There was an interesting article in the New York Times two days ago about how the defeat of the farm bill signals that agriculture is not as powerful as it used to be in American politics. Whereas farming lobby groups used to have tremendous influence and the Agricultural Committee was one of the most prestigious to be sitting on, the article argues that today’s rapid urbanization has left less and less states with a majority of farmers that could lean on strategic voting to get their issues passed in government.
It also talks about the neglect of the role of Senate and House Agricultural Committees when an extension of the budget was due last January; instead of taking up the carefully crafted Farm Bill proposals of either committee, the Senate passed a slimmed-down extension of the 2008 budget that was brought forward by the Republican minority leader – a move which totally nullified all the work the Ag Committees had done so far.
The issue is fascinating to me so far as, while agriculture continues to decline in percentages of the work force in most OECD countries, food security and food provision is likely to become an issue in the future again, what with climate change, population increases and price spikes like in 2008/2009. Maybe that would mean a reversal of this trend of a decline of farming power?