Shifting paths to conservation: Policy change discourses and the 2008 US farm bill

Nadine Lehrer, Dennis R. Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


From 2004 until 2006, reform of US agricultural subsidy programmes seemed a likely result of pressure from the World Trade Organization. Many groups saw this pressure as an opportunity to 'green' farm policy by crafting environmental service payments that could replace crop subsidies. Yet the 2008 US farm bill fell short of such drastic changes. This paper uses discourse analysis to trace the decline of prospects for reform of the farm bill, and a shift to incremental policy making between 2006 and 2008. It finds that, in addition to political and situational factors, striking discursive shifts altered policy debates and outcomes to create particular conservation impacts. It thus argues for broader use of rhetoric theory and discourse analysis to assess environmental policy. Implications for land conservation are presented in the context of interest group tactics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-655
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 5 2010


  • Commodity reform
  • Discourse
  • Environmental conservation
  • Policy analysis
  • US farm bill

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