The two principal federal policy areas that affect Maine agriculture are the farm bill and the annual agricultural appropriations process.
The Farm Bill
The farm bill is the primary agriculture and food policy measure of the federal government. It is passed every five years or so by Congress, and governs a wide array of agriculture and food programs, including conservation programs, beginning farmer training programs, healthy food access for low-income families, commodity farmer price and income supports, crop insurance, agricultural research, and more. Because of both the range of policies and programs it covers and the amount of funding provided by the law, the farm bill can have a profound impact on the protection of farmland, the economic viability of farmers, access to land, and agricultural market development.
The current farm bill, called the Agricultural Act of 2014, was signed into law on February 7th, 2014. Congress is currently writing the 2018 Farm Bill.
Learn more about how the farm bill affects Maine agriculture:
Annual Agricultural Appropriations Process
Each year, Congress funds the federal government through the appropriations process. During this process, the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees of the House of Representatives and the Senate make proposals for how farm, food, and rural development funding should be allocated each year, and then the full House and Senate vote on these proposals. Without this funding process, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would not be able to operate many of the programs that are vitally important to Maine farmers.