Date of Thesis

2010

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Department

Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Amanda E. Wooden

Abstract

Conservation agriculture that focuses on soil recovery is both economically and environmentally sustainable. This lies in contrast with many of the current agricultural practices, which push for high production, which, in turn lead to over-depletion of the soil. Agricultural interest groups play a role in crafting farming policies with governmental officials. Therefore, my study examined three interest group types agribusinesses, farmer organizations, and environmental NGOs that seek to influence agricultural policy, specifically focusing on the federal farm bill, due to its large impact throughout the nation. The research in which data wasgathered through subject interviews, a literature review, and databases found that access to governmental officials affects the amount of influence a group can have. Access is contingent upon: 1) the number of networks (social, professional, and political), 2) amount of money spent through campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures, and 3) extent of business enterprises and subsidiaries. The evidence shows that there is a correlation between these variables and the extent of access. My research concludes that agribusiness interest groups have the most access to government officials, and thus have the greatest influence on agricultural policies. Because agribusinesses support subsidies of commodity-crops this indirectly impacts conservation agriculture, as the two programs compete in a zero-sum game for funding in the farm bills.

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