The Agrarian Seeds of Empire

The Political Economy of Agriculture in US State Building


Author: Brad Bauerly
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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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.