Agriculture and Human Values

Published by Springer Nature

Online ISSN: 1572-8366


Print ISSN: 0889-048X


Nonsense, fate, and policy analysis: The case of animal rights and experimentation
  • Article

February 1989


21 Reads

Animal rights and experimentation have become the focus of a major controversy in the United States, with acute implications for animal-related research in the laboratories and veterinary schools of many American universities. To date, efforts to reduce fundamental disagreements between animal researchers and animal welfare groups or to redefine their differences in ways that satisfy all concerned have by and large not been successful. In such situations where it is not possible to identify a middle ground between conflicting positions, the best a policy analyst may be able to do is to accentuate the issue's manifest topsy-turviness and uncertainties. No one can afford or risk having an issue of such high uncertainty, inconsistency, and stakes defined in terms so stark that they feel compelled to choose between those who say they know that the future shall hold us accountable for our wholesale slaughter of animals and those who would blame us for the human deaths they say will surely follow when we do not allow that slaughter.

An agro-ecological assessment of grower practices in California, Agr. Human Values 17, 257-266

September 2000


80 Reads

As the organic food sector has grownand changed to become more mainstream, large-scaleconventional growers have entered into organicproduction. While it is increasingly clear that notall organic farms are self-sufficient small scaleunits that practice poly-cultural agronomy and sell inlocal marketing venues, there still exists apresumption that there are clear lines between thesmall scale ``movement'' farmers who followagro-ecological agronomic ideals and the relativelylarger and partly conventional newcomers who do not.This paper addresses a specific empirical issue, whichis the extent to which California organic farmerspractice the techniques of ecological farming. Itillustrates that while there are some distinctdifferences in practices between larger and/orpart-conventional (i.e., mixed) growers and smallerand/or all-organic growers, it also shows that inalmost all cases, practices fall quite short ofagro-ecological ideals. By examining in more depth howgrowers follow particular agro-ecological principles,the paper also demonstrates that key variations arerelated to variables separate from scale. Some ofthese variables are geographic, ranging frombiophysical and climatic opportunities andconstraints, to regional norms and institutionalsupport. Mostly, however, variation is related to cropspecificities and the availability of efficacioustechnologies to deal with crop-specific problems. Thisso-called technology barrier crucially depends on howorganic is defined, and thus suggests the importanceof organic rules and regulations in shaping thepractices of organic production.

Ideology and discourse: Characteristics of the 1996 Farm Bill by agricultural interest groups

September 2002


45 Reads

The relationship betweendiscourse and ideology can be described as thatof process and effect [Purvis and Hunt (1993)British Journal of Sociology 44: 473–499].Discourse, used within relations of domination,can result in the formation of ideology. Tostudy this relationship systematically requiresa methodology that contextualizes discoursewithin social relations and examines when suchdiscourse becomes an ideology. I use Thompson'stheory/methodology of ``depth hermeneutics'' tostudy documents produced by agriculturalinterest groups concerning the 1996 FederalAgriculture Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Actand I assess the ideological status of thediscourses contained in these documents. Thefindings suggest that the organizationsrepresenting the small-to-medium-sized farmerstended to use more agrarian themes, fewermarket themes, and fewer linguistic strategiesindicative of ideology. The organizationsrepresenting more concentrated,vertically-integrated interests andagribusinesses use fewer agrarian themes, moremarket themes, and more linguistic strategies.Therefore, market themes, not agrarian themes,form an ideology in this context.

1996 Presidential address to the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society

June 1997


26 Reads

Concerns about values and caring in the USA are being widelyvoiced in many sectors of the society, including agriculture.The time seems right to bring new ideas about the ethics ofagriculture and eating into public discourse. The Society iswell situated to initiate the dialogue, and Paul Thompson'sbook {\it Spirit of the Soil} (1995) provides an excellentstarting point.

Agrifood systems for competent, ordinary people. Presidential address: Joint Meetings of the Agricultural, Food and Human Values Society and the Association for the Study of Food and Society, Madison, Wisconsin, June 5–8, 1997

September 1998


10 Reads

Focusing on the notion of competencies, the address explores important dimensions of human infrastructure for negotiating alternative agrifood systems. The analytical competencies emphasized are those of making connections and evaluating contradictions. Farm structure and food system connections with human health and consumer culture are chosen as examples. Examined in the context of social change strategies, relational competencies focus on new forms of food citizenship involving alternative organizational relationships between farmers, retailers, and customers. Ethical competencies are framed in relationship to the entire food system, to the valuing of non-market goods, and to linkages between ethics and emotions. Finally, aesthetic and spiritual competencies are considered as human capacities to connect agriculture and food with beauty and with sacramental living.

EurSafe Congress. Wageningen University, March 4–6, 1999: Summing up and future prospects

December 2000


4 Reads

Until recently, ethics was a highlyabstruse activity, with little reference to everydayaffairs. It dealt largely with what is calledmetaethics, and was in danger of becoming moribund asan intellectual activity. But for some years,ethics has been undergoing a process of rejuvenationand development. We now seem to be experiencing thebirth of this new discipline (or at least in the EU –the US has been engaged in it somewhat longer). The EurSafeCongress held at Wageningen University, March 4–6,1999 exemplifies this rejuvenation, and itstrongly suggests that a new discipline is emerging, that is not only exciting from an intellectualperspective, but also addresses issues of fundamentalsocial and political concern. It can beargued that, in this context, ethicists are in the position of guides.It is not their job to pronounce on what is right andwrong, but having trodden many of the theoreticalpaths through the forest, they are in a position toadvise and facilitate sound ethical decision-making byothers. The need for ethical insight in this field islikely to progressively increase over the comingyears. Ethicists have a duty to respond to this need.

A journey in and out of American agriculture. Reflections on Debt and Dispossession by Kathryn Marie Dudley (University of Chicago Press, 2000)

January 2004


19 Reads

I was optimistic of a new beginning in an open society when I came to America in 1999. Since then, I have indeed benefited from many aspects of American life. I have learned a lot – especially through my experience with small farms and farmers. But now, it''s time to move on. And it was reading Debt and Dispossession, a book about American agriculture and human values, that crystallized in me why I wanted to leave. By telling the story of the 1980s farm crisis through the words of the residents of a Minnesota town, the book prizes open many of the contradictions of American society. The 1970s were boom times for mid-western farms; farmers took advantage of easy farm credit to finance expansion. By the 1980s, the boom burst and slump loomed. Lenders wanted their money back and thousands of farmers were dispossessed. Debt and Dispossession probes beneath the surface of a community apparently united in protest against the dispossessions. Underneath, it finds a tangled picture of a society at war with itself, pitting farmer against farmer in a fratricidal struggle. The book let me glimpse the paradox of American individualism, all-American contradictions centering on government and consumerism, frugality and morality. Just like my experience of American agriculture and farmers as a whole, Debt and Dispossession helped me see the best side of America, but also revealed the fragility of life in a one-on-one society.

Seven samurai to protect "our" food: The reform of the food safety regulatory system in Japan after the BSE crisis of 2001

December 2008


41 Reads

Using the case of food safety governance reform in Japan between 2001 and 2003, this paper examines the relationship between science and trust. The paper explains how the discovery of the first BSE positive cow and consequent food safety scandals in 2001 politicized the role of science in protecting the safety of the food supply. The analysis of the Parliamentary debate focuses on the contestation among legislators and other participants over three dimensions of risk science, including “knowledge,” “objects,” and “beneficiaries.” The metaphor of “seven samurai” and the relationally situated roles of “samurai,” “bandits,” and “beneficiaries” are used to show that in the process of policy making certain moral and ethical expectations on a new expert institution for food safety were contested and negotiated to frame responsibilities and commitments of social actors for creating the food system based on trust.

War on foot and mouth disease in the UK, 2001: Towards a cultural understanding of agriculture

March 2004


27 Reads

This article applies some ofthe insights from framing studies in policyresearch, metaphor analysis, and the history ofmedicine to a cultural understanding ofagriculture, using the 2001 outbreak of footand mouth disease in the UK as a case study.The article will show how metaphors of war wereused as a rhetorical frame by the media andas an implicit action frame by policy makers.It will be argued that although the war framemight initially have been useful in rallyingsupport for the slaughter policy, the metaphorlater backfired, when a metaphorical war turnedinto a literal holocaust. This might haveencouraged the public to perceive the policy asmedieval, brutal, and misguided, thuspotentially undermining the willingness ofsections of the public to support the slaughterpolicy in future outbreaks. If, on the otherhand, a vaccination policy were adopted in thefuture, care would need to be taken to avoidmetaphorical linkages with other controversiesover vaccination in other domains.

(Bio)fueling farm policy: the biofuels boom and the 2008 farm bill

December 2010


44 Reads

In the mid-2000s, rising gas prices, political instability, pollution, and fossil fuel depletion brought renewable domestic energy production onto the policy agenda. Biofuels, or fuels made from plant materials, came to be seen as America’s hope for energy security, environmental conservation, and rural economic revitalization. Yet even as the actual environmental, economic, and energy contributions of a biofuels boom remained debatable, support for biofuels swelled and became a prominent driver of not only US energy policy but of US farm policy as well. This paper asks why biofuels became such a powerful force in farm policy debates, and draws on policy windows theory and discourse analysis to analyze biofuels’ contributions to the passage of the 2008 farm bill. It finds that budgetary and political factors combined with a particular set of patriotic biofuels-oriented discourses to carry energy policy debates into farm policy. It also comments on the implications of biofuels policies for conservation and sustainable land use in 2008 and beyond. KeywordsAgricultural policy-Biofuels-Energy policy-Environmental conservation-National security discourse-Sustainable land use

Neoliberalizing food safety and the 2008 Canadian listeriosis outbreak

March 2011


27 Reads

This paper examines evidence regarding neoliberalization of the social organization of Canadian food safety from a series of documents produced in response to the Canadian listeriosis outbreak in 2008. The outbreak is described, then interpreted within a neoliberal context, where: (1) neoliberalism operates as an ideology (2) that enables a socio-political and economic strategy within (3) a project pursued by coalitions seeking to consolidate power through (4) a process of neoliberalization. Following Gramsci’s work on power, it is argued that food safety serves as an attractor, organizing consent within a neoliberal context. Testimony before a parliamentary subcommittee, official reviews, an independent investigation, food inspection records, and media reports have been examined to identify the key factors associated with the outbreak and the process of neoliberalization. The events associated with the outbreak are described first, as activities and practices in organizational settings (governance, sanitation, and production), and secondly, as components in a food production network where consent is organized around food safety. KeywordsNeoliberalization–Food safety–Listeriosis–Food governance–Risk management

2009 AFHVS presidential address: The steering question: Challenges to achieving food system sustainability

March 2010


21 Reads

In this address I examine the challenges of achieving food system sustainability. Starting from the position that most people want a food system that is “sustainable” and that we have a great reservoir of unapplied technical knowledge applicable to increasing sustainability, I argue that the big issue is collective decision-making to accomplish the goal of sustainability. Using the metaphor of a sailing ship, I raise three questions about steering collectively toward sustainability: What do we want? What are our options? And, how do we decide among the options?

The ethics of biofungicides – A case study: Trichoderma harzianum ATCC 20476 on Elsanta strawberries against Botrytis cinerea (gray mold)

January 1997


16 Reads

Trichoderma ATCC 20476 based biofungicides have been marketed continuously on a small scale for 20 years. A more recently developed application for these biofungicides is the treatment of strawberries against the gray mold Botrytis cinerea. That application is examined in terms of Lockwood''s criteria for ethics in biological control. Unaddressed risks resulting from the current scramble for market share in northern Europe are pointed out.

Who is Down on the Farm? Social Aspects of Australian Agriculture in the 21st Century

March 2004


265 Reads

Globalization, international policymanipulations such as the US farm bill, andnational policy responses have received a greatdeal of media coverage in recent times. Theseinternational and national events are having amajor impact on agricultural production inAustralia. There is some suggestion that theyare, in fact, responsible for a downturn in thefortunes of agriculture. Yet, it is more likelythat these issues are acting to continue andexacerbate a trend towards reduced viabilityfor farm families evident in economic andsocial trends since at least the 1950s.Nevertheless, globalization and Australia's policy responses have left farm families morevulnerable in the global world. What then do weknow about their impact at farm gate level?Just who is doing the farming in Australia inthe 21st century and how are these peopleresponding to major world politics? This paperwill focus on the social aspects ofagricultural production in Australia notingsocial trends and drawing attention to thechanging social relations of agriculture. Thedominance of farm families, the role ofcorporate agriculture, ethnic diversity, theimportance of women, and the practice of farmtransfers will be canvassed in this paper.

The Motives, Benefits, and Problems of Conversion to Organic Production. Agriculture and Human Values 27: 291-306

September 2010


1,253 Reads

Using data from a survey of certified organic or in-transition to organic vegetable and dairy producers in Canada, we seek to understand a farmer’s decision to convert to organic production by exploring the motives, problems and challenges, and benefits of transition to organic. Results suggest that health and safety concerns and environmental issues are the predominant motives for conversion, while economic motives are of lesser importance. In contrast to the extant literature, results suggest that the motives underlying transition have not changed overtime in Canada. Problems experienced during transition relate to lack of governmental and institutional support, negative pressure from other farmers and farm groups, and lack of physical and financial capital. Reduced exposure to chemicals and improved food quality were highly ranked benefits, while economic related benefits were scored among the lowest of the listed benefits. To prosper, the Canadian organic sector must overcome fundamental marketing problems and challenges. Promulgation of the Canada Organic standard may help address some marketing issues by providing more information to consumers. KeywordsOrganic food production-Conversion-Canada

Buying local organic food: A pathway to transformative learning. Agriculture and Human Values, 27, 401-413

December 2010


155 Reads

Food is a powerful symbol in the struggle to transition to a more sustainable pathway since the food choices citizens make have deep environmental and social impacts within their communities and around the world. Using transformative learning theory, this research explored the learning that took place among individual adults who consumed goods directly from local organic producers, and how this behavior affected their worldview. Learning was classified as instrumental, communicative, or transformative. Ultimately, we considered if the learning created lasting change, directed toward a more sustainable society, among learners. Three different models of producer/consumer interfaces located in Atlantic Canada were considered: a market-garden operation, an education and outreach center, and a community shared agriculture project. It was found that all participants experienced some form of learning, either instrumental or communicative, through their participation in organic agriculture. Closing the gap between producer and consumer through direct contact with the farmer at a market, visiting the farm, or participating in food production oneself is both a desirable step in reaching a more sustainable lifestyle and a powerful learning tool in linking the consumer to a host of other environmental and social issues. KeywordsOrganic agriculture-Transformative learning-Sustainability-Canada

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