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The 'farm' may be the least of the Farm Bill

The Farm Bill cost the government $96.2 billion in 2011, but just $13.44 billion went to help farmers.

The federal government has a long history of helping farmers, subsidizing those who agree to grow certain crops and helping to cover losses during bad years. It’s been going on since the heyday of FDR’s New Deal in 1933.

Not all government farm programs wind up being exclusively for farmers, though - in fact, some aid goes to people who have nothing at all to do with farms. Congress is currently looking to get rid of one of these programs, direct aid to farm owners, which has cost over $46 billion from 2003 to 2011. This program is one based on old farmland ownership data - if you owned farmland when the program, you get payments whether you farm the land or not. And it's not the only "farm" program money that goes to people far, far away from any farmland.

The most recent Farm Bill shows the bulk of its $96.2 billion cost went elsewhere. $77.6 billion in 2011 went to the food stamp program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Just $13.44 billion went to programs for farmers.

Current funding has been extended through the end of 2013, while Congress considers a new Farm Bill. Budget concerns have legislators again taking aim at the farm bill and the programs it funds. 

Check out today's slideshow for more on Farm Bill politics. See “What Do Others Say?” for more views, then add to the discussion below. How do you feel about agriculture subsidies? Is the Farm Bill still worthy of the name?

What do others say?

  • Simple Good and Tasty: Simple Good and Tasty: "Understanding the Farm Bill: Digging Into the Commodity Programs" More

  • American Farmland: American Farmland: "Farm Bill 101: What You Need To Know" More

  • NPR: NPR Audio: “Farmers Split Over Subsidies as Senate Bill Debate Begins” More

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