Farm Commodity Programs



Throughout American history the federal government has used its legislative power to promote farm policies, and commodity programs are a direct extension of those policies. Depending on how the term “farm commodity program” is defined, programs have existed since the late 1700s. From that time until the beginning of the 20th century, federal legislation developed that provided free land to anyone willing to settle and farm it, creating an independent family farm system. Although not targeted specifically at commodities, the net result was an increase in commodity production. During the mid-1800s and continuing through the 1920s, federal farm policy focused primarily on education, research, and some marketing assistance. Legislation during this period created the Cooperative Extension Service and exempted farmer cooperatives from antitrust regulation in an effort to improve farm production and marketing. This legislation helped improve farm productivity, but farm income was still unstable and often low. Read the full overview


Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, 7 U.S.C. §§ 1281-1393

Agricultural Act of 1949, 7 U.S.C. §§ 1421-1471j

Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act of 1948, 15 U.S.C. §§ 714-714p

Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, 7 U.S.C. §§ 7301-7334

Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-171, 116 Stat. 134 (codified in scattered sections of titles 7, 15, 16, and 21 of the U.S.C.)

2008 Farm Bill: Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-246, 122 Stat. 1651

Agricultural Act of 2014, Pub. L. No. 113-179, tit. II, 128 Stat. 649, 713-772 §§ 2001-2713 (codified at scattered sections of 7, 16, & 43 U.S.C.) (Conservation Title)

Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-334, 132 Stat. 4490 (2018)


Commodity Credit Corporation Regulations, 7 C.F.R. §§ 1400-1499

Farm Service Agency Provisions Applicable to Multiple Programs, 7 C.F.R. §§ 718.1-718.307

Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Regulations, 7 C.F.R. §§ 12.1-12.34

Sugar Program 7 C.F.R. §§ 1435.1-1435.607

Agriculture Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage, and Cotton Transition Assistance Programs 7 C.F.R. §§ 718; 1412

Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility 7 C.F.R. § 1400.1-1400.603

Cotton 7 C.F.R. §§ 1427.1-1427.1208

Federal Register Rules Open for Comment

Case Law

Case Law Index for Commodity Programs

Administrative Law Decisions

USDA Office of the Administrative Law Judges

USDA Office of the Judicial Officer

USDA National Appeals Division

USDA Judicial Officer’s Decisions (center-published)

Center Research Publications

World Trade Organization and the Commodity Title of the Next Farm Bill: A Practitioner’s View (O’Brien, 2006)

Direct Payments and Counter-Cyclical Payments Under the 2002 Farm Bill: An Overview (Pittman, 2003)

Introduction to Federal Farm Program Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility Law (Kelley, 2002)

Summary and Evolution of U. S. Farm Bill Commodity Titles (Willis & O’Brien)

Congressional Research Service Reports

Selected Reports, Grouped by Topic:

Farm Commodity Programs
Farm Bills
Finance and Credit

Search CRS Reports:

Congressional Research Service Reports

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Commodity Programs:

Administrative Law (Federal and State Farm Programs)
Farm Policy and Legislative Analysis
Marketing Boards, Marketing Orders, Marketing Promotion, Marketing Quotas

Reference Resources

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018: Highlights and Implications

Briefing Rooms:

Corn & Other Feedgrains
Cotton & Wool
Fruit and Tree Nuts
Soybeans and Oil Crops
Sugar and Sweeteners
Farm and Commodity Policy


Potential Variability in Commodity Support: ARC and PLC Programs

Federal Risk Management Tools for Agricultural Producers: An Overview

USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grant Program

Farm Service Agency (FSA)

Commodity Credit Corporation

FSA Programs and Services Index

ARC/PLC Program
Commodity Operations
Conservation Programs
Dairy Margin Coverage
Disaster Assistance Programs
Farm Loan Programs
Laws and Regulations
Payment Eligibility
Price Support

Fact Sheets:

Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Enrollment Overview (2019)
Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Enrollment 2014 v. 2018 Farm Bill Comparison (2019)
Dairy Margin Coverage Program (2019)
Farm Loans Overview (2019)
Fees and Charges Assessed by the Commodity Credit Corporation for Cotton Loans, Loan Forfeitures and Relocation of Collateral (2017)
Margin Protection Program for Dairy Premium Repayment (2019)
Market Facilitation Program (2019)
Payment Eligibility and Payment Limitations (2019)


Full List of Handbooks Available

FSA Handbook for Compliance and Common Management

Acreage and Compliance Determinations 2-CP (Rev. 16)
Common Management and Operating Provisions 1-CM (Rev. 3)
Farm Records and Reconstitutions for Current Year 10-CM (Rev. 1)
Geospatial Information Systems 1-GIS
Payment Eligibility, Payment Limitation, and Average Adjusted Gross Income – Agricultural Act of 2014 5-PL

National Resources Conservation Service

National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Farm Bill (NAL)

Office of Chief Economist (OCE)

Commodity Forecasts Homepage

Congressional Resources

Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Home Page
House Agriculture Committee Home Page
Reports on Agriculture & Food (Government Accountability Office)
Farm Programs: Information on Payments (2018)
WTO Disciplines on U.S. Domestic Support for Agriculture (CRS In Focus, 2019)
2018 Farm Bill Primer: Dairy Programs (CRS In Focus, 2019)


Crop Subsidies in Foreign Countries: Different Paths to Common Goals (Cotton Economics Research Institute)

Farmer’s Guide to Disaster Assistance (Farmers’ Legal Action Group, 2019)

Additional Resources

Commodity Programs Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)

2018 Farm Bill (Farm Bill 2018) (Kansas St. U.)

Agricultural Policy (FarmDoc, U. IL)

Sustaining Agriculture & A Healthy Food Supply (Northeast Midwest Institute)

The 2018 Farm Bill (National Ass’n of State Dept. of Ag. (NASDA))

Animal Disease Prevention (NASDA)

Specialty Crop Block Grants (NASDA)

Invasive Species (NASDA)

Conservation (NASDA