Date of Award

Spring 5-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Chair

Dr. Robert Pauly Jr.

Committee Chair Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 2

Dr. Tom Lansford

Committee Member 2 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 3

Dr. Joseph St. Marie

Committee Member 3 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 4

Dr. David Butler

Committee Member 4 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Abstract

Agricultural tariffs and price supports are the last bastion of US and European protectionism. While all other areas of commerce have embraced change and welcomed open-market international commerce, agriculture has remained the lone holdout.

The small farmers for whom these support programs were designed no longer exist. Yet governments appropriate billions of dollars annually for the continued support of these outdated programs.

The fact that these governmental agencies resist change, even in an age of economic crises, record national debt, and one of the highest negative trade balances in history, is testimony to American civic indifference.

Public apathy precludes timely reform. While most of the population is unaware of the scope of agricultural price-support spending, or of the trickledown effect it has on consumer pricing, the small groups that benefit from it spend millions annually in their effort to continue to receive billions in aid payments.

This dissertation posits that agricultural price supports are no longer necessary, and that they promote overproduction of certain crops, create artificially high retail costs, and may actually hinder economic progress in some less-developed agrarian societies.

If progress is to be made in the arena of international agricultural open-market economics, the organizational dynamics of the developed nations must first be replaced with institutional oversight through organizations such as the World Trade Organization.