MAY EXPERIENCE 2015
After many years in which agricultural interest groups crafted agricultural policy with few contenders, grass-roots citizens are advocating for changes in US agriculture policy on environmental, animal welfare, and public health fronts. The new actors in agricultural policy advocate for sustainable agriculture and argue for policies that favor local, organic foods. Added to the mix are questions about farm subsidies, ethanol, and crop insurance. This debate between sustainable and commodity agriculture has put the American farm at the center of a growing political controversy. Farm brings students to Iowa, the leading corn, soy, egg, and hog producer in the nation. The state also is home to a strong network of sustainable agriculture groups. During Farm, students will speak to farmers employing a wide variety of agricultural practices. If you are concerned about the future of food, there are few places better to learn about it than in Iowa.
Students in Farm will have the opportunity to plant corn and/or soybeans, learn about precision agriculture, work on an organic farm, shop at a Farmer’s Market, and visit farms and facilities that specialize in production animal agriculture.. All of these activities and experiences are to provide the students with insights into the impact of agriculture practices and to better understand how the current food system operates, its strengths and flaws. By understanding the variety of agricultural practices employed in Iowa, students can better evaluate for themselves the claims being made in support of or against organic food, local food, animal welfare standards, nutrient management strategies, no-till farming, and crop insurance subsidies.
PSC 516 Farm
: An introduction to farm policy, agricultural history, and contemporary issues in agricultural policy (nitrogen run-off, impact of global markets, biofuels). Course is taught on a working farm in north central Iowa. May Experience ONLY. 2 credits.
The course is an engaged learning course in the political science curriculum; students can take the course to meet the department’s EL requirement. It also broadly fits within the US public policy curriculum in political science, although there are numerous international dimensions to the course (including world food prices, international food aid, and globalization). Finally, the course is also a complement to the University’s sustainability sciences major and environmental studies interdisciplinary minor.
The audience for Farm 2015 is a broad one. Students interested in a “different” kind of experience and who are open to adventure will be well served by Farm. The ideal Farm applicant will be a curious and adventuresome person who enjoys being outdoors and is supremely flexible. All students are welcome, including graduating seniors. The course also targets students interested in sustainability science, public policy, pre-health sciences, natural sciences, sociology, economics, and business administration, since all of these disciplines contribute to understanding agricultural policy.
Accommodations: Students will be staying at farm houses in the Radcliffe, Iowa area or in hotels when field trips take the group too far from Radcliffe to return home in a single day.
Meals: All meals are included.
HEALTH & SAFETY
Students will receive a farm safety course before being allowed on any tractors or entering any animal production facility.
ESTIMATED PROGRAM COST
ADDITIONAL STUDENT EXPENSES
Students will have to pay for the cost of appropriate safety shoes, books for the course (probably two in number), and a round-trip airline ticket from their home to Des Moines International Airport.