Highlights of changes under the new farm bill

Here is a quick list of highlights on the new farm bill compared to the 2008 version provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Farm Safety Net

Before the 2014 Farm Bill

The 2008 Farm Bill continued direct payments – a system that paid producers regardless of whether they incurred losses.

Disaster assistance programs expired in fiscal year 2011. Since then, producers impacted by disease or adverse weather conditions have not received financial assistance for losses incurred.

2014 Farm Bill

Eliminates direct payments and continues crop insurance.

Producers will choose between the price loss coverage and agricultural risk coverage. Establishes the Dairy Margin Protection program.

Restores livestock disaster assistance for losses dating back to 2011 and establishes a permanent livestock disaster program.

Rural Development

Before the 2014 Farm Bill

USDA programs support investments in the rural economy through grants, loans and loan guarantees with an emphasis on essential infrastructure, small business development, job creation and growth.

2014 Farm Bill

Continues USDA Rural Development programs. Provides $15 million to support rural business development and growth through the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program.

Provides $150 million for water and wastewater infrastructure.

Reserves 10 percent of certain programs for regional, long-term investments to better promote economic development through regional planning and leveraging of resources.

Trade and Foreign Agriculture

Before the 2014 Farm Bill

USDA expands markets for U.S. agricultural goods through the Foreign Market Development Program and Market Access Program. Local and Regional Procurement authorized as a pilot to provide international development assistance and expedite food aid.

2014 Farm Bill

Continues authorization for $200 million annually for international market development.

Authorizes up to $80 million for LRP and makes the program permanent.

Provides more flexibility for USAID to use cash assistance in administering the Food for Peace program.

Increases flexibility for assistance in emergency situations.


Before the 2014 Farm Bill

USDA advances scientific knowledge related to agriculture through research, extension and education. Specialty Crop Research Initiative funded at $40 million annually.

2014 Farm Bill

Endows $200 million for a foundation for agricultural research.

Doubles the funding for SCRI to $80 million annually.


Before the 2014 Farm Bill

The 2008 Farm Bill built on past farm bills, providing further conservation opportunities for farms and ranchers.

2014 Farm Bill

Consolidates conservation programs for flexibility, accountability and adaptability at the local level.

Links basic conservation practices to crop insurance premium subsidy for highly erodible lands and wetlands.

Builds upon successful partnerships and encourages agricultural producers and partners to design conservation projects that focus on and address regional priorities.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Before the 2014 Farm Bill

The 2008 Farm Bill established new energy programs, including the Biorefinery Assistance Program, the Biobased Marketing Program and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program.

2014 Farm Bill

Reauthorizes and provides $880 million for energy programs established in the 2008 Farm Bill.

Expands Biorefinery Assistance Program to include biobased product and renewable chemical manufacturing.

Expands biopreferred program to include forestry products.


Before the 2014 Farm Bill

The Forest Service was granted Stewardship Contracting Authority through FY14.

Good Neighbor Authority allowed state foresters in Colorado and Utah to conduct restoration services on National Forest System lands. Expanded to include all states in FY14 through FY18.

2014 Farm Bill

Makes Stewardship Contracting Authority permanent, allowing FS to conduct restoration work and stimulate job growth.

Makes the Good Neighbor Authority permanent and available nationwide.


Before the 2014 Farm Bill

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the cornerstone of the nations food assistance safety net, helping families put food on the table.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program supports food banks and food pantries.

2014 Farm Bill

Maintains SNAP eligibility for millions of low-income families.

Provides $200 million for job training and $100 million to increase fruit and vegetable purchases.

Provides $250 million in additional funding for TEFAP’s food banks and food pantries.

Authorizes $125 million for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative to make nutritious food more accessible.

Next Generation Farmers and Ranchers

Before the 2014 Farm Bill

The 2008 Farm Bill established the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program with $75 million for FY 2009 to FY 2012.

2014 Farm Bill

Provides $100 million for the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program.

Increases access to capital and supports crop insurance and risk management tools, including reducing crop insurance premiums during the first five years of farming.

Local and Regional Food Systems

Before the 2014 Farm Bill

The Farmers Market Promotion Program funded at $10 million annually.

2014 Farm Bill

Renames FMPP to Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program and provides $30 million annually.

Continues to reserve funds in the Business & Industry Loan Program for locally and regionally focused businesses.

Advances growth of local and regional food systems with $65 million for Value Added Product Market Development Grants.

Specialty Crops and Organics

Before the 2014 Farm Bill

Funded the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program at $52 million annually to promote fruit and vegetable production.

The 2008 Farm Bill provided $55 million to strengthen the nations infrastructure for pest detection and threat mitigation, and to safeguard nursery production.

2014 Farm Bill

Provides $72.5 million annually for SCBG.

Provides new resources for organic farmers, including funding the Organic Cost Share program at $11.5 million annually.

Increases funding for pest and disease management and disaster prevention to $62.5 million per year, and $75 million in FY 2018 and beyond.

Natural Resources

Conservation Service

And here is additional summary of information on conservation programs offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. According to NRCS, the new farm bill streamlines conservation programs that enable farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to get assistance.

Financial assistance programs

Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program have been combined into EQIP.

Conservation Stewardship Program and Agricultural Management Assistance programs remain similar to previous years.

Easement programs

Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program and Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program are now combined into Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

Healthy Forests Reserve Program remains similar to past years.

Partnership programs

Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative and Great Lakes Basin Program have all been combined into Regional Conservation Partnership Program.