Appropriations: This is the annual funding process by Congress. In both the House and Senate, there is an Committee responsible for preparing the funding levels for agriculture. Go to United States Senate Committee on APPROPRIATIONS for more information.

Base acres: the acres on a farm that are eligible for federal program payments. Base acres for each year are calculated as the average number of acres enrolled in a specific commodity program during the previous five years.

Blended Milk Protein Content (MPC): varies in protein level depending on dried dairy ingredients used, including nonfat dry milk (at 36 percent protein level) to various casein products (at about 90 percent protein). The ratio of nonfat dry milk to casein in blends depends upon how much protein content the manufacturer wants to achieve in its MPC end product.

Budget: The President submits the annual budget to Congress in early February of each year. The Budget Committees hold hearings and develop a budget resolution which then sets the limits for funding by the appropriations committees.

Casein: the principle protein extracted from fresh cow's milk.

Commodity crop: a raw material or primary product (e.g. soya beans, corn, pork) trade internationally either through a commodities exchange or in the cash market.

Conservation Security Program (CSP): a new program established in the 2002 Farm Bill that when implemented properly by USDA will provide income to farmers who apply and are eligible to receive funding to implement improvements in their conservation plan. Unlike conservation set-asides as in past farm programs, the land enrolled in CSP can continue to be part of the farming rotation or planting, and does not need to be removed from production. This program has the potential to dramatically improve conservation practices but its implementation is currently jeopardized by both USDA's rule-making process and the threats of reduced funding (removing it from an entitlement to a program limited by annual funding from the Congress). USDA has announced a very small signup for the program, totally misrepresenting the intent of Congress and many organizations that supported the creation of CSP. For action alerts, view the National
Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture website at

Conservation set-asides: Society depends on land and water being used sustainably, i.e. conserved, to maintain productive resources for future generations. It is foolish to cultivate crops, exposing the soil to erosion and applying costly, potentially polluting fertilizer and chemicals, on more land than is needed to produce an adequate supply at prices that support a family farm system. Society, can encourage or require farmers to plant with soil-conserving or other valuable crops for the land that otherwise might be used unwisely in producing excess crops. These programs can be of a long term nature such as the 10-year Conservation Reserve Program, or of a short-term nature, such as other programs authorized by Congress.

Direct payments: payments made by the federal government to agricultural producers enrolled in commodity programs. Today, people refer to subsidy and Loan Deficiency Payments as direct payments.

Discretionary funding: programs that require annual funding determined by the Appropriations Committee during their markup of the legislation. Programs such as Minority Outreach and Education, state match for mediation programs, rural development, and many new programs in the 2002 Farm Bill are discretionary. There will be big fights over discretionary programs as the amount available in the current budget is very low due to the deficit and other spending priorities of the Bush Administration

Economies of scale: the idea that larger-scale production is more efficient because it permits higher productivity, e.g. for farms larger scale permits specialization, division of labor, optimized use of large pieces of machinery and better access to capital.

Entitlement: the term used to describe those programs that if you meet the eligibility criteria, you receive the funding. Congress is trying to change the CSP from an entitlement as written in the 2002 Farm Bill to a discretionary or pilot program. For example, direct loans, farm program payments, food stamps, student loans are all entitlement programs. The way to limit who gets funding is to change the eligibility rules.

Export subsidies: financial incentives given to exporters of products e.g. US wheat exporters.

Export dumping: the practice of exporting products at below the cost of production, especially to developing countries, often made possible by export subsidies.

Family farm: a family farm is not defined by size but rather by the person(s) responsible for making management decisions, maintaining system sustainability (economically as well as environmentally), and taking financial risks.

Farmgate price: the price paid to farmers for their produce.

Fiscal Year: the government's fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30th of each year.
The FY 2005 budget was submitted to Congress on February 2, 2004.

Fixed costs: costs of production that generally do not change as a result of the volume or type of crop produced. Fixed costs include insurance, rent or land mortgage payments, interests, and machinery depreciation.

Food clusters: the ownership by one company, or by a number of companies that have made a strategic alliance, of businesses at each level of the food system so that they have control of the food system from field to fork.

Food miles: the distance agricultural produce travels from producer to consumer.

Food security: the ability of a national government to adequately feed its population. According the UNFAO, a country is food secure if all of its citizens have access to food that is available at all times, nutritionally adequate in terms of quantity, quality and variety, and acceptable within the given culture.

Food sovereignty: the right of people to decide their own agriculture and food policy. It is the right to protect and regulate domestic agricultural production and trade in order to achieve sustainable development objectives, to determine the extent to which they want to be self reliant, and to restrict the dumping of products in their markets. It does not negate trade, rather, it promotes it in a way that serves the rights of people to safe, healthy and ecologically sustainable production. (Via Campesina 2004)

Food security reserve: In a market economy, with farmers dependent on market sales for income, there is very little incentive to keep grain off the market past harvest. Big crops get dumped at the lowest prices and the only grain held in reserves are those purchased by the grain traders who can purchase cheap from the farmers; hold the grain and then sell at record profits later in the year. A food security reserve would enable farmers and consumers through government policy to have more control over our nation's food security through the establishment of reserves. The Food from Family Farms Act, developed by NFFC, would re-establish these reserves through a price support and reserve system that would benefit both farmers in providing stable fair prices and consumers by providing a steady supply of food and removing the rationale that the food industry uses for raising retail prices.

Free trade: the liberalization of markets by the removal of barriers to trade including tariffs on food imports, production subsidies and export subsidies.

Horizontal integration: the concentration of market power at each level of the food and agriculture industry, with control of each sector from seeds, fertilizers and machinery to processing, transportation and retailing in the hands of a small number of corporations.

Income Support: government policy that provides income to farmers (the U.S. farm subsidy payments or other payments such as green payments in Europe) that have no effect on market prices but provides farmers with some income supported by taxpayer dollars.

Industrialization (of farming): the transformation of farming so that it more closely resembles a manufacturing industry; the creation of larger farms, a reliance on inputs manufactured off the farm (fertilizers, pesticides, machinery), the displacement of labor by capital (machinery and purchased inputs), the specialization of labor and the mechanization of production methods.

Intensification: the use of increasing levels of inputs (e.g. farm machinery, chemicals and fertilizers) and the related increase in output per acre.

Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC): The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have a definition for milk protein concentrate. The World Trade Organization (WTO) defines milk protein concentrate (MPC) as a dry blend of dairy ingredients, ranging from 42 to 90 percent protein.
The WTO definition is the most accepted definition for this product.

Monoculture: the cultivation of a single crop in a field, farm or region.

Multinational corporation: a company with operations in more than one country.

Nonfat Dry Milk: a dry milk powder, produced by extracting fat and water from pasteurized, fresh cow's milk.

Non-Recourse Loan: the name for the type of price support in the U.S. established in the 1933 New Deal program until it was eliminated in the 1996 Farm Bill known as Freedom to Farm. This loan operates in a way that helps to maintain fair prices at the farm-gate.

Oligopoly: a market in which a small number of sellers (agrochemical corporations, supermarkets) exert power over a large number of buyers (farmers, consumers).

Oligopsony: a market in which a small number of buyers (food corporations) exert power over a large number of sellers (farmers).

Price support: a farm policy tool that creates a floor under actual market prices for a commodity, requiring the purchaser to pay at least a minimum price. These purchases are the major grain traders such as Cargill, Con Agra, ADM (Archer-Daniels-Midland) as individual consumers do not buy grain directly from farmers. NFFC supports a floor to be established at a level that more closely meets a farmer's cost of production. In Europe and many food deficit nations (those dependent on imports for their food needs), the price support is created by a standing offer of the government to buy a commodity along with tariffs on imported commodities.

Production subsidy: agricultural payment to farmers linked to production levels (e.g. the amount of cereals subsidy paid to farmers is determined by the amount of land the farmer is growing cereals on).

Reauthorization: the term used to describe the re-writing of a major piece of legislation. The farm bill was reauthorized in 2002 for five years; the Child Nutrition programs were reauthorized in June of 2004.

Small farm: according to USDA Small Farm Commission, a Small Farm has been defined as less than $250,000 in gross receipts annually on which day-to-day labor and management are provided by the farmer and/or the farm family that owns the production, or owns or leases the productive assets.

Sustainable agriculture: agriculture that is capable of meeting the needs of the present without diminishing the ability of those of future generations to meet their needs.

Trade liberalization: see Trade

Ultra-filtered Milk Protein Content (MPC): manufactured using an advanced membrane technology that removes water and lactose from milk before the remaining material is dried.