By the Numbers: The Farmer in the Bill

The U.S. Farm Bill, a complex piece of legislation that is renewed every half-decade, is up for reauthorization this year. With a proposed budget of $619 billion, it supports agriculture through measures such as subsidies—cash payments from the government to farmers—as well as funds allotted for nutrition research and land conservation. To a large extent, the bill determines what crops are grown, and, subsequently, what we eat. In recent years, the Farm Bill has come under fire from environmental advocates who say that it supports megafarms over family farms and doesn’t allocate enough monies for conservation. Here’s what we dug up.


37 Percentage of cash payments that went to corn farmers between 1995 and 2004.

1,000 Percentage increase in U.S. consumption of high-fructose corn syrup over the past three decades.

15,000 Number of new food products introduced each year.

75 Percentage of these new products that are candies, condiments, breakfast cereals, baked goods, beverages, or dairy novelties.

40 Percentage increase in the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables (which are grown with little federal support) between 1985 and 2000.

25 Percentage decrease in the price of soda and soft drinks (many of which are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup) over the same period.

93 Percentage of direct cash subsidies allotted to just five crops (corn, cotton, wheat, soybeans, and rice).

60 Percentage of all farmers who do not raise one of those crops and therefore don’t receive direct cash subsidies.

200 Number of organizations, including the Soil Association and Farm Aid, petitioning Congress to address the growing market power of corporate farms.

2,500,000 Limit, in adjusted gross income dollars, that the 2002 Farm Bill proposed that farmers can earn and still receive subsidies.

200,000 Limit, in adjusted gross income dollars, the 2007 Farm Bill proposes farmers can earn and still receive subsidies.

10 Percentage of total 2007 Farm Bill funding earmarked for conservation.

17.1 Amount, in billions of dollars, by which conservation funding increased in the 2002 Farm Bill.

7.8 Amount, in billions of dollars, by which the 2007 Farm Bill proposes to increase conservation funding.

1.9 Amount, in billions of dollars, cut from conservation funding to pay for farm disaster aid in 2005.

Issue 25

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