The U.S. farm bill is a significant piece of legislation that plays a crucial role in shaping agricultural policy, supporting farmers, and impacting the food and beverage industry. Passed by the U.S. Congress every five years, the next reauthorization should be approved September 2023; the process has already started. The farm bill encompasses a wide range of provisions related to agriculture, nutrition, conservation, rural development, and more.

What is the Farm Bill?

The U.S. farm bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation that sets federal policy for agriculture and food programs. It is typically renewed every five years and encompasses various titles, each addressing different aspects of agriculture and nutrition policy. The farm bill includes provisions related to crop subsidies, crop insurance, nutrition assistance programs, conservation programs, research and extension, trade and export promotion, and more. The farm bill is important not only to farmers but also to consumers, businesses, and other stakeholders in the food and beverage industry, as it impacts the availability, affordability, and sustainability of agricultural commodities used in food and beverage production.

How does the Farm Bill Process Work?

The farm bill process typically involves several steps, including proposal, debate, and passage in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, followed by reconciliation to resolve any differences between the two chambers. The farm bill is then sent to the President for signature or veto. The process can be complex and involve negotiations among various stakeholders, including farmers, food and beverage companies, environmental groups, nutrition advocates, and more.

Field hearings for the upcoming farm bill have already kicked off in Michigan and Arkansas in 2022. The Committee invites ideas and proposals for the 2023 farm bill that can be submitted to this email address: [email protected].

Why is the Farm Bill Important to Food and Beverage Companies?

The farm bill directly impacts the availability, quality, and cost of agricultural commodities that are essential ingredients in food and beverage products. For example, the farm bill provisions related to crop subsidies and crop insurance can affect the production and pricing of key crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, and sugar, which are used as ingredients in many processed foods and beverages.

Moreover, the farm bill includes provisions related to conservation programs, research and extension, and trade and export promotion that can impact sustainability practices in agriculture. For instance, conservation programs can incentivize farmers to adopt sustainable farming practices, such as cover cropping, nutrient management, and soil erosion reduction measures, which can improve soil health, reduce water pollution, and enhance biodiversity. Research and extension programs can support innovation and knowledge transfer in areas such as regenerative agriculture, precision farming, and sustainable pest management, which can benefit food and beverage companies by ensuring a reliable supply of sustainable agricultural commodities.

Food and Beverage Companies Need to Secure Resilient Food Supplies and Get Involved. Now.

By engaging in advocacy efforts and partnering with stakeholders in the agricultural sector, food and beverage companies can advocate for policies and funding that support sustainable agriculture practices.

Food and beverage companies can also expand their own initiatives to promote sustainability in agriculture. They can collaborate with their suppliers to implement advanced data driven technologies that optimize the use of resources and minimize environmental impacts. They can also support farmers in transitioning to regenerative agriculture practices, such as agroforestry, agroecology, and organic farming.

Food and beverage companies can support their growers by providing reporting tools that help them qualify for climate-smart agriculture programs like EQIP. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to farmers for implementing conservation practices. By providing growers with access to tools that track and report their environmental impact, companies can help their growers meet the requirements for these programs and reduce their carbon footprint.

The time to act is now. Delaying the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices could result in increased risks and challenges in the future, jeopardizing the resilience and sustainability of food and beverage companies’ operations. By taking proactive steps to integrate sustainable agriculture into their supply chains and operations, companies can not only mitigate risks, but also contribute to the overall health and sustainability of our food system and the environment.

Learn more about Sustainable Agriculture