Family Farming in America
In 1908, farming families comprised the largest demographic in America. Theodore Roosevelt's administration, therefore, commisioned a study in order to identify and adress the issues facing these rural famers. From here, a cooperative credit system was introduced. In 1916, under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, the Federal Farm Loan Act was signed. The goal of the law was to increase credit for these rural farmers, allowing loans of up to 50% of the value of their land.

"I do not believe there ever was any life more attractive to a vigorous young fellow than life on a cattle ranch in those days. It was a fine, healthy life, too; it taught a man self-reliance, hardihood, and the value of instant decision...I enjoyed the life to the full."
-Theodore Roosevelt

From this legislation we can fast foward to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, a New Deal program whose purpose was to raise the value of crops by reducing crop surplus. To restrict agricultural production, the government paid subsidies to farmers not to plant all of their land and to kill excess livestock. By overseeing the distribution of subsidies, this act is considered the first U.S. farm bill. However, the supreme court case of U.S. vs Butler tested the constitutionality of this act, claiming that the state was in control of the regulation of agriculture. The Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1938 responded to this rebuttal by reviving the original provisions, but also providing that financing for the law's programs would be provided for by the federal government.

Other Legislation:

Bankhead-Jones Act: Enacted in 1935 during the Great Depression, land grant colleges were provided with increased federal funding.

Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954:
created Food for Peace under the Eisenhower administration; an program that provided overseas food assistance.

Agricultural Fair Practices Act of 1967:
established cooperatives to protect farmers from consumers and other buyers of their products. Court proceedings are issued when the USDA views a file complaint as a violation to the farmer's rights under law.

Agricultural Trade Act of 1978:
established trade offices within commerce centers of the world.

Alien Species Prevention and Enforcement Act of 1992
: created to ensure biodiversity and prevent competition between native and invasive species, the act establishes certain animals and plants as illegal to be shipped through the mail. 

Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994:
through this act the Secretary of Agriculture was granted the authority to reorganize the USDA. By reducing personnel and consolidating agencies, greater efficiency and economy would be achieved.

Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000: revised the federal crop insurance program and provided assistance in times of emergency.
The logo for the United States Department of Agriculture

National Family Farm Coalition- 33 states who, in 2011, met with to congress to express their desire to "restore and maintain profitability on America's family farms and ranches."
National Farmers Union- works to improve technology and education standards which increases productivity

Farm Bills:

Farm Bill of 1996: Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act / Freedom to Farm Act; simplified direct payment programs for farmers and helped keep them competitive within the world market. Involved felxibility. Reauthorized the Food Stamp Act.

Farm Bill of 2002: Farm Security and Rural Investment Act; adresses agriculture ecology energy trade and nutrition. Much funding for subsidies contributed. Some programs pertained to the conservation of private grazing land, while others to the conservation of innovation grants, farm and ranch lands protection, and grassland reserve and wetland reservc conservation. The bill drew much criticism in that it was proposed amidst the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. Though the amendment failed, it would have shifted money from grain subsidies to measures in conservation.

Farm Bill of 2008: Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the act that superceded the Farm Bill of 2002. Encouraged rural development, conservation, and food stamp benefits. Created a lot of market agreements for specific foods. The main goal of the conservation effort was to solve natural resource issues.

The youtube video below is an interview with Dan Imhoff, revealing the evolution of the Farm Bill