Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Matthew Scherer




agriculture, rural life, food security, industrial farming


America’s treatment of agricultural policy is unlike that of any other country in the world. After the Great Depression, the government, urged on by a strong lobbying force, began to implement strong policies aiding and regulating the farming sector. Massive intervention that started as a means of food security has developed into a system today that still leans on subsidies, grants and other means of support. Industrial agriculture, meaning farming done on a large scale with chemical inputs, has largely replaced the traditional methods practiced at the time of the post-depression subsidies. However, in recent years counter-industrial farming has emerged due to concern over the environmental and social impacts of industrial agriculture, including those farmers who dub themselves organic. Despite the newer distinctions in farming methods, most policy changes are politically driven and serve to represent various lobbying interests. This paper examines the policy that has led to America’s reliance of industrial scale agriculture including new technology like Genetically Modified seeds. This is followed by and analysis of the current policies impact on farmers, the environment and rural life in general. Finally, a conclusion is reached in terms of the negative consequences associated with the current policy propping up industrial agriculture. Several alternative movements are proposed as potential solutions to those problems yet the umbrella term sustainability is the best hope toward moving at a gradual rate toward a more economically and environmentally sound agricultural system.