International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy (ES&P)

Department

International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Gregory Trencher

Abstract

The agricultural sector in the United States is accounts for a large portion of the economy as well as environmental degradation, yet agricultural policy is often overlooked. This paper will look at one longstanding piece of legislation known as the Farm Bill, specifically the 2008 and 2014 versions, and the way the Commodity and Crop Insurance measures steer the industry. Secondary data was taken from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with peer reviewed journals and studies.

Trends would suggest that while other factors are involved, the Commodity subsidies encourage larger farms as well as a shift towards single crop specialization. The Crop Insurance also supports the trend towards mono cropping, in addition to high-risk crop choices. Though it contradicts the U.S. approach of free market politics, this legislation is already causing change, so it should be used to guide the sector towards sustainability. In order to do this, the bill would need substantial changes, such as a regional rather than national approach, or separating sections not directly governing farms into a separate bill.

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