Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2003


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 13, No. 2, 2003. Copyright © 2003 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


William Browne argues that there is a distinct bias in US policy, one that privileges farmers and results in the neglect of nonagricultural rural problems. He locates the source of this pro-farm bias in the influential political power block created when farm interests mobilized and successfully pushed for the creation of the Department of Agriculture and other institutions that collectively form the Agricultural Establishment. The farm paradigm for rural development came to dominate policy talk so completely that competing rural policy paradigms were quickly dismissed. Declining rural communities and the growth of rural poverty were dealt with indirectly and ineffectively through attempts to bolster the farm economy. The problems of nonfarm rural residents and rural communities with significantly declining employment opportunities in farming were left without policy attention.