Agricultural Policy

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The House Agriculture Committee’s 2018 Farm Bill (H.R. 2): A Side-by-Side Comparison with Current Law

Congress establishes national food and agriculture policy through periodic omnibus farm bills. The 115th Congress has the opportunity to set the direction for farm and food policy because many of the provision in the current farm bill (the Agricultural Act of 2014, (P.L. 113-79) expire in 2018. The 2014 farm bill consists of 12 titles that address commodity price and income support, crop insurance, conservation, domestic food assistance, trade and international food aid, credit, rural development, research, horticulture, forestry, bioenergy, and various other provisions.

The House...

Federal Crop Insurance: Program Overview for the 115th Congress

Since its inception in 1938, the federal crop insurance program has evolved from an ancillary program with low participation to a central pillar of federal support for agriculture. From 2007 to 2016, the federal crop insurance title had the second-largest outlays in the farm bill after nutrition. The total net cost of the program for crop years 2007-2016 was about $72 billion, of which $43 billion (60%) was of direct benefit to producers, $28 billion (39%) went to private insurers, and $754 million (1%) went to the Risk Management Agency (RMA) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture...

Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy: CRS Experts

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cience, technology, and innovation (STI) play important roles in the nation’s economic and military strength, public health and safety, and the quality of our lives. Individuals, companies, governments, universities, and other organizations fund, conduct, disseminate, and acquire science and technology for a myriad of purposes. Among the purposes: providing for the national defense and homeland security; improving manufacturing processes and enabling the manufacture of new products; developing new materials; advancing computing and communications tools; preventing and treating disease,...

Energy Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79): Status and Funding

Title IX, the energy title of the 2014 farm bill (Agricultural Act of 2014; P.L. 113-79), contains authority for the energy programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA energy programs have incentivized research, development, and adoption of renewable energy projects, including solar, wind, and anaerobic digesters. However, the primary focus of USDA energy programs has been to promote U.S. biofuels production and use—including corn starch-based ethanol (the predominant biofuel produced and consumed in the United States), cellulosic ethanol, and soybean-based...

Farm Bill Programs Without a Budget Baseline Beyond FY2018

The 2014 farm bill (the Agricultural Act of 2014, P.L. 113-79) provided mandatory funding for many programs. Some of these programs have a budget baseline beyond the end of the farm bill in FY2018, while others do not. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline is a projection at a particular point in time of what future federal spending on mandatory programs would be under current law. This baseline is the benchmark against which proposed changes in law are measured. This report identifies mandatory programs in the 2014 farm bill that lack a budget baseline and explains the...

Federal Disaster Assistance After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Gustav, and Ike

This report provides information on federal financial assistance provided to the Gulf States after major disasters were declared in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas in response to the widespread destruction that resulted from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in 2005 and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008.

Though the storms happened over a decade ago, Congress has remained interested in the types and amounts of federal assistance that were provided to the Gulf Coast for several reasons. This includes how the money has been spent, what resources have been provided to...

What Is the Farm Bill?

The farm bill is an omnibus, multi-year law that governs an array of agricultural and food programs. Titles in the most recent farm bill encompassed farm commodity price and income supports, agricultural conservation, farm credit, trade, research, rural development, bioenergy, foreign food aid, and domestic nutrition assistance. Because it is renewed about every five years, the farm bill provides a predictable opportunity for policymakers to comprehensively and periodically address agricultural and food issues.

The most recent farm bill—the Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79; 2014 farm...

Federally Supported Water Supply and Wastewater Treatment Programs

For more than four decades, Congress has authorized and refined several programs to help communities address water supply and wastewater problems. The agencies that administer these programs differ in multiple ways. In terms of funding mechanisms, projects developed by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers typically require direct, individual project authorizations from Congress.

In contrast, standing program authorizations provide project funding for other agencies, including

the Department of Agriculture (USDA),

the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency...

The Commodity Credit Corporation: In Brief

The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) has served as a mandatory funding mechanism for agricultural programs since 1933. The CCC Charter Act enables the CCC to broadly support the U.S. agriculture industry through authorized programs including commodity and income support, natural resources conservation, export promotion, international food aid, disaster assistance, agricultural research, and bioenergy development.

While CCC is authorized to carry out a number of activities, it has no staff of its own. CCC is overseen by the Secretary of Agriculture and a board of directors, which are...

U.S. Farm Commodity Support: An Overview of Selected Programs

Federal efforts to bolster farm household incomes and the rural economy by providing support to producers of key crops has been a central pillar of U.S. farm policy since such programs were first introduced in the 1930s. Current farm support programs are counter-cyclical in design—that is payments are triggered when the annual market price for an eligible crop drops below a statutory minimum or when revenue is below a guaranteed level. The farm commodity program provisions in Title I of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79, the 2014 farm bill) consists of three types of support for...

Agricultural Conservation: A Guide to Programs

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently administer 20 programs and subprograms that are directly or indirectly available to assist producers and landowners who wish to practice conservation on agricultural lands. The differences and number of these programs have created general confusion about the purpose, participation, and policies of the programs. While recent consolidation efforts removed some duplication, a large number of programs remain. The programs discussed in this report are as...

Federal Research and Development (R&D) Funding: FY2019

President Trump’s budget request for FY2019 includes approximately $131.0 billion for research and development (R&D), of which $118.056 billion is included in the President’s budget and an estimated additional $12.9 billion in nondefense discretionary R&D is requested as part of an addendum to the President’s budget. The additional funding requested in the addendum followed enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123), which raised defense and nondefense discretionary spending caps for FY2018 and FY2019. The budget documents released by the Office of Management and Budget...

Seed Cotton as a Farm Program Crop: In Brief

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123; BBA), signed into law on February 9, 2018, included a provision—Section 60101(a)—which amended the 2014 farm bill (P.L. 113-79) to add seed cotton as a “covered commodity,” thus making cotton eligible for the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) farm revenue support programs.

The 2014 farm bill provides authority for farm programs for the 2014 through 2018 crop years. Under the 2014 farm bill—signed into law in February 2014—neither cotton nor its co-product, cottonseed, were eligible to participate in the newly...

Agricultural Credit: Institutions and Issues

The federal government provides credit assistance to farmers to help assure adequate and reliable lending in rural areas, particularly for farmers who cannot obtain loans elsewhere. Federal farm loan programs also target credit to beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged groups.

The primary federal lender to farmers, though with a small share of the market, is the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Congress funds FSA loans with annual discretionary appropriations—about $90 million of budget authority and $317 million for salaries—to support $8...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2018 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except for the Forest Service. It also funds the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and—in even-numbered fiscal years—the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Discretionary amounts, though, are the primary focus during the bill’s development, since mandatory amounts are generally set by authorizing laws such as the farm bill.

The largest discretionary spending items are the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women,...

U.S. Farm Income Outlook for 2018

According to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), national net farm income—a key indicator of U.S. farm well-being—is forecast at $59.5 billion in 2018, down nearly 7% from last year. The forecast decline in 2018 net farm income is the result of lower cash returns—from both production activities (-0.5%) and government payments (-18.6%)—and higher production expenses (projected up 1%). Net farm income is calculated on an accrual basis. Net cash income (calculated on a cash-flow basis) is also projected lower in 2018 (-5.1%) to $91.9 billion.

The 2018 net farm income forecast is...

Emergency Assistance for Agricultural Land Rehabilitation

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers several permanently authorized programs to help producers recover from natural disasters. Most of these programs offer financial assistance to producers for a loss in the production of crops or livestock. In addition to the production assistance programs, USDA also has several permanent disaster assistance programs that help producers repair damaged crop and forest land following natural disasters. These programs offer financial and technical assistance to producers to repair, restore, and mitigate damage on private land. These...

Wildfire Management Funding: Background, Issues, and FY2018 Appropriations

The federal government’s wildfire (or wildland fire) management responsibilities are fulfilled primarily by the Forest Service (FS, in the U.S. Department of Agriculture) and the Department of the Interior (DOI). These responsibilities include prevention, detection, response, and recovery related to fires that begin on federal lands. These responsibilities are accomplished through activities such as preparedness, suppression, fuel reduction, and site rehabilitation, among others. There are several ongoing concerns regarding federal wildfire management. These concerns include the total...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2018

President Trump’s budget request for FY2018 includes $117.697 billion for research and development (R&D). This represents a $30.605 billion (20.6%) decrease from the FY2016 actual level of $148.302 billion (FY2017 enacted levels were not available at the time of publication). Adjusted for inflation, the President’s FY2018 R&D request represents a constant dollar decrease of 23.6% from the FY2016 actual level.

However, in 2016 the Office of Management and Budget changed the definition used for “development” to “experimental development.” This new definition was used in calculating R&D in...

Federal Milk Marketing Orders: An Overview

Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMOs) are geographically defined fluid-milk demand areas. Under FMMO law and regulations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) establishes a minimum milk price, and those who buy milk from producers, known as handlers, are required to pay milk producers no less than this established price. Handlers are responsible for reporting milk receipts by end use to FMMO milk market administrators and maintain adequate records so that administrators may audit and verify the accuracy of the reported uses.

The two main features of the FMMO system are classified...

Efforts to Address Seasonal Agricultural Import Competition in the NAFTA Renegotiation

The United States has initiated renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. Among the Administration’s agriculture-related objectives in the renegotiation is a proposal to establish new rules for seasonal and perishable products, such as fruits and vegetables, which would establish a separate domestic industry provision for perishable and seasonal products in anti-dumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) proceedings. This could protect certain U.S. seasonal fruit and vegetable products by making it easier to initiate trade remedy cases...

Funding Gaps and Government Shutdowns: CRS Experts

Contacting CRS Subject Matter Experts

In the event of a funding gap, the potential impacts of a government shutdown would depend on a program’s or agency’s specific circumstances and, furthermore, how relevant law is interpreted. Table 1 provides names and contact information for CRS subject matter experts on policy concerns and legal issues relating to funding gaps and the processes and effects that may be associated with a government shutdown. Policy areas that are identified in Table 1 include

agencies and programs funded by specific regular appropriations bills;

cross-cutting shutdown...

Potential Effects of a U.S. NAFTA Withdrawal: Agricultural Markets

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) entered into force on January 1, 1994, establishing a free trade area as part of a comprehensive economic and trade agreement among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Currently, the United States is renegotiating the agreement. However, repeated threats by President Trump to abandon NAFTA and other actions by the Administration as part of ongoing efforts to “modernize” NAFTA have raised concerns that the United States could withdraw from NAFTA. Although some U.S. agricultural sectors support NAFTA renegotiation and efforts to address...

Renegotiating NAFTA and U.S. Textile Manufacturing

When the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was negotiated more than two decades ago, textiles and apparel were among the industrial sectors most sensitive to the agreement’s terms. NAFTA, which was implemented on January 1, 1994, has encouraged the integration of textile and apparel production in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. For example, under NAFTA’s “yarn-forward” rule of origin, textiles and apparel benefit from tariff-free treatment in all three countries if the production of yarn, fabric, and apparel, with some exceptions, is done within North America.

The United...

USDA Export Market Development and Export Credit Programs: Selected Issues

Agricultural exports are important to both farmers and the U.S. economy. With the productivity of U.S. agriculture growing faster than domestic demand, farmers and agriculturally oriented firms rely heavily on export markets to sustain prices and revenue. The 2014 farm bill (Agricultural Act of 2014, P.L. 113-79) authorizes a number of programs to promote farm exports that are administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). There are two main types of agricultural trade and export promotion programs:

Export market development programs assist efforts to build, maintain, and...

Overview of Continuing Appropriations for FY2018 (P.L. 115-56)

This report provides an analysis of the continuing appropriations provisions for FY2018 in Division D of H.R. 601. The measure also included separate divisions that establish a program to provide foreign assistance concerning basic education (Division A—Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act), supplemental appropriations for disaster relief requirements for FY2017 (Division B), and a temporary suspension of the public debt limit (Division C). On September 8, 2017, the President signed H.R. 601 into law (P.L. 115-56).

Division D of H.R. 601 was termed a “continuing...

U.S. Farm Income Outlook for 2017

According to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), national net farm income—a key indicator of U.S. farm well-being—is forecast at $63.4 billion in 2017, up 3% from last year. The forecast rise in 2017 net farm income comes after three consecutive years of decline from 2013’s record high of $123.8 billion. Net farm income is calculated on an accrual basis. Net cash income (calculated on a cash-flow basis) is also projected to be up in 2017 but by a larger share (12.6%), driven largely by sales from previous years’ inventory, to $100.4 billion.

The 2017 net farm income forecast is...

Wildfires: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to wildfires. Policy areas identified include federal wildfire policy; federal forest management; federal firefighting assistance; federal emergency management policy; federal preparedness system and response plan; hazard mitigation; armed forces and national guard assistance; supplemental disaster funding; and disaster insurance.

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to wildfires. Policy areas identified...

Flooding Events: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to flooding events in the United States. Policy areas identified include disaster assistance and recovery matters extending to impacts such as displaced residents and business, losses in agricultural production, disruptions in transportation (river, rail, and highway), problems with water treatment and supply; responses and recovery operations such as disaster declarations and federal assistance, public health provisions, federal flood insurance, agricultural disaster relief and...

Natural Disasters and Hazards: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to natural disasters and hazards in the United States. Policy areas identified include disaster assistance and recovery matters extending to impacts such as displaced residents and business, losses in agricultural production, disruptions in transportation (river, rail, and highway), problems with water treatment and supply; responses and recovery operations such as disaster declarations and federal assistance, public health provisions, federal flood insurance, agricultural...

Hurricane Events: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to hurricane events in the United States. Policy areas identified include disaster assistance and recovery matters extending to impacts such as displaced residents and business, , disruptions in the energy sector and transportation, problems with water treatment and supply; responses and recovery operations such as disaster declarations and federal assistance, public health provisions, federal flood insurance, agricultural disaster relief and assistance, tax relief,...

Who Regulates Whom? An Overview of the U.S. Financial Regulatory Framework

The financial regulatory system has been described as fragmented, with multiple overlapping regulators and a dual state-federal regulatory system. The system evolved piecemeal, punctuated by major changes in response to various historical financial crises. The most recent financial crisis also resulted in changes to the regulatory system through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act; P.L. 111-203) and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA; P.L. 110-289). To address the fragmented nature of the system, the Dodd-Frank Act created...

Public Health and Emergency Management: CRS Experts

The following table provides names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to public health and emergency management. Policy areas identified include public health and medical system preparedness and response; mental and behavioral health; food safety and food defense; health care financing in disaster response; Stafford Act assistance and the role of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Department of Defense (DOD) incident response and civil support; global health and international preparedness; selected legal issues in preparedness and response;...

Farm Safety-Net Payments Under the 2014 Farm Bill: Comparison by Program Crop

The 2014 farm bill (Agricultural Act of 2014, P.L. 113-79) authorizes farm safety-net programs for the five crop years of 2014 through 2018. This includes revenue support for 20 “covered commodities” under either the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program or the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program and interim financing and floor price support for an expanded list of 24 “loan commodities” under the Marketing Assistance Loan (MAL) program. Outlays under the MAL, ARC, and PLC programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC).

In addition,...

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several programs to help farmers recover financially from natural disasters, including drought and floods. All the programs have permanent authorization, and only one requires a federal disaster designation (the emergency loan program). Most programs receive mandatory funding amounts that are “such sums as necessary” and are not subject to annual discretionary appropriations.

The federal crop insurance program offers subsidized policies designed to protect crop producers from unavoidable risks associated with adverse weather and...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2017 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except for the Forest Service. It also funds the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and—in even-numbered fiscal years—the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). (For CFTC, the Agriculture appropriations subcommittee has jurisdiction in the House but not in the Senate.)

Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Discretionary amounts, though, are the primary focus during the bill’s development, since mandatory amounts are generally set by authorizing laws such as the...

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and U.S. Agriculture

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) entered into force on January 1, 1994, establishing a free trade area as part of a comprehensive economic and trade agreement among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. President Trump has repeatedly stated that he intends to either renegotiate or withdraw from NAFTA. In May 2017, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) formally notified Congress of the Administration’s intent to renegotiate NAFTA. Reactions to the announcement have been mixed, with some industries supporting NAFTA “modernization” as a way to address a range of trade concerns,...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2017

President Obama’s budget request for FY2017 included $152.333 billion for research and development (R&D), an increase of $6.195 billion (4.2%) over the estimated FY2016 enacted R&D funding level of $146.138 billion.

Funding for R&D is concentrated in a few departments and agencies. Under President Obama’s FY2017 budget request, seven federal agencies would have received 95.6% of total federal R&D funding, with the Department of Defense (47.8%) and the Department of Health and Human Services (21.5%) accounting for nearly 70% of all federal R&D funding.

In dollars, the largest increases in...

Selected Federal Water Activities: Agencies, Authorities, and Congressional Committees

Congress addresses numerous issues related to the nation’s water resources annually, and over time it has enacted hundreds of water-related federal laws. These laws—many of which are independent statutes—have been enacted at different points in the nation’s history and during various economic climates. They were developed by multiple congressional committees with varying jurisdictions. Such committees are involved in legislating, funding, and overseeing the water-related activities of numerous federal agencies. These activities include responding to natural disasters such as droughts and...

Science and Technology Issues in the 115th Congress

Science and technology (S&T) have a pervasive influence over a wide range of issues confronting the nation. Public and private research and development spur scientific and technological advancement. Such advances can drive economic growth, help address national priorities, and improve health and quality of life. The constantly changing nature and ubiquity of science and technology frequently create public policy issues of congressional interest.

The federal government supports scientific and technological advancement directly by funding and performing research and development and...

21st Century U.S. Energy Sources: A Primer

Since the start of the 21st century, the U.S. energy system has seen tremendous changes. Technological advances in energy production have driven changes in energy consumption, and the United States has moved from being a growing net importer of most forms of energy to a declining importer—and possibly a net exporter in the near future. The United States remains the second largest consumer of energy in the world, behind China.

The U.S. oil and natural gas industry has gone through a “renaissance” of production. Technological improvements in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have...

FY2017 Agriculture and Related Agencies Appropriations: In Brief

The Agriculture appropriations bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), except for the Forest Service. It also funds the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and—in even-numbered fiscal years—the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). (For CFTC, the Agriculture appropriations subcommittee has jurisdiction in the House but not in the Senate.)

Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Discretionary amounts, though, are the primary focus during the bill’s development, since mandatory amounts are generally set by authorizing laws such as the...

NASS and U.S. Crop Production Forecasts: Methods and Issues

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates agricultural production (including area and yield) and stocks for more than 120 crops and 45 livestock items. Traditionally NASS estimates have focused on state and national data, but in recent years county-level estimates have gained in importance. NASS crop production estimates are crucial to people in the U.S. agricultural sector involved in making marketing and investment decisions, policymakers who design farm support programs, USDA agents who implement those programs, and...

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): Appropriations Status

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is the principal government agency responsible for renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency efforts. EERE works with industry, academia, national laboratories, and others to conduct research and development (R&D) and to issue grants to state governments. EERE oversees nearly a dozen technologies and programs—from vehicle technologies to solar energy to advanced manufacturing to weatherization and intergovernmental programs—each with its own respective mission and program goals.

EERE...

Geographical Indications (GIs) in U.S. Food and Agricultural Trade

Geographical indications (GIs) are place names used to identify products that come from these places and to protect the quality and reputation of a distinctive product originating in a certain region. The term is most often applied to wines, spirits, and agricultural products. Some food producers benefit from the use of GIs by giving certain foods recognition for their distinctiveness, differentiating them from other foods in the marketplace. In this manner, GIs can be commercially valuable. GIs may be eligible for relief from acts of infringement or unfair competition. GIs may also...

Previewing a 2018 Farm Bill

Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in an omnibus farm bill. The 115th Congress faces reauthorization of the 2014 farm bill—the Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79, H.Rept. 113-333)—because many of its provisions expire in 2018.

The 2014 farm bill is the most recent omnibus farm bill. It was enacted in February 2014 and succeeded the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246, “2008 farm bill”). In recent decades, the breadth of farm bills has steadily grown to include new and expanding food and agricultural interests. The 2014 farm bill contains...

Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity

Industrial hemp is an agricultural commodity that is cultivated for use in the production of a wide range of products, including foods and beverages, cosmetics and personal care products, nutritional supplements, fabrics and textiles, yarns and spun fibers, paper, construction and insulation materials, and other manufactured goods. Hemp can be grown as a fiber, seed, or other dual-purpose crop. However, hemp is also from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa, as marijuana. As a result, production in the United States is restricted due to hemp’s association with marijuana, and the U.S....

Defining “Industrial Hemp”: A Fact Sheet

Botanically, industrial hemp and marijuana are from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa, but from different varieties or cultivars. However, industrial hemp and marijuana are genetically distinct forms of cannabis that are distinguished by their use and chemical makeup as well as by differing cultivation practices in their production. While marijuana generally refers primarily to the psychotropic drug (whether used for medicinal or recreational purposes), industrial hemp is cultivated for use in the production of a wide range of products, including foods and beverages, personal care...

Major Agricultural Trade Issues in the 115th Congress

Trade, particularly exports, is critical to the vitality of American agriculture. On average, foreign markets absorb about one-fifth of U.S. agricultural production, thus contributing significantly to the health of the farm economy. The positive economic effects of trade in farm products are felt well beyond the farm gate. Farm product exports make up about 10% of total U.S. exports and contribute positively to the U.S. balance of trade. The economic benefits of agricultural exports also extend across rural communities, while overseas farm sales help to buoy a wide array of industries...

Farm Bill: CRS Experts

The 115th Congress faces reauthorization of the current five-year farm bill—the Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79)—because many of its provisions expire in 2018. The following table provides names and contact information for CRS experts on policy issues related to the farm bill. Numerous agricultural and food issues are addressed in the farm bill, including farm commodity support, conservation, international food aid and agricultural trade, nutrition assistance, farm credit, rural development, agricultural research, forestry, bioenergy, horticulture and organic agriculture, crop...

U.S. Farm Program Eligibility and Payment Limits

Current U.S. farm program participants—whether individuals or multi-person legal entities—must meet specific eligibility requirements to receive benefits under certain farm programs. Some requirements are common across most programs while others are specific to individual programs. In addition, program participants are subject to annual payment limits that vary across different combinations of farm programs. Federal farm support programs, along with their current eligibility requirements and payment limits, are listed in Table 1.

Since 1970, Congress has used varying policies to address...

Invasive Species: Major Laws and the Role of Selected Federal Agencies

An “invasive” species (alternatively known as an alien, exotic, injurious, introduced or naturalized, non-native, nonindigenous, nuisance, or noxious species) refers to an animal or plant that is introduced into an environment where it is not native. The introduction of invasive species to the United States—whether deliberate or unintentional—from around the globe can pose a significant threat to native animal and plant communities, and may result in extinctions of native animals and plants, species disruptions as native and non-native species compete for limited resources, reduced...

Water Resource Issues in the 115th Congress

The 115th Congress faces various water resource development, management, and protection issues. Water resource activities generally encompass navigation improvements, flood damage reduction measures, water supply augmentation, hydropower generation, and aquatic ecosystem restoration. Congressional actions shape reinvestment in aging federal infrastructure (e.g., dams, locks, and levees) and federal and nonfederal investment in new projects. The principal agencies involved in federal water resource infrastructure are the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Department of the...

Defining “Specialty Crops”: A Fact Sheet

“Specialty crops” refer to “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture)” as defined in statute by the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004, as amended (P.L. 108-465, 7 U.S.C. 1621 note). The statutory definition of specialty crops ties to program eligibility and funding allocations for a number of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs providing marketing and research assistance to eligible producer groups. USDA’s list of eligible and ineligible products under the statutory definition is not intended to be all...

The U.S.-EU Beef Hormone Dispute

The United States and the European Union (EU) have engaged in a long-standing and acrimonious trade dispute over the EU’s decision to ban hormone-treated meat. Despite an ongoing series of dispute settlement proceedings and decisions by the World Trade Organization (WTO), there is continued disagreement between the United States and the EU on a range of legal and procedural issues, as well as the scientific evidence and consensus concerning the safety of hormone-treated beef. To date, the EU continues to ban imports of hormone-treated meat and restricts most meat exports to the European...

U.S.-EU Poultry Dispute on the Use of Pathogen Reduction Treatments (PRTs)

In January 2009, the United States escalated a long-running dispute with the European Union (EU) over its refusal to accept imports of U.S. poultry treated with certain pathogen reduction treatments (PRTs) by requesting World Trade Organization (WTO) consultations with the EU on the matter, a prerequisite first step toward the establishment of a formal WTO dispute settlement panel. This dispute dates back to 1997, when the EU first banned the use of PRTs on poultry, effectively shutting out virtually all imports from the United States since then. This WTO case has not moved forward.

PRTs...

Wetlands: An Overview of Issues

Recent Congresses have considered numerous policy topics that involve wetlands. Many reflect issues of long-standing interest, such as applying federal regulations on private lands, wetland loss rates, and restoration and creation accomplishments.

The issue receiving the greatest attention recently has been determining which wetlands should be included and excluded from requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA), especially the Section 404 permit program that regulates waste discharges affecting wetlands, which is administered by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection...

EPA and the Army Corps’ Rule to Define “Waters of the United States”

On May 27, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) jointly announced a final rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The rule revises regulations that have been in place for more than 25 years. Revisions are being made in light of 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court rulings that interpreted the regulatory scope of the CWA more narrowly than the agencies and lower courts were then doing, and created uncertainty about the appropriate scope of waters protected under the CWA.

According to the agencies, the new...

Overview of Further Continuing Appropriations for FY2017 (H.R. 2028)

This report is an analysis of the provisions in H.R. 2028, which provides further continuing appropriations for FY2017 through April 28, 2017. The measure also included appropriations for the remainder of the fiscal year for Overseas Contingency Operations in the Security Assistance Appropriations Act (Division B). On December 10, 2016, the President signed H.R. 2028 into law (P.L. 114-254).

Division A of H.R. 2028 was termed a “continuing resolution” (CR) because it provided temporary authority for federal agencies and programs to continue spending in FY2017 in the same manner as a...

The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer

Numerous federal, state, and local agencies share responsibilities for regulating the safety of the U.S. food supply. Federal responsibility for food safety rests primarily with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). FDA, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for ensuring the safety of all domestic and imported food products (except for most meats and poultry). FDA also has oversight of all seafood, fish, and shellfish products. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulates most meat and poultry...

Implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA, P.L. 111-353)

Congress passed comprehensive food safety legislation in December 2010 (FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA, P.L. 111-353), representing the largest expansion and overhaul of U.S. food safety authorities since the 1930s. FSMA greatly expanded food safety oversight authority at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Among its many provisions, FSMA expanded FDA’s authority to conduct a mandatory recall of contaminated food products; enhanced surveillance systems to investigate foodborne illness outbreaks; established new...

Generalized System of Preferences: Agricultural Imports

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) provides duty-free tariff treatment for certain products from designated developing countries. Agricultural imports under GSP totaled $2.6 billion in 2015, nearly 15% of the value of all U.S. GSP imports. Leading agricultural imports (based on value) include processed foods and food processing inputs; beverages and drinking waters; processed and fresh fruits and vegetables; sugar and sugar confectionery; olive oil; and miscellaneous food preparations and inputs for further processing. The majority of these imports are from Thailand, Brazil,...

The U.S. Trade Situation for Fruit and Vegetable Products

Over the last decade, there has been a growing U.S. trade deficit in fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. Although U.S. fruit and vegetable exports totaled $6.3 billion in 2015, U.S. imports of fruits and vegetables were $17.6 billion, resulting in a gap between imports and exports of $11.4 billion (excludes nuts and processed nut products). This trade deficit has generally widened over time as growth in imports has outpaced export growth. As a result, the United States has gone from being a net exporter of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables in the early 1970s to being a net...

Methane: An Introduction to Emission Sources and Reduction Strategies

The Obama Administration’s Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions

On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced a national “Climate Action Plan” (CAP) to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs), as well as to encourage adaptation to expected climate change. One of the initiatives within the CAP focused on the control of methane emissions, a potent short-lived climate pollutant. It called for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, the Interior, Labor, and Transportation to develop a comprehensive interagency...

USDA’s Actively Engaged in Farming (AEF) Requirement

In 1987, Congress enacted what is commonly known as the Farm Program Payments Integrity Act (Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, P.L. 100-203, §§1301-1307), which requires that an individual or legal entity be “actively engaged in farming” (AEF) to be eligible for federal commodity revenue-support programs. AEF requirements apply equally to U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and foreign entities. Designing a transparent and comprehensive AEF definition has proven difficult and has evolved over the years. The current set of laws and rules governing farm program eligibility—particularly...

Irrigation in U.S. Agriculture: On-Farm Technologies and Best Management Practices

Recent threats to water availability as a result of moderate to exceptional drought in several states have raised questions about agricultural water use and efficiencies across the United States. An understanding of common irrigation technologies and the impacts of best management practices in irrigation may be useful to Congress concerning potential policy responses to this issue. As a major user of water, the agricultural industry’s use of water resources continues to be a focal point of agriculture policy. Additional demands on water supplies, extreme weather events (e.g., prolonged...

Farm and Food Support Under USDA’s Section 32 Program

“Section 32” is a permanent appropriation that since 1935 has set aside the equivalent of 30% of annual customs receipts to support the farm sector through the purchase of surplus commodities and a variety of other activities. The appropriation has totaled nearly $10 billion annually in recent years. Today, most of the appropriation (about $8.4 billion) is transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) child nutrition account, with a separate amount (about $144 million) transferred to the Department of Commerce for fisheries activities. The Secretary of Agriculture, acting...

Overview of Continuing Appropriations for FY2017 (H.R. 5325)

The purpose of this report is to provide an analysis of the continuing appropriations provisions for FY2017 in H.R. 5325. The measure also included provisions covering appropriations in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill for all of FY2017 (Division A), as well as emergency funds to combat the Zika virus and provide relief for flood victims in Louisiana and other affected states (Division B). On September 29, 2016, the President signed H.R. 5325 into law (P.L. 114-223).

Division C of H.R. 5325 was termed a “continuing resolution” (CR) because measures to...

Agricultural Research: Background and Issues

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area has the primary federal responsibility of advancing scientific knowledge for agriculture through research, education, and extension. USDA REE responsibilities are carried out by four agencies: the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Economic Research Service (ERS), and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). USDA conducts its own research and administers extramural federal funding to states and local partners primarily...

Conservation Compliance and U.S. Farm Policy

The Food Security Act of 1985 (P.L. 99-198, 1985 farm bill) included a number of significant agricultural conservation provisions designed to reduce farm production and conserve soil and water resources. Many of the provisions remain in effect today, including the two compliance provisions—highly erodible land conservation (sodbuster) and wetland conservation (swampbuster). The two provisions, collectively referred to as conservation compliance, require that in exchange for certain U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program benefits, a producer agrees to maintain a minimum level of...

U.S. Peanut Program and Issues

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the United States is expected to be the fourth-largest producer and third-largest exporter of peanuts in the world in 2016. In addition to its prominent role in international markets, U.S. peanut production and marketing is an important activity in several states located in the southeastern and southwestern United States. The U.S. peanut crop has been eligible for certain federal farm support programs since the 1930s—initially under a quota system and, since 2002, under the income support programs available for other major program...

U.S. Agricultural Trade with Cuba: Current Limitations and Future Prospects

After more than half a century during which trade relations between the United States and Cuba have evolved from a tight economic embargo to a narrow window of trade in U.S. agricultural and medical products, the diplomatic initiative that President Obama announced in December 2014 to restore more normal relations with Cuba has raised the possibility that bilateral relations could move toward an expansion in commercial opportunities.

Many U.S. agricultural and food industry interests believe the Cuban market could offer meaningful export expansion potential for their products—but only if...

U.S. International Food Aid Programs: Background and Issues

For almost six decades, the United States has played a leading role in global efforts to alleviate hunger and malnutrition and to enhance world food security through international food assistance—traditionally through either the donation or sale on concessional terms of U.S. agricultural commodities but in recent years also by direct cash transfers targeting emergency situations and by investing in host-country nutrition and agricultural development activities.

Historically, U.S. international food assistance has been distributed through four main program authorities: (1) the Food for...

U.S. Textile Manufacturing and the Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Textiles are a sensitive sector in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement that would establish a free-trade zone across the Pacific if it is approved by Congress and foreign governments. Because the TPP includes Vietnam, a major apparel producer that now mainly sources yarns and fabrics from China and other Asian nations, the agreement could shift global trading patterns for textiles and demand for U.S. textile exports. Canada and Mexico, both significant regional textile markets for the United States, and Japan, a major manufacturer of high-end textiles and industrial fabrics,...

Sage-Grouse Conservation: Background and Issues

The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a squat, feathered, chicken-like bird that is currently found in 11 western states. For more than 25 years, there has been considerable controversy concerning whether to list sage-grouse for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205).

On October 2, 2015, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS, Department of the Interior) published its decision not to list the greater sage-grouse as threatened or endangered under ESA. Under the act, one of the factors that can lead to a listing is the inadequacy of existing regulatory...

Overview of Funding Mechanisms in the Federal Budget Process, and Selected Examples

Every year, Congress considers numerous pieces of legislation that would create or modify federal government programs and activities. The variety of approaches used across the federal budget to fund these programs and activities involve different timelines for budgetary decisionmaking, and different processes (and committees) within Congress to make those decisions. How a particular funding mechanism is structured requires tradeoffs between the frequency of congressional review and the predictability of funding for the program. The purpose of this report is to explain these approaches,...

Wildfire Management Appropriations: Data, Trends, and Issues

The Forest Service (FS, in the U.S. Department of Agriculture) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) are the two primary federal entities tasked with wildland fire management activities. Federal wildland fire management includes activities such as preparedness, suppression, fuel reduction, and site rehabilitation, among others. Approximately 10.1 million acres burned during the 2015 wildfire season, which was more than the acreage burned in 2014 (3.6 million acres) and 2013 (4.3 million acres) combined and represents the largest acreage burned since modern record-keeping began in 1960....

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers

The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers (TAAF) program provides technical assistance and cash benefits to producers of farm commodities and fishermen who experience adverse economic effects from increased imports. Congress first authorized this program in 2002, and made significant changes to it in the 2009 economic stimulus package (P.L. 111-5). The 2009 revisions were aimed at making it easier for farmers and fishermen to qualify for program benefits, and provided over $200 million in funding through December 2010. Subsequently, P.L. 112-40 (enacted in October 2011) authorized $202.5...

Energy Legislation: Comparison of Selected Provisions in S. 2012 as Passed by the House and Senate

Congress most recently enacted major energy legislation in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-140). The 114th Congress is currently considering new legislation to address broad energy issues. On April 20, 2016, the Senate passed an amended version of S. 2012, the Energy Policy and Modernization Act. On December 3, 2015, the House passed an amended version of H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015. On May 25, 2016, the House passed an amended version of S. 2012 which contains the text of H.R. 8, as well as the text of several other...

The Obama Administration’s Feed the Future Initiative

The Obama Administration’s Feed the Future (FTF) Initiative is a U.S. international development program launched in 2010 that invests in food security and agricultural development activities in a select group of developing countries in an effort to reduce hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and food insecurity. The bulk of FTF funding supports 19 “focus countries” selected based on country ownership potential, needs, and opportunities to achieve success. FTF supports additional countries under aligned and regional programs and through assistance to three “strategic partners”—Brazil, India, and...

The U.S. Wine Industry and Selected Trade Issues with the European Union

Global wine production totaled roughly 28 billion liters in 2014. The European Union (EU) dominates world production, accounting for nearly 60% of all wine produced each year. France, Italy, and Spain are among the principal EU wine-producing countries. The United States is the world’s second-largest wine-producing region, accounting for about 10% of global production. The value of world trade in wine totaled more than $21 billion in 2013. The EU accounted for nearly 60% of the world’s export market for wine, valued at $12 billion in 2013. Other exporting nations include Australia, Chile,...

Agriculture and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) Negotiations

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) is a potential reciprocal free trade agreement being negotiated between the United States and the European Union (EU). Formal negotiations began in July 2013. Through the negotiations, both sides are seeking to liberalize transatlantic trade and investment, set globally relevant rules and disciplines that could boost economic growth, support multilateral trade liberalization through the World Trade Organization (WTO), and address third-country trade policy challenges. Agricultural issues have been an active topic of debate in the...

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Key Provisions and Issues for Congress

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) among 12 Asia-Pacific countries, with both economic and strategic significance for the United States. The proposed agreement is perhaps the most ambitious FTA undertaken by the United States in terms of its size, the breadth and depth of its commitments, its potential evolution, and its geo-political significance. Signed on February 4, 2016, after several years of negotiations, if implemented, TPP would be the largest FTA in which the United States participates, and would eliminate trade barriers and establish new...

EU Agricultural Support: Overview and Comparison with the United States

The European Union (EU) is one of the United States’ chief agricultural trading partners but also a major competitor in world markets. Historically, both the United States and the EU have provided significant government support for their agricultural sectors. In the United States, federal farm policy has traditionally focused on price and/or income support programs concentrated on row crops including grains, oilseeds, and cotton as well as sugar and dairy. In contrast, the EU provides more extensive support to a broader range of farm and food products—including livestock products and fresh...

Hydropower: Comparison of Selected Provisions in S. 2012, as Engrossed in the House, and S. 2012, as Engrossed in the Senate

In the 114th Congress, the House and Senate have passed energy legislation that addresses hydropower. Both the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2016 (S. 2012, as engrossed in the House) and the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S. 2012, as engrossed in the Senate) contain provisions that would alter the regulation and development of nonfederal hydropower, among other things. Both bills would establish a formal timeline for nonfederal hydropower project regulation, would appoint the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as the lead agency for nonfederal...

Farm Credit System

The Farm Credit System (FCS) is a nationwide financial cooperative lending to agricultural and aquatic producers, rural homeowners, and certain agriculture-related businesses and cooperatives. Established in 1916, this government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) has a statutory mandate to serve agriculture. It receives tax benefits but no federal appropriations or guarantees. FCS is the only direct lender among the GSEs. Farmer Mac, a separate GSE but regulated under the umbrella of FCS, is a secondary market for farm loans. Federal oversight by the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) provides for...

Agricultural Exports and 2014 Farm Bill Programs: Background and Current Issues

U.S. agricultural exports have long been a bright spot in the U.S. balance of trade, with exports exceeding imports in every year since 1960. But the trend of recent years—increasing export sales and a wider agricultural trade surplus—was reversed in FY2015, and the reversal is expected to be more pronounced in FY2016. After climbing to a record $152.3 billion in FY2014, U.S. farm exports declined to $139.7 billion in FY2015, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects a further reduction to $125 billion in FY2016. Meanwhile, the value of U.S. agricultural imports has continued...

U.S. Sugar Program Fundamentals

The U.S. sugar program provides a price support guarantee to producers of sugar beets and sugarcane and to the processors of both crops. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as program administrator, is directed to administer the program at no budgetary cost to the federal government by limiting the amount of sugar supplied for food use in the U.S. market. To achieve both objectives, USDA uses four tools—as reauthorized without change by the 2014 farm bill (P.L. 113-79) and found in chapter 17 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedules of the United States—to keep domestic market prices...

U.S. Trade Concepts, Performance, and Policy: Frequently Asked Questions

Congress plays a major role in U.S. trade policy through its legislative and oversight authority. There are a number of major trade issues that are currently the focus of Congress. For example, bills were introduced in the 113th Congress to reauthorize Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), and the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and legislative action on these issues could be forthcoming in the 114th Congress. Additionally, Congress has been involved with proposed free trade agreements (FTAs), including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) involving the...

Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling

Since the final rule to implement country-of-origin labeling (COOL) took effect in March 2009, most retail food stores have been required to inform consumers about the country of origin of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, shellfish, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, ginseng, and ground and muscle cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and goat. The rules were required by the 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) as amended by the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246). COOL for beef and pork resulted in a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement case with Canada and Mexico that started in 2009 and...

The Internet of Things: CRS Experts

“Internet of Things” (IoT) refers to networks of objects that communicate with other objects and with computers through the Internet. “Things” may include virtually any object for which remote communication, data collection, or control might be useful, such as meters, vehicles, appliances, medical devices, electric grids, transportation infrastructure, manufacturing equipment, or building systems. Although the full extent and nature of the IoT’s impacts remain uncertain, economic analyses predict that it will contribute trillions of dollars to economic growth over the next decade. Sectors...

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) Negotiations

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) is a potential reciprocal free trade agreement (FTA) that the United States and the European Union (EU) are negotiating with each other. Formal negotiations commenced in July 2013. Both sides initially aimed to conclude the negotiations in two years, but more recently have updated their timeline and aim to conclude the T-TIP by the end of 2016. Twelve rounds of T-TIP negotiations have occurred to date.

The United States and EU seek to enhance market access and trade disciplines by addressing remaining transatlantic barriers to...

Nutrients in Agricultural Production: A Water Quality Overview

Nutrients are elements essential to plant and animal growth. In agricultural production, the focus generally rests on the three primary macronutrients––nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K)—because of their relative abundance in plants. As crops grow and are harvested, they gradually remove the existing nutrients from the soil and over time will require additional nutrients to maintain or increase crop yield. When nutrients are added in excess of the plants’ ability to utilize them, there is an increased risk that the nutrients will enter the surrounding environment (water or...

Local Food Systems: Selected Farm Bill and Other Federal Programs

Sales of locally produced foods comprise a small but growing part of U.S. agricultural sales. Estimates vary but indicate that local food sales total between $4 billion to $12 billion annually. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that local food sales totaled $6.1 billion in 2012, reflecting sales from nearly 164,000 farmers selling locally marketed foods. This represents 8% of U.S. farms, and an estimated 1.5% of the value of total U.S. agricultural production. Most (85%) of all local-food farms are smaller in size, with gross revenues under $75,000.

Local and regional...

FY2016 Agriculture and Related Agencies Appropriations: In Brief

The Agriculture appropriations bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), except for the Forest Service. It also funds the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and—in even-numbered fiscal years—the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Discretionary amounts, though, are the primary focus during the bill’s development since mandatory amounts generally are set by authorizing laws such as the farm bill.

The largest discretionary spending items are the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women,...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2016 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), except for the Forest Service. It also funds the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and—in even-numbered fiscal years—the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Discretionary amounts, though, are the primary focus during the bill’s development since mandatory amounts generally are set by authorizing laws such as the farm bill.

The largest discretionary spending items are the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women,...

The Role of Local and Regional Food Systems in U.S. Farm Policy

Sales of locally produced foods comprise a small but growing part of U.S. agricultural sales. Estimates vary but indicate that local food sales total between $4 billion and $12 billion annually. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that local food sales totaled $6.1 billion in 2012, reflecting sales from nearly 164,000 farmers selling locally marketed foods. This represents 8% of U.S. farms and an estimated 1.5% of the value of total U.S. agricultural production. Most (85%) of all local-food farms are smaller in size, with gross revenues under $75,000.

A wide range of farm...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2016

President Obama’s budget request for FY2016 included $145.694 billion for research and development (R&D), an increase of $7.625 billion (5.5%) over the estimated FY2015 R&D funding level of $138.069 billion. The request represented the President’s R&D priorities.

Funding for R&D is concentrated in a few departments and agencies. Under President Obama’s FY2016 budget request, seven federal agencies would have received 95.6% of total federal R&D funding, with the Department of Defense (DOD, 49.5%) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS, 21.3%) accounting for more than 70% of...

Is Biopower Carbon Neutral?

To promote energy diversity and improve energy security, Congress has expressed interest in biopower—electricity generated from biomass. Biopower, a baseload power source, can be produced from a large range of biomass feedstocks nationwide (e.g., urban, agricultural, and forestry wastes and residues). The two most common biopower processes are combustion (e.g., direct-fired or co-fired) and gasification, with the former being the most widely used. Proponents have stated that biopower has the potential to strengthen rural economies, enhance energy security, and minimize the environmental...

Biopower: Background and Federal Support

Biopower—a form of renewable energy—is the generation of electric power from biomass feedstocks. In 2014, Biopower comprised about 1.6% of total U.S. electricity generation and accounted for close to 12% of U.S. renewable electricity generation. Its advantages include a potential for baseload power production, greenhouse gas emission reduction, and use of renewable biomass feedstock, among other things. Its disadvantages include uncertain sustainable feedstock supply and infrastructure concerns, among other things.

Recent developments have prompted renewed interest in biopower. For...

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): In Brief

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) among 12 Asia-Pacific countries, with both economic and strategic significance for the United States. If approved, it would be the largest FTA in which the United States participates. The 12 countries announced the conclusion of the TPP negotiations and released the text of the agreement in late 2015, after several years of ongoing talks. Trade ministers from the TPP countries signed the final agreement on February 4, 2016, but Congress would need to pass implementing legislation for the agreement to enter into...

FY2016 Appropriations: Selected Federal Food Safety Agencies

The Subcommittees on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees oversee the budgets of two principal federal food safety agencies at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). FDA, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for ensuring the safety of the majority of all domestic and imported food products (except for meat and poultry products). FSIS, an agency at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, regulates most meat,...

USDA’s “GIPSA Rule” on Livestock and Poultry Marketing Practices

The 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246) included new provisions that amended the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act) to give poultry and swine growers the right to cancel contracts, to require that poultry processors clearly disclose to growers additional required capital investments, to set the choice of law and venue in contract disputes, and to give poultry and swine growers the right to decline an arbitration clause that requires arbitration to resolve contract disputes. The farm bill required USDA to propose rules to implement these provisions.

On June 22, 2010, the U.S. Department of...

Big Data in U.S. Agriculture

Recent media and industry reports have employed the term big data as a key to the future of increased food production and sustainable agriculture. A recent hearing on the private elements of big data in agriculture suggests that Congress too is interested in potential opportunities and challenges big data may hold. While there appears to be great interest, the subject of big data is complex and often misunderstood, especially within the context of agriculture.

There is no commonly accepted definition of the term big data. It is often used to describe a modern trend in which the combination...

Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Final Rule for 2014, 2015, and 2016

This report discusses the final rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which was released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While the rule contains wide-ranging information, most stakeholders are primarily concerned with the annual volume amounts for total renewable fuel, advanced biofuel, cellulosic biofuel, and biomass-based diesel.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): Authorizations of Appropriations Proposed by the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 (S. 2012)

Search terms: S. 2012, H.R. 8, energy efficiency, renewable energy, Department of Energy, EISA, P.L. 110-140 (Hide summary)

Reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) Act in the 114th Congress

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA's) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) collected livestock and meat price and related market information from meat packers on a voluntary basis under the authority of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (7 U.S.C. §1621 et seq.). However, as the livestock industry became increasingly concentrated in the 1990s, fewer animals were sold through negotiated (cash; or “spot”) purchases and more frequently sold under alternative marketing arrangements that were not publicly disclosed under voluntary reporting. Some livestock producers, believing such...

U.S. Grain Standards Act: Reauthorization in the 114th Congress

Under the United States Grain Standards Act (USGSA) of 1916, the federal government is authorized to establish official marketing standards (not health and safety standards) for grains and oilseeds, and to provide procedures for grain inspection and weighing. To encourage the marketing of high-quality grain for an agriculture sector that is highly dependent on export demand, the USGSA requires that exported grains and oilseeds be officially inspected (if sold by grade) and weighed. Domestic shipments do not require official inspection and weighing, but the service is available and is often...

Congressional Efforts to Reduce Restrictions on Growing Industrial Hemp

This report briefly discusses U.S. agricultural policies regarding the industrial use of hemp.

Meat Animal Research Center: The Animal Welfare Act and Farm Animal Research

On January 19, 2015, the New York Times (NYT) published an exposé of research activities at the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center located near Clay Center, Nebraska. The Center is a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) facility overseen by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS). A veterinarian, who had worked at the Center for 24 years, approached the newspaper after his concerns about animal welfare conditions apparently went unanswered by the Center. The news article described “unsanitary housing and brutal treatment of pigs; violent forced mating between bulls and...

Drought in the United States: CRS Experts

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R42610 Summary Drought is commonly defined as a lack of precipitation over an extended period of time, usually a season or more, relative to some long-term average condition. While the technology and science to predict droughts have improved, regional predictions remain limited to a few months in advance. History suggests that severe and extended droughts are inevitable and part of natural climate cycles. The physical conditions causing drought in the United States are increasingly understood to be linked to sea surface temperatures (SSTs)...

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Cellulosic Biofuels

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41106 Summary The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was established under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct05, P.L. 109-58), and was later expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA; P.L. 110-140), in accordance with efforts at that time to reduce dependence on foreign oil, promote biofuel use, and stabilize transportation fuel prices, among other goals. Over 15 years, the RFS requires that increasing amounts of biofuels—36 billion gallons by 2022—be used in transportation fuel. The mandate is to be accomplished...

Farm Safety Net Programs: Background and Issues

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) operates several programs that supplement the income of farmers and ranchers in times of low farm prices and natural disasters. Federal crop insurance, farm programs, and disaster assistance are collectively called the farm safety net.

Federal crop insurance is often referred to as the centerpiece of the farm safety net because of its cost and broad scope for addressing natural disasters. The program is permanently authorized and makes available subsidized insurance for more than 130 commodities (ranging from apples to wheat) to help farmers...

Federal Crop Insurance: Background

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R40532 Summary The federal crop insurance program began in 1938 when Congress authorized the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. The current program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), provides producers with risk management tools to address crop yield and/or revenue losses for about 130 crops. The federal farm safety net also includes the farm commodity support programs, which provide price and income support for a much narrower list of “covered and loan commodities” such as corn,...

Agricultural Biotechnology: Background, Regulation, and Policy Issues

Biotechnology refers primarily to the use of recombinant DNA techniques to genetically modify or bioengineer plants and animals. Most crops developed through recombinant DNA technology have been engineered to be tolerant of various herbicides or to be pest resistant through having a pesticide genetically engineered into the plant organism. U.S. soybean, cotton, and corn farmers have rapidly adopted genetically engineered (GE) varieties of these crops since their commercialization in the mid-1990s. Over the past 15 years, GE varieties in the United States have increased from 3.6 million...

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza: Ongoing Outbreak

This report gives a brief overview of the pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which as of May 15, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reported 168 cases.

Invasive Species: Control Options and Issues for Congress

For the first few centuries after the arrival of Europeans in North America, plants and animals of many species were sent between the two land masses. The transfer of non-natives consisted not only of intentional westbound species ranging from pigs to dandelions but also of intentional eastbound species such as grey squirrels and tomatoes. And for those centuries, the remaining non-native species crossing the Atlantic, uninvited and often unwelcome, were ignored if they were noticed at all. They were joined by various species arriving deliberately or accidentally from Asia and Africa. The...

Science and Technology Issues in the 114th Congress

Science and technology (S&T) have a pervasive influence over a wide range of issues confronting the nation. Public and private research and development spur scientific and technological advancement. Such advances can drive economic growth, help address national priorities, and improve health and quality of life. The constantly changing nature and ubiquity of science and technology frequently create public policy issues of congressional interest.

The federal government supports scientific and technological advancement directly by funding research and development and indirectly by creating...

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. U.S. negotiators and others describe and envision the TPP as a “comprehensive and high-standard” FTA that aims to liberalize trade in nearly all goods and services and include rules-based commitments beyond those currently established in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The broad outline of an agreement was announced on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific...

Proposals to Reduce Premium Subsidies for Federal Crop Insurance

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43951 Summary Many farm policymakers generally consider the federal crop insurance program as the principal tool to help farmers cope with the variable impact of weather on crop yields. The program makes available subsidized policies that farmers may purchase each year to protect against yield and/or revenue declines during a particular growing season. Policies are available for about 130 commodities, covering crops supported by traditional farm programs (e.g., corn, wheat, and soybeans) as well as many fruits, vegetables, tree nuts,...

Climate Change Adaptation by Federal Agencies: An Analysis of Plans and Issues for Congress

Though Congress has debated the significance of global climate change and what federal policies, if any, should address them, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) since 2013 has identified the changing climate as one of the 30 most significant risks facing the federal government. President Obama established adaptation as a prominent part of his Climate Action Plan in June 2013. The November 2013 Executive Order 13653, Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change, directed agencies to undertake vulnerability assessments and planning for adaptation. The Administration...

Water Resource Issues in the 114th Congress

The 114th Congress faces many water resource development, management, and protection issues. Congressional actions shape reinvestment in aging federal infrastructure (e.g., dams, locks, and levees) and federal and nonfederal investment in new infrastructure, such as water supply augmentation, hydropower projects, navigation improvements, and efforts to restore aquatic ecosystems. These issues often arise at the regional or local levels but frequently have a federal connection. Ongoing issues include competition over water, drought and flood responses and policies, competitiveness and...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2015 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), except for the Forest Service. It includes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and—in the House and in even-numbered enacted fiscal years—the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The FY2015 Agriculture and Related Agencies appropriation was enacted as Division A of the FY2015 Consolidated Appropriations Act, P.L. 113-235 (December 16, 2014), an omnibus appropriation that included 11 of the 12 appropriations subcommittee bills. Although the fiscal year began under a continuing resolution, the...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2015

President Obama’s budget request for FY2015 included $135.352 billion for research and development (R&D), a $1.670 billion (1.2%) increase from the FY2014 level of $133.682 billion.

Funding for R&D is concentrated in a few departments and agencies. Under President Obama’s FY2015 budget request, seven federal agencies would have received 95.4% of total federal R&D funding, with the Department of Defense (DOD, 47.6%) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS, 23.0%) accounting for more than two-thirds of all federal R&D funding.

In addition to the FY2015 base budget request, the...

Water Resource Issues in the 114th Congress

Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP): Status and Issues

The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) is designed to assist the bioenergy industry to overcome the hurdle of continuous biomass availability—viewed as a critical deterrent to private sector investment in the cellulosic biofuels industry. To accomplish this, BCAP is charged with two tasks: (1) to support the establishment and production of eligible crops for conversion to bioenergy in selected areas, and (2) to assist agricultural and forest land owners and operators with collection, harvest, storage, and transportation (CHST) of eligible material for use in a biomass conversion...

EPA Delays Decision on 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard to 2015

This report discusses the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that sets the annual minimum use requirements for biofuels in the nation's transportation fuel supply.

Agriculture in the WTO Bali Ministerial Agreement

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43592 Summary At the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, December 3-7, 2013, ministers adopted the so-called Bali Package—a series of decisions aimed at streamlining trade (referred to as trade facilitation), allowing developing countries more options for providing food security, boosting least-developed-country trade, and helping development more generally. The Bali Package represents the first multilateral trade deal in nearly two decades; however, it covers only a small fraction of the...

The U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA): Provisions and Implementation

President Obama signed the legislation implementing the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) on October 21, 2011 (P.L. 112-41), and the Korean National Assembly passed the agreement on November 22, 2011. The KORUS FTA entered into force on March 15, 2012.

With the KORUS FTA now in force for over two years, focus has shifted from the debate over its passage to its implementation, economic impact, and effect on future U.S. FTAs. Some U.S. companies have argued that certain aspects of the KORUS agreement are not being implemented appropriately, citing issues related to rules of...

Dairy Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79)

The 2014 farm bill (P.L. 113-79), which was signed into law on February 7, 2014, makes significant changes to the structure of U.S. dairy support programs, including the elimination of several major price and income support programs from the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246), the extension of several smaller dairy programs, and the addition of two new programs.

Three of the principal dairy support programs under the 2008 farm bill—the Dairy Product Price Support Program (DPPSP), the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program, and the Dairy Export Incentives Program (DEIP)—are eliminated. These...

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP): Status and Issues

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provides payments to agricultural producers to take highly erodible and environmentally sensitive land out of production and install resource conserving practices for 10 or more years. CRP was first authorized in the Food Security Act of 1985 (P.L. 99-198, 1985 farm bill) and is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Farm Service Agency (FSA) with technical support from other USDA agencies. Participants offer land for enrollment through two types of sign-up: general and continuous. General sign-ups are competitive and only open...

U.S. Textile Manufacturing and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations

Textiles are a contentious and unresolved issue in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to establish a free-trade zone across the Pacific. Because the negotiating parties include Vietnam, a major apparel producer that now mainly sources yarns and fabrics from China and other Asian nations, the agreement has the potential to shift global trading patterns for textiles and demand for U.S. textile exports. Canada and Mexico, both significant regional textile markets for the United States, and Japan, a major manufacturer of high-end textiles and industrial fabrics, are also...

Border Security: CRS Experts

The following table lists the names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns related to border security. Policy areas identified include the following: Mission: scope, magnitude, relationship to departmental mission, functions and their interrelationships. Border surveillance: airports and air space; detection of nuclear and radiological materials; land borders; seaports and waterways. Immigration and foreign visitors: immigration; border “look out” systems; illegal entry; visa issuance and alien tracking. Transnational issues: border violence; foreign cooperation with...

The Role of Local Food Systems in U.S. Farm Policy

Fruits, Vegetables, and Other Specialty Crops: Selected Farm Bill and Federal Programs

U.S. farmers grow more than 350 types of fruit, vegetable, tree nut, flower, nursery, and other horticultural crops in addition to the major bulk commodity crops. Specialty crop producers are ineligible for the federal commodity price and income support programs that benefit commodity crop producers (e.g., grains and cotton); however, they are eligible for other types of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) support. Unlike federal support for commodity crops, support for specialty crops spans a wide range of existing USDA programs, many of which also provide support to other agricultural...

Climate Change: CRS Experts

Environmental Regulation and Agriculture

As the U.S. and global economies continue to struggle, some inside and outside of Congress have expressed concern about how environmental regulation may stifle growth and productivity. Much of the criticism has focused on environmental regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some claim that EPA is overreaching its regulatory authority and imposing costly and burdensome requirements on society. In general, the agriculture community, among others, has been vocal in its concerns, contending that EPA appears to be focusing some of its recent regulatory efforts on...

Conservation Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79)

The Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 farm bill, P.L. 113-79) was enacted on February 7, 2014. After years of debate and deliberation, the enacted 2014 farm bill included a number of changes to the Conservation title (Title II), including program consolidation and reauthorization, amendments to conservation compliance, and a reduction in overall funding. Debate on the 2014 farm bill focused on a number of controversial issues. While many did not consider conservation to be controversial, nonetheless, a number of policy issues shaped the final version of the title and ultimately its role in...

Crop Insurance Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79)

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43494 Summary The enacted 2014 farm bill (the Agricultural Act of 2014; P.L. 113-79) enhances the federal crop insurance program by expanding its scope, covering a greater share of farm losses, and making other modifications that broaden policy coverage. The changes stem from the desire of many in Congress, particularly members of the agriculture committees, to bolster what they consider to be the most significant aspect of the farm safety net. Under the federal crop insurance program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of...

Expiration and Extension of the 2008 Farm Bill

Farm bills, like many other pieces of legislation, have become more complicated and politically sensitive. They are taking longer to enact than in previous decades. Legislative delays have caused the past two farm bills (the 2002 and 2008 farm bills) to expire for short periods, and to be extended for months or a year while a new farm bill was developed.

The 2008 farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) expired twice; the first time was from October 1, 2012 through January 1, 2013, and the second time was from October 1, 2013, through February 6, 2014. Some...

Programs Without a Budget Baseline at the End of the 2008 Farm Bill

The 2008 farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246 provided mandatory funding for many programs. Some of these programs had budget baseline beyond the end of the farm bill in FY2012, while others did not. Those with continuing baseline essentially had built-in future funding if policy makers decided that the programs should continue.

However, 37 programs that received mandatory funds during the 2008 farm bill were not assumed to continue from a budgetary perspective because they did not have a budgetary baseline beyond FY2012. Notable programs among this...

Budget Issues That Shaped the 2014 Farm Bill

Congress returns to the farm bill about every five years to establish an omnibus policy for food and agriculture. Deficit reduction influenced the Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79; 2014 farm bill) throughout its legislative development. Related political dynamics sometimes forced Congress to make difficult choices concerning how much total support to provide for agriculture and nutrition, and how to allocate it among competing constituencies.

The farm bill authorizes programs in two spending categories: mandatory and discretionary. Mandatory programs generally operate as...

Sugar Program: The Basics

This report discusses the sugar program that provides a price guarantee to the processors of sugarcane and sugar beets, and in turn, to the producers of both crops.

Farm Commodity Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79)

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43448 Summary The farm commodity program provisions in Title I of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79, the 2014 farm bill) include three types of support for crop years 2014-2018: Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments, which are triggered when the national average farm price for a covered commodity (e.g., wheat, corn, soybeans, rice, and peanuts) is below its statutorily fixed “reference price”; Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) payments, as an alternative to PLC, which are triggered when crop revenue is below its guaranteed level based...

Sugar Provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79)

The 2014 farm bill (Agricultural Act of 2014, P.L. 113-79) continues the sugar and the sugar-to-ethanol programs without change for another five years (i.e., through FY2019). The sugar program provides a minimum price guarantee to sugar crop processors and is structured to operate at no cost to the federal government using two tools: marketing allotments that limit the amount that sugar processors can sell, and import quotas that restrict the quantity of foreign sugar allowed to enter the U.S. market. The sugar-to-ethanol program is intended to be used if marketing allotments and the...

Forestry Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79)

The Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79, the 2014 farm bill) was signed into law by President Obama on February 7, 2014, after both the House and Senate voted to approve a conference agreement. The 2014 farm bill establishes agricultural and food policy for the next several years, and also addresses several aspects of federal forestry policy.

Forestry provisions were included in the Forestry title (Title VIII) of the 2014 farm bill as well as in some of the other titles. The 2014 farm bill generally repeals, reauthorizes, and modifies existing forestry assistance programs and provisions...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2014 and FY2013 (Post-Sequestration) Appropriations

The annual Agriculture appropriations bill provides funding for all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in even-numbered fiscal years, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The FY2014 Agriculture and Related Agencies appropriations bill was included as Division A of the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, an omnibus appropriation that was enacted on January 17, 2014 (P.L. 113-76). It provides $20.880 billion of discretionary funding for agricultural and related programs. This is $1.165...

Free Trade Agreements: Impact on U.S. Trade and Implications for U.S. Trade Policy

Free trade areas (FTAs) are arrangements among two or more countries under which they agree to eliminate tariffs and nontariff barriers on trade in goods among themselves. However, each country maintains its own policies, including tariffs, on trade outside the region.

In the last few years, the United States has engaged or has proposed to engage in negotiations to establish bilateral and regional free trade arrangements with a number of trading partners. Such arrangements are not new in U.S. trade policy. The United States has had a free trade arrangement with Israel since 1985 and with...

Emergency Water Assistance During Drought: Federal Non-Agricultural Programs

Drought conditions often fuel congressional interest in federal assistance. While drought planning and preparedness are largely individual, business, local, and state responsibilities, some federal assistance is available to mitigate drought impacts. While much of the federal assistance is targeted at mitigating impacts on the agricultural economy, other federal programs are authorized to provide non-agricultural water assistance. Interest in these non-agricultural programs often increases as communities, households, and businesses experience shrinking and less reliable water supplies....

EU-U.S. Economic Ties: Framework, Scope, and Magnitude

The United States and the European Union (EU) economic relationship is the largest in the world—and it is growing. The modern U.S.-European economic relationship has evolved since World War II, broadening as the 6-member European Community expanded into the present 28-member European Union. The ties have also become more complex and interdependent, covering a growing number and type of trade and financial activities. The United States and the EU have embarked on negotiations to establish a free trade agreement—the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

In 2012 (latest data...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2014

Congress completed action on the FY2014 regular appropriations bills with enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-76), in January 2014. The act contains the 12 regular appropriations bills that fund federal departments and agencies and provide funding for most research and development (R&D) supported by the federal government. Prior to enactment of P.L. 113-76, FY2014 funding was provided by two continuing resolutions (P.L. 113-46 and P.L. 113-73). Where possible, CRS has identified and included in this report R&D funding in P.L. 113-76 for agencies and programs....

The 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79): Summary and Side-by-Side

Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in a multi-year, omnibus farm bill. The 2008 farm bill governed policy for farm commodity support, horticulture, livestock, conservation, nutrition assistance, trade and international food aid, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, bioenergy, and forestry. It originally expired in 2012, but the 112th Congress did not complete action and instead extended the law for one year (P.L. 112-240), leaving consideration of a new farm bill to the 113th Congress.

After nearly three years of deliberations, Congress...

Food Fraud and “Economically Motivated Adulteration” of Food and Food Ingredients

Food fraud, or the act of defrauding buyers of food or ingredients for economic gain—whether they be consumers or food manufacturers, retailers, and importers—has vexed the food industry throughout history. Some of the earliest reported cases of food fraud, dating back thousands of years, involved olive oil, tea, wine, and spices. These products continue to be associated with fraud, along with some other foods. Although the vast majority of fraud incidents do not pose a public health risk, some cases have resulted in actual or potential public health risks. Perhaps the most high-profile...

Forestry Assistance Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has numerous programs to support management of state and private forests. These programs are under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and are often examined in the periodic legislation to reauthorize agricultural programs, commonly known as farm bills. Both the House (H.R. 2642) and Senate (S. 954) versions of the 2014 farm bill contain a forestry title with provisions affecting forestry-specific assistance programs. Both versions of the farm bill propose to repeal, reauthorize, and modify some of these programs....

Science and Technology Issues in the 113th Congress

Science and technology (S&T) have a pervasive influence over a wide range of issues confronting the nation. Public and private research and development spurs scientific and technological advancement. Such advances can drive economic growth, help address national priorities, and improve health and quality of life. The constantly changing nature and ubiquity of science and technology frequently create public policy issues of congressional interest.

The federal government supports scientific and technological advancement by directly funding research and development and indirectly by creating...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for agencies within other departmentsincluding the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

Neither the House nor the Senate passed a regular appropriations bill for FY2013 for Interior, Environment, and...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2013

President Obama’s budget request for FY2013 included $140.820 billion for research and development (R&D), a $1.951 billion (1.4%) increase from the FY2012 estimated funding level of $138.869 billion. The FY2013 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-6), signed into law on March 26, 2013, provided year-long appropriations to all agencies for FY2013. The law included divisions incorporating five of the regular appropriations bills—Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies;...

Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Overview and Issues

Federal policy has played a key role in the emergence of the U.S. biofuels industry. Policy measures have included minimum renewable fuel usage requirements, blending and production tax credits, an import tariff, loans and loan guarantees, and research grants. One of the more prominent forms of federal policy support is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)—whereby a minimum volume of biofuels is to be used in the national transportation fuel supply each year. This report describes the general nature of the RFS mandate and its implementation, and outlines some emerging issues related to the...

Environmental Policy: CRS Experts

The federal government, primarily the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), administers a number of laws, largely through states and local agencies, established by Congress to protect human health and the environment. Numerous congressional committees and subcommittees have jurisdiction over these environmental laws for purpose of authorization, appropriations, and oversight. Analysis of environmental policy issues requires an understanding of the impacts to, and from, various industries including coal, oil and gas, manufacturing, and agriculture resulting in overlapping policy issues...

International Food Aid: U.S. and Other Donor Contributions

Renewable Energy Programs and the Farm Bill: Status and Issues

Title IX, the energy title of the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-240), contains the bioenergy programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA renewable energy programs have incentivized research, development, and adoption of renewable energy projects, including solar, wind, and anaerobic digesters. However, the primary focus of USDA renewable energy programs has been to promote U.S. biofuels production and use—including corn starch-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, and soybean-based biodiesel.

Cornstarch-based ethanol dominates the U.S. biofuels industry. The 2008 farm...

Dairy Policy Proposals in the Next Farm Bill

The 113th Congress has been considering an omnibus farm bill that would establish the direction of U.S. agricultural policy for the next five years. Among the many provisions being considered, both the Senate-passed (S. 954) and House-passed (H.R. 2642) versions of the 2013 farm bill would reshape the structure of U.S. dairy support.

Current U.S. federal dairy policy is based on five major programs—the Dairy Product Price Support Program (DPPSP), the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program, Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMOs), Dairy Import Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs), and the Dairy...

Farm Safety Net Provisions in a 2013 Farm Bill: S. 954 and H.R. 2642

The farm commodity provisions of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, as amended (P.L. 110-246, the 2008 farm bill) expire with the 2013 crop year. Consequently, the 113th Congress has been considering an omnibus farm bill that would establish the direction of agricultural policy for the next five years. On June 10, 2013, the Senate approved its version of the farm bill, S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013. The House approved a farm bill (H.R. 2642) without a nutrition title on July 11, 2013, and a nutrition title (H.R. 3102) on September 19, 2013. The...

Japan Joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership: What Are the Implications?

On July 23, 2013, Japan formally joined negotiations to establish a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) becoming the 12 participant, including the United States. Japan’s membership in the TPP with the United States would constitute a de facto U.S.-Japan FTA. On April 12, 2013, the United States announced its support for Japan’s participation in the TPP. The announcement came after a series of discussions on conditions for U.S. support and outstanding bilateral issues. As a result of the discussions the two sides agreed on measures to address these issues as part of, and in parallel with, the...

The U.S. Congress and the European Parliament: Evolving Transatlantic Legislative Cooperation

The United States and the European Union (EU) share an extensive, dynamic, and mutually beneficial political and economic partnership. A growing element of that relationship is the role that the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament (EP)—a key EU institution—have begun to play, including in areas ranging from foreign and economic policy to regulatory reform. Proponents of establishing closer relations between the U.S. Congress and the EP point to the Parliament’s growing influence as a result of the EU’s 2009 Lisbon Treaty which increased the relative power of the EP within the EU, and...

Horse Slaughter Prevention Bills and Issues

In 2006, two Texas plants and one in Illinois slaughtered nearly 105,000 horses for human food, mainly for European and Asian consumers. In 2007, court action effectively closed the Texas plants, and a ban in Illinois closed the plant in that state. However, U.S. horses continue to be shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. Several states have explored opening horse slaughtering facilities, and Oklahoma enacted to lift the state’s 50-year-old ban on processing horsemeat. Animal welfare activists and advocates for horses have continued to press Congress for a federal ban. The Prevention...

Agricultural Export Programs: Background and Issues

Report that discusses the agricultural export programs that aim to develop overseas markets for U.S. agricultural products.

Budget “Sequestration” and Selected Program Exemptions and Special Rules

“Sequestration” is a process of automatic, largely across-the-board spending reductions under which budgetary resources are permanently canceled to enforce certain budget policy goals. It was first authorized by the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (BBEDCA, Title II of P.L. 99-177, commonly known as the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act).

Sequestration is of current interest because it has been triggered as an enforcement tool under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25). Sequestration can also occur under the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 (Statutory...

Trade Reorganization: Overview and Issues for Congress

On January 13, 2012, President Obama asked Congress for authority to reorganize and consolidate, into one department, the business- and trade-related functions of six federal entities: Department of Commerce; Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank); Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC); Small Business Administration (SBA); Trade and Development Agency (TDA); and Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Bills based on the proposal were introduced in the 112th Congress. The President reiterated the proposal in his FY2014 budget request, and he may resubmit his request for...

Drought in the United States: Causes and Issues for Congress

Drought is a natural hazard with often significant societal, economic, and environmental consequences. Public policy issues related to drought range from how to identify and measure drought to how best to prepare for, mitigate, and respond to drought impacts, and who should bear associated costs. Severe drought in 2011 and 2012 fueled congressional interest in near-term issues, such as current (and recently expired) federal programs and their funding, and long-term issues, such as drought forecasting and various federal drought relief and mitigation actions. Continuing drought conditions...

FY2013 Supplemental Funding for Disaster Relief

On January 29, 2013, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, a $50.5 billion package of disaster assistance largely focused on responding to Hurricane Sandy, was enacted as P.L. 113-2.

In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy impacted a wide swath of the East Coast of the United States, resulting in more than 120 deaths and the major disaster declarations for 12 states plus the District of Columbia. The Administration submitted a request to Congress on December 7, 2012, for $60.4 billion in supplemental funding and legislative provisions to address both the immediate losses and damages...

Agricultural Conservation and the Next Farm Bill

Reauthorization of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 farm bill) failed to pass in the 112th Congress, leaving it to the 113th Congress to continue the farm bill debate. The conservation title continues to receive attention and interest from farmers and ranchers as well as environmental and conservation organizations. Contentious issues raised in the 2012 farm bill debate might continue in the 113th Congress, specifically calls to reduce overall funding levels, including conservation, and the addition of crop insurance as a benefit lost under conservation compliance....

Animal Agriculture: Selected Issues in the 113th Congress

Animal agriculture is an important part of the U.S. agricultural economy, and consequently is important to U.S. policymakers. The farm value of animal production is estimated at $169 billion in 2012, nearly 44% of the total value of U.S. agricultural production. In addition, the value of animal product exports and imports grew to about $43 billion in 2012. Approximately 1.1 million of the nation’s more than 2.2 million farms were classified in the 2007 Census of Agriculture as primarily animal production operations. These included cattle farms and ranches; cattle feedlots; dairies;...

U.S. Government Agencies Involved in Export Promotion: Overview and Issues for Congress

This report provides an overview of the federal government agencies that participate in U.S. export promotion efforts and the issues that they raise for Congress. The recent global economic downturn has renewed congressional debate over the role of the federal government in promoting exports. This debate has been heightened with the Obama Administration’s efforts to double U.S. exports under the National Export Initiative (NEI) and policy debates about possible reorganization of federal trade-related agencies. Some Members of Congress have placed greater priority on understanding the...

The “Fiscal Cliff” and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

The federal budget deficit has exceeded $1 trillion in each of the last four fiscal years (FY2009-FY2012). Concern over these large deficits, as well as the long-term trajectory of the federal budget, resulted in significant debate during the 112th Congress over how to achieve meaningful deficit reduction and how to implement a plan to stabilize the federal debt. Numerous expiring provisions, across-the-board spending cuts, and other short-term considerations having a major budgetary impact, were scheduled to take effect at the very end of 2012 or in early 2013. This combination of...

Bee Health: The Role of Pesticides

Federal Emergency Management: A Brief Introduction

The federal government plays a significant role in emergency management, which generally refers to activities associated with avoiding and responding to natural and human-caused hazards. Emergency management in the United States is highly decentralized and contextual in nature: activities often involve multiple jurisdictions as well as a vast number of agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private sector entities. In addition, the number and type of actors involved in an incident will vary tremendously depending on the context and severity of the event. Similarly, the legal...

World Trade Organization Negotiations: The Doha Development Agenda

The WTO Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, begun in November 2001, has entered its 12th year. The negotiations have been characterized by persistent differences among the United States, the European Union, and developing countries on major issues, such as agriculture, industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers, services, and trade remedies. Partly as a result of being labeled a development round to entice developing countries to participate in the first place, developing countries (including emerging economic powerhouses such as China, Brazil, and India) have sought the...

The 2012 Farm Bill: A Comparison of Senate-Passed S. 3240 and the House Agriculture Committee’s H.R. 6083 with Current Law

Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in an omnibus farm bill. The 112th Congress faces reauthorization of the current five-year farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) because many of its provisions expire in 2012. The 2008 farm bill contained 15 titles covering farm commodity support, horticulture, livestock, conservation, nutrition assistance, international trade and food aid, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, bioenergy, and forestry, among others.

The Senate approved its version of the 2012 omnibus farm...

Interim Continuing Resolutions (CRs): Potential Impacts on Agency Operations

Continuing appropriations acts, often known as continuing resolutions (CRs), have been a component of the annual appropriations process for decades. When Congress and the President do not reach final decisions about one or more regular appropriations acts by the beginning of the federal fiscal year, October 1, they often enact a CR. Two general types of CRs are used. An “interim” CR provides agencies with stopgap funding for a period of time until final appropriations decisions are made, or until enactment of another interim CR. A “full-year” CR provides final funding amounts for the...

Water Resources and Water Quality: CRS Experts

The following table provides names and contact information for CRS experts on policy areas relating to water quality and water resources. Several broad water resource and water quality policy areas are identified and include the following: Water Quality (e.g., surface and groundwater quality, wastewater treatment, drinking water treatment); Water Resource Development, Management, and Use (e.g., dams, levees, navigation and hydropower development); Aquatic Resources Protection and Management (e.g., fisheries management, ecosystem restoration) Water Rights and Compacts; and Water Project...

Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting on Federal Lands: H.R. 4089 and Related Legislation

The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 (H.R. 4089) is intended to create an “open until closed” management policy for federal lands, according to the House committee report. It describes the criteria for federal land management agencies to consider in order to close federal lands to fishing, hunting, or recreational shooting, and directs that management is subject to existing law. However, some ambiguities may lead to different, perhaps unintended results. H.R. 4089 passed the House on April 17, 2012.

Hunting and fishing are already allowed on the majority of federal lands. Because H.R....

U.S. Agricultural Trade: Trends, Composition, Direction, and Policy

U.S. agricultural exports, imports, and the agricultural trade surplus are expected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reach record levels in FY2011. FY2011 U.S. farm exports are forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reach $137 billion, while agricultural imports are expected to reach $93 billion. The agricultural trade surplus is projected to be $44 billion. Exports of high-value products (e.g., fruits, vegetables, meats, wine and beer) have increased since the early 1990s and now account for 60% of total U.S. agricultural exports. Exports of bulk commodities...

Clean Energy Standard: Potential Qualifying Energy Sources

A clean energy standard (CES) has been identified as one possible legislative option to encourage a more diverse domestic electricity portfolio. A CES could require certain electricity providers to obtain a portion of their electricity from qualifying clean energy sources. A CES is broader than a renewable energy standard (RES), including “clean” energy sources along with renewable sources. The RES has been a topic of legislative attention since at least the 105th Congress. A CES gained legislative attention with the introduction of the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012 (S. 2146). The bill...

Previewing the Next Farm Bill

Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in an omnibus farm bill. The 112th Congress faces reauthorization of the current five-year farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) because many of its provisions expire in 2012. The 2008 law contained 15 titles covering farm commodity support, horticulture, livestock, conservation, nutrition assistance, international food aid, trade, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, bioenergy, and forestry, among others. The breadth of farm bills has steadily grown in recent decades to...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for agencies within other departmentsincluding the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

On December 23, 2011, Congress enacted H.R. 2055, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74)....

Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization: P.L. 111-296

The most recent WIC and child nutrition reauthorization, P.L. 111-296, “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010,” was signed into law at the end of the 111th Congress on December 13, 2010. Subsequently, Congress plays an oversight role as the U.S. Department of Agriculture promulgates rules, releases guidance, and otherwise implements the legislation. This report features a summary of the legislative history of P.L. 111-296 as well as a section-by-section summary of what was contained within the law. For a brief overview of this periodic reauthorization, see CRS In Focus IF10266, An...

FY2012 Appropriations Overview: Status of Discretionary Appropriations Legislation

This report presents an overview of proposed and enacted FY2012 appropriations legislation. The report consists primarily of a table showing discretionary appropriations, by bill title, for each of the proposed and enacted appropriations bills, together with the comparable figures enacted for FY2011. The product is intended to allow for broad comparison between the House and Senate FY2012 proposals, the Administration’s FY2012 request, and the FY2011 and FY2012 enacted appropriations. The figures do not necessarily reflect budget scorekeeping adjustments allowable under the Budget Control...

Forestry in the Next Farm Bill

Forest management generally, as well as forest research and forestry assistance, have long been within the jurisdictions of the Agriculture Committees. Although most forestry programs are permanently authorized, forestry has usually been addressed in the periodic farm bills to reauthorize many agriculture programs. The 2008 farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) contained a separate forestry title, with provisions establishing national priorities for forestry assistance; requiring statewide forest assessments and strategies; providing competitive funding...

Food Safety Issues for the 112th Congress

Horn of Africa Region: The Humanitarian Crisis and International Response

As a result of the worst drought in 60 years, regional conflicts, and conflict within states, a humanitarian emergency of massive proportion has unfolded over the past year in the Horn of Africa region. Current estimates suggest that more than 13.3 million people are currently affected, 250,000 of whom need food assistance in the near term to avoid death. Somalia has been hardest hit so far, creating population displacement within its borders and a refugee crisis of nearly 1 million people in the region, primarily in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The international community continues to respond...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill provides funding for all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in alternating years, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations Act (P.L. 112-55, H.R. 2112) was signed by the President on November 18, 2011, after passing both chambers by more than two-thirds majorities. It was the lead division of a three-bill “minibus” appropriation that also included Commerce-Justice-Science and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development...

A 2008 Farm Bill Program Option: Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE)

Farm commodity programs over the decades have focused on protecting farmers against declines in farm prices and not declines in revenue (price times production). Traditional programs for field crops provide benefits to producers when farm prices drop below specified levels. To help farmers manage their revenue risks, Congress included the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246 or 2008 farm bill) as a revenue-based program option for farmers who enroll in traditional farm commodity programs for crop years 2009-2012....

Nitrous Oxide from Agricultural Sources: Potential Role in Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction and Ozone Recovery

Gases other than carbon dioxide accounted for approximately 17% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2009, yet there has been minimal discussion of these other greenhouse gases in climate and energy legislative initiatives. Reducing emissions from non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide (N2O), could deliver short-term climate change mitigation results as part of a comprehensive policy approach to combat climate change.

Nitrous oxide is 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its ability to affect the climate; and moreover, results of a recent scientific study...

Europe’s Preferential Trade Agreements: Status, Content, and Implications

Preferential trade agreements (PTAs) comprise a variety of arrangements that favor member parties over nonmembers by extending tariff and other nontariff preferences. PTAs, particularly free trade agreements (FTAs), have proliferated in recent years. In the post-war period, the European Union (EU), which is a PTA itself, has developed the largest network of PTAs in the world. The main findings of this report are as follows.

Historically, Europe’s PTAs have differed among its partners in terms of provisions and commitments and they have been characterized by relatively modest ambition in...

Dairy Farm Support: Legislative Proposals in the 112th Congress

The question of how federal policies deal with financial stress encountered by dairy farmers has led many in Congress to reconsider federal policy for supporting them. In the 112th Congress, several Members have introduced legislation for alternatives to current federal programs, which expire in 2012. Proposed dairy legislation has the potential to eliminate some dairy programs, modify others, or replace them with a new approach to dairy farm support.

The Dairy Security Act of 2011 (H.R. 3062, Peterson et al.) would replace current dairy product price supports and the income support...

Agriculture in Pending U.S. Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama

This report discusses pending U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. The bills to implement these agreements will now be debated under trade promotion authority, or fast-track rules, designed to expedite congressional consideration. The report includes an overview of agricultural issues regarding FTAs and pending FTA partners, as well as a closer breakdown of the specific issues for each of the countries.

FY2011 Appropriations: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Key Proposals and Enacted Legislation

FY2011 funding levels were not enacted in the 111th Congress. Thus, the debate over FY2011 appropriations continued into the 112th Congress and FY2011 spending proposals became a key focal point in the budget debates between the now-Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Obama Administration.

This report was originally intended to facilitate comparison of three key spending proposals for FY2011—the Administration’s budget request, H.R. 1, and S.Amdt. 149 to H.R. 1—to FY2010 enacted funding levels. It has been updated to include the enacted FY2011 appropriations in P.L....

U.S. Livestock and Poultry Feed Use and Availability: Background and Emerging Issues

The U.S. livestock and poultry sector is presently confronting near-record high feed costs driven by the convergence of both current tight supply prospects and long-run market forces. The U.S. livestock sector, where feed costs account for 50% to 80% of cash operating expenses, has seen its profit margins steadily squeezed and its share of U.S. agricultural cash receipts decline. Since June 2010 feed cost increases have outpaced livestock price increases, squeezing the profitability of livestock and poultry producers. When profit margins turn unfavorable, producers are more likely to...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill provides funding for all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in some cases, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Appropriations jurisdiction for the CFTC is split between two subcommittees—the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

For the FY2011 Agriculture appropriations bill, no separate floor action and limited formal committee action occurred in the 111th Congress. The full Senate...

Japan’s 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami: Economic Effects and Implications for the United States

The March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Japan followed by the nuclear crisis are having a large negative impact on the economy of Japan but a lesser effect on world trade and financial markets. Japan has lost considerable physical and human capital. Physical damage has been estimated to be from $195 billion to as much as $305 billion. (Greece’s GDP is $330 billion.) In excess of 23,000 persons in Japan are killed or missing, and more than 400,000 homes and other buildings have been totally or partially damaged. The negative effects of the earthquake and tsunami have...

Risk Management Tools for Dairy Farmers

Managing price and income risks can be a major challenge for dairy farmers. In 2011, the farm price of milk has rebounded from lows in 2009, but the price of corn, a major feed ingredient, has reached record highs. The volatile nature of commodity markets presents opportunities for profits and losses when milk prices or feed costs change.

In dairy and in agriculture generally, farm-level risk management tools are provided through both the private and the public sectors. By using these tools, dairy producers transfer risk to either the private sector or the government through programs that...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa: The FY2012 Request

Sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s poorest region, receives over a quarter of all U.S. bilateral foreign assistance. Aid to Africa more than quadrupled over the past decade, primarily due to sizable increases in global health spending during the Bush Administration and more measured increases in development, economic, and security assistance. The Obama Administration’s FY2012 bilateral Africa aid budget request, at $7.8 billion, represents an increase of roughly 10% compared to FY2010, albeit at a more restrained growth rate than in previous years (see “The FY2012 Request by the Numbers”)....

Biotechnology in Animal Agriculture: Status and Current Issues

Animal agriculture is being transformed by rapid advances in biotechnology—a term that encompasses a variety of technologies, including genetic engineering (GE), genetic modification, transgenics, recombinant DNA techniques, and cloning, among others. Producers are interested in the application of biotechnology to improve productivity, consistency, and quality; to introduce new food, fiber, and medical products; and to protect the environment. Potential human health applications of transgenic animals include producing biopharmaceuticals and generating organs, tissues, and cells for...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for agencies within other departmentsincluding the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

The FY2011 appropriation for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies was $29.67 billion, a reduction of $2.65...

Humane Treatment of Farm Animals: Overview and Issues

Animal welfare supporters in the United States have long sought legislation to modify or curtail some practices considered by U.S. agriculture to be acceptable or even necessary to animal health. Members of Congress over the years have offered various bills that would affect animal care on the farm, during transport, or at slaughter; several proposals were introduced in the 111th Congress, although no further action was taken on the bills. No bills have been introduced in the 112th Congress. Members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees generally have expressed a preference for...

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): Status and Issues

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides farmers with financial and technical assistance to plan and implement soil and water conservation practices. EQIP is the largest agriculture conservation financial assistance program for working lands. EQIP was first authorized in 1996 and was most recently revised by Section 2501 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246, the 2008 farm bill). It is a mandatory spending program (i.e., not subject to annual appropriations) and is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s...

Japan 2011 Disaster: CRS Experts

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Aging Infrastructure

The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) is responsible for the construction of most of the large irrigation and water resources infrastructure in the West. These water resource facilities are dispersed throughout 17 western states and have an original development cost of more than $21 billion. Most of Reclamation’s infrastructure has an average age of over 50 years. This aging infrastructure requires increased maintenance and replacement efforts and expenditures. Reclamation estimates that the total cost for upgrades at all of its facilities exceeds $3 billion.

Reclamation has a documented...

U.S. and EU Agricultural Support: Overview and Comparison

The European Union (EU) is one of the United States’ chief agricultural trading partners but also a major competitor in world markets. Both the United States and the EU provide significant government support for their agricultural sectors. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in 2009 the EU and the United States together accounted for 60% of all government support to agriculture among the major developed economies.

In the United States, federal farm policy has traditionally focused on price and/or income support programs concentrated on row crops...

Previewing Dairy Policy Options for the Next Farm Bill

Financial stress encountered by dairy farmers in recent years has led Congress and the industry to reconsider how to deal with fluctuations in milk prices and financial prospects for dairy farmers. Some Members have voiced interest in alternatives to current federal programs (which expire in 2012). Alternative policies could either be incorporated into the next omnibus farm bill or enacted separately before expiration.

The dairy industry is currently developing or advocating a variety of policy changes. All of the proposals discussed in this report—loosely categorized as either supply...

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (P.L. 111-353)

The 111th Congress passed comprehensive food safety legislation in December 2010 (the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA, P.L. 111-353). Although numerous agencies share responsibility for regulating food safety, this newly enacted legislation focused on foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and amended FDA’s existing structure and authorities, in particular via the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA; 21 U.S.C. §§ 301 et seq.). The new law does not directly affect activities at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the safety of most...

Food Safety on the Farm

Foodborne illness-causing bacteria on farms can enter the food supply unless preventive measures are in place to reduce them, either prior to or after harvest. Also of potential risk to the food supply are pesticide residues, animal drugs, and certain naturally occurring contaminants.

There is interest in examining on-farm practices, given continued major outbreaks of foodborne illness involving both domestically produced and imported foods. An example is the case in April-July 2008, when more than 1,000 persons in more than 40 states and Canada were found to be infected with the same...

Cellulosic Biofuels: Analysis of Policy Issues for Congress

Cellulosic biofuels are produced from cellulose (fibrous material) derived from renewable biomass. They are thought by many to hold the key to increased benefits from renewable biofuels because they are made from potentially low-cost, diverse, non-food feedstocks. Cellulosic biofuels could also potentially decrease the fossil energy required to produce ethanol, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Cellulosic biofuels are produced on a very small scale at this time—significant hurdles must be overcome before commercial-scale production can occur. The renewable fuels standard (RFS),...

Critical Infrastructure Security: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to critical infrastructure security. Policy areas identified include: mission, magnitude, importance, relationship to departmental mission; policy, organization, and operations across all infrastructures; information disclosure, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); security services, airport screeners, guards; specific sectors, assessing vulnerabilities, planning and implementation; agriculture; banking and finance; chemical; defense industry; emergency systems; energy;...

Research and Development (R&D) to Enhance Homeland Security: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to research and development (R&D) to enhance homeland security. Policy areas identified include: mission, scope, magnitude, relationship to other federal homeland security goals; developing countermeasures policy and strategic plan; access to scientific and technical information; establishing R&D policy and priorities; conducting and coordinating homeland security R&D; Department of Homeland Security; Department of Agriculture; Department of Defense; Department of Health and...

Technical Assistance for Agriculture Conservation

Agricultural conservation technical assistance has taken on a number of dimensions over its long and continuously evolving history. In the most general terms, technical assistance is a service assisting landowners and agricultural producers in conserving natural resources. Addressing natural resource concerns across different landscapes frequently requires multiple disciplines working together to provide a collective pool of conservation knowledge. The current federal framework for applying this conservation knowledge lies with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Several agencies...

The USDA’s Authority to Recall Meat and Poultry Products

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has monitored numerous recalls of meat and poultry products sold in the United States. The recalls have involved beef products possibly contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, beef and poultry products possibly contaminated with Salmonella, and canned meat products possibly contaminated by botulism. These recalls raise issues of consumer confidence in the meat industry and questions about the adequacy of the USDA oversight of these products.

In February 2008, USDA announced the largest-ever recall, of 143.4...

Energy’s Water Demand: Trends, Vulnerabilities, and Management

The energy choices before Congress represent vastly different demands on domestic freshwater because water is used in varying amounts in most aspects of the energy sector. Transitions in the energy sector, such as the pursuit of greater energy independence and security, produce changes in how much and where the energy sector uses water. The energy sector is the fastest-growing water consumer in the United States, in part because of energy policies. Whether the federal government addresses the energy sector’s rising water demand, and if so how, is one of the many energy decisions that may...

Actual Farm Bill Spending and Cost Estimates

Agriculture and Greenhouse Gases

This report examines the implications for agriculture of the ongoing but inconclusive debate about global climate change. In that debate, agriculture’s role is multifaceted. Agriculture is both a source of several greenhouse gases (GHGs) and a “sink” for absorbing carbon dioxide, the most common GHG, thereby partly offsetting emissions. Overall, agriculture is a comparatively modest source of U.S. GHG emissions: it accounts for approximately 7% of U.S. emissions, while sectors such as transportation and electricity generation account for much larger shares. Agriculture’s GHG emissions are...

Seafood Safety: Background and Issues

Although seafood consumption can contribute to a healthy diet, some fish and shellfish can cause foodborne illnesses or contain environmental contaminants. Are current food safety programs sufficiently protecting consumers, and if not, what changes should be considered? A complicating factor is that most of the seafood consumed in the United States is from imports.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the Department of Health and Human Services plays the lead role in ensuring the safety of both domestic and imported fish and shellfish, but other agencies, including the National...

Flooding in Pakistan: Overview and Issues for Congress

Pakistan experienced a catastrophic natural disaster that has precipitated a humanitarian crisis of major proportions. Widespread flooding affected about 20 million Pakistanis and inundated an area the size of Florida within the country. Congressional interest in the flooding stems from the significant humanitarian and economic implications for the country, and the security implications for U.S. interests in the region. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have estimated that the flooding has caused $9.7 billion in damages. While this figure might still be preliminary, it is almost...

Surface Transportation Funding and Finance

This report discusses changes in funding to the national surface transportation infrastructure, especially in light of the recession that began in 2007, which led to decreases in driving and fuel use. This report focuses on possible revenue sources for surface transportation infrastructure. It begins with a brief discussion of the problems associated with the trust fund financing system and then

explores possible immediate and longer-term solutions to the financing problem.

Cellulosic Ethanol: Feedstocks, Conversion Technologies, Economics, and Policy Options

In the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-140), Congress mandated the use of a large and rapidly increasing volume of biofuels as part of the U.S. national transportation fuel base. In particular, the share of cellulosic biofuels is mandated to grow to 16 billion gallons by 2022—a daunting challenge considering that no commercial production existed as of mid-2010. Cellulosic biofuels can be produced from almost any sort of biomass. As a result, a variety of biomass types that can be produced or collected under a range of geographic settings are potential feedstock...

Agricultural Conservation Issues in the 111th Congress

Agricultural conservation has been a public policy issue for more than 60 years. Congress has repeatedly taken action on the issue through water and soil legislation, often as part of omnibus farm bills. Early policy decisions were directed at addressing natural resource concerns on the farm, primarily reducing high levels of soil erosion and providing water to agriculture in quantities and quality that enhanced farm production. In more recent years, conservation policy has shifted to concerns about the off-farm impacts of agricultural activities.

The latest farm bill, the Food,...

Everglades Restoration and the River of Grass Land Acquisition

The Florida Everglades is a unique network of subtropical wetlands that is now half its original size. The federal government has had a long history of involvement in the Everglades, beginning in the 1940s with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructing flood control projects that shunted water away from the Everglades. Many factors, including these flood control projects and agricultural and urban development, have contributed to the shrinking and altering of the wetlands ecosystem. Federal agencies began ecosystem restoration activities in the Everglades more than 15 years ago, but it...

OMB Controls on Agency Mandatory Spending Programs: “Administrative PAYGO” and Related Issues for Congress

On May 23, 2005, during President George W. Bush’s second term, then-Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Joshua B. Bolten issued a memorandum to the heads of agencies. The memorandum announced that OMB would involve itself systematically in some aspects of how agencies execute laws related to mandatory spending. Under the process outlined in the OMB memorandum, if an agency wished to use discretion under current law in a way that would “increase mandatory spending,” the memorandum required the agency to propose the action to OMB. Such actions might include regulations,...

FY2010 Supplemental for Wars, Disaster Assistance, Haiti Relief, and Other Programs

The Administration requested $64.3 billion in FY2010 supplemental appropriations: $5.1 billion to replenish the U.S. Disaster Relief Fund administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); $33 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) primarily for deploying 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan; $4.5 billion in war-related foreign aid; and $2.8 billion for Haiti earthquake-related relief and reconstruction aid; $243 million for activities related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; $600 million for border security, and $129 million to reduce backlogs in patent requests;...

Measuring Equity in Farm Support Levels

CRS Issue Statement on Canada

Food Safety: Foodborne Illness and Selected Recalls of FDA-Regulated Foods

The 111th Congress is considering legislation to revise the U.S. food safety system, focusing primarily on those laws and programs administered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The House has passed a comprehensive bill, H.R. 2749, and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions has reported its comprehensive proposal, S. 510. The ultimate goal of both bills is to reduce the burden of foodborne illness, which is a considerable and persistent public health problem in the United States. However, an...

China-U.S. Poultry Dispute

U.S.-Russia Meat and Poultry Trade Issues

In December 2008, the United States and Russia signed a protocol aimed at resolving various emerging trade issues between the two countries in order to continue U.S. livestock and poultry exports to Russia through the end of 2009. By December 2009, however, Russia had escalated these trade issues in a series of actions that threatened to shut out U.S. livestock and poultry exports. These actions, in part, followed on Russia’s statements throughout 2008 and 2009 regarding its concerns about antimicrobial use in U.S. meat production.

Russia has continued to cite various food safety concerns,...

The Impact of Major Legislation on Budget Deficits: 2001 to 2009

This report examines to what extent major legislative changes from 2001 to 2009 caused the budget to move from surplus to deficit. Legislative actions taken in 2009 increased the FY2009 deficit by $509 billion, whereas legislative actions taken between 2001 and 2008 increased the FY2009 deficit by $903 billion. Furthermore, legislative changes have cumulatively increased federal budget deficits over FY2001 to FY2009 by $5.4 trillion.

Meat and Poultry Inspection: Background and Selected Issues

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) must inspect most meat, poultry, and processed egg products for safety, wholesomeness, and labeling. Federal inspectors or their state counterparts are present at all times in virtually all slaughter plants and for at least part of each day in establishments that further process meat and poultry products. Debate has ensued for decades over whether this system, first designed in the early 1900s, has kept pace with changes in the food production and marketing industries.

Several significant changes in...

U.S. Food and Agricultural Imports: Safeguards and Selected Issues

Calculation of Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA; P.L. 110-140) significantly expanded the renewable fuel standard (RFS) established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005; P.L. 109-58). The RFS requires the use of 9.0 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2008, increasing to 36 billion gallons in 2022. Further, EISA requires an increasing amount of the mandate be met with “advanced biofuels”—biofuels produced from feedstocks other than corn starch and with 50% lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum fuels. Within the advanced biofuel mandate, there are specific...

Federal Flood Policy Challenges: Lessons from the 2008 Midwest Flood

Floods remain a significant hazard in the United States. Developing and investing in flood-prone areas represents a tradeoff between the location’s economic and other benefits and the exposure to a flood hazard. In the United States, flood mitigation, protection, emergency response, and recovery roles and responsibilities are shared. Local governments are responsible for land use and zoning decisions that shape floodplain and coastal development. State and federal programs, policies, and investments influence community and individual decisions on managing flood risk. The federal government...

Comparing U.S. and EU Program Support for Farm Commodities and Conservation

The European Union (EU) is one of the United States’ chief agricultural trading partners and also a major competitor in world food markets. Both the United States and the EU provide significant government support for their agricultural sectors. In the United States, a large share of support is concentrated on wheat, feed grains, cotton, oilseeds, sugar, and dairy. The EU provides more extensive support to a broader range of farm and food products, including grains, cotton, rice, oilseeds, peanuts, dairy, and sugar, but also fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, and livestock products....

CRS Issue Statement on Animal Welfare

This report discusses the questions whether additional measures are needed to protect the health and well-being of animals.

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2010 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for agencies within other departmentsincluding the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

The Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-88),...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2010 Appropriations

The FY2010 Agriculture appropriations bill provides funding for all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Appropriations jurisdiction for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is split between two subcommittees—the House Agriculture appropriations subcommittee and the Senate Financial Services appropriations subcommittee.

The FY2010 Agriculture appropriations bill (P.L. 111-80) was enacted on October 21, 2009. This is the first time that the bill was...

Agriculture and Forestry Provisions in Climate Legislation in the 111th Congress

In June 2009, the House passed H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. In September 2009, Senator Kerry introduced S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, which was referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The committee completed markup of the bill on November 5, 2009, by approving Senator Boxer’s “Manager’s Amendment” as a substitute, and ordered S. 1733 reported. Both the House and Senate bills would establish a cap-and-trade system to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as address energy efficiency, renewable...

Comparison of Climate Change Adaptation Provisions in S. 1733 and H.R. 2454

This report summarizes and compares climate change adaptation-related provisions in the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) and the Clean Energy, Jobs, and Power Act (S. 1733). H.R. 2454 was introduced by Representatives Waxman and Markey and passed the House on June 26, 2009. S. 1733 was introduced to the Senate by Senators Boxer and Kerry and, after subsequent revisions made in the form of a manager’s substitution amendment, was reported out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on November 5, 2009.

Adaptation measures aim to improve an individual’s...

Climate Change: The Role of the U.S. Agriculture Sector

The agriculture sector is a source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which many scientists agree are contributing to observed climate change. Agriculture is also a “sink” for sequestering carbon, which might offset GHG emissions by capturing and storing carbon in agricultural soils. The two key types of GHG emissions associated with agricultural activities are methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Agricultural sources of CH4 emissions mostly occur as part of the natural digestive process of animals and manure management at livestock operations; sources of N2O emissions are associated...

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program: Status and Current Issues

Greenhouse Gas Legislation: Summary and Analysis of H.R. 2454 as Passed by the House of Representatives

This report offers an introduction and overview of legislation regarding greenhouse gases. It also discusses combined efficiency and renewable electricity standard, geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide, vehicles and fuels, smart grid, energy efficiency, and major cap-and-trade provisions.

Agricultural Research, Education, and Extension: Farm Bill Issues

The 110th Congress passed an omnibus farm bill (Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) to authorize and direct the implementation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) major programs across the spectrum of its mission areas through FY2012. The enacted bill reorganizes the Department’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area, which currently comprises four agencies that separately administer intramural and extramural programs supporting agricultural research and development (R&D).

The research title of P.L. 110-246 (Title VII) classifies all current...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2009 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill includes all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) appropriation also has been enacted with the Agriculture appropriations bill, even though jurisdiction in the Senate for CFTC funding moved to the Financial Services appropriations subcommittee in FY2008.

An FY2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, P.L. 111-8, was enacted on March 11, 2009, more than five months after the beginning of the fiscal year. A continuing resolution had...

Implications of Reactivating the Dairy Export Incentive Program (DEIP)

U.S. dairy farmers are facing low returns in 2009 following a sharp decline in milk prices since late 2008 and continuation of relatively high feed costs that have adversely affected their businesses. Organizations representing dairy farmers are seeking assistance to deal with the situation. Among the requests has been the reactivation of the Dairy Export Incentive Program (DEIP). The principal objective of the program is to develop export markets where the United States competes with exporters who subsidize their products, but DEIP could also increase the U.S. price of milk if enough...

U.S.-French Commercial Ties

U.S. commercial ties with France are extensive, mutually profitable, and growing. With over $1.35 billion in commercial transactions taking place between the two countries every day of the year, each country has an increasingly large stake in the health and openness of the other’s economy.

France is the eighth largest merchandise trading partner for the United States and the United States is France’s largest trading partner outside the European Union. More than half of bilateral trade occurs in major industries such as aerospace, pharmaceuticals, medical and scientific equipment,...

Ethanol: Economic and Policy Issues

Biofuels are a major source of renewable energy in the United States. Ethanol produced from corn starch accounts for 90% of the biofuels consumed, but only 5% of all light-duty motor transportation fuel consumption. Ethanol is blended with gasoline to increase octane and reduce emissions, and used as a substitute for gasoline to reduce consumption of petroleum-based fuels.

Ethanol has the potential to provide many benefits. As an alternative to gasoline refined from imported oil, its use can improve U.S. national energy security, albeit marginally. Although the exact magnitude is subject...

Recent Acquisitions of U.S. Meat Companies

Agriculture, Nutrition, and Rural Provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5). The ARRA is a response to the depth of the economic recession facing the United States (and the rest of the world) at the beginning of 2009. It is billed as an economic stimulus package to improve the situation of individuals and businesses. The ARRA boosts government spending on various infrastructure programs and government benefits programs, and offers individual and business tax benefits. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the ARRA will...

Animal Identification: Overview and Issues

This report provides information about animal identification and proposed solutions. Livestock industry groups, animal health officials, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been working to establish a nationwide identification (ID) system capable of quickly tracking animals from birth to slaughter, to deal with animal diseases and/or to satisfy foreign market specifications. Some consumer groups are among those who believe ID also would be useful for food safety or retail labeling purposes.

Conservation Provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill

The 2008 enacted farm bill (Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) reauthorizes almost all existing conservation programs, modifies several programs, and creates various new conservation programs. A new Conservation Stewardship program replaces the existing Conservation Security Program and a new Agricultural Water Enhancement Program under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program is also authorized with mandatory funding. Other new programs include the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program and a “Sodsaver” provision to help preserve native sod, including virgin prairie...

Specialty Crops: 2008 Farm Bill Issues

Animal Agriculture: 2008 Farm Bill Issues

With a few exceptions (such as milk), the products of animal agriculture are not eligible for the price and income supports that Congress historically has written into farm bills for major row crops such as grains, cotton, and oilseeds. However, the meat and poultry industries do look to the federal government for leadership and support in promoting their exports, resolving trade disputes, and reassuring markets that their products are safe, of high quality, and disease-free. Farm bills can contain policy guidance and resources to help achieve these objectives.

Animal producers closely...

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Concerns in Agricultural Trade

This report categorizes, describes, and in some cases quantifies these barriers on a country-by-country basis. Sixty-two major trading partners are covered in the 2008 report.10 Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and technical barriers to trade (TBTs) are generally detailed in each country’s profile and, where feasible, their impacts on U.S. exports are quantified by U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

The 2008 Farm Bill: Major Provisions and Legislative Action

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246, “2008 farm bill”) was enacted into law on June 18, 2008. It contains 15 titles covering support for commodity crops, horticulture and livestock production, conservation, nutrition, trade and food aid, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, energy, forestry, and other related programs. It also includes provisions that make certain changes to tax laws, in order to offset some new spending initiatives in the final bill. The enacted bill succeeds the most recent 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) and is to guide most...

Livestock Feed Costs: Concerns and Options

This report discusses higher livestock feed costs. The authors argue the current public policies, including financial incentives that divert corn from feed uses into ethanol production.

The U.S. Farm Economy

Midwest Floods of 2008: Potential Impact on Agriculture

Unusually cool, wet spring weather followed by widespread June flooding across much of the Corn Belt cast considerable uncertainty over 2008 U.S. corn and soybean production prospects. As much as 5 million acres of crop production were initially thought to be either lost entirely or subject to significant yield reductions. Estimates of flood-related crop damage varied widely due, in part, to a lack of reliable information about the extent of plant recovery or replanting in the flooded areas. These circumstances generated considerable market angst and U.S. agricultural prices for corn and...

Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods

The 2002 farm bill required retailers to provide country-of-origin

labeling for fresh produce, red meats, peanuts, and seafood by September 30, 2004. Congress twice postponed implementation for all but seafood; country-of-origin labeling (COOL) now must be

implemented by September 30, 2008. Some lawmakers have proposed new COOL requirements for other foods and food ingredients, as part of a proposed overhaul of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Possible Expiration (or Extension) of the 2002 Farm Bill

The 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) authorized an array of agricultural, rural, and nutrition programs. Many provisions of the 2002 farm bill were scheduled to expire in 2007. If a new farm bill or year-long extension were not enacted before the 2008 harvest, permanent law would have taken effect. Under permanent law, eligible commodities would be supported at levels much higher than they are now, and many of the currently supported commodities might not be eligible (including soybeans and peanuts). Permanent law for the commodity programs is so radically different from current policy and...

The 2008 Farm Bill: A Summary of Major Provisions and Legislative Action

The report discusses the 2008 farm bill (H.R. 2419), covering a wide range of programs including The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, farm credit, agricultural conservation, research, rural development, and foreign and domestic food programs, among others.

Agriculture and Forestry Provisions in Climate Change Legislation (S. 3036)

This report summarizes some of the domestic agriculture and forestry provisions in the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 (S. 3036, formerly S. 2191), as ordered reported out of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in December 2007.

High Agricultural Commodity Prices: What Are the Issues?

Prices for nearly all major U.S. agricultural program crops—corn, barley, sorghum, oats, wheat, rice, and soybeans—have exhibited extreme price volatility since mid-2007, while rising to record or near-record levels in early 2008. Several international organizations have announced that the sharply rising commodity prices are likely to have dire consequences for the world’s vulnerable populations, particularly in import-dependent, less developed nations. In the United States, high commodity prices have pushed farm income to successive annual records and have sharply lowered government farm...

Agriculture Conservation Programs: A Scorecard

This report provides basic information on several agriculture conservation programs, primarily drawn from agency budget presentations and websites, about each program using a consistent format. This information should help respond to basic questions and resolve many common sources of confusion about the purposes of the program, program participation and policy topics.

Funding Levels for Conservation Programs in the 2007 Farm Bill

Soil and Water Conservation: An Overview

This report offers the most recent development regarding the soil and water conservation topics and current major conservation activities. The report addresses these conservation topics; what should be the priorities for the conservation effort; and deciding whether any existing programs or activities should be modified or eliminated and whether new programs or activities should be added to the effort.

Conservation and the 2007 Farm Bill

This report introduces some of the issues that are influencing the development of a conservation title. It then reviews major provisions passed by both chambers, followed by some of the alternative conservation proposals that were offered. An appendix compares current law with the conservation provisions, as passed by both chambers, in more detail.

Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) Drought: Federal Water Management Issues

Drought in the Southeast has brought congressional attention to an ongoing interstate conflict among Alabama, Florida, and Georgia over water allocation in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river system. Drawdown of Lake Lanier, the uppermost federal reservoir in the ACF basin, in fall 2007 to support minimum flows in the lower basin’s Apalachicola River escalated the conflict. The Atlanta metropolitan area’s municipal and industrial water users are concerned about drawdown of their principal (in some cases, their only) water supply. They question the justification for the minimum...

Agricultural Export and Food Aid Programs

European Union–U.S. Trade and Investment Relations: Key Issues

The FY2009 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture

The report discusses the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) budget request for FY2009. The request includes a $76 billion in mandatory funds for food stamps, child nutrition, and farm subsidies.

Poland’s New Government: Background and Issues for the United States

After a governmental deadlock caused by intra-coalition squabbling, Poland held snap parliamentary elections on October 21, 2007; the vote was seen by many as a referendum on the governing style and policies of the then-ruling Law and Justice party. Under that government, the presidency and prime minister’s post were held by twin brothers Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Their government’s nationalist policies caused controversy domestically and in the international arena as well. Many observers believe that under the new center-right Civic Alliance-led government, domestic policies will...

Trade Capacity Building: Foreign Assistance for Trade and Development

Trade capacity building (TCB) is a form of development assistance provided by the United States and other donors to help developing countries participate in and benefit from global trade. In addition to helping developing countries negotiate and implement trade agreements, TCB includes development assistance for agricultural development, customs administration, business training, physical infrastructure development, financial sector development, and labor and environmental standards. Some experts believe that TCB is necessary for developing countries to adjust to trade liberalization and...

Farm Bill Budget and Costs: 2002 vs. 2007

Farm Commodity Programs and the 2007 Farm Bill

Payment Limits for Farm Commodity Programs: Issues and Proposals

San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement

Historically, Central California’s San Joaquin River supported large Chinook salmon populations. Since the Bureau of Reclamation’s Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River became fully operational in the 1940s, much of the river’s water has been diverted for off-stream agricultural uses. As a result, approximately 60 miles of the river bed is dry in most years. Thus, the river no longer supports Chinook salmon populations in its upper reaches. In 1988, a coalition of conservation and fishing groups sued Reclamation (Natural Resources Defense Council v. Rodgers). A U.S. District Court judge has...

Food Safety: Oversight and Current Issues

Agriculture-Based Renewable Energy Production

Canada’s WTO Case Against U.S. Agricultural Support

Background on Sugar Policy Issues

Eliminating the Planting Restrictions on Fruits and Vegetables in the Farm Commodity Programs

Owners of cropland with a history of growing “program crops” receive federal subsidy payments without regard to what crops are currently being produced on these base acres. In other words, these “direct payments” are decoupled from crop planting decisions. While the direct payments program is characterized as giving producers the flexibility to make planting choices based on actual market conditions instead of subsidy rules, there are restrictions. There is a prohibition on planting fruits, vegetables, and wild rice on program crop base acres. This planting restrictions policy is now under...

Dairy Policy Issues

Potential Challenges to U.S. Farm Subsidies in the WTO

Trade Conflict and the U.S.-European Union Economic Relationship

The United States and the European Union (EU) share a huge, dynamic, and mutually beneficial economic partnership. Not only is the U.S.-EU trade and investment relationship the largest in the world, but it is also arguably the most important. Agreement between the two partners in the past has been critical to making the world trading system more open and efficient.

Given the high level of U.S.-EU commercial interactions, trade tensions and disputes are not unexpected. In the past, U.S.-EU trade relations have witnessed periodic episodes of rising trade tensions and conflicts, only to be...

The FY2008 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Administration’s FY2008 budget request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) includes $92.2 billion in budget authority. Proposed discretionary budget authority would increase 1.6% from FY2007 levels to $20.3 billion. Mandatory budget authority would remain nearly steady at $71 billion; formula-driven increases in crop insurance and domestic food assistance would offset decreases in commodity program payments. The Administration’s 2007 farm bill proposal is largely separate from its budget request, although a $500 million per year placeholder for new spending is included in the...

The USDA 2007 Farm Bill Proposal: Possible Questions

On January 31, 2007, the Secretary of Agriculture publicly released a set of recommendations for a 2007 farm bill. The proposal is comprehensive and follows largely the outline of the current 2002 farm bill, which expires this year. It includes proposals regarding commodity support, conservation, trade, nutrition and domestic food assistance, farm credit, rural development, agricultural research, forestry, energy, and such miscellaneous items as crop insurance, organic programs, and Section 32 purchases of fruits and vegetables.

The Administration delivered its report to Congress, not as a...

Farm and Food Support Under USDA’s Section 32 Program

WTO Doha Round: The Agricultural Negotiations

The pace of efforts to revive suspended World Trade Organization Doha Round trade negotiations has quickened as the July 2007 expiration for fast-track or trade promotion authority for expedited congressional consideration of trade agreement legislation approaches. Although technical negotiations have addressed specific formulas for reducing trade-distorting farm support and tariffs, high-level political discussions have yet to produce a satisfactory compromise among WTO members for future agricultural trade liberalization.

Negotiations were suspended in July 2006 when a core group of WTO...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2007 Appropriations

The Agriculture and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes all of USDA (except the Forest Service), plus the Food and Drug Administration and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The full House passed the FY2007 agriculture appropriations bill on May 23, 2006 (H.R. 5384, H.Rept. 109-463). On June 22, 2006, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported its version (H.R. 5384, S.Rept. 109-266). The full Senate took up the bill on December 5, 2006, but only to consider a crop disaster amendment, which was defeated. Because a final bill has not been enacted, a continuing resolution...

Previewing a 2007 Farm Bill

Federal farm support, food assistance, agricultural trade, marketing, and rural development policies are governed by a variety of separate laws. However, many of these laws periodically are evaluated, revised, and renewed through an omnibus, multi-year “farm bill.” The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-171) was the most recent omnibus farm bill, and many of its provisions expire in 2007, so reauthorization is expected to be addressed in the first session of the 110th Congress.

The heart of every omnibus farm bill is farm income and commodity price support...

Avian Influenza: Agricultural Issues

Agriculture in the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA)

On August 2, 2005, President Bush signed into law the bill to implement the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, or DR-CAFTA ( P.L. 109-53 , H.R. 3045 ). Drawing much attention during congressional debate were the agreement's sugar provisions to allow additional sugar from the region to enter the U.S. market. To assuage concerns expressed by some Members, the Administration pledged prior to Senate passage to take steps to ensure that all sugar imports, including those under DR-CAFTA, do not exceed a "trigger" that could undermine the U.S. Department of Agriculture's...

U.S.-Canada Corn Trade Dispute

Agricultural Export and Food Aid Programs

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2006 Appropriations

The President signed the FY2006 Agriculture Appropriations Act (P.L. 109-97, H.R. 2744) into law on November 10, 2005. The act includes all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (except the Forest Service), plus the Food and Drug Administration, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The $100.1 billion law is $15.0 billion (+18%) above FY2005 levels, and contains $17.03 billion in discretionary spending and $83.07 billion for mandatory programs. The discretionary amount is $199 million (+1.2%) above FY2005 levels, $201 million (+1.2%) more than the House bill, and $317 million...

Trade Integration in the Americas

Since the 1990s, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have been a focus of United States trade policy, as demonstrated by the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement, and, more recently, the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The Bush Administration has made trade agreements important elements of U.S. trade policy. The United States currently is in the process of completing trade negotiations with Andean countries for a free trade agreement (FTA) and on reactivating talks for a U.S.-Panama...

The United States and Europe: Possible Options for U.S. Policy

The United States and Europe share a long and intertwined history, replete with many ups and downs. The modern transatlantic relationship was forged in the aftermath of World War II to deter the Soviet threat and to promote security and stability in Europe. NATO and the European Union (EU), the latest stage in a process of European integration begun in the 1950s, are the two key pillars upon which the U.S.-European partnership still rests. The U.S. Congress and successive U.S. administrations have supported both organizations as means to nourish democracy, foster reliable military allies,...

The World Trade Organization: The Hong Kong Ministerial

The World Trade Organization (WTO) held its 6th Ministerial summit in Hong Kong from December 13-18, 2005. WTO Ministerials are held every two years to bring together trade ministers from member states, often to make political decisions for the body. Although an original goal of the Ministerial was to agree on a package of modalities (methods by which the round is negotiated) for the ongoing Doha Development Agenda (DDA) round of trade negotiations, this aim was dropped in order to avoid a high-profile failure similar to previous Ministerials at Cancun and Seattle. Rather, members agreed...

Price Determination in Agricultural Commodity Markets: A Primer

This report provides a general description of price determination in major U.S. agricultural commodity markets for wheat, rice, corn, soybeans, and cotton. Understanding the fundamentals of commodity market price formation is critical to evaluating the potential effects of government policies and programs (existing or proposed), as well as of trade agreements that may open U.S. borders to foreign competitors. In addition, an understanding of the interplay of market forces over time contributes to flexibility in making policy for what may be short-term market phenomena. The general price...

Green Payments in U.S. and European Union Agricultural Policy

Green payments are generally defined as payments made to agricultural producers as compensation for environmental benefits that accrue at levels beyond what producers might otherwise achieve under existing market and regulatory conditions. They may support both environmental and farm income objectives. Modern U.S. agri-environmental programs began in 1985 by paying farmers to retire land and limiting conversion of wetlands and highly erodible land to cultivation, thereby reducing negative environmental effects associated with production agriculture. These initial programs focused on...

Funding Plant and Animal Health Emergencies: Transfers from the Commodity Credit Corporation

The Secretary of Agriculture has the authority to transfer funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for emergency control programs. The Secretary’s use of this authority has increased in recent years, and has become an issue within government concerning the method for funding plant and animal health programs.

The authority to transfer money for plant and animal health emergencies is found both in annual appropriations acts and in authorizing statutes. Discretion rests with the Secretary of Agriculture, who is subject to...

Farm Commodity Programs: Base Acreage and Planting Flexibility

This report discusses two policy issues that have arisen regarding planting flexibility on base acres, particularly restrictions on growing fruits and vegetables as an alternative crop. First, some Midwestern producers felt penalized because their history of growing fruits and vegetables reduced their soybean bases under the 2002 farm bill. H.R. 2045 and S. 1038 would allow certain fruits and vegetables to be grown without penalizing any future recalculation of base, while reducing a farm’s subsidy payments for one year. S. 194 would allow chicory to be grown on base acres. Second,...

Supplemental Appropriations for the 2004 Hurricanes and Other Disasters

Agriculture in the WTO: Member Spending on Domestic Support

Under the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Agreement on Agriculture (AA), member countries agreed to general rules regarding disciplines on domestic and export subsidies, and concessions on market access. This report focuses solely on the commitments made by WTO member countries concerning government outlays in support of domestic agricultural production. The three sections of the report provide a brief overview of WTO domestic policy commitments; background information on WTO member requirements for reporting on domestic subsidy outlays; WTO member outlays made to support agricultural...

Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws, 2005 Edition

The complexities of federal farm and food programs have generated a unique vocabulary. Common understanding of these terms (new and old) is important to those involved in policymaking in this area. For this reason, the House Agriculture Committee requested that CRS prepare a glossary of agriculture and related terms (e.g., food programs, conservation, forestry, environmental protection, etc.). Besides defining terms and phrases with specialized meanings for agriculture, the glossary also identifies acronyms, abbreviations, agencies, programs, and laws related to agriculture that are of...

Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods

The 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) as modified by the FY2004 USDA appropriation (P.L. 108-199) mandates retail country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for fresh produce, red meats, and peanuts starting September 30, 2006, and for seafood starting September 30, 2004. Some in Congress still strongly support mandatory COOL, especially after discoveries since 2003 of “mad cow” disease in four Canadian-born cattle. Others counter that COOL is a marketing, not an animal or human health, concern and should be voluntary.

Federal Farm Promotion ("Check-Off") Programs

This report discusses the so-called beef check-off program, one of a number of generic promotion programs for beef and other agricultural products that Congress has authorized in recent decades. Supporters view check-offs as economically beneficial self-help activities that need minimal government involvement or taxpayer funding. Producers, handlers, and/or importers are required to pay an assessment, usually deducted from revenue at time of sale — thus the name check-off. However, some farmers contend they are being “taxed” for advertising and related activities they would not...

Agriculture in the WTO: Policy Commitments Made Under the Agreement on Agriculture

The Uruguay Round (UR) of multilateral trade negotiations, completed in 1994, represented the first significant step toward reforming international agricultural trade. Under the UR negotiations, domestic policies and trade policies were viewed as interconnected. As a result, WTO member countries committed to disciplines in agricultural support in three broad areas -- domestic agricultural support programs, export subsidies, and market access -- often referred to as the three pillars of the Agreement on Agriculture (AA). In addition, members also agreed to provisions concerning the handling...

Japan-U.S. Beef Trade Issues

The Canadian Hog Trade Dispute

The Doha Development Agenda: The WTO Framework Agreement

On July 31, 2004, the 147 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) reached a Framework Agreement for conducting future Doha Round trade negotiations. The Framework Agreement is the latest step in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) round of trade negotiations at the WTO, which was launched at the 4th Ministerial of the WTO at Doha, Qatar in November 2001. This report provides analysis of the framework agreement and its significant results (agriculture, industrial market access, services, and trade facilitation) in the context of U.S. objectives. The Framework addresses the three...

Asian Soybean Rust: Background and Issues

This report discusses the background and issues regarding Asian soybean rust (ASR) that was discovered in the United States in an experimental field in Louisiana. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is coordinating a plan to deal with ASR that encompasses various USDA agencies, state land-grant universities, and industry participants. The arrival of ASR has implications for several public policies including pest control research (particularly the development of resistant varieties), pesticide regulation, disaster assistance, and crop insurance.

The Virus-Serum-Toxin Act: A Brief History and Analysis

The Viruses, Serums, Toxins, Antitoxins, and Analogous Products Act (21 U.S.C. 151-159), also known as the Virus-Serum-Toxin Act (VSTA), is intended to assure the safe and effective supply of animal vaccines and other biological products. The act and its applicable regulations are administered by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The VSTA was enacted in 1913, and revised once in 1985. A 2002 law affected the VSTA by transferring border and import inspection functions from USDA to the Department of Homeland Security.

Fuel Ethanol: Background and Public Policy Issues

Farm Commodity Programs: Direct Payments, Counter-Cyclical Payments, and Marketing Loans

This report discusses federal law that has authorized farm income and commodity price support programs for over 70 years.The 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) authorizes the current programs for the 2002-2007 crop years. The payment framework combines direct payments of the 1996 farm bill (P.L. 104-127) with counter-cyclical payments of prior laws. Subsidies continue for wheat, feed grains, upland cotton, and rice, and soybeans and peanuts are added to the list of major crops. Dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas were added to the loan program, and wool, mohair, and honey were reinstated....

Farm Credit Services of America Ends Attempt to Leave the Farm Credit System

In an unprecedented move, an institution of the Farm Credit System (FCS) -- a government-sponsored enterprise -- initiated procedures on July 30, 2004, to leave the FCS and be purchased by a private company. But after much controversy, including congressional hearings, the board of directors of Farm Credit Services of America (FCSA) voted on October 19, 2004, to terminate its agreement with Rabobank before seeking approval from the Farm Credit Administration, the System's federal regulator. FCSA is the FCS lending association serving Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Rabobank...

Average Farm Subsidy Payments, by State, 2002

The U.S. Department of Agriculture makes direct subsidy payments through the Commodity Credit Corporation to farmers for commodity price and income support, certain conservation and environmental activities, and some disaster losses. In 2002, these direct farm subsidy payments amounted to $12.151 billion.

This report examines the distribution of these payments among states, calculates the average size of payments going to recipient farms in each state, and distinguishes between payments received by farm operators and landlords. This information is intended to aid in policy debates about...

Tobacco Price Support: An Overview of the Program

Ranking Agricultural Commodities by Farm Payments and Federal Food Aid Purchases

The federal government affects the supply and demand of various agricultural goods through farm income support and food donation programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides payments to farmers and landowners for producing certain program commodities. Ranking commodities by the level of support depends on the criteria and time period. Over FY2003-FY2005, USDA expects to spend about $11 billion annually on farm payments. In total outlays, feed grains receive the most support (29% of the total), followed by wheat, dairy, and cotton (15%-18% each). However, using different...

Iraq Agriculture and Food Supply: Background and Issues

Iraq's agricultural sector represents a small but vital component of Iraq's economy. Over the past several decades agriculture's role in the economy has been heavily influenced by Iraq's involvement in military conflicts, particularly the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, the 1991 Gulf War, and the 2003 Iraq War, and by varying degrees of government effort to promote and/or control agricultural production. Rapid population growth coupled with limited arable land and a general stagnation in agricultural productivity has steadily increased dependence on imports to meet domestic food needs since the...

Agriculture as a Source of Barge Demand on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers: Background and Issues

Five of the nation’s top agricultural production states -- Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin -- have traditionally relied on the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway (UMR-IWW) navigation system as their principal conduit for export-bound agricultural products -- mostly bulk corn and soybeans. The low-cost, high-volume capability of barge transportation has long provided an important competitive advantage for U.S. agricultural products in international markets. Agricultural barge freight on the UMR-IWW grew rapidly for several decades in the post-WWII era, but has...

The WTO Cancun Ministerial

The Cancun Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization(WTO) broke up without reaching agreement on the course of future multilateral trade negotiations. Negotiations on the Doha Development Agenda have proceeded at a slow pace since the launch of the new round in November 2001. The immediate cause of the collapse of talks was disagreement over launching negotiations on the Singapore issues, but agriculture and industrial market access issues were also sources of contention. Reaction from the United States has been to focus on regional and bilateral talks, while the European...

Animal Agriculture: Selected Issues in the 108th Congress

Animal agriculture accounts for a significant segment of U.S. agriculture: in 2002, for example, U.S. Farmers and ranchers received $94 billion from the sale of animal products, or about half of all U.S. Farm cash receipts.

Various issues important to animal agriculture have generated interest among lawmakers in the first session of the 108th Congress. For example, under the 2002 farm bill ( P.L. 107-171 ) many food stores in 2004 must provide country-of-origin labeling (COOL) on ground and fresh cuts of beef, pork, and lamb. The House-passed USDA appropriation for FY2004 ( H.R. 2673 )...

Comparing Quota Buyout Payments for Peanuts and Tobacco

Legislation is pending in the 108th Congress ( S. 1490 , H.R. 3160 ) to eliminate tobacco quotas and compensate quota owners (whether they are absentee owners or active producers) at the rate of $8 per quota pound. Active producers would lose price support, but would receive a lump sum transition payment of $4 per pound on their production history, including the quota they own as well as any quota they rent. A precedent for quota buyouts was established in the 2002 farm bill, which terminated peanut quotas and compensated the owners with a $0.55 per pound payment. Active peanut producers...

Agriculture in WTO Negotiations

The World Trade Organization's (WTO) fifth ministerial conference (held September 10-14, 2003 in Cancun, Mexico) ended without an agreement on a framework for continuing multilateral negotiations on agricultural trade liberalization. The inconclusive end of the Cancun ministerial places in doubt the ability of WTO member countries to complete the current round of negotiations by the scheduled January 1, 2005 deadline. WTO member countries launched this new round of multilateral trade negotiations in November 2001 at the WTO's fourth ministerial conference in Doha, Qatar. Because of its...

The International Wine Market: Description and Selected Issues

Global trade in wine has increased rapidly during the past 25 years, steadily rising from under $1 billion in 1977 to over $7 billion in 2001. Reports of health benefits and rising global incomes have spurred increasing demand for wine, particularly in mid- to upper-income countries. In 2001, the United States was the world's leading importer, just ahead of the European Union (EU). Together, the two countries accounted for over 60% of global imports. The European Union has traditionally dominated global wine production and exports. However, the United States, along with several Southern...

Iraq's Economy: Past, Present, Future

This report discusses the government of Iraq and its active role in stimulating and directing the Iraqi economy.This report identifies issues to be addressed before Iraq can participate normally in the world economy.

Iraq's Agriculture: Background and Status

Iraq's agricultural sector represents a small, but vital component of Iraq's economy. Over the past several decades agriculture's role in the economy has been heavily influenced by Iraq's involvement in military conflicts, particularly the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War and the 1991 Gulf War, and by varying degrees of government efforts to promote and/or control agricultural production. In the mid-1980s, agriculture accounted for only about 14% of the national GDP. After the imposition of U.N. sanctions and the Iraqi government's non-compliance with a proposed U.N. Oil-for-Food program in 1991,...

Agricultural Trade Issues in the 108th Congress

Agricultural exports contribute to the prosperity of the U.S. agricultural economy. Their value is projected at $57 billion for FY2003, and they are expected to grow over the long term. These exports are the equivalent of about a quarter of the gross income of U.S. farmers and generate both farm and nonfarm employment. U.S. agricultural imports, expected to reach $43 billion in FY2003, are fostered by low average U.S. tariffs, the relative strength of the U.S. dollar, and consumer tastes and preferences for high value food products, the largest component of imports. A large share...

Appropriations for FY2003: Treasury, Postal Service, Executive Office of the President, and General Government

The Treasury and General Government accounts are funded for FY2003 through the Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003 ( P.L. 108-7 ; Division J). Because the accounts in this appropriation were not funded, other than under continuing resolution, as the 107th Congress adjourned, legislation was required for that purpose early in the 108th Congress. During the interim, the accounts were funded at FY2002 enacted levels. P.L. 108-7 also requires a rescission across all discretionary funding within the Act. On February 4, 2002, President George W. Bush submitted his FY2003 budget to...

Farm Bill Trade and Food Aid Provisions

This report discusses the trade provisions of omnibus farm legislation, passed and signed into law in May 2002. The

measure includes a trade title reauthorizing, through 2007, the major foreign food aid and agricultural export programs. It also contains other provisions affecting agricultural trade, including new country-of-origin labeling requirements for meat, seafood, and produce; and increased domestic farm subsidies with possible implications for U.S. trade relations.

Agriculture and Fast Track or Trade Promotion Authority

New “fast track,” or trade promotion, authority (TPA) cleared the 107th Congress, and was signed into law (P.L. 107-210) on August 6, 2002. Such authority enables the Administration to submit negotiated foreign trade agreements to Congress for consideration under expedited procedures. Many agricultural and food industry interests were among the export-oriented enterprises that supported TPA, arguing that foreign trading partners would not seriously negotiate with an Administration that lacked it. However, some farm groups argued that fast track ultimately will lead to new agreements that...

Agriculture and Fast Track or Trade Promotion Authority

Trade Title of the 2002 Farm Bill: Comparison of Final Provisions with the House and Senate Proposals, and Prior Law

Exports, whether commercial or provided as food aid, are viewed by most U.S. agricultural groups as critical to their prosperity. Thus, the trade and food aid provisions of the omnibus farm bill, the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 ( H.R. 2646 ), signed into law ( P.L. 107-171 ) by the President on May 13, 2002, are of great interest to the agricultural community. The measure includes a trade title (Title III) amending and/or extending, through 2007, the major agricultural export and foreign food aid programs. These include direct export subsidies (the Export Enhancement...

German Elections of 2002: Aftermath and Implications for the United States

The German parliamentary elections of September 22, 2002, returned Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his Red-Green coalition by the narrowest of margins. The Chancellor begins his second term weakened by the slimness of his coalition's majority in parliament and the lack of a clear mandate from the voters. He must deal with serious economic problems left over from his first term. He also faces the challenge of overcoming tensions with the United States brought on by his sharp campaign statements condemning U.S. Iraq policy that may have won him the election. Many now wonder whether...

The 2002 Farm Bill: Overview and Status

Federal farm support, nutrition, agricultural trade and food aid, conservation, credit, marketing, rural development, agricultural research, and related policies are governed by a variety of separate laws. Although these laws may be considered and amended as free-standing legislation, many of them are evaluated periodically, revised, and renewed through an omnibus, multi-year farm bill.

On May 2, 2002, the House voted, 280 to 141, to approve the conference report on a new, 6-year omnibus farm bill ( H.R. 2646 ; H.Rept. 107-424 ). The Senate approved the conference report on May 8,...

Agriculture: A List of Websites

This list provides a sampling of the rapidly proliferating number of agricultural resources available on the Internet. It is not intended to be exhaustive. It is divided into 24 main categories and 16 subcategories.

Peanut Program: Evolution from Supply Management to Market Orientation

The 2002 farm bill radically overhauls the peanut program, by completely replacing the supply and price management system in place for more than 60 years. It repeals the limit set on the amount of peanuts that farmers can sell domestically for food consumption, and substitutes in large part the revenue this "quota" system with its high level of price support had guaranteed them, with an infusion of annual government payments to "historic" peanut producers. The new program's price support and income subsidy features (covering the 2002 to 2007 crops) are similar to those authorized for...

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers

The 107th Congress in late July and early August 2002 cleared for the President's signature a wide-ranging trade bill ( H.R. 3009 ) that includes reauthorization and expansion of trade adjustment assistance (TAA) programs for workers and firms. One TAA provision authorizes a new $90 million annual program for agriculture, aimed at addressing low farm prices caused at least partly by imports. Among the issues is the need for a new program designed specifically for farmers in ranchers, particularly after Congressional approval, earlier in 2002, of a comprehensive 6-year farm bill that...

Agriculture Support Mechanisms in the European Union: A Comparison with the United States

The European Union (EU), comprised of 15 member states (countries), is one of the United States’ chief agricultural trading partners and also a major competitor in world markets. Both heavily support their agricultural sectors, with a large share of such support concentrated on wheat, feed grains, cotton, oilseeds, sugar, dairy, and tobacco. However, the EU provides more extensive support to a broader range of farm and food products. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the EU and United States in 2001 together accounted for nearly two-thirds of...

Chemical Plant Security

Agroterrorism: Options in Congress

Although U.S. intelligence agencies have not identified any terrorist acts targeting agricultural production (i.e., agroterrorism) in the United States to date, the events of September 11, 2001 have awakened the nation to their possibility. Some experts estimate that a single agroterrorist attack using a highly contagious livestock disease could cost between $10 billion and $30 billion to the U.S. economy. This report examines the potential threats to America’s agriculture from a deliberate biological attack, describes the current defense structure and capabilities available to respond to...

The 2002 Farm Law at a Glance

On May 13, 2002, President Bush signed the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRIA) of 2002 into law ( P.L. 107-171 ). FSRIA is the latest in a long line of omnibus, multi-year farm bills. It is intended to guide, for the next 6 years through 2007, the operation of commodity price and income support, conservation, agricultural trade and foreign food aid, domestic nutrition (primarily food stamps), farm credit, rural development, agricultural research and extension, and several other farm and rural-related policies and programs. The 2002 law is the successor to the last...

Farm "Counter-Cyclical Assistance"

Congress has approved legislation ( P.L. 107-171 ) reauthorizing major farm income and commodity price support programs through crop year 2007. This legislation includes new "counter-cyclical assistance" programs for grains, cotton, oilseeds, peanuts, and milk. The intent of counter-cyclical assistance is to provide more government support when farm prices and/or incomes decline, and less support when they improve. In fact, farmers have, for many years, been eligible for various forms of counter-cyclical assistance. At issue has been the need for, and potential impacts of,...

Farm Commodity Legislation: Chronology, 1933-2002

This report discusses legislation regarding commodities and price supports. Since 1933, Congress has required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to administer various price and income support programs for U.S. farmers. Some standing authority for these programs is provided by three permanent laws, from 1938, 1948, and 1949. However, Congress frequently alters the basic provisions of these laws. The omnibus law now guiding farm support (through 2007) is the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002.

Farm Commodity Legislation: Chronology, 1933-2002

Since 1933, Congress has required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to administer various price and income support programs for U.S. farmers. Some standing authority for these programs is provided by three permanent laws, from 1938, 1948, and 1949. However, Congress frequently alters the basic provisions of these laws. The omnibus law now guiding farm support (through 2007) is the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. This report will be updated if events warrant.

The U.S.-European Union Banana Dispute

The United States and the European Union (EU) reached an agreement in April 2001 that resolved a long-standing dispute over the EU's rules for importing bananas. Objections to the agreement by other banana exporting countries, such as Ecuador and Caribbean banana exporters, have been withdrawn. The U.S.-EU banana agreement provides for a transition to a tariff-only system of imports in 2006. In the meantime, the EU will establish quotas and a licensing system based on historical trade shares that should increase the prospects for Latin American banana imports in the EU market, especially...

The WTO Doha Ministerial: Results and Agenda for a New Round of Negotiations

Trade ministers from the 142 member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) met in Doha, Qatar from November 9-14, 2001. At the end of their meeting, they issued a ministerial declaration, along with two statements on developing country concerns, that establish an agenda for a new round trade negotiations. This agenda has significant implications for Congress. Most of the agreements reached during the round will require congressional approval before they can be implemented by the United States. More immediately, however, the Doha results provide a framework for the congressional...

Appropriations for FY2002: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies

This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Agriculture by summarizing the current legislative status of the bill, its scope, major issues, funding levels, and related legislative activity. The report also lists the key CRS staff relevant to the issues covered and related CRS products.

Agriculture in Afghanistan and Neighboring Asian Countries

Agriculture (as measured by share of gross domestic product and employment) is a significant economic sector in seven Central and South Asian countries: Afghanistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. All of these countries are net food importers. Some have experienced successive years of drought, which has contributed to noticeable declines in agricultural output and the need to increase commodity imports. The United Nations’ World Food Program reports that both Afghanistan and Tajikistan are currently in need of emergency food assistance to cover...

The 2002 Farm Bill: Overview and Status

Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting

On April 2, 2001, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented the Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting (LMPR) law. LMPR was passed as part of USDA's FY2000 appropriations law ( P.L. 106-78 ), to address the concerns of some livestock producers about low prices, increasing industry concentration, and the availability of price information. Under the previous, voluntary system, USDA reported data provided on a voluntary basis by meat packers and processors on the prices they pay for animals. The new law requires large packers to report not only negotiated sales, but also forward...

Regional Trade Agreements: An Analysis of Trade-Related Impacts

The 107th Congress is currently debating regional trade agreements (RTAs) from two important perspectives directly and in connection with granting the Administration trade negotiating authority. The Congress is directly addressing RTAs via the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade agreement, which has been approved in the House and is under consideration in the Senate. Also, the Bush Administration is negotiating agreements with Chile and Singapore that may be sent to Congress for consideration. In addition, Congress is weighing whether to grant the Administration trade promotion authority (TPA), also...

The Barcelona Process: The European Union's Partnership with the Southern Mediterranean

The European Union (EU) has identified the Mediterranean (MED) region as a key external relations priority. EU policy towards the region is governed by the comprehensive Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Initiative, launched at the 1995 Barcelona Conference between the EU and the 12 Mediterranean partners. The Barcelona Process entails a new, broader and more far-reaching agenda of cooperation with the non-EU Mediterranean countries, including the creation of a Euro-MED free trade area to be established by 2010. The Barcelona Agreement contains three chapters of cooperation: the political...

What Is a Farm Bill?

Energy Costs and Agriculture

U.S. agriculture is not an especially energy-intensive industry, but energy does account for about 6% of farm production costs. Additionally, farming is a highly mechanized industry and requires timely energy supplies at particular stages of the production cycle in order to achieve optimum yields. A substantial part of energy use by agriculture is indirect —embodied in the chemicals applied and machinery used on farms.

Foot and Mouth Disease: A Threat to U.S. Agriculture

An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) among livestock in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe that began in February 2001 has raised concerns about the United States’ ability to prevent the disease from spreading to this country and readiness to eradicate it should an outbreak occur. This report describes the characteristics of the FMD virus and disease, the current measures the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking to prevent its importation, and the authorities USDA has to act to eradicate an outbreak. The FMD threat also raises issues concerning the adequacy of funding...

Agriculture and China's Accession to the World Trade Organization

The prospect of future growth in demand for agricultural products makes China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) an important issue for the U.S. agricultural sector. Most agricultural interest groups strongly support China’s entry into the WTO, because they think it will increase U.S. agricultural exports and enhance farm income. In the 107th Congress, attention is focused on China’s final WTO accession negotiations where differences over agriculture have become an issue.

Biosafety Protocol for Genetically Modified Organisms: Overview

The Biosafety Protocol to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was adopted in January 2000, by the 176 nations that are parties to the CBD. Not having ratified the CBD, the United States participated in the negotiations as an observer, but nevertheless was an active participant in the discussions. The Protocol addresses a major area of concern that was not resolved by the parent CBD in 1992 the safe handling, transfer and trade of biological organisms. In recent years, this issue has gained new prominence and controversy as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have become...

StarLink™ Corn Controversy: Background

The European Union's Ban on Hormone-Treated Meat

The European Union (EU) continues to ban imports of meat derived from animals treated with growth hormones despite rulings by World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panels that the banis inconsistent with the Uruguay Round Agreement on health and safety measures used to restrict imports (the Sanitary and Phytosanitary or SPS Agreement). U.S. retaliation, authorized by the WTO, in the form of 100% duties on $116 million of EU agricultural products remains in effect while negotiations to resolve the dispute continue. Thus far, EU offers of compensation (trade concessions) for lost...

Agricultural Marketing Assistance Loans and Loan Deficiency Payments

Marketing assistance loans for the major crops were designed to facilitate orderly marketing by providing short-term financing so that farmers could pay their bills right after harvest and spread their sales over the entire marketing year. However, the persistence of very low commodity prices transformed the loan program into a major vehicle of farm income support. Marketing loan program benefits (primarily loan deficiency payments, LDPs) to farmers amounted to about $5.9 billion in 1999, and will exceed $6.5 billion in 2000. Such levels of use and high costs have revealed...

Agricultural Marketing Assistance Loans and Loan Deficiency Payments

Emergency Funding for Agriculture: A Brief History of Congressional Action, FY1989-FY2001

From FY1989 through FY2001 (to date), nineteen appropriations or farm disaster acts have provided $38 billion in emergency funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs. Nearly $27 billion, or about 70 percent of the total amount, has been provided for FY1999-FY2001 alone. Since FY1989, the vast majority of the funds has been paid directly to farmers, primarily in the form of “market loss payments” (just under $17 billion, all since FY1999) to compensate for low farm commodity prices, and disaster payments($15.6 billion) paid to any producer who experienced a major crop loss...

Federal Crop Insurance and the Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-224)

On June 20, 2000, the President signed into law the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000 ( P.L. 106-224 , H.R. 2559 ), which reduces significantly the farmer cost of acquiring a crop insurance policy beginning in the 2001 crop year. P.L. 106-224 is estimated to add $8.2 billion in new federal spending for the federal crop insurance program over the next 5 years (FY2001-2005), in order to attract more farmers into the program and lessen the need for ad hoc disaster assistance. From 1994 through 1999, the federal government spent an average of $1.5 billion per year on crop insurance...

Appropriations for FY2001: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Agriculture Appropriations.

Appropriations for FY1999: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Agriculture Appropriations.

Appropriations for FY1998: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies

The President signed into law the FY1998 appropriations act for USDA and related agencies ( P.L. 105-86 , H.R. 2160 ) on November 18, 1997. The House and Senate gave final approval to the $49.55 billion measure on October 6 and 29, respectively. Two days after signing the bill, the President exercised his line-item-veto authority by canceling funds for five agricultural research projects, for total savings of $1.9 million. Congress has 30 calendar days to disapprove the cancellations, once it returns in late January 1998. The FY1998 measure provides $3.6 billion less than the FY1997...

Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws

This report includes a glossary of approximately 1,700 agriculture and related terms (e.g., food programs, conservation, forestry, environmental protection, etc.). Besides defining terms and phrases with specialized meanings for agriculture, the glossary also identifies acronyms, agencies, programs, and laws related to agriculture.

Food and Agriculture Provisions in the FY1997 Supplemental Appropriations Act

Report providing an overview of provisions and funding related to food and agriculture program as a part of a supplemental appropriations bill (P.L. 105-18, H.R. 1871).

Crop Insurance and Risk Management: Provisions in the Enacted 1996 Farm Bill

Provisions in the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 ( P.L. 104-127 , the 1996 farm bill) make several changes to the federal crop insurance program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Under the new farm law, a producer no longer is required to acquire the minimum level of crop insurance coverage, as long as the producer waives, in writing, any eligibility for future disaster payments. It also allows USDA to continue to offer the basic level of insurance coverage in states or regions that have an insufficient number of approved private...

Dairy Provisions of the Enacted 1996 Farm Bill

The Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 ( P.L. 104-127 , the enacted 1996 farm bill) contains provisions (Title I, Subtitle D, Chapter 1) that significantly modify the two major federal policy tools used to support milk markets: the dairy price support program and federal milk marketing orders. The new law reduces the level of price support under the dairy price support program in each year (1997 through 1999), until the program is terminated at the end of 1999. In return, the deficit reduction assessment paid by milk producers is eliminated almost immediately. The dairy...

Appropriations for FY1996 : Agriculture

Information Services for Agriculture: The Role of Technology

Significant improvements in technology-supported information services have created opportunities for their utilization by the farmers and ranchers of our Nation. This report highlights the development and expanded offering of these systems, describes current operational and experimental systems, and presents salient legislative initiatives which address this priority area.

China-U.S. Trade

The improved political relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.), initiated by the Nixon Administration and furthered by the Carter Administration's decision to establish diplomatic relations, has spurred a rapid increase in Sino-U.S. trade. While still small relative to overall U.S. foreign trade, the volume of trade represents an abrupt shift from the no-trade policy that had been pursued since 1950. Despite the rapid expansion, outstanding issues remain as serious barriers to normalized trade. Resolution of those issues may require concession or...