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K-State Today

January 28, 2019

Visiting Fulbright scholar Geoff Cockfield to give seminar Jan. 31

Submitted by Carla Woodyard

Geoff Cockfield, visiting Fulbright scholar, will present a seminar in the agricultural economics department at 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, in 342 Waters Hall.

Cockfield will present "Why does the nation of individual enterprise provide government support to its farmers, while a (slightly more) social democratic nation does not? Comparing agricultural policies in Australia and the U.S. and reflecting on broader national differences."

Australia and the U.S. are developed, anglophone, Euro-colonial nations with similar agricultural production systems and some common export commodities. Both nations have cultural and political narratives about the importance of agriculture and rural communities and both were influenced by the resurgent market ideology of the 1980s and participate in the World Trade Organization and a range of bilateral trade agreements. Australia also is relatively exposed to U.S. cultural and political trends and ideas. Despite these commonalities and the potential for policy transfer, the agricultural policies of the two countries are notably different. In particular, Australia has drastically reduced effective support to farmers with almost no on-going agricultural programs, in contrast to the range and security of programs available in the U.S.

This presentation is based on two core questions:

  1. What are the main policy differences between the U.S. and Australia, based on levels of effective support and protection and selection of policy instruments?
  2. What are the reasons for these differences, especially considering coalescence of interests, values and narratives and institutional settings?

This leads to three questions for concluding discussion:

  1. Are there policy instruments and programs from the U.S. that could be reconsidered for Australia, given on-going political interest in supporting farmers?
  2. Does Australia's policy pathway suggest anything about the future for U.S. policy, especially considering the apparent absence of significant changes to the 2018 Farm Bill?
  3. What does this comparative study suggest about broader differences between the U.S. and Australia?

The research for the seminar was organized around two public policy concepts: post-exceptionalism and the advocacy coalition framework. The former is being used to explain and describe policy change in developed countries since the WTO Uruguay round of talks, while the latter facilitates the examination of the impact of policy advocates coalescing around particular values and narratives, given particular institutional settings.

Cockfield has been at K-State since Sept. 4, 2018, working on the comparative policy study and developing collaborative networks in the U.S. and especially at K-State. He leaves K-State on Feb. 4.

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