Rethinking Agricultural Policy Regimes: Food Security, Climate Change and the Future Resilience of Global Agriculture: Volume 18


Table of contents

(19 chapters)

Purpose – This chapter introduces the book collection and sets the theoretical framework for the subsequent chapters.

Design/methodology/approach – The approach of the book is to re-interpret major challenges to global agriculture – particularly climate change and the food crisis of 2008 – as demonstrating shocks to the resilience of global food systems.

Findings – Using resilience to shocks as a key quality of food systems enables recent crises to be understood as central to the ongoing dynamics of food systems rather than simply atypical events. Alongside climate change and food security, other potential shocks are identified: biosecurity, energy, financial and volcanic.

Originality/value – This framework establishes new criteria for examining the potential merit of multifunctional and neo-liberal policy regimes with world food systems.

Purpose – This chapter elucidates the post–Second World War development of Western agricultural policy. It focuses primarily on the influence that the European Union and the United States have had on global policy evolution.

Design/methodology/approach – The chapter draws on historical sources and other secondary data.

Findings – The chapter documents how agriculture was never seen as a sector commes les autres. Agricultural exceptionalism became practice, never falling easily under the rubric of those organisations, like the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or the World Trade Organization, that were designed to reduce impediments to trade. As a result, trade in agricultural goods even today remains tightly controlled by national governments, seen most clearly with the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. Further, the chapter documents the rise of productivism in the West, where the search for ever more, and cheaper, calories provided the rationale that bigger is better – bigger farms, bigger machinery, more technology inputs into agriculture, but fewer people working them, and fewer farms, which leads to questions about their sustainability and resilience in an era of climate change. The chapter ends with an acknowledgement of a changed world – where Brazil, China and India exert more influence in international trade negotiations, including those relating to agriculture. Their differing agenda in this area helps to explain, in part, the wreckage of the Doha Round of the WTO.

Originality/value – By identifying the main lines of post-1945 Western agricultural policy, the chapter provides context into which the authors contributing to this volume are able to place their chapters. The chapter also addresses a lacuna in the literature in that it deals with the entire sweep of post-war Western agricultural policy in a way that makes it accessible to the reader.

Purpose – Reviewing the notion of ‘neo-productivism’ as represented in the literature, this chapter explores multiple forms of neo-productivsm and presents a case study of the dairy industry of New Zealand as a new form ‘cooperative productivism’.

Design/methodology/approach – First, a brief review of the literature on neo-productivist forms is performed in order to develop a framework of neo-productivism as presented in the literature. Second, a case study of Fonterra in New Zealand is undertaken and makes the case that Fonterra represents a new productivist form (that does not fit within the current literature) – that of cooperative productivism.

Findings – Three forms of neo-productivism are described in the literature, namely market productivism, competitive productivism and ‘neo-productivism’. We find that cooperative organisations (in this case Fonterra) can also develop into highly productivist forms when the objectives of members concur with the corporate objectives and are facilitated by a supportive government and weak environmental regulation. The possible implications for European rural development are discussed.

Originality/value – This chapter presents the first framework of the different neo-productivist forms and describes the new concept of cooperative productivism.

Purpose – This chapter aims to explore the consequences of a renewed impetus for ‘neo-productivist’ agriculture on multifunctionality in Western Europe.

Design/methodology/approach – We analyse how the issue of multi-functionality has been interpreted and implemented in Western Europe through a comparison between Norway and Scotland (as an EU example). Relevant policy documents and literature are analysed. The chapter explores whether European agricultural multifunctionality is being revised in response to the rise of neo-liberal (neo-productivist) ideologies, food security and climate change issues.

Findings – Our results suggest that Norway and the European Union have developed somewhat different understandings of multifunctionality. In response to recent events these forms are diverging further with the EU strengthening and Norway weakening their respective policies and discourses. However, in both cases, food security and climate change are emerging as key elements in the restructuring of both policy and rhetoric.

Research limitations/implications and practical implications – The study has been limited to an overview of multifunctionality within the European context and a case study approach using Norway and Scotland. Nevertheless, in highlighting the flexible use of the notion of ‘multifunctionality’, it illustrates to policymakers the importance of maintaining a focus on its key environmental and social objectives in the face of pressures to increase production and liberalise agricultural policies.

Originality/value – This is one of the first studies to point out the varied nature of the ‘multifunctionality’ discourse in Europe and how it is likely to change further in response to economic, environmental and social changes.

Purpose – This chapter responds to the re-centering of agriculture and food in official forums and public discourse in the current crisis context.

Design – It re-examines the assumptions of the agrarian question through the lens of food regime analysis.

Findings – By examining these developments, particularly the recommendations of the IAASTD report, it is clear there is growing interest in the multifunctional conception of farming that is attentive to ecological and social sustainability.

Research implications – This rethinking is symptomatic of a transformation of the agrarian question: moving away from a concern with the political trajectory of capital in agriculture and the process of depeasantization, towards a concern with ‘peasant’ renewal. This registers an ontological shift towards an agro-ecological paradigm in which an ecologically driven conception of ‘value’ addressing social reproduction rather than capital accumulation is emerging.

Practical implications – New research on “repeasantization” undergirds this claim, and complements the global mobilization of small farmers around the project of food sovereignty. Practically, food sovereignty projects mean growing land rights claims and adoption of diverse forms of biological (rather than chemical) farming.

Social implications – This implies stabilizing rural populations and the possibility of health food and environments.

Value – Intellectually, such developments call for an analytical shift (in food regime and other analyses) towards values other than those of price and productivism in assessing the contribution of agriculture to human survival in a climate-challenged future.

Purpose – This chapter explores the way in which the food crisis of 2008 and issues of food security have impinged upon debates about agriculture and agricultural support in Scotland.

Methodology/approach – Adopting a discourse analytic approach, a series of pivotal Scottish agricultural policy documents produced between 2001 and 2010 are examined. Official agricultural policy discourse over time is traced as is the nature of that discourse as the food crisis impinged upon and altered the context of debates about agricultural policy reform.

Findings – The chapter finds that prior to the food crisis, agricultural policy documents were dominated by neoliberal discourse that emphasised the importance of agriculture becoming more oriented towards the market and by a growing emphasis on multifunctionality. But after the food crisis, the dominant political rhetoric utilised different arguments to defend agricultural subsidies and argue for a continuing role for the state in perpetuating agricultural production. It is suggested, however, that the key factor in this retrenchment to continued farm support was not the food crisis per se; rather, it was the intersection of issues of food security with the rise to power of the Scottish nationalists and their resistance to the UK's neoliberal position.

Originality/value – The chapter provides the key insight that, for Scotland at least, the food crisis did not spark a change in domestic agricultural policies, but rather became an argumentative resource that was opportunistically deployed in established debates about agricultural policy reform.

Purpose – This study compares the historical evolution of two particular models of dairy policy: supply management in Canada and deregulated cooperative monopolisation in New Zealand.

Design/methodology/approach – Both cases draw on historical sources and other secondary data.

Findings – Despite national adherence to neoliberalism and global trade reform, both Canada and New Zealand have arguably developed dairy sectors that are operating according to unique local dynamics and with vastly different outcomes. The result is a model in Canada which is potentially more resilient to future shocks than the New Zealand model.

Originality/value – By identifying the contradictory outcomes of local dairy policy development within a neoliberalist context, the chapter is able to explore the potential resilience of each sector in a way that hasn't been achieved before.

Purpose – Dairy has been the backbone of agriculture in regional Norway, and the processing of milk has been dominated by co-operatives owned by milk farmers. During the social democratic order (1945–1979), productivist agriculture thrived, while a more multifunctional agriculture was developed after 1980. As a measure against overproduction, a quota system was introduced in 1983. The purpose of this study is to see if there are signs of a neo-productivism revival after climate change and other global shocks, like the food crisis, featured prominently on the political agenda.

Design/methodology/approach – The chapter reviews the radical structural changes in Norwegian dairy production since the early 1960s, which reduced the number of milk farms radically from 148,000 in 1959 to almost 16,000 in 2009. According to the Agricultural Agreement between the Norwegian government and the farmers' organisations, the co-operatives are given an important semi-public role as market-price regulators and stock keepers. This Norwegian system may be described as a classical regulated dairy regime. The Norwegian dairy regime has been through several deregulations and re-regulations over the last 20 years, partly forced by internal pressures and partly inspired by liberalisation tendencies abroad.

Findings – After mid-1990s, there has been an increase in the number of joint dairy farms, where individual ownership of land is maintained while herds, buildings and machinery are merged. Three thousand six hundred thirty dairy farmers are now participating in 1,510 joint farming firms, producing 29 per cent of the milk in Norway. This rapid growth of joint farming is transforming the dairy sector in Norway. Analysis has shown that its evolution is closely tied to farmer socio-economic demands, including social benefits, such as increased leisure time, and security during illness. While there has been pressure to increase productivity, the food crisis changed attitudes, making the current policy of import tariffs and subsidies easier to defend.

Originality/value – This chapter shows that neo-liberalism in Norway was not pursued as far as in most other OECD countries, although some deregulation was taking place. Norwegian agricultural policies are still regulating the sector to a substantial degree, with the annual Agricultural Agreement negotiations serving as a centrepiece. Norway has ambitious climate goals, and by 2020 greenhouse gases emissions should be reduced to 30 per cent of the 1990 rate. A further goal is that Norway will be carbon neutral by 2030. As part of the implementation of its climate policy, a White Paper on agriculture and climate change was put forward in May 2009. For Norwegian food production as a whole, a change towards more grazing at the expense of crops would improve carbon storage and reduce the overall use of fertiliser. Such a shift in land use would benefit the dairy sector, in part because of easier access to domestically grown cow feed.

Purpose – This chapter examines the evolution of new audit and traceability systems in New Zealand horticultural export industries. Identified as one trajectory in New Zealand agriculture partly resulting from neoliberal reform, the arrival of audit culture in food export industries has significantly repositioned these export sectors, particularly in relation to how they might respond to new energy and climate change challenges.

Design/methodology/approach – The chapter reviews the neoliberalisation of New Zealand agriculture in the 1980s and then examines the emergence of specific industry, audit and regulatory responses to new challenges around energy and climate change. Horticultural export sectors are used to demonstrate these responses and then compared with other, more productivist-oriented sectors in New Zealand.

Findings – The argument presented at the end of this chapter is that those food export sectors that have embraced the new audit approaches rather than taking a more productivist pathway will be better positioned to cope with the shocks of new energy costs and climate change requirements.

Originality/value – This chapter demonstrates the variable outcomes of neoliberal reform in agriculture. It identifies new audit and governance technologies as both an essential contributor to understanding the nature of global food chains and a potentially important contributor to achieving greater agri-food resilience in the face of future shocks like climate change.

Purpose – This chapter discusses farmers' and policy responses to global shocks, specifically in terms of soaring prices for agricultural products in 2007. We discuss whether these shocks influenced Norwegian agricultural policy and Norwegian farmers perceptions of their situation.

Design/methodology/approach – As a background, we review trends in agricultural policy post-World War II both globally and in Norway, including empirical evidence for the changing global situation of agriculture. This chapter also analyses farmers' perceptions of their situation from 2002 to 2010 in light of these changing reality and policy response.

Findings – One immediate effect of increasing food prices was increasing incomes for food exporters and food exporting countries, an increase which also trickled down to the producers. Simultaneously, production costs rose as many input-factors became more expensive. In Norway, we saw the emergence of more optimism among farmers, more willingness to invest in farming (as opposed to a focus on cost reduction), and clear signs of a ‘repositioned productivism’.

Originality/value – In this chapter, we present an analysis of the relationship between global events, agricultural restructuring and local responses. The chapter also discusses the case of productivism along the lines drawn by Burton and Wilson (this volume), and argues that in the Norwegian system we can indeed see traces of an emerging ‘repositioned productivism’.

Purpose – This chapter compares bioenergy policy developments in Germany and Denmark to better understand the responses of EU country policy regimes to global shocks; to examine potentially emerging new trends of productivist policy models; and to explore potential land use conflicts in the context of a multifunctional EU agricultural policy.

Design/methodology/approach – The chapter reviews the bioenergy policy development pathways taken by Germany and Denmark, highlighting key consequences for agricultural land use and rural development. Findings from both case studies are then compared in summary tables, followed by a discussion of the possible emergence of productivist policy approaches in the bioenergy sector in these countries.

Findings – The bioenergy policies pursued by both countries differ in key respects and yet have had the same result-an increase in the productivist orientation of agriculture, legitimised by the environmental concerns of bioenergy policy. The Danish and German case studies also demonstrate that the particular pathways taken to establish bioenergy policies in each country have been strongly influenced by local political, farming and technological dynamics.

Originality/value – This chapter presents a telling case of what Burton and Wilson (this volume) call “repositioned productivism”, where productivist approaches benefit from environmental or multifunctional policy rationale to continue at the farm level.

Purpose – This study compares the arrival of large-scale dairy farming in two New Zealand regions since 1984 with a particular focus on the competition between sheep farming and dairy farming.

Design/methodology/approach – The case study draws on qualitative interviews with 58 farmers in two regions.

Findings – We identify and compare the changing economic, social and cultural hierarchies in and between the two regions.

Originality/value – This study extends a typical political economic comparison by emphasising the changes in social and cultural capital as a result of the changing economic conditions in the country and the regions.

At the outset of this book, we argued that it was important that we study agricultural “policy regimes” rather than agricultural policy itself. Our reasoning was that our interest lies in the actual outcomes in terms of farming practice, industry arrangements, global trade linkages, technology assemblages, and agroecological relationships in particular countries and regions. It is a convenient fiction that these practices and arrangements are the direct result of the formal agricultural policy arrangements in each specific country. In reality, the formal policy process in each country (including not only agriculture, but also, in some cases, rural, environmental, trade, and social development policy) can be argued to be in constant interaction with wider global politics, geographically specific environmental and cultural dynamics, prevailing farm practices, and new technologies. To recognize this full assembly of dynamics that coordinate to determine actual farm practice, we use the term “policy regimes.” In neoliberalized economies such as New Zealand, there is even a strong sense in which devolved governance at the industry and sector level now operates within these regimes in the same way that formal agricultural policy does in European countries.

Reidar Almås is professor of rural sociology and regional policy at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway. He founded and directed Centre for Rural Research 1982–2007 and is currently senior advisor at CRR. He has written the Agricultural History of Norway (2002), and has published more than 15 books on rural issues, included ‘Globalisation, Localisation and Sustainable Livelihoods’ with Geoffrey Lawrence. His current research concerns agricultural policy, climate change resilience and mitigation and power in the food chain. Currently Almås is president of the International Rural Sociological Association (IRSA).

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Research in Rural Sociology and Development
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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