US Farm Bill takes Notes from the CAP

The Agriculture Committee of the US’s House of Representatives gathered last week for the first hearing of the 2012 Farm Bill. The current Bill, worth up to $300 billion US, is due to expire in two years time. A large proportion of present spending is channeled towards nutrition programmes such as school nutrition and food stamps, with the rest being focused on the 15 “titles” the bill encompasses such as research, commodity programmes, conservation and trade. However, these priorities may change as, responding to calls from the US Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, for the Farm Bill to reintroduce prosperity to rural America, the Agricultrure Committee agreed that a thorough assessment of existing measures was needed.

Of particular interest was the list of policy areas to receive focus in the coming period, which bears a striking resemblance to several of the ‘New Challenges’ for rural development expenditure in the EU that came out of the CAP Health Check. Knowledge sharing initiatives between the US and the EU such as those coordinated by the German Marshall Fund may well have contributed to development of what appear to be an increasingly common agenda. The proposed priorities are:

  • Rural broadband
  • Biofuels and renewable energy
  • Food supply chains
  • Forest restoration and private land conservation
  • Market incentives for ecosystems

In the coming months the debate on the future of the Farm Bill is set to continue over a series of scheduled meetings in what can be seen as the start to a long and arduous process of overhaul, which has been known to be concluded up to a year over schedule in the past.

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10 May 2010




The Institute for European Environmental Policy coordinates CAP2020. It is an independent not for profit institute which undertakes research in a number of policy areas including agriculture and rural development.