Farm Bill

Amy Mayer/Iowa Public Radio file photo

The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed changes on Tuesday to the rules that govern which farmers can receive government subsidies.

The goal is to cut off payments to people who claim they’re involved in the management of a farm, but aren’t doing much managing.

Farmers who own land, run cattle, or spend their spring planting corn can relax – the proposed rule change doesn’t impact their ability to collect up to a $125,000 a year in government subsidies.

Amy Mayer/IPR

Farmers face plenty of risk, including the unknowns of weather, global markets and the more predictable expenses of taxes and equipment costs.

Amy Mayer/IPR

When farmers lose 15 to 25 percent of their crop, it hurts. And it’s not likely to be covered by crop insurance, which covers greater losses.

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media file photo

The Farm Bill was passed in February. But now, piece by piece, it’s taking effect. We’re beginning to see how parts of the farm bill are doing more to help farmers go small.

The Farm Bill contains about half a trillion dollars in spending over five years. The vast majority of that pays for huge programs like food stamps and subsidized crop insurance. But this time around, Congress carved out a little more room for local and organic foods, and it’s starting to show.

Creative Commons

The “who” part of the Farm Bill is pretty clear.

With trillions dollars of government spending up for grabs,lobbyists from all ends of the spectrum – representing environmental interests, biotech companies, food companies, farmers – flocked to Capitol Hill to find their piece of the Farm Bill pie.

Courtesy David Kosling/USDA

When U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced passage of the Farm Bill in February, she echoed a refrain from a car commercial.

“This is not your father’s Farm Bill,” she said.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media file photo

Food doesn’t just come from a grocery store. Millions of farmers spend their lives producing the crops and raising the livestock that we eat and use.

So it makes sense: If you’re interested in what’s on your plate, you’re interested in what’s going on in the field.

With that in mind, here are four things you should know about today’s food system:

The new farm bill became law in February

Courtesy Stephen Carmody/Michigan Radio

  President Barack Obama signed the new farm bill into law Friday at Michigan State University in East Lansing, ending years of negotiations and wrangling.

With farm equipment, hay bales and crates of apples setting the stage, the president told the crowd that this farm bill –officially called the Agriculture Act of 2014 – will save taxpayer dollars while also offering support to farmers and ranchers. And he says that helps the whole country.

Courtesy National Archives

When President Obama signs the long-overdue Agriculture Act of 2014 – the new farm bill – into law Friday, both farmers and food stamps advocates will be sighing in relief. This farm bill process was fraught with ups and downs and the loose coalition tying nutrition and farm programs seemed barely able to survive.

Jaroslav A. Polák

For our weekly news buzz program, we get a review of the pending U.S. farm bill that is moving through Congress, how businesses are dealing with the Affordable Care Act, modern humans have a surprising amount of genes that come from Neanderthals, an important piece of art is returning to Iowa, a new  smartphone app designed in Iowa with which users can hear and see how to pronounce certain foreign language sounds, and we hear from a couple mayors of towns on this year’s RAGBRAI route. 

Amy Mayer/IPR

It’s getting so close now… Wednesday morning the U.S. House passed the Agriculture Act of 2014, the new farm bill. The Senate is expected to take it up soon.

“Dairy cliff” not quite imminent

Dec 30, 2013
File: Kathleen Masterson/Iowa Public Radio

No need to hoard milk and ice cream over New Year’s Day. Turns out, the “dairy cliff” isn’t as steep as we may have once thought.

For over a year, farm bill watchers have warned that the milk prices would balloon to $7-8 per gallon if the farm bill expires without a replacement – sending us over what has been termed the “dairy cliff.”

Alan Light

In this 'News Buzz' edition of River to River, hear about new rules for traffic cameras in Iowa, a stopgap farm bill passed in the U.S. House, a new hydrocodone-related drug which is meeting opposition from Iowa's Attorney General, the Hawkeyes will meet LSU, and what's with the early bout of cold weather?

If it seems like Congress just can’t get the farm bill done, well… that’s because it can’t. All year long, Washington lawmakers have been saying they want to pass a full five-year farm bill. But even though leaders of the House-Senate conference committee say they are close, they have acknowledged it just won’t get done this year. They’re pushing it off until January.

Stefanie Seskin

Nearly all gasoline sold in the U.S. contains up to 10 percent of ethanol—a corn-based liquid often added to gasoline. As a renewable fuel ethanol reduces the amount of petroleum-based gasoline on the market and many farmers receive subsidies to grow corn for the biofuel. But now the Environmental Protection Agency is considering a reduction in the required amount of ethanol for the country's gasoline supply.  Harvest Public Media's Ames-based reporter Amy Mayer and host Ben Kieffer discuss the future of ethanol in the U.S.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The farm bill expired at midnight on Monday, leaving farmers and ranchers across the country guessing at what federal farm policy will look like when they next put their crops in the ground.

Of course, they’re used to uncertainty, as this is the second straight year Congress has let the farm bill expire. Last year, farmers were set adrift for three months before lawmakers passed a nine-month extension of older policy in January.

courtesy of Zynga

The farm bill is, once again, entering a critical stretch. As was the case last year, the current law expires at the end of September. There’s no election to dissuade elected officials from tackling the major piece of agriculture and nutrition policy—but Congress does have a pretty full plate, with the crisis in Syria, immigration reform and a measure to continue funding federal government programs all set to come to a head.

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats / Flickr

Host Ben Kieffer sits down with Congressman Dave Loebsack from Iowa’s 2nd District to discuss his thoughts on a potential a military strike on Syria, the stalled Farm Bill, immigration reform, and the next debt ceiling.

Sarah McCammon / IPR

This week Clay and Sarah discuss big news in agribusiness and how the industry is reacting. The U.S. House passed a farm bill that strips the nutrition portion out of the legislation, breaking up the rural/urban coalition of lawmakers. Also, a deadly pig virus is causing pork producers to be even more cautious with how they operate their business. And a deadly train accident in Quebec has people in the United States looking at how the country transports oil. 

Chris Larimer, UNI / http://diymaps.net/ia.htm

Think you know which of Iowa's counties is most democratic, or most republican?  University of Northern Iowa Associate Professor of Political Science Chris Larimer crunched the numbers. 

http://addins.kwwl.com/blogs/decision2012/2013/06/exploring-county-level-partisanship

cool revolution / flickr

On Politics Wednesday on River to River, guest host Dean Borg talks about recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions.  Guests include political analysts Donna Hoffman, Professor and Chair of Political Science at University of Northern Iowa and Tim Hagle, Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Iowa.  Iowa Congressman Steve King also gives his reaction to the rulings and gives an update on the Farm Bill from Washington D.C.

tpsdav/pixabay

In a stunning move, the U.S. House voted against approving farm bill legislation Thursday, leaving the bill's future up in the air.

The House rejected the farm bill on a final tally of 234-195 after a day of dramatic, tight votes on amendments to the bill.

Todd Elhers / Flickr

As the Farm Bill is debated in the U.S. House of Representatives, host Charity Nebbe digs into the politics of farm policy in a special joint broadcast with KCUR in Kansas City and Harvest Public Media.  What's the future of crop insurance and the Conservation Reserve Program?  What's at stake for farmers large and small?  And also, how will what happens on the farm affect the rest of the country?

the National Museum of American History--Smithsonian Institution / Flickr

The farm bill is legislation is worth more than $90 billion. It deals with everything from farm subsidies to crop insurance; but over 80% of this massive outlay goes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP,) which was once called food stamps.  More than 45 million people depend on SNAP, especially since the economic downturn.  However, in the current versions of the bill both Democrats and Republicans are discussing cutting funds from the program. 

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Shoppers looking for organic food may have to look a bit harder this year.

Amy Mayer/IPR

With the election over, lawmakers now return to Washington for the final weeks of the 112th Congress. Their schedule is packed, but House majority leader Eric Cantor has said addressing the now expired Farm Bill is on the agenda. With Harvest Public Media, Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer reports that it’s not just farmers facing the challenge of planning for an unknown future.

courtesy photo

When Congress recessed for the election season without passing a new farm bill, many observers thought farmers would demand explanations as campaign trails blazed through small towns. In conjunction with Harvest Public Media, Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer has this look at how the farm bill is playing on the stump.

Farm Bill 2012

Oct 9, 2012
Picket fence along field
Kevin Dooley / Flickr

The Farm Bill is the primary agricultural and food policy tool of the federal government. The comprehensive bill is passed every five years in Congress. Recently, Congress decided to postpone action on the new bill until after the November elections.

Coalescing around the Farm Bill

Sep 25, 2012
Amy Mayer

The current farm bill expires at the end of September and lawmakers won’t have a new one passed, thanks largely to election-year politics. Despite the partisan bickering in Washington, many in farm country are working together to keep their concerns on the front burner.

Sandhya Dirks

Despite a devastating drought Iowa has weathered a rough economy thanks to its agricultural base. On Wednesday night Ag leaders from across the country gathered in Des Moines for a forum on agriculture. The question up for debate? Which presidential candidate is best for farmers.  As Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports, the answer to that question could decide the election.  

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