"In advance of the expiration of the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246), numerous proposals have been offered to revise the 'farm safety net' for producers of crops covered by farm commodity support programs. Farm safety net proposals by Members of Congress, the Administration, and a number of farm and interest groups surfaced mostly during fall 2011, when budget deliberations by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction generated concerns that a new farm bill might be 'written' or severely constrained from a budgetary perspective by budget negotiators, rather than by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. Ultimately, the joint committee failed to reach a bipartisan consensus on deficit reduction. Nevertheless, the joint committee process generated substantial movement toward reshaping the policy framework underlying the farm safety net and other major farm bill issue areas, such as conservation and nutrition. In early 2012, legislation for the next farm bill appears to be following a more traditional process, starting with committee hearings prior to expiration of the 2008 farm bill (generally September 2012, but for commodity program crops, prior to the 2013 harvest). Many proposals with policy changes and proposed cuts have been directed at commodity programs and crop insurance, because these programs account for the bulk of agricultural funding (excluding conservation and nutrition programs, which are also considered part of the agricultural budget). Commodity programs, crop insurance, and the recently expired farm disaster programs comprise the so-called 'farm safety net'--the federal government's suite of programs designed to support farm income and help farmers manage risks associated with variability in crop yields and prices."
CRS Report for Congress, R42040