These four challenges will shape the next farm bill – and how the US eats

Kathleen Merrigan in The Conversation:

For the 20th time since 1933, Congress is writing a multiyear farm bill that will shape what kind of food U.S. farmers grow, how they raise it and how it gets to consumers. These measures are large, complex and expensive: The next farm bill is projected to cost taxpayers US$1.5 trillion over 10 years.

Modern farm bills address many things besides food, from rural broadband access to biofuels and even help for small towns to buy police cars. These measures bring out a dizzying range of interest groups with diverse agendas.

Umbrella organizations like the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union typically focus on farm subsidies and crop insurance. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition advocates for small farmers and ranchers. Industry-specific groups, such as cattlemenfruit and vegetable growers and organic producers, all have their own interests.

More here.