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Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs and Laws

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The complexities of federal farm and food programs have generated a unique vocabulary. Common understanding of these terms (new and old) is important to those involved in policymaking in this area. For this reason, the House Agriculture Committee requested that CRS prepare a glossary of agriculture and related terms (e.g., food programs, conservation, forestry, environmental protection, etc.). Besides defining terms and phrases with specialized meanings for agriculture, the glossary also identifies acronyms, agencies, programs, and laws related to agriculture that are of particular interest to the staff and Members of Congress. CRS is releasing it for general congressional use with the permission of the Committee.

The approximately 1,700 items selected for inclusion in this glossary were determined in large part by Committee instructions concerning their needs, and by the informed judgment of numerous CRS experts. Time and resource constraints influenced how much and what was included. Many of the glossary explanations have been drawn from other published sources, including previous CRS glossaries, those published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies, and glossaries contained in the publications of various organizations, universities, and authors. In collecting these definitions, the compilers discovered that many terms have diverse specialized meanings in different professional settings. In this glossary, the definitions or explanations have been written to reflect their relevance to agriculture and recent changes in farm and food policies.

This glossary is in alphabetical order and contains an explanation for each term with appropriate cross references. The terms shown in bold in the text of narrative explanations are included elsewhere as individual glossary terms; additionally, there are cross references to related terms. Some of the acronyms, particularly those of organizations and associations, are not followed by an explanation.

The definitions and explanations are not legal in nature, but are explanatory. Hence, this document should not be used as a legal or administrative reference. For those purposes, the Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, and the Code of Federal Regulations are the more appropriate resources.