The farm bill is one of the most important but least understood pieces of US legislation, and it’s overdue for renewal. The 2023 omnibus law, which costs upwards of $100 billion a year, and which governs food stamps and most aspects of the US agricultural system, was supposed to be in place by October 1. But Congress couldn’t pass a new version, reflecting partisan dysfunction and also a contentious debate about what the bill ought to be—a debate that has become ensnared in the nation’s culture wars. Racial equity, food sovereignty, protections for workers, and meaningful action on climate change have broadened the bill’s traditional mandate of growing food and feeding hungry people.
In this special series that will run through the month of February, a partnership with the Food and Environment Reporting Network, we’ll be exploring some of the urgent issues a new farm bill must address.