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(Bio)fueling farm policy: the biofuels boom and the 2008 farm bill


  • Nadine Lehrer



In the mid-2000s, rising gas prices, political instability, pollution, and fossil fuel depletion brought renewable domestic energy production onto the policy agenda. Biofuels, or fuels made from plant materials, came to be seen as America’s hope for energy security, environmental conservation, and rural economic revitalization. Yet even as the actual environmental, economic, and energy contributions of a biofuels boom remained debatable, support for biofuels swelled and became a prominent driver of not only US energy policy but of US farm policy as well. This paper asks why biofuels became such a powerful force in farm policy debates, and draws on policy windows theory and discourse analysis to analyze biofuels’ contributions to the passage of the 2008 farm bill. It finds that budgetary and political factors combined with a particular set of patriotic biofuels-oriented discourses to carry energy policy debates into farm policy. It also comments on the implications of biofuels policies for conservation and sustainable land use in 2008 and beyond. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Suggested Citation

  • Nadine Lehrer, 2010. "(Bio)fueling farm policy: the biofuels boom and the 2008 farm bill," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 27(4), pages 427-444, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:27:y:2010:i:4:p:427-444
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-009-9247-0

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ben B. Davies & Ian D. Hodge, 2006. "Farmers' Preferences for New Environmental Policy Instruments: Determining the Acceptability of Cross Compliance for Biodiversity Benefits," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 393-414.
    2. John Fairweather & Hugh Campbell, 2003. "Environmental beliefs and farm practices of New Zealand farmers Contrasting pathways to sustainability," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 20(3), pages 287-300, September.
    3. Knowler, Duncan & Bradshaw, Ben, 2007. "Farmers' adoption of conservation agriculture: A review and synthesis of recent research," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 25-48, February.
    4. Gary D. Lynne & J. S. Shonkwiler & Leandro R. Rola, 1988. "Attitudes and Farmer Conservation Behavior," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 70(1), pages 12-19.
    5. Namatié Traoré & Réjean Landry & Nabil Amara, 1998. "On-Farm Adoption of Conservation Practices: The Role of Farm and Farmer Characteristics, Perceptions, and Health Hazards," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 74(1), pages 114-127.
    6. Maybery, Darryl & Crase, Lin & Gullifer, Chris, 2005. "Categorising farming values as economic, conservation and lifestyle," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 59-72, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kirkels, Arjan F., 2012. "Discursive shifts in energy from biomass: A 30year European overview," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 4105-4115.
    2. Robert Chiles, 2013. "If they come, we will build it: in vitro meat and the discursive struggle over future agrofood expectations," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 30(4), pages 511-523, December.
    3. Carmen Bain & Theresa Selfa, 2013. "Framing and reframing the environmental risks and economic benefits of ethanol production in Iowa," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 30(3), pages 351-364, September.


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