[eDebate] Agriculture topic-- it's awesome

Rappmund, Phil p.rappmund
Mon Apr 21 02:23:11 CDT 2008

If you haven't already, I would like to urge everyone to read 
through the agriculture topic paper and see what you think.  I 
personally think agriculture would be the best topic area and would 
easily provide a full year of interesting and deep debates.  Here 
are some points I'd like to highlight that the paper goes into more 
detail about:

1. It's time for another domestic topic.

People going into their senior year of debate will have had 3 
foreign policy topics in college if foreign policy is voted again 
this year.  Their single domestic topic will have been the courts 
topic.  The courts topic.  Look, I actually liked the courts topic 
(maybe 1 of 10 debaters nation-wide that did), but it seems a shame 
that some debaters will have never gotten the chance to have a big 
domestic topic in their entire college careers.  Agriculture is an 
immensely important domestic controversy that has a deep literature 
base and lots of implications for policies right here in the states.

2. It's actually really interesting.

An immediate reaction to seeing "agriculture" might be that it just 
sounds kinda boring.  Admittedly, that's what I thought when I 
first had the idea thrown to me.  While it may not immediately 
sound as explosive as the Russia topic, the advantages affs can 
access on the agricultural topic are pretty sweet.  It's a domestic 
topic, but it has huge global ramifications and you get all your 
sweet impacts.  Domestically, affs can access all sorts of 
environmental scenarios, both land-based (like deforestation, 
hotspots and such), and oceanic (such as dead-zones, overfishing, 
etc.)  Agriculture would access a lot of awesome international 
advantages as well.  Agriculture is pretty much the reason why WTO 
talks can't proceed, and also a reason why the US has degrading 
relations with many developing countries.  Not to mention the 
massive trade advantages affs could get to- either through 
revitalizing the WTO or straight up increases in free trade due to 
removing trade barriers.  Agriculture also accesses advantages 
regarding global poverty, the intense wealth disparity between 
global south/north, and economies abroad.  These affs have plenty 
of solvency advocates and lots of literature discussing the need to 
reform ag in specific proposals.

The neg gets a lot of cool stuff too.  The economy-based disads 
would be awesome.  Everyone agrees that ag reform would do 
something drastic to food prices (probably rise), but the effects 
of that are highly debated in the literature.  That's just food 
prices though-- the neg would have tons of super specific state 
economy disads (e.g. Iowa, etc.), actual good biz-con disads, 
disads about trade credibility and competitiveness, etc.  The case 
negs are deep as well- there is no need on this topic to rely on a 
states CP every round (in fact, a states CP would probably be 
impossible since most subsidies have to be removed at the federal 
level).  Negs could actually run a lot of good case args and 
specific disads.

3. Good critical ground.

I was never really a K debater, but I think have a diversity of 
good critical ground is important.  Agriculture has frankly the 
best K ground of any topic.  Not only are there lots of Ks, but 
there are Ks from every point in the ideological spectrum to run on 
both the aff and the neg.  On the aff, you can either go hard right 
and read libertarian/free trade arguments or go left and read 
arguments regarding the effect our ag policy has on the developing 
world.  There's a ton of good lit out there on how our subsidies 
have devastated the global south, creating massive poverty.  On the 
neg, there's a substantial debate to be had on how our attempts to 
develop parts of the world is a form of imperialism in itself that 
creates cycles of dependency.  There's a huge free trade debate, 
with very good neg arguments about the effects of opening trade in 
the developing world.  Also, every environmental advantage is 
subject to environmental Ks as outlined in the paper.

4. Ground is stable.

Subsidies aren't being cut, not anytime soon.  Especially with the 
elections this year.  Affs won't have to worry about drastically 
changing their strategies after the election or anything.  Negs 
will have stable uniqueness throughout the year.  No problems like 
the ones we had with the Afghanistan area of the topic last year. 
Ground will be pretty predictable and stable all year.

5. Elections disads will be sweet.

We shouldn't evaluate a topic based on how we think the politics 
debate is going to end up, but I do think it's worth noting that 
these disads would be particularly awesome on this topic. 
Especially since elections disads are inevitable, no matter the 
topic, this year.  Some of the best elections cards are written on 
this topic.  Touching subsidies is a huge political issue, probably 
the biggest of any of the topics except maybe health care.

6. We've never debated agriculture.

Not a single NDT topic has been devoted solely to reforming 
agriculture.  As the topic paper points out, agriculture has been 
labeled America's most important industry.  It has huge 
implications both here and abroad, and is an ongoing controversy. 
It seems crazy that we've never had a topic solely devoted to it. 
I understand agriculture was a component of the Europe topic, but 
there were 20 other components that year as well.  How many 
agriculture debates actually happened?  The only people that would 
have debated that year would be fifth years this upcoming season as 

Basically, in my opinion agriculture would be the best topic for 
next year's season.  It's a domestic topic, but it still gets to 
all the sweet impacts and global scenarios (something that I think 
distinguishes it from the other domestic topic choices).  It's not 
highly susceptible to the states CP, has good critical ground, lots 
of specific solvency advocates, and is a topic we've never debated 
in the history of the NDT.  Vote agriculture.


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