The first farm bill was passed in 1933 under the name Agricultural Adjustment Act. This piece of legislation was part of FDR’s New Deal and was designed to counteract low food prices caused by overproduction. To keep production down, the bill allotted payments to farmers who left a certain percentage of their land out of production. The government also began buying excess crop yield under this act, thereby removing it from the market and raising prices.
The Agricultural Adjustment Act also created a food program for poor Americans that would later grow into food stamps and what we know today as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Since 1933, a new farm bill has been passed approximately every five years, which updates policies and subsidies and gives the American people a window into the agricultural climate of the day.
These farm bills generally offer support to farmers, who are in the interesting position of providing something essential to all Americans while also being subject to everything from weather to fad diets.
While there have been many pieces of agricultural legislation besides farm bills, the iterations of farm bill tends to attract more attention as they restructure large amounts of federal money and are often heavily debated in congress. This was certainly true of the last farm bill, the Agriculture Act of 2014, which made major changes in regard to subsidy allotments and promotional efforts for SNAP.
Despite these large-scale shifts in policy, many Americans remain unaware of the bill. As active and responsible citizens, it is important to support our farmers by staying up to date on politics and engaging our individual political efficacy to look out for their interests.