Does the bill at least help farms?

It depends. More than 90 percent of payments go to the biggest 20 percent of farms. As a result, very large farms can receive millions of dollars, while the majority only receive a few thousand dollars. This payment structure encourages the consolidation of farms. In 2015, more than half of agricultural production value came from big farms with sales of at least $1 million (compared to 31 percent in 1991).

The Farm Bill does very little to address the growing concentration in the agriculture market. For instance, the three biggest seed producers control 80 percent of U.S. seeds; the four biggest soybean producers control 85 percent of soybean processing; and four companies control 82 percent of beef processing in the United States. These are dramatic increases in the share of the market that companies control since the 1990s. These changes may not be glaringly obvious in the aisles of the grocery store, but it means there’s a lot less variety in the food we eat, less resilience for the overall food system, and a growing share of the profits going to the most dominant firms.

On the individual level, the median farm income for farm households is forecasted to be -$1,316 in 2018. That’s negative one thousand three hundred sixteen dollars. For more than half of farm households, farming is not profitable and must be supplemented with off-farm income.