[eDebate] Ag Topic 08-09

Dylan Quigley dylan.quigley
Tue Apr 22 22:11:52 CDT 2008

A couple thoughts on why on the Ag topic should win:

The World Food Program said today that the global food crisis is a "silent
tsunami that could plunge more than 100 million people into hunger and
poverty." This is a serious global problem that has real effects not just
"out there" in the world, but in your own grocery store and your own
neighborhood. This is the kind of timeliness that doesn't make you worried
about a uniqueness flip-flop midseason - the real effects of global and
domestic food production will be lingering for years. And come on, no matter
who comes into office, there won't be a mid-season rollback of ag subsidies,
zero chance.

K Ground:
As Glue stated this often seems to be a last minute throw in to these posts
but in this case its something that actually matters a lot to me.
My first defense to the Ag topic is that it will spawn new and vastly more
interesting K debates for those of you that hate them. Want to decrease
generics and increase topic specific Ks? Vote Ag. Don't want to spend
another year judging Kennedy and I going for Nuclearism and Der Derian in
2005? Vote Ag. This part of the literature is a little underdeveloped in the
(otherwise incredibly well done) topic paper and I think that there are very
interesting Ks beyond Ye Olde Eco K. For Affs (due to the negative phrasing
of the topic) various criticisms of neoliberalism are possible, criticisms
of our relation to food production itself, criticism of our economic
relationship to land, criticisms of animal rights/exploitation, criticism of
eco-energy and farm state politics, "myth of the family farm", not to
mention all the free trade/fair trade/globalization lit generically. But
this all seems a bit vague, are you sure we'll get good K ground? Yes - but
that dosn;t mean I can list off a bunch of authors and cites right now.
That's to cool part of this topic - we would get to discover a whole new
body of literature and actually create new args around a topic we've never
had before. But won't all those annoying K teams just be non-topical anyway?
Maybe, but I guarantee they won't be if you vote for a "military
cooperation" topic.

Okay, worst case and zero new interesting, topic related Ks get discovered:
the generic ground is still better for debates and fresher for students than
your other topic possibilities. First is link directionality: your Luke and
McWhorter K's get much more interesting when there is actually aff link turn
ground on a negatively phrased topic. Same with Neolib and other cap K's -
Aff specific links and link turns abound for this issue. It won;t be another
year of Cap G/B or Management G/B, both Aff and Neg would be forced to delve
much deeper into this at a structural level than Sanctions Bad Judge or Not
Killing Endangered Species=Management has ever made us do before. Second is
the relative freshness of these Ks: Bottom line, the K "ground" the other
topics give us sucks. Its incredibly boring and will make for stale debates.
Even the most generic Ks on this topic will get new link stories we haven't
had to think about in awhile - can you say the same for another IR topic
that will force us to repeat the same Ks as this year?

A definite mechanism and proscribed action:
On of the best parts of this topic is a clear solvency mechanism with a
definite direction for almost all relevant uniqueness. The Ag topic carries
none of the baggage that "diplomatic and economic pressure" and
"constructive engagement" had: it has real solvency advocates and plenty of
them. And even the longest and most complicated wording proposed is rather
non-technical and concise:

Resolved: the United States Federal Government should rescind all or nearly
of its subsidies for one or more of the following: cotton, corn, rice,
soybeans, dairy, ethanol, fishing, and Concentrated Animal Feeding

Domestic o/w's Foreign:
Students who entered college debate on the China topic are entering their
fourth year. A foreign topic for the third year out of four would cause a
repeat of a bunch of debates that have happened in the past. I realize that
no topic has forced a discussion about Russia or proliferation, but each
topic has at least included some discussion of them except courts (O wait, I
forgot about the huge Russian federalism advs). None of the topics have had
a discussion about agriculture even tangentially, outside of the Farm Bill
politics DA. That means agriculture is an area where students can gain
education about an important and rarely talked about issue in debate. There
has never, ever been a topic solely devoted the Ag.

I know some of you are thinking that the last domestic topic we had sucks,
but this isn't the same. Courts had wording issues that no one foresaw (who
knew in June that distinguish solved every aff better?) and was
substantially more narrow than the agriculture topic. I will repeat: this
topic has a definite, clear solvency mechanism with actual advocates. This
outways nearly any "but we don't get to talk about nuclear war with X
country" DA you've got.

Ag includes your education claims: Agriculture is unique - it creates a
discussion about a domestic issue with substantial global implications. Doha
talks are stalled almost exclusively because of farm subsidies. The rise in
food prices has affected numerous countries across the globe. So, for all of
you who want to talk about other countries, this topic allows that, while
residing in domestic politics.

And come on now, the advs ground for lifting subsidies has something for
everyone:  poverty, a number of trade/Doha advs, developing economies advs,
very real relations advs, lots of environment advs (both domestic and
international), animal rights (factory farms bad), ethanol/energy advs.

Even if you don't believe me, the Vandy folks have written a truly excellent
topic paper that deserves a read. It is very well researched and offers us
one of the most concrete visions of the topic that we will get if it wins
(not just a very large and nuclear-war-laden area to go to committee).

Final Thought:
In the end, we have a topic that really does have something for everyone. Ag
has a current pressing issue with real material effects we can all see and
forge connections to, a deep and intricate series of trade, economy and
environment debates and a breath of relevant social issues and critical
perspectives for both sides. Until next time, take care of yourselves and
each other.

PS - Seriously, read the topic paper. It kinda rules.
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