The Republican and Democratic Conventions this week and last have us thinking about politics and policy. Did you know there's an entire subset of public ag policy called food policy? Food policy is defined as "the area of public policy concerning how food is produced, processed, distributed, and purchased. Food policies are designed to influence the operation of the food and agriculture system."
Farmers markets are a big part of the food policy discussion, and the Farm Bill is the single most important expression of ag and food policy that Congress addresses. The Farm Bill has 12 Titles including: Commodities, Conservation, Trade, Nutrition, Credit, Rural Development, Research and Extension, Forestry, Energy, Horticulture, Crop Insurance and Miscellaneous.
The Farm Bill was last re-authorized in 2014. In that bill, livestock disaster relief was reinstated back to 2011, and a permanent program for livestock disaster relief was put in place. This is a big deal for our local cattle ranchers. The 2014 bill also provides $100 million for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Program, $30 million for farmers markets and local food promotion programs, and over $15 million in rural business development and growth through the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program. You can read more about the highlights of that 2014 Farm Bill here.
The disaster relief, crop insurance, conservation, rural development and nutrition programs make the U.S. Farm Bill an essential piece of federal legislation. If you have questions about any of these programs, we can certainly help you track down the appropriate state or federal employee to help you investigate if they'd be a good fit for you!