The Everyday Lives of Policies and People
Edited by Norman Long, Jingzhong Ye and Yihuan Wang
Chapter 2: Peasants, Territorial Cooperatives and the Agrarian Question
Jan Douwe van der Ploeg INTRODUCTION This chapter discusses the emergence of a new institutional arrangement in the European countryside, the territorial cooperatives. These new organizations differ from the familiar cooperatives involved in processing agricultural products or delivering services and inputs to their member farm-enterprises. Such cooperatives are essentially located within the food chain and aim to smooth its operation while enlarging the value added that is realized at the farm-enterprise level. Instead, the currently emerging territorial cooperatives are essentially area based and can therefore include farms from many different subsectors (for example, arable farming, horticulture and dairy farming) that are supplying different food chains. Territorial cooperatives aim, above all, to strengthen and develop the qualities of an area and the resources it contains (for example, environmental quality, landscape, biodiversity, social well-being, services and employment level). Through such measures the environmental cooperatives also strengthen and augment incomes at the farm-enterprise level, albeit in an indirect way. Environmental cooperatives also differ from the production cooperatives that were once widespread in Eastern Europe (and in some parts of Western Europe), the former USSR and, until recently, the People’s Republic of China. Production cooperatives are essentially based on communal ownership of the main means of production. Territorial cooperatives, however, are grounded on individually owned units of production (in practice family farms), which at higher levels of aggregation (that is, the territory) engage in dense and multifaceted patterns of cooperation. From the theoretical point of view this chapter is based on the notion that...