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Shifting paths to conservation: policy change discourses and the 2008 US farm bill


  • Nadine Lehrer
  • Dennis Becker


From 2004 until 2006, reform of US agricultural subsidy programmes seemed a likely result of pressure from the World Trade Organization. Many groups saw this pressure as an opportunity to 'green' farm policy by crafting environmental service payments that could replace crop subsidies. Yet the 2008 US farm bill fell short of such drastic changes. This paper uses discourse analysis to trace the decline of prospects for reform of the farm bill, and a shift to incremental policy making between 2006 and 2008. It finds that, in addition to political and situational factors, striking discursive shifts altered policy debates and outcomes to create particular conservation impacts. It thus argues for broader use of rhetoric theory and discourse analysis to assess environmental policy. Implications for land conservation are presented in the context of interest group tactics.

Suggested Citation

  • Nadine Lehrer & Dennis Becker, 2010. "Shifting paths to conservation: policy change discourses and the 2008 US farm bill," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(5), pages 639-655.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jenpmg:v:53:y:2010:i:5:p:639-655
    DOI: 10.1080/09640561003730007

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    Cited by:

    1. Clive Potter & Steven Wolf, 2014. "Payments for ecosystem services in relation to US and UK agri-environmental policy: disruptive neoliberal innovation or hybrid policy adaptation?," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 31(3), pages 397-408, September.


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