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U.S. Farm Bills and Policy Reforms: Ideological Conflicts Over World Trade, Renewabl ...

Chapter 1:  Farm Bills, Interest Groups, and Policy Change
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U.S. Farm Bills and Policy Reforms:

Chapter 1

Farm Bills, Interest Groups,
and Policy Change


In 2005 an observer of the 2008 farm bill debates might have considered farm policy to be on the brink of significant changes. World Trade Organization (WTO) pressure to reduce U.S. agricultural supports was making headline news. Farm groups, worried about the impacts of reduced supports on their global market share, were calling for an extension of the 2002 farm bill and sponsoring tours to Brazil to size up the competition. Other interest groups were looking to the WTO as an opportunity to promote their versions of farm policy change—be they for increased conservation, rural development, public health, free trade, or tax reduction. Journalists from the New York Times to the Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal were calling for farm bill reform as well, bringing agricultural policy debates well into the public sphere.

In the end, however, the 2008 farm bill looked very much like the 2002 farm bill. Over time, talk of the WTO and Brazil declined in the press, and groups originally promoting a farm bill extension changed their