by Dick Clark
President Barack Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 into law on February 7, 2014. The legislation becomes law later than anticipated given the usual timing for farm bills, which typically work their way through the Congress every five years. The last major farm bill was passed in May 2008, and key provisions of that bill were at the center of discussions of the federal “fiscal cliff” in late 2012. Of the $956 billion spent in this massive bill, about 80 percent is earmarked for nutritional assistance programming, with the balance going to various types of agriculture spending.
Within the agriculture spending provisions, the bill phases out some programs that provided direct payments to farmers originally designed to wean crop producers off of old-fashioned price guarantees for crops including wheat, corn, sorghum, barley, oats, cotton, rice, soybeans, minor oilseeds, and peanuts. Although the farm bill rolls back these direct payment programs, it also creates two new commodity programs to replace them: Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC).