Congress Still Playing the Farm Bill Game

  • Farmville players build and care for their own Facebook farm. Like real-life farmers, players plan their moves based on policy. Photo: Zynga

  • Farmer Seth Watkins is one of many Midwestern farmers left in limbo without clarity in agricultural policy. Photo: Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

September 6, 2013
By Amy Mayer

The Farm Bill is, once again, entering a critical stretch. As was the case last year, the current law expires at the end of September. There’s no election to dissuade elected officials from tackling the major piece of agriculture and nutrition policy—but Congress does have a pretty full plate, with the crisis in Syria, immigration reform and a measure to continue funding federal government programs all set to come to a head.

The bill may be buried under competing priorities, but it’s a massive bill that charts policy for everything from farm subsidies to food stamps. To get non-farmers up to speed on the farm bill, blogger Val Wagner wrote “If Farmville had a Farm Bill” from her farm in North Dakota.

Farmville is the Facebook game that six million people play every day, clicking the mouse to plant some seeds and water them. Then players watch the crops roll in.

“If you look at the basic premise behind the game, it’s set-up very similar to some of the Farm Bill’s provisions,” Wagner says. “I mean, very, very basic, but at least it gives them an idea of where it all comes from and the whole point behind it.”

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