General Economy Information
Policies not specific to agriculture, but rather affect the US economy in general, have either direct or indirect effects on farmers and agribusinesses. Examples include interest rates, inflation, tax policy.
Managing Change in Agricultural Markets in a Global Economy
Exports of raw and final agricultural product exports are growing in importance for US farmers and ranchers. World populations are growing, creating demand for quality food sources. Trade agreements, whether bilateral or multilateral, enhance market access for US agricultural companies. However, challenges exist in both obtaining and maintaining that market access.
For the first several decades of farm bill history in the 20th century, supporting farmers was rural development. In the latter half of the 20th century, rural development began to evolve into infrastructure development. By the 21st century, rural development programs grew to include rural energy, entrepreneurship, bio-based energy development, and rural broadband development. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 reauthorized most rural development programs and modifies many programs.
What started as a relatively small program in the 1930s to reduce surplus livestock and help the needy during the Great Depression, has evolved to take the majority of farm bill expenditures. Nutrition programs, originally called food stamps, have been a part of the farm bill since 1973.