I'll be honest, I don't think about the farm bill a whole lot. Maybe I take for granted that it will be there.
I also don't read a whole lot of news, unless it pops up on one of my social media feeds. I most generally don't go looking for news of the political kind, but last week a Washington Post infographic popped up on my Facebook feed that caught my attention.
I posted it on my own timeline asking if people knew that food stamp and nutrition money were part of the farm bill. I only got responses from people in the agriculture industry. They said they knew that.
Not one person outside agriculture responded. Was it because they didn't know and weren't about to admit to the Facebook world?
I like things to make sense. I knew food stamps were the largest portion of the farm bill, so I rationalized that farming is the production of food. Knowing next to nothing about how bills are organized this was my way of it making sense.
Needless to say, like in most things, I came to find out I was wrong. I decided I needed to know more so I started where it is logical in this day and age – Google.
When you Google "United States Farm Bill," 11,300,000 results appear in 0.41 seconds. Where was Google when I was in school? All I had was the Encyclopedia Britannica. I wonder if "United States Farm Bill" would have even been an entry.
"In the United States, the farm bill is the primary agricultural food and policy tool of the federal government," a Wikipedia entry notes. "The comprehensive omnibus bill is passed every 5 years or so by the United States Congress and deals with both agriculture and all other affairs in the purview of the United States Department of Agriculture."
Most of that was clear to me, except for the word omnibus. A link click led me to another explanation: "An omnibus bill is a proposed law that covers a number of diverse or unrelated topics."
And now we are getting somewhere. I have always known that the farm bill wasn't just for farmers, but I still wonder if your average American, involved or not involved with farming, does?
I think I opened a can of worms on the farm bill – and you're along for the ride. Is there a "Farm Bill for Dummies" book?
The opinions of Jennifer Campbell are not necessarily those of Indiana Prairie Farmer or the Penton Farm Progress Group.