From the Summary: "Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in an omnibus farm bill. The 112th Congress faces reauthorization of the current five-year farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. [Public Law] 110-246) because many of its provisions expire in 2012. The 2008 farm bill contained 15 titles covering farm commodity support, horticulture, livestock, conservation, nutrition assistance, international food aid, trade, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, bioenergy, and forestry, among others. The breadth of farm bills has steadily grown in recent decades to include new and expanding food and agricultural interests. The omnibus nature of the bill can create broad coalitions of support among sometimes conflicting interests for policies that individually might not survive the legislative process. This breadth also can stir fierce competition for available funds, particularly among producers of different commodities, or between those who have differing priorities for farm subsidies, conservation, nutrition, or other programs. One of the principal drivers of the farm bill debate will be the federal budget, which is more uncertain and difficult to predict than for past farm bills because of the congressional attention to deficit reduction. According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, if ongoing farm bill programs were to continue under current law, mandatory farm bill spending would be $994 billion over 10 years, with domestic nutrition assistance accounting for more than three-fourths of the total and the rest primarily for the farm safety net (commodity support and crop insurance) and conservation."
CRS Report for Congress, R42357