Farm Commodity Programs



Throughout American history the federal government has used its legislative power to support agricultural production, such as through the creation of commodity programs. Depending on how the phrase “farm commodity program” is defined, programs have existed since the late 1700s. From that time until the beginning of the 20th century, federal legislation was 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 as well as 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

Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (a/k/a 2018 U.S. Farm Bill), Pub. L. No. 115–334, 132 Stat. 4490 (2018) (codified at scattered sections of titles 7 & 16 of the U.S.C.)
Agricultural Act of 2014 (a/k/a 2014 U.S. Farm Bill), Pub. L. No. 113–179, tit. II, 128 Stat. 649, 713–772 §§ 2001–2713 (2014) (codified at scattered sections of titles 7, 16, & 43 of the U.S.C.) (Conservation Title)
2008 Farm Bill: Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (a/k/a 2008 U.S. Farm Bill), Pub. L. No. 110–246, 122 Stat. 1651 (2014) (codified at scattered sections of title 7 of the U.S.C.)
Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (FSRIA), Pub. L. No. 107–171, 116 Stat. 134 (2002) (codified in scattered sections of titles 7, 15, 16, & 21 of the U.S.C.)
Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (FAIR), 7 U.S.C. §§ 7301–7334
Agricultural Act of 1949, 7 U.S.C. §§ 1421–1471j
Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act of 1948 (CCC), 15 U.S.C. §§ 714–714p
Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 (AAA), 7 U.S.C. §§ 1281–1393


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. §§ 12.1–12.33
Sugar Program 7 C.F.R. §§ 1435.1–1435.607
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)
USDA National Appeals Division: Outline of Rules of Procedure(Kelley, 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, no date provided for the summary))

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 (ERS):

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


Potential Variability in Commodity Support: ARC and PLC Programs(ERS, 2019)
Federal Risk Management Tools for Agricultural Producers: An Overview (ERS, 2018)
USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grant Program (ERS, 2018)

Farm Service Agency (FSA)

Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC)
FSA Programs and Services Index
ARC/PLC Program
Commodity Loans
Commodity Operations
Conservation Programs
Dairy Margin Coverage
Disaster Assistance Programs
Farm Loan Programs
Laws and Regulations
Payment Eligibility
Price Support

Fact Sheets:

Adjusted Gross Income Certification
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)
Crop Acreage Reporting
Dairy Margin Coverage Program (2019)
Disaster Assistance Program at a Glance (2021)
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)
Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage Fact Sheet (2022)


Full List of Handbooks Available
FSA Handbook for Compliance and Common Management
Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Program 1-ARCPLC
Acreage and Compliance Determinations 2-CP (Rev. 16)
Common Management and Operating Provisions 1-CM (Rev. 3)
Dairy Margin Coverage Program
Farm Records and Reconstitutions for Current Year 10-CM (Rev. 1)
Geospatial Information Systems 1-GIS
Marketing Assistance Loans and Loan Deficiency 8-LP
Payment Eligibility, Payment Limitation, and Average Adjusted Gross Income – Agricultural Act of 2014 5-PL

National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

2018 Farm Bill

National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Farm Bill

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

Additional Resources

Commodity Programs Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)
2018 Farm Bill (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)
Eligibility and Payments under the 2018 Farm Bill PLC and ARC Programs (Liu et al., U. GA, 2019)
Computing the PLC and ARC Safety Net Payments in the 2018 Farm Bill (Liu et al., U. GA, 2019)
Gardner Program Payment Calculator (FarmDoc, U. IL)