The 2014 Farm Bill represents a big transition for a major sector of the economy. Since 1996—for the past 18 years—farmers of major field crops from across the nation have received direct payments from Uncle Sam to help abate the risks associated with production agriculture.
With the enactment of the Farm Bill—the Agricultural Act of 2014—those days are over. Though Direct Payments have often been maligned in their nearly two-decade history, they were an efficient means of providing assistance that empowered farm families to manage their risk as they saw fit. But direct payments have been eliminated in order to execute a 30% cut to the Commodity Title of the Farm Bill, providing the lion’s share of over $23 billion in total savings for taxpayers.
So what are farmers left with? This has been the topic of many a meeting in farm country of late. With winter persisting, and seeds yet to go in the ground in most of the farm land, many organizations like the Southwest Council of Agribusiness (SWCA) have been hosting meetings to help farmers gain a better understanding of what the U.S. government can still do under the new Farm Bill to help them compete in a global marketplace where foreign governments are less abashed about supporting their own farmers, and where Mother Nature can still wreak havoc on one’s yearly income that is tied up in their crop.