There was little fanfare surrounding the 2014 farm bill signed into law last month by President Barack Obama.
But the massive provision—some 1,000 pages in length, and expected to run at nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years—alters some sacred cows like crop insurance and commodity subsidies but gives items like hemp and even sushi rice a financial boost.
"I think the bill is an improvement and well needed," said John O'Brien, an agri-finance attorney at Snell & Wilmer, and a farmer who grows wheat and corn in eastern Colorado.
"The old bill didn't keep up with current conditions," he said. "Farmers are overall doing much better now, and eliminating direct payments from commodity subsidies that got paid out regardless of whether certain crops were grown, is good."
Will Delavan, a professor of economics at Lebanon Valley College, said that the new rules will help big farming operations more than small farmers.
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"On paper, the cuts in commodity subsides are significant, but I don't really see them having a big effect," said Delavan. He explained that new subsidies will still be in place for crops that favor bigger farms—peanuts and corn, for instance.
"I think the smaller farmers get hurt in this as they have in the past," he said. "It's the same dynamics as before."