On Friday, February 7th, President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 (H.R. 2642), widely referred to as the 2014 Farm Bill, a comprehensive five-year farm policy package for agricultural and food assistance programs. The U.S. House of Representatives passed this legislation on January 29, 2014 by a vote of 251 to 166. The U.S. Senate passed this legislation by a vote of 68 to 32 on February 4, 2014. The legislation will cost an estimated $956 billion over 10 years, a savings of about $16.6 billion compared with current funding, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This is the first time that Congress has approved a new farm bill since 2008, and follows three years of short-term authorizations and disagreements between the House and the Senate.
The Agricultural Act of 2014 includes the most significant reduction to farm policy spending in history by reforming particular agricultural programs.
- Repeals direct payments and limits producers to risk management tools that offer protection when they suffer significant losses.
- Reduces limits on payments, tightens eligibility rules, and streamlines means tests to make farm programs more accountable.
- Strengthens crop insurance, a successful public-private partnership that helps farmers manage risk and protect themselves against losses.
- Provides historic reforms to dairy policy by repealing outdated and ineffective dairy programs. Offers producers a new, voluntary, margin protection program without imposing government-mandated supply controls.
- Supports small businesses and beginning farmers and ranchers with training and access to capital.