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Farm bill issues, and threatened budget cuts, are sure to be a much discussed subject in the 2012 Presidential and Congressional elections. Before the arguments for or against each component of the bill start to appear all over your favorite website or newspaper, let’s take a closer look at what the farm bill is all about.

The leaders of the House and the Senate plan to re-evaluate the 2008 farm bill in time for President Obama to sign it before the November 2012 election. In order to do so they will have to tackle many hot-button issues like direct payments to farmers for crops (subsidies the government gives to farmers based on the size of their farm and the crop that has historically been grown there. The farm doesn’t need to grow any crops now to get the payment, thus making direct payments more about land value than production).

The farm bill is renewed about every five years, creating intense competition for available funds. Titles in the farm bill range from commodities and nutrition to bioenergy, crop insurance and livestock.

Both Democrats and Republicans are targeting controversial farm subsidies for proposed budget cuts. The 2012 elections will also play a role in the reauthorization of legislation in the 2008 farm bill. In anticipation of the many debates to come we present you with 5 myths concerning the farm bill:

1. Myth: Direct payments are only paid to rural farmers
Landowners who live in cities can also receive direct payments. Last year almost $100 million in farm payments went to absentee landowners in more than 350 American cities.

2. Myth: All farmers are against ending direct payments
Iowa Farm Bureau President and dairyman Craig Lang proposed ending direct payments and creating a new system. Supporters of direct payments argue that they provide a necessary safety net and are crucial for farmers to get credit.

3. Myth: Direct payments are the only highly debated topic in the farm bill
Nutrition programs (including food stamps), conservation methods, and the permanent disaster assistance program put in place with the 2008 bill are all likely to cause disputes.

4. Myth: Eliminating direct payments would affect food prices the most
Land value and farm income would be impacted the most from an eradication of direct payments. Studies suggest that market prices for crops would stay relatively similar.  

5. Myth: Funding cuts will only affect commodity subsidies
This past June the House approved a 13 percent cut in food aid affecting the poor. These cuts and calls for even more cuts resulted in heated arguments among politicians. 

Tomorrow: 5 facts about the Farm Bill