Policy reform is a complex process involving political and economic forces acting in a specific institutional environment. The first task for the analyst hoping to understand this process is to develop a framework into which the various elements can be placed. The analytical framework used in this book builds on that used in our 1990 book (Moyer and Josling (1990), Chapter 1) that focused on the farm policy reforms of the 1980s. In this chapter we discuss a number of alternative approaches to understanding agricultural policy reform. Each of these approaches illuminates certain aspects of the policy process, though none of them by themselves provides a full picture. After a discussion of some of the main types of models that have been used for explaining policy making, we attempt a heuristic approach for integrating insights from several of these models. But the policy making model is only the first step in the process of developing a framework. The decisions on farm policy are made at various levels, national, regional and multilateral. We discuss the particular problem of multilevel political processes, first in the context of trade negotiations and then with respect to the European Union, which itself illustrates a particular type of two-level game. Finally, we raise the issue of the dynamics of policy reform, exploring the notions of path dependency of the reform process and of paradigm shifts in the perception of agriculture's place in the economy and the objectives of farm policy.