United States Capitol Building

Role of Government In Agriculture

From pork bellies to cow's milk, biofuels to king corn, billions of dollars move through the United States' agricultural marketplace each year. In each step from the farm to the market, there is a framework of national, state, and local government policies. Government may influence what a farmer grows, where a farm is located, how products are transported and processed, how a commodity is traded, and the price the farmer might receive.

What role do you think the government should have in agriculture?

Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4945
The easy-to-miss sign along a central Iowa gravel road just west of the town of Traer runs a bit light on details, declaring only: "'Tama Jim' Wilson Home Site and Farm."
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4944
This week, Senator John Boozeman of Arkansas, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the Republican membership’s framework for the 2024 Farm Bill. 
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4943
Far right EU farmers want to sweep away the current Green Deal. The ballot box is open and results will be tallied this weekend.
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4943
Denver, known for its livestock heritage dating back to the Civil War, is now heading toward a voter-driven referendum that could shut down the city’s last packing plant.
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4943
This week, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on potential Farm Bill tweaks that could assist beginning farmers at the start of their operations.
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ClipSeason49Episode4942
Advocates say lab-grown meat is good for the environment but lawmakers are still pushing back against the cell-cultured product.
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ClipSeason49Episode4938
This week, after months of delays, both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees released their versions of the 2024 Farm Bill. 
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ClipSeason49Episode4936
In 2019, the U.S. ran its first agricultural trade deficit in nearly six decades. Exports were still generally on an upward trend so few expressed concerns that imports had increased even more. But soon it happened twice again: in 2020 and 2023.
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4936
Senate focuses on Biden trade policies as U.S. Trade Representative is called testify in the Senate Finance Committee. 
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ClipSeason49Episode4935
For nearly a decade, the nation's spotlight has shone squarely on livestock when it comes to concerns about antibiotic resistance. But now the global discussion is slowly bringing pet care into the discussion.
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ClipSeason49Episode4934
An expert says the United States took its foot off the gas pedal with the management of wild pigs, which pose a future threat.
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ClipSeason49Episode4932
This week, the House Agriculture Committee held hearings over the potential economic threats on rural America by China.
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ClipSeason49Episode4931
While many segments of agriculture were having a relatively strong year, the pork industry got pounded in 2023.
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ClipSeason49Episode4929
Seven states are up against the clock to get a water deal reached over the Colorado River and who gets what allotment. As the 2026 deadline approaches, the food versus cities debate simmers over the precious resource. Kathryn Sorensen is the director of the Kyle Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University.
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4927
Even as economic reports have kept coming, the pace of government has slowed with few bills headed to open debate on the House or Senate floor. 
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4925
Northwest Missouri farmer John Hickman remembers motorists slowing down to stare as they passed his first no-till field in 1983. The practice of leaving crop ground undisturbed until planting was uncommon enough that a lot of rubber-necking took place. Jump ahead 40 years and 74 percent of North Central and Midwest cropland acres are either no-till or reduced till.
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4924
German lawmakers approved cuts to farmers’ fuel subsidies this week stoking the fire already burning between farmgate and the halls of government. Farmers in the Netherlands are expressing their anger over the cuts with their own blockades on the highways between Amsterdam and Brussels.
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4924
Over the past two months, protests by European Union farmers have been staged across Germany, the Netherlands and Romania railing against new EU regulations and cuts to agricultural subsidies. 
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4923
This week, business leaders, top politicians and political activists gathered at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
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ClipSeason49Episode4920
Major outbreaks in storms, drought and heat headlined the year. So too, was a lack of progress on a Farm Bill among other items on the agenda for Congress.
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ClipSeason49Episode4919
Politicians, industry leaders and farmers object to rail closure at U.S. border; Panama Canal shipping, low water on the Mississippi and Red Sea shippers take a new route.
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ClipSeason49Episode4918
As response plans were being formulated following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Risk Management Agency, the USDA unit that handles crop insurance, announced a plan it hoped would boost production inside the U.S. to offset any losses in the former Soviet Union’s breadbasket.
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ClipSeason49Episode4916
Producers work to handle recent HPAI outbreaks.
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ClipSeason49Episode4916
Water usage rises as alfalfa gains popularity between foreign and domestic land owners. Now policy changes may be coming to know how much water is being pumped from the ground.
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ClipSeason49Episode4914
This week, U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping got together in California for their first face to face meeting in nearly a year.
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4914
Several issues overhang trade relations with Mexico, the United States' second largest trading partner.
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4913
In February of last year, High Pathogenic Avian Influenza returned to U.S. commercial flocks after a several year hiatus. Producers in Iowa, one of the country’s top poultry producing states, have seen new cases in just the last few months.
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4912
Many Americans likely missed hearing about the regulatory shift a few years ago inside USDA allowing exemptions or speedier approvals of certain genetically altered plants. Inside a plant science center in St. Louis, however, plant researchers working on teff and other grains absolutely had the new rule on their radar.
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4912
Rural America was the target for at least three cabinet members and the president himself this week.
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ClipSeason49Episode4911
The annual event in Iowa brings together big thinkers from various government, foundations and private industries all in an effort to enhance food security.
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4908
Two large California producers are suing smaller operators and land owners over the use of water.
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4905
For more than a year, a group of landowners and activists have been pushing back against the permitting and construction of the Summit Carbon Solutions CO2 pipeline. If it gets the greenlight, the project will stretch across 2,000 miles of five Midwestern states.
Market to Market
ClipSeason49Episode4905
Iowa senator sees extension likely in Farm Bill if no deal completed by Christmas.
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ClipSeason49Episode4903
As Congress prepares to return from summer recess, the push to finish a Farm Bill gains strength and observers, including the insurance industry.
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ClipSeason48Episode4852
Officials with Summit Carbon Solutions have begun requesting voluntary land leases along a new segment of its controversial Midwest Carbon Express pipeline.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4849
This launch isn’t shooting for the moon or a distant planet. No rocket boosters are needed. And the passengers inside? Insects.
Market to Market
PodcastSeason8Episode801
Tom Sell is technically called a lobbyist. His past as a congressional staffer has positioned him to be in tune with the policy workings to help clients with widespread interests all throughout agriculture. We discuss his view from Texas and the workings of Washington, D.C. this cycle.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4844
Less than 10 years ago, casinos, local businesses and governments parlayed their influence into a deal with the Iowa legislature to phase out millions in state gambling subsidies, which had kept tracks afloat.
Market to Market
PodcastSeason4Episode463
Gus Barker started his banking career in the farm crisis. That has given him sensitivity to situations for young and experienced farmers. Barker recently testified in the Senate Agriculture committee on behalf of the Independent Bankers of America. We chat about the exchange in Congress from his bank in Newell, Iowa.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4842
Commodity groups work to craft impactful portions of the next Farm Bill which could have major progress this summer.
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ClipSeason48Episode4841
Nevada, Arizona and California reach agreement to usage cuts from the Colorado River over the next three years.
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PodcastSeason4Episode461
Crop insurance has become a mainstay in agriculture the last couple of decades. The case for crop insurance is the producer has skin in the game.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4840
As new 5-year agricultural legislation looms over a divided Congress, some find themselves caught in the crossfire between opportunity and legal oversight.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4838
The easy-to-miss sign along a central Iowa gravel road just west of the town of Traer runs a bit light on details, declaring only: “‘Tama Jim’ Wilson Home Site and Farm.”
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4836
Critics charge excess fertilizers and manure, applied year-over-year at similar rates, can build up during drought and flush out of fields with ever-wetter spring rains.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4835
Three members of the Senate Agriculture Committee heard from Iowa commodity groups this week on ideas for inclusion in the next Farm Bill.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4832
Back in 2018, the FDA unveiled a new 5-year plan for supporting antimicrobial stewardship in veterinary settings. In June of this year, the plan becomes policy in order to help combat AMR or antimicrobial resistance for both animals and people.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4831
The nation’s second-biggest-ever bank failure last Friday quickly captured the financial world’s attention, particularly when it was followed by a second failure.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4830
Northwest Missouri farmer John Hickman remembers motorists slowing down to stare as they passed his first no-till field in 1983. The practice of leaving crop ground undisturbed until planting was uncommon enough that a lot of rubber-necking took place.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4829
Under two century-old federal treaties, the U.S. government pays for the food given to certain displaced Native Americans. Until recently, however, indigenous groups had little say on what was delivered by USDA to their food distribution centers.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4823
A coalition of 18 farm and industry groups sue the EPA over the new Waters of the United States rule.
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ClipSeason48Episode4820
Weather and policy stories are constant each year.  Themes emerged in 2022 of higher land, fertilizer and commodity prices. But what fell, or didn’t fall is what made headlines this year. This look back is our Cover Story. 
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4814
The insects traveling during this drone launch by M3 Agriculture Technologies are codling moths, the bane of existence for many pear and apple orchard owners.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4813
New outbreaks of HPAI were reported this week in Wyoming, Wisconsin, Virginia, Ohio, Washington and Pennsylvania. Nearly every state has dealt with infections this time, but many things have been learned since the last big outbreak eight years ago. Colleen Bradford Krantz reports in our Cover Story.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4813
China, Mexico, Japan and Colombia all took more than 1 billion bushels of U.S. corn in 2021. The number two destination upheld a change in the type of yellow corn they’ll let in the country. David Miller reports.
Market to Market
ClipSeason48Episode4812
This week, the administration made good on its promise and announced the release of more than $223 million in grants and loans to help small and mid-sized processing plants expand or come back online.
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ClipSeason48Episode4810
Two trade group leaders address the challenge in feeding a fragile world.
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ClipSeason48Episode4807
Third pass at law protecting animal producers is sacked in court
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ClipSeason48Episode4806
This week, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry met to hear about lessons learned from the 2018 Farm Bill.
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ClipSeason48Episode4804
Iowa and other states are sending mental health professionals along with police officers responding to mental health crises.
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ClipSeason48Episode4801
Seven states in the Western U.S. face a second year of water restrictions as a megadrought continues its hold on the region.
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ClipSeason47Episode4752
During the megadrought, Colorado and Nebraska fight over water rights.
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4751
Duluth and Cleveland ports are both now handling dedicated container ships, hoping to help ease congestion elsewhere.
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4750
After rallying in vain against the Dakota Access Pipeline, activists in Iowa brought reinforcements to push back on a new proposal to transport a different hazardous material beneath the state’s fertile landscapes.
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4748
Harvest is underway in Ukraine despite nearby fields being on fire and the need to avoid shell holes or unexploded ordnance.
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4748
Iowa is a leader in several farm commodities, but collateral damage – in the form of runoff-impaired waterways – has spurred legal actions designed to thwart pollution linked to agriculture.  While ultimately dismissed, those moves may have helped cultivate renewed interest in farm conservation.
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4746
Shawn Tiffany was recently in front of the Senate Agriculture committee testifying on a litany of bills aimed at the livestock industry. As an independent owner/operator, the story is personal to his family and community.
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4745
Less than 10 years ago, casinos, local business and governments parlayed their influence into a deal with the Iowa legislature – to phase-out millions in state gaming subsidies which had kept tracks afloat even as dog racing declined nationwide.  This year the well ran dry.
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4744
The WTO chief insisted that trade has lifted 1 billion people out of poverty, but poorer countries – and poor people in richer ones – are often left behind.
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4744
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the deepening drought in the western U.S.
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4743
On Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations invited witnesses to discuss the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP and the Farm Safety Net.
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4740
Pets are no longer the primary target when it comes to fighting rabies.
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4738
The world has nearly eradicated famine. But will the trend continue?
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4736
After moving into a historically underprivileged location near downtown Des Moines, Iowa, the young wife and mother also started the city’s first community fridge and pantry – kept afloat by volunteers who share her commitment to eradicate food insecurity.
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4735
President Biden opens the door to E15 sales
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4723
The Secretary gives an update on the rural economy. Moving grain downriver gets a boost from Congress. Market analysis with Angie Setzer and Chris Swift.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4722
The buildup to major government reports receives a mild response. However, warm and wet weather in South America brought back some volatility. Naomi Blohm, Ted Seifried and Matthew Bennett breakdown the numbers.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4721
A new year brings an old issue back to Washington. Widening packing house doors to increase competition. Breaking down the numbers on CRP. Market analysis with Jeff French.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4720
Record snowfall in the Sierras. While winter weather finally arrives in the Midwest. Trade, meatpacking and COVID dominate our look back at 2021. Market analysis with Don Roose.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4719
Pushback over Prop 12 - again. Cutting waste to reduce greenhouse gases. Netting big returns in fishing leads to the World Food Prize. Market analysis with Elaine Kub.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4718
Wind filled with snow, dust and tornadoes whips across the country. Moving on to the next phase after the unique December storms. A dairy embraces giving during the pandemic. Market analysis with Naomi Blohm.
Market to Market
ClipSeason47Episode4718
The National Weather Service sent out warnings about pending severe weather and then advisories to those after the smoke they smelled in the air was likely from several states away.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4717
Pushback on RVO standards. No-snow November becomes Dry December. New tenets talk transition for one farming operation. Market analysis with John Roach.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4716
Pitching in to help repair America’s inland waterways, the EPA misses an obligation at the pump, and shaking up the niche market with a fresh supply. Market analysis with Mark Gold.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4715
We pause this Thanksgiving weekend to take stock of the economy, both in urban and rural settings to see what’s ahead. Ernie Goss and Chris Robinson provide insight and analysis.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4714
Renewable fuel leaders head to Capitol Hill. How COVID has increased the challenge of filling food pantries. Taking stock of wild weather patterns. Market analysis with Elaine Kub.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4713
Another run at leveling the playing field in the packing house. The climbing costs of inputs. Remembering a voice of the Farm Crisis. Market analysis with Matthew Bennett.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4712
The problems at the port come to Congress. Countries vow to cut coal from their energy diet. The tug of war over authority to address Iowa’s water quality. Market analysis with Ted Seifried.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4711
A washout of a week from coast to coast including harvest territory. The COVID-19 meatpacking infection rate set off alarms at the capitol. A dry-weather bet pays off. Market analysis with Shawn Hackett.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4710
Deere workers walk over wages and pensions in a tight labor market. Mexico and U.S. agricultural leaders meet in Iowa. We talk trade, workers and meatpacking with Secretary Tom Vilsack. Market analysis with Angie Setzer.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4709
USDA raises the size of the grain piles. The market moves lower on the report. Big questions about highs, inputs and futures remain. Market analysis from Naomi Blohm, Elaine Kub, Ted Seifried and Matthew Bennett.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4708
Livestock leaders are called to Congress. The new administration keeps some of the old ways on China trade policy. Supply chain challenges in a COVID world. Market analysis with Arlan Suderman.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4707
The efforts to keep ASF out of the United States, the market for plant-based chicken gains two big name players, congress fights wildfires from Capitol Hill, and market analysis with Dan Hueber.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4706
Extended dry conditions renew an old debate on water rights. Pushing through the pitfalls of urban farming. Market analysis with Ted Seifried.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4705
A tax overhaul may leave some rural policies alone. A war of words and finger pointing over inflationary pressures. Advancements in tracking insects and diseases threatening crops. Market analysis with Sue Martin.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4704
The Biden Administration addresses higher meat prices. USDA puts cash behind growing the number of meatpacking plants. After clearing Ida’s wake, what’s next to help make way for grain. Market analysis with John Roach.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4703
Ida leaves a trail of destruction from Louisiana to the Northeast. Flooding concerns loom as harvest nears. Exploring the efforts to repeal rabies. Market analysis with Jeff French.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4702
Opposition to Prop 12 hits another wall. Dairy producers get assistance to help the food insecure. The tally of wildfires and drought remains elusive as the physical scars emerge. Market analysis with Naomi Blohm.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason47Episode4701
Drought’s grip tightens as wildfires expand. The EPA bans the use of a pesticide on food crops. Renewed concern over an old livestock disease. Market analysis with Mark Gold.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4652
One step closer to an upgrade for rural America. A hotter, drier global weather outlook. Combatting the glut in the hemp market. Market analysis with Arlen Suderman.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4651
Drought’s grip tightens in the Grain Belt. Building common ground on the infrastructure deal. Rural America struggles to find farm labor. Market analysis with Don Roose.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4650
Bridges and roads get another look from Congress. Cattle producers and meat packers are called to Capitol Hill. Restoring wolves to the Upper Midwest. Market analysis with Matt Bennett.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4649
The drought compounds the severity of fires in the West. Lawmakers push for the end of ethanol blending mandates. Local food sales that grew during the pandemic, continues to flourish. Market analysis with Ted Seifried.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4648
Rains arrive in the Corn Belt while wildfires sweep the West. Year round E15 gets another look from Congress. Market analysis with Angie Setzer and Chris Swift.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4647
Federal officials join in the “right to repair” debate. Biden puts power behind animal producers claiming unfair practices by meatpackers. A first of its kind nutrient exchange program brings rural, urban and downstream parties together. Market analysis with Elaine Kub.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4646
The mercury rises as much of the Corn Belt nears pollination. The High Court passes on Prop 12. Pulling back the curtain on the data, surveys and economics at the USDA. Market analysis with Shawn Hackett.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4645
Finding ways to capitalize on carbon in farm country. More debate over price transparency as a new packing plant comes off the drawing board. Reducing the chances of famine.  Market analysis with Jeff French.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4644
Record temperatures roll corn growing on already parched ground. Adding teeth to a century old livestock rule. How one dairy operator changed gears to survive the pandemic. Market analysis with Chris Robinson.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4643
Following a two year absence the pork industry gathers to focus on issues. A look at the impact of new policies on western stakeholders. Market analysis with Sue Martin.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4642
An attack on a meat packing giant exposes more vulnerabilities. A study reveals possible fallout from food production. The legal battle over California's livestock housing rules. Market analysis with John Roach.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4641
Shedding light on the complicated nature of trade with China. An old mapping grid put to use in new ways. Market analysis with Don Roose.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4640
Heavy rain floods the Bayou while the High Plains beg for rain. Beef packer consolidation comes under further scrutiny. Selling hogs on Facebook and surviving a derecho made for an eventful 2020. Market analysis with Naomi Blohm.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4639
Mixed signals on the recovery of the economy. Dry conditions in the West renew an old debate. Market analysis with Ted Seifried.
Market to Market
EpisodeSeason46Episode4638
Planters roll around extreme weather of too much and too little rain. Taking another run at increasing the competition at the packing house door. Navigating the obstacles along the two-way trade road with China. Market analysis with Angie Setzer.

Background

From pork bellies to cow's milk, biofuels to king corn, billions of dollars move through the United States' agricultural marketplace each year. In each step from the farm to the market, there is a framework of national, state, and local government policies. Government may influence what a farmer grows, where a farm is located, how products are transported and processed, how a commodity is traded, the price the farmer might receive, and more.

Government policy and agricultural productivity have been connected ever since 1799, when President George Washington called on Congress to establish a National Agriculture Board. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act of Congress establishing the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Lincoln recognized the potential of America's farmers to find new ways to cultivate the land with advances in research and technology, allowing them to provide a safe and abundant food supply. And in what would be his final annual message to Congress, Lincoln dubbed USDA, "The People's Department."

The USDA is the primary agency that promotes, regulates and enforces government policy in the American farm and food industries. Its primary mission is to implement policies approved by Congress every five years in what is commonly known to as "the farm bill." This legislation authorizes federal spending on farm subsidies, food and nutrition programs, rural development initiatives, trade programs, farm credit regulations, conservation plans, market support and more.

USDA, however, is not the only branch of the federal government influencing the agricultural sector. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has jurisdiction over how some foods are handled, prepared and stored. It was created in response to Upton Sinclair's book "The Jungle" which exposed practices and working conditions in Chicago meatpacking plants at the turn of the 20th century.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforces laws relating to air and water quality. Regulation of chemical application on American farmland and the amounts of pollutants allowed in local waterways falls under the purview of the EPA. The agency also is charged with implementing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) which dictates how much biofuels, like corn-based ethanol and biodiesel, must be used in the national fuel supply.

Other federal agencies provide funding for scientific research, incentives for renewable energy, transportation infrastructure, and more. Federal policies impacting the domestic economy, foreign affairs, and trade initiates all can have a significant impact on the agricultural sector.

At the state level, government agencies promote local agricultural products, provide food safety and inspection services, soil conservation and environmental protection. State policies regulate the production, transportation, processing, and marketing of commodities. Many state-funded universities and community colleges provide agricultural education, research and extension services important to the health of the industry.

At the local level, county and municipal governments promote agricultural education in schools and through civic organizations. They also regulate the size of farming operations permitted in their respective communities, and approve laws related to farmers' markets, community gardens, and food assistance programs.

At all levels, government influence on agriculture is often the center of debate. Government policies must balance the costs and benefits to farmers, consumers, the environment, government budgets, and competing interests. What role do you think the government should have in agriculture?

Discovery Questions

  • What are the steps necessary for a piece of legislation to become a law?
  • What current federal, state and local policies impact your life?
  • What kind of long-term impacts can a government policy have on a business or industry?
  • There are many competing interests in agriculture. What role do you think the government should play in balancing these interests?
  • What role do you think the government should take in promoting agriculture products and services to the general public?
  • How can you take an active role in advocating for a specific change in government policy?
  • When advocating for policies, what kind of information/research do you need to acquire?

Challenge: The Role of Government in Agriculture

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Government today may influence what a farmer produces, where a farm is located, how products are transported and processed, how a commodity is traded, the price the farmer might receive, and more. At the national, state, and local level, government influence on agriculture is often the center of debate. Government policies must balance the costs and benefits to farmers, consumers, the environment, government budgets, and other competing interests. Your challenge is to identify an agriculture-related business and examine how it is influenced by government policies. Follow the process below as you consider the impact.

  1. Choose an Agriculture Business

    Select an agricultural-related business that you would like to pursue as a career. This business might be in production agriculture, transportation, retail, agricultural processing, or another related field. Describe your choice. Include the type of business, what it does, where it is located, and other details you think are important.
  2. Identify Connections

    How are government policies, laws or programs connected to your business? Select at least three policies that you believe are connected to the business you chose. Here are a few examples:
    • International trade regulation
    • Crop subsidies
    • Renewable energy subsidies
    • Environmental protection
    • Wage and hour laws including minimum wage mandates
    • Immigration policy
    • Government-supported scientific research
  3. Consider the Impact

    How might the policies you have identified affect the business positively or negatively? Why? Provide detailed examples of how you think each policy might affect your business.
  4. Analyze a Policy

    Consider one single governmental policy that you identified and conduct additional research. Learn more details about the policy and how it came to be. Summarize your findings in a report addressing the following questions:
    1. What is the history of this policy? Which individual or agency makes the policy? What is the reason the policy was created?
    2. What are other stakeholders of this policy? What is the impact of the policy on these stakeholders?
    3. Imagine if the government policy you selected was not in place. What impact might that have on your business?
    4. Evaluate the policy. Do you think it is effective and does it solve a problem? Do you think there is a better solution? Explain your answer, and back up your opinion with evidence.

Related Resources

Teacher Notes

Module Overview

The Role of Government in Agriculture module outlines the relationship among government agencies, policies and the agricultural marketplace. It describes the role and tasks undertaken by major federal agencies, as well as state and local levels and notes that there is much debate around the question of government influence on the agricultural marketplace.

This module introduces students to several big ideas. In the early 20th century, the U.S. government established several policies and programs regulating and supporting agriculture. Government involvement can be influenced by global issues, trade, economics, politics and other factors. Government programs and policies can result in actions such as tariffs, subsidies, environmental protection, and support for renewable energy. Some of these programs and policies may be controversial.

Learning Goals

This module connects with the following learning goals:

  • Explain the role of government in multiple facets of agriculture including production, processing and retail.
  • Discuss domestic and international laws and regulations associated with production agriculture.
  • Analyze the impact of domestic and international law and regulations on agricultural businesses.

 

View and download the module Teacher Notes for standards connections, lesson plan ideas, vocabulary and more.

View and Print the Challenge | View and Print the Challenge Rubric