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Kym Anderson

For decades, earnings from farming in many developing countries have been depressed by a pro-urban bias in own-country policies, as well as by governments of richer countries favouring their farmers with import barriers and subsidies. Both sets of policies reduced national and global economic welfare and inhibited agricultural trade and global economic growth. They almost certainly added to inequality and poverty in developing countries, since three-quarters of the world’s billion poorest people depend directly or indirectly on farming for their livelihood. During the past three decades, however, numerous developing country governments have reduced their sectoral and trade policy distortions, while some high-income countries also have begun reducing market-distorting aspects of their farm policies. This chapter surveys the changing extent of policy distortions to prices faced by farmers over the past half-century in high-income, developing and transition economies. It also provides a summary of new empirical estimates from a global economy-wide model that show how much could be gained by removing remaining interventions. It concludes with words of caution as to what could occur if a failure to conclude the WTO’s Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations led to protection growth in emerging economies.
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Tiziano Gomiero

In this chapter, I review the effects of farming practices on biodiversity, focusing in particular on the potential role of organic agriculture in preserving biodiversity. From the literature review, it emerges that organic farming, when properly managed, can provide greater potential for biodiversity than its conventional counterpart, as a result of greater habitat variability and more wildlife-friendly management practices, along with the exclusion of agri-chemical pesticides. Organic agriculture also has positive effects on soil biophysical and ecological characteristics – long-term soil fertility. Indeed, an increasing body of evidence indicates that landscape heterogeneity is a key factor in promoting biodiversity in the agricultural landscape. Benefits may be also achieved by conventional agriculture when reducing the inputs of agri-chemicals and better integrating crop production with soil protection and landscape ecological structures. I highlight that farming and environmental conservation have to be understood within the whole structure of the food system, and that analysis should be made and actions towards agricultural sustainability and biodiversity conservation should be taken accordingly. That means working in parallel on the social, economic and political dimensions of our society. Individual farmers cannot take that challenge alone, or bear the whole cost of the effort. Long-term experiments and multicriteria analysis of the range of feasibility and viability of organic and low-input agriculture should also be carried out in a number of different scenarios.
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Geoffrey Lawrence, Sarah Ruth Sippel and David Burch

Following the global financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent identification of so-called ‘toxic assets’ – particularly the multifaceted financial products associated with the real estate sector – finance capital has been seeking new asset classes through which to channel funds. While the food and farming sectors have traditionally been risky investments, factors such as rising global population levels, increasing scarcity of land and water resources, and the growing demand for food from the burgeoning middle classes in countries such as China, India and Indonesia, have made food industry and farmland investment increasingly attractive. Much research has focused upon ‘land grabbing’ in the Global South. This is occurring as sovereign wealth funds from rich, but often land-poor, countries seek to guarantee a steady and long-term food supply for their citizens by investing abroad. It is leading to displacement of subsistence producers and often occurs in a manner that is unfair, underhanded and socially disruptive. Biofuel production is another land-based investment that is popular with finance sector investors. Along with these activities, finance is creating products that incorporate foods and fibres and is selling these as virtual assets traded on international markets. Such ‘derivatives’ provide opportunities for hedging and speculation on futures markets. In this chapter, financialisation is defined and its contours outlined. Details are provided of takeovers in food manufacturing and retail, commodity speculation, and global farmland purchase. A final section details the growing opposition that is occurring globally as food and farming are progressively ‘financialised’.
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Pratyusha Basu and James Klepek

From the 1960s, agriculture across the developing world was transformed through new technologies and policies collectively designated as the ‘Green Revolution’. While major increases in food production can be traced to Green Revolution technologies, their environmental and social outcomes have remained matters of concern, including pollution and species and habitat loss, and persistent food and livelihoods insecurities. The Green Revolution also denoted a new ideology of agriculture that shifted agricultural innovations from farmers’ fields to scientific laboratories, and often argued for the universal dispersal of such innovations. The globalization of science and development was thus a central component of the Green Revolution and this chapter seeks to understand the Green Revolution through the lens of these global flows. Overall, this chapter considers how the unfolding of the Green Revolution has been accompanied by North–South technology flows, beginning in South America and Asia, and currently extending to new sites in Africa.
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Roy E. Rickson, Kara E. Rickson, Peter Hoppe and David Burch

Globalisation of food production, processing and retailing focuses our attention on social and economic relations between large-scale, often international, companies and local communities. We need to focus also on emerging and intensifying conflicts between mining and agriculture when the extraction of natural resources such as coal, limestone, or coal seam gas intersects with productive farmland and rural settlements. The ‘local’ and the ‘global’ are tied together in these issues, and ever more so as neoliberal policies are embraced by national governments in ways that tend to dissuade or dismantle regulatory hurdles or oversight for international agri-food and mining developments, and the social and environmental impacts of projects at local levels. Rural communities and regions in these circumstances are ‘contested terrains’, where accessing natural resources can add economic benefit and social vitality to rural areas. However, the risks of degradation of underground and surface water systems, air and land quality, valued rural landscapes, cultural heritage and the social sustainability of rural communities are costs often tied to these benefits. Relations of social power and trust (or distrust) characterise collaboration and conflict between community groups and individuals, company managers and responsible government agencies as they negotiate the risks and benefits of project development. Addressing social and environmental justice dimensions of economic objectives is a necessary focus of actor relations, and informs our understanding of sustainability, which we define as balancing economic goals with social and environmental justice. Powerful companies can push projects through local and national resistance. Yet their power is institutionally limited and project development across food and mining sectors is, to varying degrees, contingent upon the relationships corporate actors generate and maintain with local people. We examine here in particular the ways that mobilised local groups can influence access to natural resources, and how related costs and benefits are distributed.
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Guy M. Robinson and Doris A. Carson

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Edited by Guy M. Robinson and Doris A. Carson

This Handbook provides insights to the ways in which globalisation is affecting the whole agri-food system from farms to the consumer. It covers themes including the physical basis of agriculture, the influence of trade policies, the nature of globalised agriculture, and resistance to globalisation in the form of attempts to foster greater sustainability and multifunctional agricultural systems. Drawing upon studies from around the world, the Handbook will appeal to a broad and varied readership, across academics, students, and policy-makers interested in economics, trade, geography, sociology and political science.
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Andrew Dorward and Jamie Morrison

Subsidies have been a pervasive feature of agricultural policy throughout history. This chapter describes different kinds of subsidies and their changing roles in different societies. It reviews evidence on the economic, food security and poverty impacts of different agricultural subsidies in developed and developing countries. The evidence suggests that different subsidy programmes have had in some contexts profoundly positive and in other contexts profoundly negative impacts on food security and on the livelihoods of poor people and poor societies. Discussions of the historical and potential roles of subsidies and their more recent use have, however, often been the victim of a narrow overemphasis by some on their negative effects and, paradoxically, of their misuse as a result of others’ exaggerated expectations of their benefits. The chapter concludes with recognition that more judicious, differentiated and new uses of subsidies for food production may (with complementary investments in technology, infrastructure and socioeconomic change) be crucial in both high- and low-income countries in promoting sustainable food security and poverty reduction in the face of growing national and global challenges in food production and access.
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Lia Bryant

In order to explore the long-term sustainability of food production it is necessary to examine the labour market practices of food and beverage organisations, many of which are multinational, particularly in relation to skilling and meanings and practices associated with recruitment, retention and training of workers. These organisations shape rural labour markets and therefore jobs available to local residents. This chapter gives specific attention to the gendering of the rural workforce and examines how organisations both gender rural labour markets and are shaped by gendered and classed practices associated with the places in which they are located.
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Stefan Bringezu, Helmut Schütz and Meghan O’Brien

Globalisation increases the share of foreign resource supply, also for agricultural goods. Locations of production and consumption are drifting apart, leaving conditions and consequences of production hidden to consumers. Certification schemes try to bridge that gap. However, the major part of agricultural markets remains unaffected. As long as the global demand for food and non-food crops is growing, standards for selected products will be insufficient to control the global expansion of cropland, which will continue in particular in the tropics at the expense of grasslands, savannahs and forests, leading to biodiversity loss and increased GHG emissions in the coming decades. Without drastically increasing the efficiency of biomass use a sustainable supply of food and non-food biomass will not be possible, both globally and in particular regions. An essential condition for a globally safe operating space of biomass use is that the expansion of cropland will come to a halt. Measuring the global use of cropland for the domestic consumption of all agricultural goods allows countries to monitor whether their real footprint is within or beyond the safe operating space. Using data for the European Union, this chapter shows how such monitoring could provide the basis for governments to adapt the incentive framework for industry and households to increase efficiency in the use of biomass (e.g., reducing food waste). Policies could include removal of misleading incentives and subsidies, such as biofuel quotas in those countries where the real footprint is already globally oversized.