This blog post is the first in a forthcoming series on the 2018 Farm Bill.
As Congress begins the complex task of crafting the next Farm Bill, much is at stake – from conservation to "food stamps" to rural economies. This blog post is the first in a series addressing important policy considerations with an eye toward making the Farm Bill more effective, rather than backsliding on these and other important issues.
President Obama once referred to the current (2014) Farm Bill as a "Swiss Army knife" because of the many areas of American life that it touches. Another way to think of the omnibus legislation, passed roughly every four to five years, is as a food security bill.
Food security is a helpful framework to foster improved policy coherence in the next Farm Bill across a breadth of policy areas. A food-secure Farm Bill is one that provides for effective conservation on agricultural working lands, strong rural economies, and healthy food access for all Americans. In order to attain food security, the various titles of the Farm Bill need to work together, but in reality, fundamental inconsistencies exist among the legislation's titles.
For example, the Farm Bill's crop insurance "safety net" title, as implemented, rewards poor stewardship while the law's conservation title tries to address environmental harms caused by that agricultural production. The conservation title does this by authorizing and funding voluntary programs that provide ...