In her 25-year career at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, historian Anne Effland has produced an impressive body of work focusing on federal farm and rural policy; rural labor, women, and minorities; and the institutional history of the USDA itself. Among her award-winning projects are “Farm Bill Side-by-Side” summaries that quickly clarify and compare the details of this massive and important piece of legislation very soon after its passage.
An excerpt from our interview with Anne:
I think it needs to be clear that policy is an iterative process and it includes both intended and unintended or vested consequences and then it continues on. So properly identifying what happened, in this detailed a way, facilitates critiques and better policy. It shouldn’t be seen as making excuses; it is an effort to try to truly understand what brought about these consequences that weren’t expected, and then what we would do to fix these pieces. It is in and of itself a very historical process, which makes it a very appealing area to study. But it shouldn’t be divorced from experience because it has a great influence on how individuals are able to make their own choices in their lives.