The Farm Bill, which comes up for renewal at five-year intervals, authorizes or re-authorizes a multitude of federal programs involving everything from nutrition assistance to soil conservation.
Aside from the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program—formerly known as Food Stamps—the largest expenditures in the bill provide financial support to farmers, either through direct payments or subsidized credit or insurance. In their current form, these subsidies effectively reward farmers for growing commodity crops, and penalize those who grow fruits and vegetables. If we want a healthier food system, this imbalance needs to be fixed.
Subsidy reform, however, is only one of the ways we can make the Farm Bill better. We also need more robust conservation programs, increased investment in local and regional food systems, and more support for research into best practices for sustainable agriculture.