The Farm Bill is variety of federal laws—permanent and expiring—govern an array of agricultural and food programs. Although many of these policies can be and sometimes are modified through freestanding authorizing legislation or as part of other laws, the omnibus, multi-year farm bill provides a predictable opportunity for policymakers to address agricultural and food issues more comprehensively.
The "Farm Bill" is renewed about every five years. The omnibus nature of the bill can create broad coalitions of support among sometimes conflicting interests for policies that individually might not survive the legislative process. This breadth also can stir fierce competition for available funds, particularly among producers of different commodities, or between those who have differing priorities for farm subsidies, conservation, nutrition, or other programs.
The Farm Bill includes programs that impact nutrition, land uses and commodity supply. Baking industry priorities in the 2012 Farm Bill include reforming the U.S. sugar program, reducing acreage in the USDA Conservation Reserve Program, and preventing the continuation of ethanol tax credits and tariffs in the bill. Decreasing acreage in CRP may increase wheat supplies and reforming the current sugar program will allow access to world sugar supplies. Preventing the continuation of ethanol tax credits and tariffs will help relieve demand for corn for fuel, thus increasing the likelihood of farmers choosing to grow corn and wheat for basic foodstuffs.
ABA is neither for nor against the Farm Bill in general, but does take stances on specific programs within the bill.
Congress is currently drafting the next Farm Bill, with the Senate moving first to pass a bill in 2012.