Photo credit: North Dakota Game and Fish Department
The “Farm Bill” is a compilation of many different Acts that have been passed by the United States Congress to enhance agricultural productivity and conservation on private lands. It has its beginnings in the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 (P.L. 73-10). This initial legislation was in response to the Dust Bowl, an environmental catastrophe during the Great Depression caused by the combination of prolonged natural drought and agriculture that did not use dryland farming techniques. The legislation established agricultural policy to support the production of sustainable food and fiber and help restore confidence in agricultural markets. Periodically, the legislation is re-enacted with evolving conservation policy, addressing commodity payments such as disaster payments and price supports as well as nutritional food programs. During the last five Farm Bills, conservation programs have become increasingly significant.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for implementation of the Farm Bill through two agencies: Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
For more information on conservation programs for landowners through the existing Farm Bill, see the 2014 Farm Bill Field Guide.