The Politics of Food Supply


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U.S. Agricultural Policy in the World Economy

Bill Winders; Foreword by James C. Scott; With a New Preface by the Author

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This book deals with an important and timely issue: the political and economic forces that have shaped agricultural policies in the United States during the past eighty years. It explores the complex interactions of class, market, and state as they have affected the formulation and application of agricultural policy decisions since the New Deal, showing how divisions and coalitions within Southern, Corn Belt, and Wheat Belt agriculture were central to the ebb and flow of price supports and production controls. In addition, the book highlights the roles played by the world economy, the civil rights movement, and existing national policy to provide an invaluable analysis of past and recent trends in supply management policy.

Bill Winders is associate professor of sociology, the School of History, Technology, and Society, Georgia Institute of Technology. He lives in Atlanta.

"Winders's book is at its best when it links both the policy's [of agricultural supply management] persistence and its 1996 elimination to the political support of three commodity-based segments within agriculture: corn, wheat, and cotton. Winders claims that class transformation within the cotton segment was the ultimate key to the policy reversal."—Edward C. Jaenicke, American Journal of Sociology

"Breaking new ground, Winders' original class analysis of US agricultural politics differentiates commodity programs as vectors of privilege and change in farm policy and markets at home and abroad."—Philip McMichael, Cornell University

"The Politics of Food Supply traces the fate of New Deal agricultural policies that were the mainstay of federal policy until the 1990s. In a fascinating historical account, Bill Winders explains why a nation wedded to a free market ideology has provided price supports for each of the major crops—corn, cotton and wheat—in its agricultural policy. A pathbreaking contribution to political sociology and comparative historical sociology."—Jill Quadagno, author of One Nation, Uninsured:  Why the US Has No National Health Insurance

"Bill Winders in The Politics of Food Supply: U.S. Agricultural Policy in the World Economy provides an engaging and incisive account of the history and political economy of farm policy in the United States."--Sandeep Vaheesan

“The Politics of Food Supply provides a thorough and detailed examination of the economic and political forces that have shaped U.S. agricultural policy for much of the twentieth century. Moreover, Winders’ focus on how changes within agriculture itself have acted to shape policy offers an important alternative to most analyses, thus providing a necessary contribution toward understanding both historical and contemporary agricultural policy. More generally, this book will prove valuable for social scientists and historians interested in topics of food and agriculture, political sociology, and public policy.”—Carmen Bain, Contemporary Sociology

“Winders’s book has several strong points or innovations in agricultural policy analysis. First, the commodity-based approach is an insightful and interesting unifying framework that nicely ties together political, technological, and economic elements. Winders does well to remind current readers how farm commodities—and associated political power—were regionally intense. Another strength is the linking of the corn-wheat-cotton commodity framework to the global economy. Fully comprehending this framework requires understanding a U.S. food regime built on export subsidies and food aid. A third strength is Winders’s in-depth analysis of congressional votes and hearings, which ultimately demonstrates that within-segment politics are at least as important as general party politics.”—Edward C. Jaenicke, American Journal of Sociology

“In The Politics of Food Supply Winders makes a significant contribution to the sociology of agrifood studies. Established academics and graduate students in the areas of historical sociology and the sociology of the agrifood system will find this book an engaging read as well as a valuable example of critical agrifood research.”—Douglas H. Constance, Agriculture and Human Values

"A clear, detailed, and intelligent guide to the history of US agricultural policy" Alice Weinreb, Environmental History.

Winner of the 2011 Political Economy of the World-System (PEWS) Section of the American Sociological Association Book Award

ISBN: 9780300181869
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
302 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
18 b/w illus.
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