IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: original version
Download Restriction: no

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

in new window

Date of creation: 16 Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:47629
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Ludwigstraße 33, D-80539 Munich, Germany

Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2459
Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-992459
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Swinnen, Johan F.M., 1991. "A Positive Theory Of Agricultural Protection," Working Papers 6851, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  2. Gawande, Kishore & Hoekman, Bernard, 2006. "Lobbying and agricultural trade policy in the United States," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3819, The World Bank.
  3. 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.
  4. Johan F. M. Swinnen & Harry Gorter, 1993. "Why Small Groups And Low Income Sectors Obtain Subsidies: The "Altruistic" Side Of A "Self-Interested" Government," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(3), pages 285-293, November.
  5. 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.
  6. Rigoberto A. Lopez, 2001. "Campaign Contributions and Agricultural Subsidies," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 257-279, November.
  7. Orden, David & Paarlberg, Robert & Roe, Terry, 1999. "Policy Reform in American Agriculture," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226632643, August.
  8. 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.
  9. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1996. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 265-286.
  10. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992. "Protection for Sale," Papers 162, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  11. 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.
  12. Kym Anderson & Gordon Rausser & Johan Swinnen, 2012. "Political Economy of Public Policies: Insights from Distortions to Agricultural and Food Markets," LICOS Discussion Papers 32312, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  13. 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.
  14. Jeroen Klomp & Jakob de Haan, 2013. "Conditional Election and Partisan Cycles in Government Support to the Agricultural Sector: An Empirical Analysis," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 95(4), pages 793-818.
  15. Barrett, Christopher B., 1999. "The microeconomics of the developmental paradox: on the political economy of food price policy," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 20(2), March.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  22. 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.
  23. Beghin, John C. & Kherallah, Mylene, 1994. "Political Institutions and International Patterns of Agricultural Protection," Staff General Research Papers Archive 1602, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  24. Gary S. Becker, 1983. "A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400.
  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. 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.
  27. Bellemare, Marc F., 2011. "Rising food prices, food price volatility, and political unrest," MPRA Paper 31888, University Library of Munich, Germany.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:47629. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.