The Farm Bill Budget Visualizer is an interactive online application that shows a breakdown of spending in the 2012 Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill Budget Visualizer comes from the Center for a Livable Future, part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It puts each item in the Farm Bill budget into its own box, which is proportional to the amount of spending in the budget. For instance, looking at the default view of the visualizer (at the top of this post), it’s easy to see that SNAP (food stamps) is the largest portion of the budget.
Mouse over the SNAP box and a text box opens up, detailing past years’ expenditures, the House budget for 2012, and the Senate budget for 2012. Comments about the budget item are also included in the text box.
Boxes are colored shades of blue and purple to indicate an increase in spending (blue) or decrease (purple). Small squares inside each box show which items are new or repealed in the House or the Senate. A quick glance shows that SNAP and conservation spending has been cut drastically, crop insurance stays much the same, and only a few small programs get an increase.
The visualizer also makes it much easier to compare the different programs. Rural energy development in the past has been subsidized through a small number of grants totaling $36 million, but that has been zeroed out in this year’s Farm Bill. In the future, $45-68 million will be directed to private banks to encourage commercial loans for rural energy development.
I encourage you to spend some time clicking around in the Farm Bill Budget Visualizer and see what you think of what’s in the 2012 Farm Bill. My guess is that the Farm Bill won’t be voted on until after the election, so there’s still time to write your congresspeople.