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 2014Pub. 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)


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 (Apr. 6, 2009)

Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program and Average Crop Revenue Election Program – Correction (Feb. 9, 2009)

Farm Program Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility for 2009 and Subsequent Crop, Program, or Fiscal Years (Feb. 5, 2009)

Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program and Average Crop Revenue Election Program (Dec 29, 2008)

Farm Program Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility for 2009 and Subsequent Crop, Program, or Fiscal Years (Dec. 29, 2008)

Cotton Program Changes for Loans, Loan Deficiency Payments, Upland Cotton, and Extra Staple Cotton (Nov. 5, 2008)

2008-Crop Marketing Assistance Loans and Loan Deficiency Payments for Cotton and Peanuts (July 25, 2008)

Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility (July 14, 2008)

2008 Direct and Counter Cyclical Program (June 30, 2008)

2008-Crop Marketing Assistance Loans and Loan Deficiency Payments for Loan Commodities Except Cotton and Peanuts (June 10, 2008)

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

Center published USDA Judicial Officer’s Decisions

Center Research Publications

World Trade Organization and the Commodity Title of the Next Farm Bill: A Practioner’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

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017

Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

Farm Commodity Programs
Farm Bills
Finance and Credit

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)

2008 Farm Bill Side-by-Side

Briefing Rooms:

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


Economic Aspects of Revenue-Based Commodity Support (Cooper, 2009)

Exploring Alternative Farm Definitions: Implications for Agricultural Statistics and Program Eligibility (O’Donoghue et al., 2009)

Integrating Commodity Programs and Conservation Programs: Design Options and Outcomes (2007)

Effects of Reducing the Income Cap on Eligibility for Farm Program Payments (2007)

Cropland Concentrating Faster Where Payments are Higher (2007)

The Importance of Farm Program Payments to Farm Households (2007)

Relaxing Fruit and Vegetable Planting Restrictions (2007)

Commodity Payments, Farm Business Survival, and Farm Size Growth (2007)

Economic Brief: Growing Farm Size and Distribution of Payments (2006)

Eliminating Fruit and Vegetable Planting Restrictions: How Would Markets Be Affected? (2006)

How Do Decoupled Payments Affect Resource Allocations Within The Farm Sector? (2004)

Food and Agriculture Commodity Consumption in the United States: Looking Ahead to 2020 (2003)

Farm Payments: Decoupled Payments Increase Households’ Well-Being, Not Production (2003)

Analysis of the U.S. Commodity Loan Program with Marketing Loan Provisions (2001)

Sequestration and Farm Program Payments (Coppess et al., 2015)

Farm Service Agency

Commodity Credit Corporation

Commodity Operations

Commodity Operations Programs and Services

Price Support Subject Page

Price Support Initiatives
Commodity Loans
Loan Deficiency Payments
Market Loss Assistance Payment Program
Loan Rates
Price Support Reports

Laws and Regulations – Authorizing Statutes

Farm Program Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility for 2009 and Subsequent Crop, Program, or Fiscal Years (74 FR 23) (Feb 2009)

Calculating Estimated Farm Program (FP) Payments for Use in Farm Business Plans (FBP’s) (Feb 2009)

CCC Net Outlays by Commodity and Function

Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program (ACRE)

Fact Sheets:

Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment Program Fruit, Vegetable, and Wild Rice Provisions (2009)
Fees and Charges Assessed by the Commodity Credit Corporation for Cotton Loans, Loan Forfeitures, and Relocation of Collateral (2009)
Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment Program (2008)
Peanut Marketing Assistance Loans and Loan Deficiency Program (2008)
Beneficial Interest Requirements for Marketing Assistance Loans and Loan Deficiency Payments (Excluding Sugar) (2006)


Full List of Handbooks Available

FSA Handbook for Compliance and Common Management

Common Management and Operating Provisions (1-CM, Rev. 3)
Farm Reconstitutions (2-CM, Rev. 6)
Farm, Tract, and Crop Data (3-CM, Rev. 4)
Common Land Unit (8-CM, Rev. 1)
Acreage Compliance Determinations (2-CP, Rev. 15)
Payment Reductions and Violations (4-CP, Rev. 5)
Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Provisions (6-CP, Rev. 3)
Finality Rule Equitable Relief (7-CP, Rev. 2)
Payment Limitations (1-PL, Rev. 1)
Subsidiary Files (2-PL, Rev. 1)
Web-Based Subsidiary Files (3-PL)
Payment Eligibility, Payment Limitation, and Average Adjusted Gross Income (4-PL)
FCIC Program Integrity (4-RM)
Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program (1-DCP)
Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program (1-DCP, Rev. 1)
Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program and Average Crop Revenue Election for 2009 and Subsequent Crop Years (1-DCP, Rev. 3)
Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payments (2-DCP)
Direct and Counter-Cyclical Automation (2-DCP, Rev. 1)

National Resources Conservation Service

Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation (HELC/WC) Compliance Provisions

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 Committee on Agriculture Home Page

Reports on Farm Commodity Programs (Government Accountability Office)

Federal Farm Programs: USDA Needs to Strengthen Controls to Prevent Payments to Individuals Who Exceed Income Eligibility Limits (GAO-09-67, 2009)

Internal Control Would Improve Accountability for Certain Centrally Provided (Greenbook) Programs (GAO-10-82, 2009)

WTO Disciplines of Domestic Support for Agriculture (CRS In Focus Summary)

U.S. Dairy Programs After the 2014 Farm Bill (CRS In Focus Summary)


Determining “Income”for Farm Program Payment Eligibility Purposes (Moore & McEowen, IA State U., 2009)

Payment Limit Rules under the 2008 Farm Bill – Planning Implications for Producers (McEowen et al., IA State U., 2009)

Crop Subsidies in Foreign Countries: Different Paths to Common Goals (Cotton Economics Research Institute, 2009)

Outside Market Forces (Farm Journal, 2009)

Farmer’s Guide to Disaster Assistance (FLAG, 2008)

2008 Farm Bill Commodity Programs and Payment Limit Rules (Center for Ag Law and Taxation, IA St. U., 2008)

2008 Farm Bill Powerpoint (Center for Ag Law and Taxation, IA St. U., 2008)

Payment limitations in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (U. Extension, IA St. U., 2008)

Overview of the 2008 Farm Bill (Center for Rural Affairs, 2008)

The 2008 Farm Bill: A New Era in Farm Policy? (KS St. U., 2008)

Understanding ACRE for Cotton (Dept. of Ag. Econ., TX Tech, 2008)

Commodity Program Decisions in the 2008 Farm Bill (KS St. U., 2007)

The 2014 Agricultural Act’s Impacts on Farmers: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions (Marra et al., N.C. State U., 2014)

The 2014 US Farm Bill and Its Effects on the World Market for Cotton (Lau et al., 2015)

2014 Farm Bill Summary (National Farmers Union, 2014)

Evaluation of Crop Insurance Choices for Cotton Producers Under the 2014 Farm Bill (Litel et al., 2015)


Additional Resources

Commodity Programs Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)

Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill 2014) (Kansas St. U.)

Commodity Program Papers
Commodity Program Presentations
Commodity Program Decision Tool
Commodity program Links for Additional Information
Dairy Program Resources

Farm Policy (FarmDoc, U. IL)

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

ACRE FAQs (Center for Ag. and Rural Development, IA St. U.)

Farm Bill Educational Materials (Ag and Food Policy Center, TX A&M U.)

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

Animal Disease Prevention

Specialty Crop Block Grants

Invasive Species


Previewing a 2018 Farm Bill (March, 2017)

2002 Farm Bill (Farm Economics, IA St. U.)