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Are you what your country eats? Dissecting the federal farm bill

"American Gothic" by Grant Wood
Wikimedia Commons
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)(L), and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)(R), discuss a crop insurance amendment to the Farm Bill, on Capitol Hill, June 14, 2012 in Washington, DC. The two Senators urged the U.S. Senate to support their bipartisan amendment to end excessive federal crop insurance subsidies for large American farming operations.
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The Senate passed the federal Farm Bill today. While the bill originally contained over three hundred proposed amendments, that number has now been whittled down to seventy-three. Agriculture makes up 1.2% of GDP in the United States, nearly $200 billion dollars.

Despite its name, the thousand-page bill includes everything from food stamps to aid to Pakistan, including Senator Maria Cantwell’s (D-Washington) amendment, which requires adding more peas, lentils and chickpeas to the federal school lunch program. Putting jokes about the number (and relevancy) of amendments aside, the bill’s import is high: the outcome of this vote will set the nation’s food and agricultural policy for the next five years. And it might change the policy drastically, eliminating millions of dollars in crop subsidies – instead requiring crop insurance – something which would certainly result in price changes on supermarket shelves and tangible effects on American pocketbooks.


Should farm subsidies continue, or come to a stop? Is there a particular amendment you’ve been following? How closely do you pay attention to agricultural policy?


Alan Bjerga, reporter for Bloomberg

Emily Rusch, State Director for CALPIRG

Andrew Moylan, Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Taxpayers Union

Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group