About This Class
American farm and food policy has long been the subject of strenuous debate and criticism. In recent years, prominent criticism has come from a movement of consumer and environmental interests concerned that the way we eat and how we support producers impacts our health, natural resources and the environment. Other interests raise concerns that about Federal spending and government footprint. Regardless of the reason, all of them look to the farm bill. The farm bill, however, is difficult; hard to understand and challenging to change policies that have proven incredibly resilient over many decades.
The class is an attempt to explain the farm bill; the history and development of the policies enacted but with an eye on how policy has changed and been reformed over the years due to changing stakeholder needs. Students will examine many of policies before Congress -- from crop insurance to conservation to food assistance -- with a strong emphasis on the political trends and motivations. The goal of the class is to inform students about the range and depth of Federal farm and food policy, while also developing a better understanding of the historical, economic, political and process-based forces in Congress; the keys to current policies and to the development and direction in the future.
Some commentators have suggested that eating is an agricultural act but that consumers are often disconnected from farmers. If eating connects us to nature through farming, this class connects students to farming and nature through policies designed in the halls of Congress and the executive branch.