Globalisation, Agriculture and Development

Globalisation, Agriculture and Development

Perspectives from the Asia-Pacific

Edited by Matthew Tonts and M. A.B. Siddique

This book explores the links between globalization, agriculture and development in a number of contemporary Asia-Pacific nations. It highlights the complex and diversified nature of agricultural change in these contexts, and the ways in which this shapes patterns of economic and social development. Globalisation, Agriculture and Development shows that while agriculture continues to play an important role in local, regional and national development, both the industry and the communities it supports are facing an increasing number of economic, social and environmental challenges.

Chapter 3: Market Efficiency, Agriculture and Prosperity in Rural Australia

Bill Pritchard and Matthew Tonts

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, development studies, agricultural economics, asian development, development economics, economics and finance, agricultural economics, development economics, environment, agricultural economics


Bill Pritchard and Matthew Tonts INTRODUCTION Several years ago, in December 2004, 21 Canberra-based diplomats representing countries of the European Union (EU) visited the rural city of Orange, in central-west New South Wales (NSW), with the intent to: ‘alter some of the negative perceptions in regional Australia about the EU and what are widely seen as its protectionist agricultural policies’ (Banham 2004, p. 4). Naturally enough, media accounts of the visit painted a diversity of views amongst local residents regarding this initiative. Some residents perceived it as an opportunity to build business linkages, while at the other extreme, the Sydney Morning Herald reported one as complaining that the EU was: ‘“so incredibly uncompetitive” in its agricultural policies that it was “quite galling” to have the ambassadors visit Orange’ (Banham 2004, p. 4). The visit to Orange by the EU diplomats holds no significance in itself. It gained fleeting media attention only and did not lead to any lasting announcements. But for the purposes of this chapter, it represents a poignant vignette of how the debate over agriculture’s regional economic contributions has been constructed over the years. The dominant politicoeconomic discourse on these issues in Australia is rooted in neoliberal economic theory. It asserts that the market efficiency of agriculture provides a powerful engine for economic growth in the regional economies of non-metropolitan Australia, but this capacity is undermined by the extensive ‘distortions’ of global agricultural markets because of state interventions of various kinds. Correspondingly, so goes this argument, regional development...

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