Abstract

This historical political etymology of the term agribusiness (coined in 1955 by John H. Davis) traces the rise of a significant keyword in post–World War II American discourse. Contentious U.S. domestic farm politics of the 1950s shaped the discourse on agriculture and technology, producing a rhetorical context for Republican attacks on New Deal–era farm programs. This political climate produced new meanings for another relatively recent term, family farm—a phrase taken up by Democrats in the 1950s seeking to continue government oversight of the agricultural economy. Furthermore, technological determinism in American cold war political culture endowed agribusiness with lasting discursive power that signified—and too often justified—the seeming inevitability of a consumer-driven, technologically determined, corporate capitalist logic of food production and distribution.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1097-3729
Print ISSN
0040-165X
Pages
pp. 560-590
Launched on MUSE
2014-08-08
Open Access
No
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