Federal farm support, nutrition, agricultural trade and food aid, conservation, credit, marketing, rural development, agricultural research, and related policies are governed by a variety of separate laws. Although these laws may be considered and amended as free-standing legislation, many of them are evaluated periodically, revised, and renewed through an omnibus, multi-year farm bill.
On May 2, 2002, the House voted, 280 to 141, to approve the conference report on a new, 6-year omnibus farm bill (H.R. 2646; H.Rept. 107-424). The Senate approved the conference report on May 8, and the President signed the bill, the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRIA) of 2002, into law (P.L. 107-171) on May 13, 2002. The new law generally supersedes the previous omnibus farm bill, the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-127), much of it due to expire in 2002.
FSRIA 2002 continues marketing loans and fixed payments, and creates new counter-cyclical assistance tied to target prices (similar in some ways to a guaranteed per-bushel pricing system eliminated in 1996) for grains, cotton, and oilseeds. The new law extends, with modifications, dairy and sugar support (the bill creates new counter-cyclical payments for dairy), and it overhauls the peanut program by replacing quotas with a support program like that for other major crops. The final bill also contains titles to expand conservation programs; reauthorize agricultural export and food aid programs; and amend and extend research, nutrition (food stamps), credit, and rural development activities, among others. Total direct (mandatory budget authority) spending in the bill is $273.9 billion over 6 years (FY2002 2007), according to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates (March 2002 baseline). Of this total, $51.7 billion is new spending (above th March 2002 baseline).