What Is the Food and Farm Bill?

Short answer: A 5-year, $284 billion piece of legislation that determines just about everything about what we eat. For more details, read on

Just want a quick overview? Try these simple reads:

How Big Ag Erodes the Farm Bill’s Environmental Protections (06/22/12)
GOOD’s Forked Up series. The Farm Bill and environmental protection in one short page.

Infographic: Making Sense of the Farm Bill (06/07/12)
A graphical, easy and short exploration from Good.

Farm Bill 101 (01/2012)
Food and Water Watch. An excellent, comprehensive guide, with particular focus on corporate consolidation of the food system..

Why the Farm Bill Matters (7/11/11)
Environmental Working Group. An excellent, short but comprehensive backgrounder, including brief history, outline of where the money goes, and how that impacts what we eat.

What You Should Know About the Farm Bill (3/15/11)
A quick, short, overview from Serious Eats.

Round and round we go (9/20/11)
Kathleen Masterson, Harvest Public Media
The first installment in Harvest Public Media’s ongoing series on how the farm bill shapes food policy and land use.

A 50-Year Farm Bill (1/4/09)
Wes Jackson and Wendell Berry. A brief New York Times opinion piece that frames the issues well.

10 Myths from the Mainstream Media about US Farm Policy (6/11/08)  
Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). What the Food and Farm Bill doesn’t do.

Ready to dive a little deeper?

Do Farm Subsidies Cause Obesity? (10/2011)
Food and Water Watch. Dispelling commong myths about public health and the farm bill.

Food System Network NYC Farm Bill Series (1/11-ongoing)
Food System Network NYC

The Farm Bill: Better Food Starts Here (2011)
Food and Water Watch, including a brief history of ag policy, fact sheets on related food and farm issues, and action steps.

Food Fight: the Citizen’s Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill (2012)
Dan Imhoff (Watershed Media)
Recently updated from the original 2007 version, this book is as informative and visually engaging as it was for the last Farm Bill fight. The accompanying website is a dynamic resource as well.

What’s at Stake in the 2012 Farm Bill? (3/29/12)
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Fact sheets with new angles on big farm bill questions, action alerts, and more.

If you want to get your hands dirty and learn the ins and outs of the legislation, keep reading…

Rebalancing Act: Updating U.S. Food and Farm Policies (11/11)
Bread for the World Institute
This comprehensive 2012 edition of Bread for the World Institute’s annual report features excellent research, analysis and recommendations, as well as interactive maps, video, and other multimedia features.

Farm Bill Budget Visualizer, from Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.
An innovative tool that uses interactive “treemap” technology to display Food and Farm Bill data and allow users to examine how money is allocated in the bill.

Grassroots Guide to the 2008 Farm Bill
[2012 guide coming soon!]
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition walks you through each of thirty-four 2008 Farm Bill programs most important to sustainable agriculture, serving both as a “report from the trenches” of what survived the last Food and Farm Bill fight, and as a guide to new policies and funding opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and grassroots organizations.

Why Corn and Not Tomatoes? (11/1/10)
Why does the US Food & Farm Bill spend billions of dollars on commodities and not on fruits and vegetables? RAFI explains why knowing the answer to this question is a critical first step as we reform federal food and farm policy.

Fair Farm Bill series, from the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy (2007)
This 2007 series explains how the Food and Farm Bill impacts issues from conservation to public health to immigration.