The Agrarian Seeds of Empire

The Political Economy of Agriculture in US State Building


The Agrarian Seeds of Empire outlines the influence of agrarian movements on the process of US institutional capacity building between 1840- 1980. Out of the mix of the developing new Nation and the expanding capitalist system emerged strong farmer’s movements that produced state building processes central to American political development. It will show how the forces of state building and social movements converged to produce agro-industrialization. This agro-industrial developmental project was instrumental in both the development of the industrial food system and US Empire as the institutional capacities were later used to impose the same project outside of the US. These findings link together and augment existing approaches to capitalist development, International Relations, and theories of the state and the food system.
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Table of contents

Acknowledgements ix List of Figures and Tables x Commonly Used Acronyms xi 1 Introduction 1 The Agro-Industrial Complex 3 Transcending State-Market Dichotomies 15 Overview of the Chapters 28 2 The Agro-Industrial Roots of the us Capitalist Transition through State Capacity Building: 1830–1870 32 us Land Policy in the North 33 Early Farmer Resistance to Market Expansion 39 Land, Debt and Speculation 46 Canal and Railroad Policy 48 Early State Involvement in Agriculture 51 Agro-Industrial Development 56 Conclusion 70 3 The End of Slavery and Southern Agricultural Class Structure 73 Slavery, the Civil War and the Transition 74 The Civil War and State Institutional Expansion 81 Postbellum Southern Agriculture 83 Uneven Development across the South 95 Tenancy and the Class Politics of Reconstruction 99 Conclusion 102 4 Agrarian Populism: The Rise and Fall of Populism 105 Farmers and Farming in the Late 19th Century usa 105 Late 19th Century Agrarian Political Economy 109 The Rise of Populism 111 Populist Politics 118 Populist Fractures 123 The Decline of Populism 126 The American Farm Bureau Federation 134 Conclusion 137 5 State Institutional Capacity Building of the usda-Research Complex 140 Institutional Response to Agrarian Movements 142 The Agro-Industrial Project in Research 147 State Capacity Building in Trade and Banking 155 Agro-Industrialization through Farmer Education 158 State Responses to the Agricultural Crisis of the 1920s 168 Conclusion 172 6 The New Deal and Agricultural State Institutional Capacity Building 174 The Politics of the Agricultural Adjustment Act 175 Southern Tenants and the aaa 184 Theories of the New Deal Era State 187 Class Influences on Institutional Development 193 The Specific Case of California Agriculture 197 The Consistency of Trade Promotion 203 Agriculture, the New Deal, and World War ii 208 Conclusion 212 7 Sowing the Seeds of Globalization: Post-War Food Aid, Trade and the Agricultural Roots of us Hegemony 215 Food Aid as Globalization’s Groundwork 217 Food Aid as Agro-Industrial Development Project 221 The Institutional Dimensions of Internationalization 225 The Crisis of the 1970s 231 Harvesting Free Trade 246 The Food Regimes Approach 251 Conclusion 262 8 Conclusion 266 Appendix A 273 Appendix B 278 Bibliography 280 Index 303


All interested in American political development, the transition to capitalism, social movements, food regimes, international political economy, state theory, and food system research.