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Note: This topic page may contain material that has not yet been updated to reflect the new Farm Act, signed into law on February 7 2014. ERS has published highlights and some implications of the Act’s new programs and provisions.  Sign up for the ERS Farm Bill e-newsletter to receive notices of topic page updates and other new Farm Bill-related materials on the ERS website.

  • The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 PDF icon (16x16) (2008 Farm Act) builds on previous policy and provides a new counter-cyclical revenue program and a permanent disaster fund for farmers.
  • Government payments provide an important source of income to the farm sector, but U.S. farm policy has undergone significant changes over the last 15 to 20 years.
  • Beginning with the 1985 Farm Act and continuing with farm legislation in 1990 and 1996, a series of fundamental changes in commodity and other agricultural policies moved the sector toward market-oriented decisions.
  • Against a background of low commodity prices that spurred enactment of five supplemental emergency assistance packages, the new Farm Act adds income stabilization provisions, among other new programs, to existing policies.

ERS evaluates the economic effects on producers, consumers, taxpayers, and rural communities of current farm legislation and alternative policy instruments and programs.

Last updated: Wednesday, February 25, 2015

For more information contact: Joseph Cooper, Anne Effland, and Erik O'Donoghue

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