Congressional Briefing: Historical Perspectives on Federal Agricultural Policy

Why has the farm legislation that Congress reauthorizes roughly every five years become so important to so many different groups?  How has the country shaped and been shaped by federal agricultural policies and the Farm Bill since the 1930s?  With a conference committee currently working to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the 2018 farm bill, this is a timely occasion to examine the origins and evolution of this legislation.

A video recording of the briefing is available here, in C-SPAN’s video library.

You can read Dane Kennedy’s recap of the event, “Ground Strategy: How Federal Farm Policy Shaped America,” for Perspectives Daily.

A one-page briefing summary can be found here.

This briefing took place on Monday, August 20 at 10:00 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2103, Washington DC.

Meet the Presenters

Anne Effland is Senior Economist for Domestic Policy in the Office of the Chief Economist, USDA and formerly a historian with USDA’s Economic Research Service. Her historical research has ranged widely, including studies of U.S. farm and rural policy; rural labor, women, and minorities; and institutional history of USDA. Anne has published frequently in Agricultural History, as well as in several agricultural economics and food policy journals and in a number of edited collections. She has been a Fellow of the Agricultural History Society since 2011 and served as its President in 2008-2009.  She received the Gladys Baker Award for lifetime achievement in the field of agricultural history from the Society in 2018.  She has also spoken to officials and agricultural organizations worldwide on the evolution of U.S. farm policy, farm policy design, and domestic agricultural support measurement.

Sarah Phillips is assistant professor of history at Boston University. She is the author of This Land, This Nation: Conservation, Rural America, and the New Deal, and, with co-author Shane Hamilton, The Kitchen Debate and Cold War Consumer Politics. She has written essays and articles on environmental history, antebellum reform, transatlantic agricultural developments, the interwar economy, and the conservation and environmental policy of state governors. Her current book project, The Price of Plenty: From Farm to Food Politics in Postwar America, examines the domestic politics sustaining the massive farm surpluses of the post-World War II era that established the United States as the predominant and most problematic of the state actors in the international food regime.

David Hamilton is associate professor of history at the University of Kentucky.  He studies twentieth-century U.S. political and policy history. His book From New Day to New Deal: American Farm Policy from Hoover to Roosevelt, 1928-1933 was awarded the Theodore Saloutos Prize. He has published articles in the Journal of American History, the Journal of Southern History and Agricultural History as well as essays in edited collections. He edited Problems in American Civilization: The New Deal. His current projects include a biography of the economist Mordecai Ezekiel, a study of the Hoover presidency, and a study of early twentieth-century American state-building.