Seventy-nine percent of the funding in the recently passed Farm Bill is spent on food programs.
Sixteen percent is spent on agricultural support, which is less than one-quarter of one per cent of the federal budget. Proponents of the Farm Bill say its name suggests that the legislation is all about agriculture support when in reality it’s a bill that keeps food affordable for consumers.
Joe Outlaw is a Texas A&M Agrilife economist.
“The Farm Bill is very extensive. When people ask about it, it has the wrong name. It’s called a Farm Bill but it’s basically a farm, food, and fiber bill.”
Outlaw says he’s often asked why the average person should care about the Farm Bill.
“The number one reason is that it provides a certain level of, a small degree of certainty, and that’s all it does, it’s a small degree of certainty for producers to help them either get financing to put in crops or get financing to buy cows to put out there to raise calves. All of this is in the name of having a stable food supply in our country. We have, by all accounts, the lowest food costs per capita of any industrialized nation, and most of that is because of this bill.”
Many people say that with all the technology available to agricultural producers, there’s no need for this support.
“With all that technology came increased costs, and the margin in terms of the amount of money producers make per unit of output, whether it’s per unit of cotton, per unit of corn, is not very high. And so you have all of this technology forcing people to adopt, to try and get more efficient, to lower that cost, so maybe that margin might be a little higher, but at the same time they’re risking more money than they’ve ever risked before.”
Agricultural producers gamble big every year.
“Most of us have other types of jobs that do not have that kind of risk, and this is what the Farm Bill is trying to attempt to do, provide a little bit of stability and some certainty for producers to allow them or provide them the incentive to possibly go out there and risk all their wealth.”