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Why Do Members of Congress Support Agricultural Protection?

  • Bellemare, Marc F.
  • Carnes, Nicholas

It seems paradoxical that developed countries continue subsidizing agriculture even though their agricultural sectors have been declining in relative importance since the middle of the 20th century. What drives support for agricultural protection in developed countries? We answer this question by testing three competing hypotheses about what drives support for agricultural protection in the US: (i) legislator preferences, (ii) electoral incentives, or (iii) lobbying. Using data on the roll call votes of the members of the 106th through the 110th Congresses (1999-2009) and the scores given to each legislator by the Farm Bureau, our findings suggest electoral incentives explain a great deal of the variation in support for agricultural protection, but that legislator preferences and lobbying play a role, too. Moreover, legislator preferences and electoral incentives appear to be substitutes for one another. Why does Congress support agricultural protection? Because many members have electoral incentives to—and because many of those who do not still have other personal or strategic interests at stake.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 47629.

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Date of creation: 16 Jun 2013
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:47629
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  7. Bellemare, Marc F. & Barrett, Christopher B. & Just, David R., 2010. "The Welfare Impacts of Commodity Price Fluctuations: Evidence from Rural Ethiopia," MPRA Paper 24457, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Barrett, Christopher B., 1999. "The microeconomics of the developmental paradox: on the political economy of food price policy," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 20(2), pages 159-172, March.
  9. Johan F.M. Swinnen, 2010. "The Political Economy of Agricultural and Food Policies: Recent Contributions, New Insights, and Areas for Further Research," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 32(1), pages 33-58.
  10. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  11. Beghin, John C. & Kherallah, Mylene, 1994. "Political Institutions and International Patterns of Agricultural Protection," Staff General Research Papers 1602, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  12. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-50, September.
  13. Marc F. Bellemare & Christopher B. Barrett & David R. Just, 2013. "The Welfare Impacts of Commodity Price Volatility: Evidence from Rural Ethiopia," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 95(4), pages 877-899.
  14. Jonathan C. Brooks & A. Colin Cameron & Colin A. Carter, 1998. "Political Action Committee Contributions and U.S. Congressional Voting on Sugar Legislation," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(3), pages 441-454.
  15. Poole, Keith T. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1996. "Are legislators ideologues or the agents of constituents?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 707-717, April.
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  17. De Gorter, Harry & Swinnen, Johan, 2002. "Political economy of agricultural policy," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, in: B. L. Gardner & G. C. Rausser (ed.), Handbook of Agricultural Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 36, pages 1893-1943 Elsevier.
  18. Anderson, Kym, 1993. "Lobbying Incentives and the Pattern of Protection in Rich and Poor Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 789, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. Vesenka, Mary H., 1989. "Economic interests and ideological conviction : A note on PACs and agricultural acts," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 259-263, October.
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  21. Brooks, Jonathan, 1997. "Congressional Voting On Farm Payment Limitations: Political Pressure Of Ideological Conviction?," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 22(02), December.
  22. Abmann, Christian & Henning, Christian H.C.A. & Krampe, Eva, 2012. "Constitutional Rules, Informal Institutions and Agricultural Protection in Developing and Industrial Countries: Theory and Empirical Evidence," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124885, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  23. Swinnen, Johan F.M., 1991. "A Positive Theory Of Agricultural Protection," Working Papers 6851, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  24. Allen, Douglas W, 1991. "Homesteading and Property Rights; or, "How the West Was Really Won."," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 1-23, April.
  25. Stephen D. Levitt, 1998. "Are PACs Trying to Influence Politicians or Voters?," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 19-35, 03.
  26. David G. Abler, 1991. "Campaign Contributions and House Voting on Sugar and Dairy Legislation," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 73(1), pages 11-17.
  27. Bellemare, Marc F., 2011. "Rising food prices, food price volatility, and political unrest," MPRA Paper 31888, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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