If you think only farmers care about the farm bill currently being considered by Congress, you're very, very mistaken.
The measure will not only set policy and spending for the nation's farms for years to come, but it will also affect dozens of other seemingly unrelated programs — all at a cost of nearly $1 trillion over the next decade. Following are a few questions and answers about the massive legislation:
Why is it called the farm bill, and where did it come from?
The latest proposal for the farm bill — the law governing everything from food stamps to rural development grants — is being considered by the U.S. Senate this week. It's designed to save more than $23 billion over the next 10 years, in part by getting rid of direct payments to farmers. The direct payment program alone costs taxpayers $5 billion per year.
Southeast of Macon, Ga., near Oglethorpe, rows of peanuts planted six weeks ago have sprouted. Tiny yellow flowers dot the rich-green plants. Donald Chase, his father and grandfather have owned this farm since the 1950s.
Like many southern farmers, Chase objects to the version of the farm bill kicking around in the Senate this week. The bill aims to do away with direct payments to farmers by expanding crop insurance programs.
Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 9:27 am
Arithmetic can be quite enlightening sometimes. One of the country's top agricultural economists just fiddled with the government's balance sheet on crop insurance, and arrived at a shocking conclusion: We'd spend billions of dollars less than we do now if we just gave away a simplified version of the insurance for free.