farm bill

Farm Bill & Lobbying
8:01 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Out of public eye, a bitter Farm Bill fight

K Street in Washington D.C. has long been known as the home to powerful lobbyists. Hundreds of companies and groups lobbied to influence the 2014 Farm Bill.
Credit Creative Commons

Listen to Jeremy's story.

The “who” part of the Farm Bill is pretty clear.

With trillions dollars of government spending up for grabs, lobbyists from all ends of the spectrum – representing environmental interests, biotech companies, food companies, farmers – flocked to Capitol Hill to find their piece of the Farm Bill pie.

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Farm Bill
8:01 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Lobbyists of all kinds flock to Farm Bill

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., (in green), watches as President Barack Obama signs the Farm Bill at Michigan State University on Feb. 7, 2014.
Credit David Kosling/USDA

Listen to Peggy's story.

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.

While Stabenow, the Michigan Democrat who leads the Senate Agriculture Committee, was referring to what proponents heralded as “reform” of some programs, her remarks were accurate on another score. The massive Farm Bill, which will spend $956 billion and set U.S. food policy for the next decade, is no longer the purview solely of agricultural interests.

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Opinion
8:00 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Kansas farmer sounds off on crop insurance and farm policy

Credit hutchpost.com

As our present multi-year drought grinds on and on, I’m beginning to wonder if we missed the point—by a country mile—in our current farm policy.

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Farm Bill & Housing
6:02 am
Thu February 13, 2014

A Kansas influence to the Farm Bill may change the housing market

Garden City, KS
Credit Adam Vos / HPPR

The southwestern Kansas housing market may benefit from a small portion of the Farm Bill signed into law Friday. The trillion-dollar piece of legislation that is largely associated with agriculture also has something to say about who gets USDA home loans in rural America.

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Historical perspective on farm bill
8:00 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

The uneasy marriage of farm bill and food stamps

For decades, government agriculture policy has tied farm programs to federal food aid. Grocery displays like this one were common in the wake of the creation of the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation in the 1930s.
National Archives

Both farmers and food stamps advocates sighed in relief Friday when President Obama signed the  long-overdue Agriculture Act of 2014 – the $956-billion farm bill – into law on Friday during a visit to Michigan State University.  The farm bill process was fraught with ups and downs and the loose coalition tying nutrition and farm programs seemed barely able to survive.

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Farm bill analysis
8:00 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

New farm bill changes U.S. ag policy

President Obama signed the long-overdue Agriculture Act of 2014 – the $956-billion farm bill – into law on Friday, February 7, 2014.

Not everyone likes the farm bill signed into law on Friday, but at least farmers will be able to start making informed decisions.

The biggest change in the 2014 farm bill is that the subsidies known as direct payments are gone. Instead of the government paying a known amount to farmers each year—at a fixed budget of $5 billion—the new system of subsidies will fluctuate, partly with market forces. That makes it really hard to predict how much the program will cost each year, says Iowa State University ag economist Chad Hart.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:05 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

One thing that didn’t happen in 2013: a Farm Bill

Farm Bill conference committee meeting in October of 2013
Credit Iowa Public Television

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.

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Harvest Public Media story
4:17 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Another deadline passes without a farm bill deal

Credit www2.dupont.com

Hear the audio version of Amy's story

If it seems like Congress just can’t get the farm bill done, well… that’s because it can’t. The massive food and agriculture package used to be relatively easy thanks to bipartisan and urban-rural alliances. But this year, progress was a slow slog. A nine-month extension passed in January bought some time. This summer, the Senate passed its bill, but the House didn’t. Then it sent two bills to the conference committee, one for agriculture and the other for food stamps. Just before Thanksgiving, Iowa Republican Steve King, a conference committee member, remained optimistic.

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Harvest Public Media story
7:39 pm
Sun October 6, 2013

Expected bumper crop has price of corn dropping

Farmers have been riding a wave of high corn prices in recent years, but an expected bumper crop has corn prices dropping.
Credit www2.dupont.com

On a clear fall day in central Iowa, Aaron Lehman climbed into the cab of his green combine with a screwdriver to do some maintenance. He was hoping his corn had a couple more weeks to grow before harvesting because the price per bushel this fall is much lower than it has been for the past three years.

Corn farmers have been riding high prices for the last few years. But an expected bumper crop has prices falling this harvest season, and many economists expect the price of corn to drop to its lowest level in recent years.

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Harvest Public Media story
7:40 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Farmers in limbo – again – as farm bill expires

Credit File: Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

The farm bill expired at midnight on Monday, leaving farmers and ranchers across the country guessing at what federal farm policy will look like when they next put their crops in the ground.

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Harvest Public Media story
5:29 pm
Sun September 29, 2013

Largely unpopular, direct payment subsidies persist

A scene in the county agent's office in San Augustine, TX of a farmer receiving his AAA check in 1939. The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1933 was the start of a long series of “farm bills” to provide federal support to agriculture. The current system of direct and countercyclical payments dates to the 1996 Farm Bill.
Credit Russell Lee/ Farm Security Administration /LOC

Hear the audio version of Frank's story

Congress is bitterly divided on food stamps and other issues contained in the farm bill, but both political parties agree on something: the $5 billion-a-year farm subsidy called Direct and Countercyclical Payments has got to go.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Farmville helps explain farm bill

Farmville players build and care for their own Facebook farm. Like real-life farmers, players plan their moves based on policy.
Credit courtesy of Zynga

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.

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HPPR Economy and Enterprise
8:01 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

What $154 million in payouts means to a county

Tim Kelly says sales have been steady at his independent John Deere dealership in Pontiac, Ill. — despite the devastation of last year’s corn crop.
Credit Darrell Hoemann/The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Farmer Doug Wilson has been buying crop insurance since 1980. 

“You carry home insurance, hoping your house doesn’t burn down. We carry crop insurance, hoping our crops don’t burn down,” Wilson said on a sweltering day in mid-August as he walked among the healthy 8-foot corn stalks in one his fields in central Illinois. “But last year, they burned down — kind of literally.”

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Government & Politics
8:01 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

The Farm Bill: Everybody has an Opinion

Credit http://ecowatch.com

The farm bill is fraught with opposition.  Some want the bill to stay intact, some want nutrition separated, some want stricter requirements to obtain nutrition assistance, and one blogger wonders if misperception is what’s driving the SNAP debate. 

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Harvest Public Media story
6:12 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

A food fight over U.S. sugar program

Billboard promoting the beet sugar industry outside of the Great Western Sugar factory in Ovid, CO (1967)
Credit Colorado State University Libraries Archives and Special Collections

Sugar beet growing and refining was once a major industry in western Kansas and remains so in northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and western Nebraska.  But it’s an industry that’s been supported by government subsidies of one sort or another dating back to 1789.  This pits sugar users against sugar producers over whether preserving a U.S. industry and domestic jobs is worth paying twice the international market price for sugar.  Harvest Public Media has an update on the ongoing debate. 

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Harvest Public Media field note
7:51 pm
Sun July 7, 2013

Farm groups keep up farm bill pressure

Credit geringhoffusa.blogspot.com

  In an effort to revive the defeated farm bill, more than 530 organizations, including heavyweights like the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, have signed a letter (PDF) that urges House Speaker John Boehner to bring the legislation back to the floor.

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Another year of uncertainty?
8:01 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

Farmers twisting in the wind without farm bill

Farmers like father and son Kermit Kalb and Stephen Kalb seem resigned to being unable to depend on certainty in federal farm policy. Still, they harvested their winter wheat crop on a recent bright Kansas day.
Credit 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.

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HPPR Government and Politics
5:58 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Fork in the road for the farm bill?

Credit BigStock image /Harvet Public Media

Déjà vu may be a lighthearted way of looking at it, but it feels like 2012 all over again for the farm bill.

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Harvest Public Media story
5:11 am
Thu June 27, 2013

What you should know about the food stamps debate

Credit Beautiful Lily/Flickr

  The U.S. House defeated the farm bill last 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.

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The Salt
2:41 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

House Smacks Down Farm Bill, And Farm Lobby, Too

Gracie Shannon-Sanborn, 5, holds a sign as she joins her father Allen Sanborn (L) and members of Progressive Democrats of America at a rally in front of Rep. Henry Waxman's office on June 17, 2013 in Los Angeles, Calif. The protestors asked the congressman to vote against a House farm bill, which was defeated Thursday.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 9:16 am

The so-called farm bill came to the floor of the House of Representatives Thursday. And it crashed. The defeat shocked many observers, but the vote wasn't even particularly close: 234-195. (You can see how your own representative voted here.)

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Harvest Public Media field note
4:00 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Tying crop insurance to conservation faces tough road in House

Now that the Senate has a farm bill (technically the Agriculture, Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013)ready and waiting for reconciliation with a House version, it’s a good time to look at how some of what the Senate passed may play out in the House—and what it all means for the general public as well as for farmers.

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Harvest Public Media field note
8:01 pm
Sun June 16, 2013

How are decisions made about projects that benefit rural America?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture first began designating funds for rural development in 1933 as part of the New Deal. More federal funds were allocated in the Agricultural Act of 1970. During this fiscal year, the rural development program is administering approximately $38 billion in loans, loan guarantees and grants. It’s being used to construct or improve 48 rural libraries, assist 243 projects in the delivery of healthcare and help more than 270,000 low income families get affordable housing, according to the USDA.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Budget cuts and wider competition for USDA's 'rural' dollars

Eugene Jacquez’s family has grown beans and raised sheep at the base of the Culebra peaks in San Luis, Colo., for generations. He belongs to the Rio Culebra Cooperative and says without federal funding, many of his neighbors will be reluctant to sell to the co-op.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

    As lawmakers debate the Farm Bill in Washington, millions of dollars are at stake for small businesses across the country. Rural development grants go out to everything from home loans to water projects to small co-ops.

With budget cuts likely, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is adjusting how these funds are used, and proposing changes to the word “rural.” But there’s concern that a tighter belt at the federal level means farmers and ranchers in small towns will be left behind.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Lifeblood for rural communities: federal funds

Staunton, Ill., Mayor Craig Neuhaus, left, checks out the town’s new water plant with Hank Fey, a public works director.
Credit Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media.

As Congress fiddles with major farm legislation, there’s a portion of it that gets very little attention. Some say it is a difference-maker for job creation in small rural communities and provides a boost those towns need. Harvest Public Media’s Bill Wheelhouse reports.

In the small town of Staunton, Ill., the new $9 million water plant is a welcome addition. After all, when the 80-year-old facility it replaces seized up last year, the community’s 5,000 residents were without water for five days. 

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4:35 am
Wed June 12, 2013

How the Senate Farm Bill Would Change Subsidies

Lead in text: 
If you missed this story on Morning Edition, here's another opportunity.
The Senate voted Monday to approve its version of the farm bill, a massive spending measure that covers everything from food stamps to crop insurance and sets the nation's farm policy for the next five years. The centerpiece of that policy is an expanded crop insurance program, designed to protect farmers from losses, that some say amounts to a highly subsidized gift to agribusiness.
Government & Politics
8:01 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

How The Senate Farm Bill Would Change Subsidies

Third-generation Oklahoma farmer Scott Neufeld says crop insurance is important to his family's business.
Tamara Keith NPR

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 10:40 am

The Senate voted Monday to approve its version of the farm bill, a massive spending measure that covers everything from food stamps to crop insurance and sets the nation's farm policy for the next five years.

The centerpiece of that policy is an expanded crop insurance program, designed to protect farmers from losses, that some say amounts to a highly subsidized gift to agribusiness. That debate is set to continue as the House plans to take up its version of the bill this month.

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Harvest Public Media story
12:45 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

SNAP cut, direct payments out, insurance in and provisioned

Wheat field west of Amarillo shredded by a late-May hailstorm.
Credit Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Kay Ledbetter

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.

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9:46 am
Sat June 8, 2013

Water conservation incentives leading to more water use?

Lead in text: 
The 1996 farm bill authorized an incentive program to help farmers buy more efficient irrigation equipment to save water. An estimated $4.2 billion in conservation subsidy payments have been made since 1997 and the program is under scrutiny in the current debate over a new five-year farm bill. And questions are being raised over whether the water conservation promoted by the program has actually led to more overall water use.
WASHINGTON - Millions of dollars in farm subsidies for irrigation equipment aimed at water conservation have led to more water use, not less, threatening vulnerable aquifers and streams. From Wyoming to the Texas Panhandle, water tables have fallen 150 feet in some areas - ranging from 15 percent to 75 percent - since the 1950s, scientists say, because the subsidies give farmers the incentive to irrigate more acres of land.
Playa Country episode
12:25 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Farm Bill Status Update

Credit usnews.com

Playa Lakes Joint Venture's Policy Director Barth Crouch updates status of the 2013 Farm Bill. He says most ections of the legislation pertaining to conservation were funded through fiscal year 2013 in the so-called "fiscal cliff" negotiations at the end of 2012.

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Playa Country Episode
8:01 pm
Sun May 5, 2013

Conservation Easements: Preserving Ranching Heritage in Central Kansas Hill Country

Credit ks-mo-hunt.org

Chester Peterson, Jr., of Lindsborg, Kansas, owns grass and cropland on the western margin of the Flinthills, a rolling landscape of tall- and shortgrass prairie largely unchanged since settlers crossed it in the 1860s.

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