown to the debt ceiling, and likely won’t be in the headlines any time soon.

Courtesy / Val Wagner

The farm bill is, once again, entering a critical stretch. As was the case last year, the current law expires at the end of September. There’s no election to dissuade elected officials from tackling the major piece of agriculture and nutrition policy—but Congress does have a pretty full plate, with the crisis in Syria, immigration reform and a measure to continue funding federal government programs all set to come to a head.

Comprehensive immigration reform is critical to sustaining the Midwest's role as a global leader in agriculture. That's the message from U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Vilsack told St. Louis Public Radio Monday that moving forward with the immigration reform plan recently passed by the U.S. Senate is key to retaining international talent that comes to this country to study in the plant sciences.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was in farm country Monday continuing to push Congress to send a farm bill to President Obama’s desk.

Vilsack doesn’t consider extending the farm bill beyond the September 30 expiration a sound option.

Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

The U.S. House passed its version of farm bill legislation Thursday. The revamped bill strips out funding for food aid and deals only with farm policy, exposing a hefty rift in decades-old alliances between urban and rural legislators and between food aid and farm policy interests.

Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

Farmers work at the mercy of three big forces that are largely outside their control, the weather, the markets, and the government.

In many parts of the country the first two are doing pretty well these days, but government remains the wild card. Congress can’t seem to pass the farm bill, a huge package of legislation setting food policy for years to come.

Jessica Naudziunas / Harvest Public Media

Congress did not pass the new version of the farm bill last week-- but what does that really mean for farmers?

In the first part of Monday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Harvest Public Media's Peggy Lowe and Jeremy Bernfeld about how this bill's failure affects farmer subsidies and food assistance. We'll also look at what happens when the current farm bill expires.

Members of Missouri's Congressional delegation are weighing in on the U.S. House version of the Farm Bill, which could be voted on before week's end.

Democrats, including St. Louis Congressman William Lacy Clay, say the GOP-backed bill goes too far.

Clay calls the cuts "outrageous."

"The savings achieved are small when compared to the great human suffering this change would cause," Clay says. "This is targeting the least among us."

Clay says ending subsidies on sugar, corn and other crops would be a better way to save money on agriculture costs.

Adam Arthur/Flickr--CC

The farm bill being discussed in the U.S. House of Representatives contains legislation having to do with all aspects of how Americans put food on their dinner tables.  About 80 percent of the bill deals with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), what we often call “food stamps.” Other portions of the legislation, though, address policy governing the farms that create this food.

Beautiful Lily/Flickr--CC

The U.S. House is set to take up the farm bill this week, after the Senate passed its version of the bill in early June. Both bills include about $500 billion in spending over five years. Few pieces of legislation can produce such sharp divisions, even by Washington standards—but few could have such immediate, significant impact on so many Americans.

Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Senate approved a new comprehensive farm bill Monday, its plan for everything from food and nutrition assistance to disaster aid for livestock producers to crop insurance for farmers. But before you go popping champagne corks and celebrating the creation of five-years of agricultural policy, know this: The U.S. House has yet to weigh in.

Among the loose ends that lawmakers would like to tie up before the end of this lame-duck session is the farm bill, which is made up mostly of crop subsidies and food stamps.

The last farm bill expired in September. The Senate has passed a new one; the House has not. Farm-state lawmakers are urging leaders to include a farm bill as part of any budget deal to avert year-end tax increases and spending cuts.

But not everyone thinks that's a good idea.

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says she’s frustrated with the House of Representatives for not taking up three pieces of legislation that she calls “bipartisan” and “vitally important.”

Supporters of the farm bill attend a rally organized by Farm Bill Now, a coalition of ag-related interest groups, in Washington D.C. Sept. 12.
National Milk Producers Federation / Flickr

The farm bill expired Monday and lawmakers didn’t pass a new one, thanks largely to election-year politics.

Clay Masters / Harvest Public Media

Roy Pralle is an 85-year-old retired farmer from Latimer, Iowa. He spends most afternoons playing cribbage with other retired farmers at Dudley's Corner, a diner attached to a gas station in north-central Iowa.