The agricultural sector in the United States plays a crucial role in ensuring food security, supporting rural development, and driving economic growth. The farm bill, a comprehensive and multiyear law, serves as the cornerstone of agricultural policy in the country. As the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the Current Farm Bill, nears the end of its reauthorization cycle, discussions surround the implications of the proposed New Farm Bill of 2024. In this article, we explore the major differences between these two bills and their potential impacts on various aspects of the agricultural industry.

Historical Context:

Since its inception in the 1930s, the farm bill has undergone numerous iterations, aligning with the changing needs and priorities of American farmers and consumers. Initially focusing on staple commodities such as corn, soybeans, and wheat, the farm bill has progressively expanded to encompass a broader array of issues, including conservation, research, rural development, and nutrition assistance. This growth reflects the recognition of an evolving agricultural landscape that demands comprehensive legislative support.

Overview of the Current Farm Bill:

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, signed into law by President Trump on December 20, 2018, provides critical support to key sectors of the agricultural industry in America. The bill addresses a wide range of areas, including commodity support, conservation, trade and international food aid, nutrition assistance, farm credit, rural development, research and extension activities, forestry, energy, horticulture, crop insurance, livestock, agriculture and food defense, and historically underserved producers.

Key provisions in the Current Farm Bill include the Commodity Title, which includes all commodity farm program payments, marketing assistance loans (MAL), and other crop subsidy payments. Some farm organizations would like to see increased crop reference prices for farm programs, as well as higher MAL loan rates, while others would like to see stricter payment limits applied to farm programs. The "Dairy Margin Coverage" (DMC) program, which has proved to be quite beneficial for small to medium-sized dairy herds (under 300 cows), is also included under this Title and was enhanced in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Crop insurance is a key provision in the Current Farm Bill, with over 95% of corn and soybean acres in the Upper Midwest typically insured by some type of crop insurance coverage, which is subsidized at an average rate of 60-65 percent by the federal government. There has been some support for the expansion of the maximum (Conservation Reserve Program) CRP acres and for increasing the maximum annual CRP rental rates to incentivize enrolment into the CRP program.

As the farm bill is reauthorized through FY2023, it contains modifications that reflect contemporary challenges and opportunities.

Proposed Changes in the New Farm Bill 2024:

As policymakers turn their attention to the upcoming farm bill, several key changes have been proposed that aim to address emerging agricultural issues. One primary focus is sustainability and environmental stewardship, to promote conservation practices and reduce the industry's carbon footprint. Initiatives related to climate change adaptation, renewable energy, and sustainable farming practices are likely to feature prominently in the New Farm Bill of 2024.

Additionally, the new bill is expected to strengthen support for small and mid-sized farmers, who face unique challenges in a competitive market. Enhancements to loan programs, technical assistance, and market access opportunities are envisioned to enable these farmers to thrive and contribute to rural development more effectively. The nutrition assistance component of the farm bill is also set to undergo significant changes. Discussions surrounding improvements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, aim to strike a balance between meeting the nutritional needs of vulnerable populations and ensuring fiscal responsibility.

Implications and Future Outlook:

The proposed changes in the New Farm Bill of 2024 have elicited a mix of anticipation and apprehension within the agricultural community. While many stakeholders welcome the increased focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship, others express concerns about the potential economic burdens and regulatory complexities that may arise. Moreover, the passage of any farm bill is contingent upon bipartisan support and agreement. As the political landscape continues to evolve, negotiations and compromises will shape the final version of the upcoming bill. It is essential to strike a balance that addresses the needs of diverse stakeholders, ranging from large agri-businesses to small family farmers and ensures continued support for the agricultural sector.


The farm bill serves as a critical policy instrument that shapes the trajectory of the agricultural industry in the United States. As the Current Farm Bill approaches its reauthorization cycle, discussions surrounding the New Farm Bill of 2024 will intensify. The proposed changes in the upcoming bill reflect an increasing emphasis on sustainability, small farmer support, and nutrition assistance. As policymakers and stakeholders navigate the intricate landscape of agricultural policy, it is crucial to strike a balance that sustains economic growth, ensures environmental stewardship, and promotes equitable opportunities for all participants in this vital sector.