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FoA 393: The Farm Bill With Bart Fischer, Ph.D.
13th December 2023 • Future of Agriculture • Tim Hammerich
00:00:00 00:40:56

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Put AI to work on your farm: https://farmwave.io/

Texas A&M Website: https://agecon.tamu.edu/people/fischer-bart/

Southern Ag Today: https://southernagtoday.org/

As we approach the end of 2023, one thing that many in agriculture thought would happen this year that hasn't is a new farm bill.

"The farm bill attracts this outsized attention. It's carrying some baggage that probably was not envisioned, you know, 80 to a hundred years ago when this process was started."

That's Dr. Bart Fisher, who spent eight years with the House Agriculture Committee, and today is a professor of ag policy at Texas A&M. The lack of a farm bill brought up a lot of questions for me about this legislation. Like what are the impacts of not having this bill in place? What causes these types of delays and are these farm bills which have been around since the 1930s even still relevant?

"It's just incredibly important for the productive capacity of this country that we maintain a safety net for growers because it costs so much to produce."

Bart gives me quite an education about the past, present, and future of the farm bill. We talk about some of the nuances to getting these bills passed, and what goes into these farm bills from support programs to crop insurance, to conservation and beyond, and we cover the impacts of the policies on farmers and rural economies.

"Farm bills aren't written for the good times. They're written for the bad times. One of the challenges though is that even though they're written for the bad times, they're often written during the Good Times."

Dr. Bart Fischer is a research assistant professor and co-director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center in the Department of Agricultural Economics. His applied research focuses on solving real-world policy problems for agricultural producers and on anticipating potential policy changes for Congress to consider. Before joining Texas A&M University, Fischer served for more than eight years on the House Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was involved in every major agricultural policy development in Washington, D.C. over the past eight years, including the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills. He is the 5th generation to be raised on his family’s wheat, cotton, and cattle operation in Southwest Oklahoma and he continues to be actively involved.

For those of you not real familiar with the farm bill: it’s an omnibus law that is addressed every five years to provide an opportunity for policymakers to address agricultural and food issues. We will reference a few of the titles of the farm bill by number in this episode, so just so you have it fresh on your mind, we’ll talk about title one, which is commodities. These are all of the price support and income support programs for the most widely-produced commodities that are produced. We will also talk about Title 2 which includes conservation programs and title 4 which is focused on nutrition and the SNAP program, which is formerly known as food stamps. 

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