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Across the Editor’s Desk: Farm Bill's food bill

LOREN KRUSE 01/30/2012 @ 2:21pm Editor-in-Chief Successful Farming

Back in the 1960s, I recall an urban Congresswoman raising a fuss when her political party assigned her to the House Ag Committee. She said she couldn't help her constituents much on a farm committee. So much has changed since then. When the last farm bill became law, its title didn't mention agriculture or farm. It was the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.

With a bad national economy and high unemployment, USDA spending on food stamps will surpass $80 billion this fiscal year. That compares to $6.5 billion for commodity programs and $4.5 billion for conservation. “When the 2008 Farm Bill was passed, it was projected to cost about $58 billion each year, with the majority ($38 billion) going for nutrition programs,” Business Editor Dan Looker writes in his five-page report, “The Incredible Shrinking Farm Bill."

So while stronger commodity prices have greatly lowered spending related to commodity subsidies for farmers, spending on nutrition programs within the farm bill is soaring. All of this is happening within the context of the need to greatly shrink deficit spending. One source told Looker that the federal government now is borrowing 42¢ of every dollar it spends. Thus, the next farm bill will take a hit. Read Looker's story for a thorough report on the options being considered by the major decisionmakers and influencers.

National Agriculture Day is March 8

This year National Agriculture Day will be celebrated several weeks earlier than in previous years. The purpose of the day is to increase public awareness of agriculture's vital role in society. Successful Farming magazine is one of the supporting partners for National Ag Day, which was started in 1973 by the Agriculture Council of America.

To learn more about the day and how you can participate to help tell your story to consumers, visit www.agday.org. The site provides helpful ideas and tips for planning an activity or event and for working with the local media. If you take part in Ag Day, let me know what you did.

For complete National Ag Day coverage on March 8 – and for in-depth news, market, and weather information and much more every day – please visit our website Agriculture.com. While you are there, enter our $2,500 Spring Planting Giveaway Sweepstakes. Entries are open through April 30. No purchase is necessary to enter or win. Go to www.agriculture.com/spring.

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