Why Do Members of Congress Support Agricultural Protection?

40 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2013

See all articles by Marc F. Bellemare

Marc F. Bellemare

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Applied Economics

Nicholas Carnes

Duke University - Sanford School of Public Policy

Date Written: June 16, 2013

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Agricultural Policy, Agricultural Protection, Farm Bill, Congress, Voting, Lobbying

JEL Classification: Q18, D72

Suggested Citation

Bellemare, Marc F. and Carnes, Nicholas, Why Do Members of Congress Support Agricultural Protection? (June 16, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2280073 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2280073

Marc F. Bellemare (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Applied Economics ( email )

MN
United States

Nicholas Carnes

Duke University - Sanford School of Public Policy ( email )

201 Science Drive
Box 90312
Durham, NC 27708-0239
United States

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