Agriculture and Human Values

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Visual scheme denoting the employed methodology (source: the authors)
Proposed conceptual framework based on the literature review
The concept of inclusive innovation has become widely embraced in the agricultural domain and promises to overcome traditional innovation paradigms by emphasizing more balanced, sustainable, and just human-environmental relations. Indigenous and local knowledge play an increasingly important role in debates about inclusive innovation, highlighting the diversity of relevant actors and marginalized perspectives. At the same time, the positioning of Indigenous and local knowledge in innovation processes remains ambiguous and contested. This article addresses this positioning in the context of inclusive agricultural innovations by reviewing 65 publications through iterative inductive coding. The qualitative review generates a conceptual framework that distinguishes five different modes relating innovation processes to Indigenous and local knowledge. These modes differ in locating innovations in endogenous, exogenous, or hybrid knowledge production. Furthermore, they also differ in their conceptualizations of Indigenous and local knowledge as dynamic or static. The resulting matrix provides resources for navigating the complex epistemic and political relations between knowledge systems in the agricultural domain.
White Women Primary Farmers - % by State
Black Women Primary Farmers - % by State
Indigenous Women Primary Farmers - % by State
Pacific Islander and Asian Women Primary Farmers - % by State
Research on women in U.S. agriculture highlights how, despite real challenges, women have made and continue to make spaces for themselves in this male-dominated profession. We argue that, partly due to data accessibility limitations, this work has tended to use white women’s experiences in agriculture as universal. Analyzing micro-data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture, this paper offers descriptive statistics about women and race in U.S. agriculture. We examine numerous characteristics of U.S. farms, including their spatial distribution, the average number of acres farmed, predominant crop types, and other characteristics to describe how white, Black, Indigenous, and Pacific Islander/Asian women farmers are faring. Our findings suggest significant differences in women’s farms by race. We argue that these are related to the history of forced and voluntary migration within the U.S. Our results indicate that understanding women’s experiences in farming requires understanding the impact of race and these broader historical patterns. Finally, because of these differences across races, we suggest that supporting “women in agriculture” may require tailored responses from agricultural policy and programming that addresses unique needs in specific communities.
The three methodological steps of this review study
PRISMA Flow used in this review study
of qualitative synthesis
Can the power of digital communications create opportunities for overcoming generational renewal problems on farms? This interdisciplinary review explores the reported impacts of digital communication on career initiation into farming from a global perspective via the lens of career theories. Seventy-three papers were synthesized into two domains: (1) the impact of digital communication interactions on farming career initiation, and (2) the dynamics of digital communication initiatives that create opportunities to inspire youth into farming. The finding shows that the mainstream literature primarily aims to support the continuity of farming careers but pay little attention to the potential of digital communication to attract youth into farming. This review argues that career communications for farming receives insufficient attention, and could be better integrated into agricultural communications strategies by using the potential of digital communications. Study concludes that while economic and geographic factors, as well as societal and cultural norms, lead to negative perceptions on farming careers, there are three pathways that may contribute to breaking down these negative perceptions. Firstly, taking the changing nature of career motivations, such as the trend towards sustainable farming linked to self-fulfillment, among today’s youth into consideration is essential. Secondly, highlighting technological advances in digital agriculture practices, like geographical flexibility or innovation capacity of farming, for example, is important to increase awareness about new opportunities in the profession. Lastly, communication campaigns with targeted groups (e.g., young females) play a role to change the negative perceptions of the rural way of life and the farming profession.
Advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality in agriculture is a recognised development goal, also within crop breeding. Increasingly, breeding teams are expected to use ‘market-based’ approaches to design more ‘demand-led’ and ‘gender-responsive’ crop varieties. Based on an institutional ethnography that includes high-profile development-oriented breeding initiatives, we unpack these terms using perspectives from political agronomy and feminist science and technology studies. By conceptualising the market as an ongoing, relational performance made up of discourses, practices and human and nonhuman actors, we trace how the market is understood as an effective socioeconomic institution for soliciting demand, but also becomes a normative agenda. Construed as a demand variable, the relational and structural dimensions of gender are rendered less visible, which might strengthen rather than transform power relations’ status quo. On the other hand, a feminist science and technology perspective broadens the field of vision not only to the gendered dimensions of crop breeding, but also to the nonhuman actors, such as the crops and traits falling outside the market sphere of interest. By putting political agronomy and feminist science and technology studies into conversation, the article contributes to the development of a feminist political agronomy.
Overview of support actor groups that local farmers rely on for resources. The y-axis shows the results standardised as % of respondents in the questionnaire and the numbers on the bars show the absolute number of respondents. Local farmers found employees and volunteers to be the most important support actors, followed by customers and other farmers
Histogram showing the distribution of support actor groups selected by local farmers as being important. The x-axis shows the number of support actor groups selected by respondents as either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ in the questionnaire (see Table 2). The y-axis shows the results standardised as % of respondents in the questionnaire and the numbers on the bars show the corresponding absolute number of respondents. On average, the farmers we surveyed were supported by four support actor groups
Variations in importance, frequency, and formality of different support actors a Importance of interactions with support actor groups. The actor groups of the highest importance (“Important” and “Very important”) were family and friends, employees and volunteers, customers, and the government. Associations and other farmers were more often rated as ‘less important’ (13% and 17% of respondents selecting these actors, respectively). b Frequency of interactions with support actor groups. Farmers interacted most frequently with employees and volunteers, family and friends, and customers. In relative terms, respondents interacted least frequently with government and associations—generally once per month, year or season. c Formality of interactions with support actor groups. The most informal interactions occurred with family and friends, and other farmers. Half of the farmers relying on customers interacted with this group both formally and informally. Overall, interactions with the government were far more likely to be formal as compared to other support actors
Advocates for re-localizing food systems often encourage consumers to support local farmers and strengthen local food economies. Yet, local food systems hinge not only on consumers' willingness to buy local food but also on whether farmers have the social support networks to address diverse challenges during food production and distribution. This study characterizes the challenges and support systems of farmers selling to local markets in Québec, Canada, across multiple growing seasons using a mixed-methods research design. We sent an online questionnaire to 1046 farmers and conducted follow-up interviews with 15 of the 133 respondents. Our findings show that farmers relied on an average of four support actor groups, particularly employees, customers, and other farmers. Actors played distinct roles in terms of the importance, frequency, and formality of interactions, providing immediate and long-term support through formal and informal relationships across multiple spatial scales (farm, local community, and regional/international). Our thematic analysis showed that support actors helped farmers in four key domains: (1) Knowledge sharing and emotional support; (2) Labour and workforce; (3) Material and financial aid; and (4) Consumer education and business promotion. Farmer associations provided resources to tackle various challenges, acting as bridges across multiple support actor groups. Yet, our results suggest that political desires to encourage local food systems are in some cases poorly matched with resources to address specific types of challenges farmers face. Specifically, overlooking the role of diverse social support actors in helping farmers build food production and distribution capacity could undermine efforts to foster localization. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10460-022-10343-0.
Low income and low food access census tract centroids with HOLC zone ratings (n = 10,459)
In the 1930s, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) graded the mortgage security of urban US neighborhoods. In doing so, the HOLC engaged in the practice, imbued with racism and xenophobia, of “redlining” neighborhoods deemed “hazardous” for lenders. Redlining has caused persistent social, political and economic problems for communities of color. Linkages between redlining and contemporary food access remain unexamined, even though food access is essential to well-being. To investigate this, we used a census tract-level measure of low-income and low grocery store food access from the US Department of Agriculture Food Access Research Atlas, redlining data from Mapping Inequality Project, and demographic data from the American Community Survey. We employed generalized estimating equations with robust covariance estimates to analyze data pertaining to 10,459 census tracts in 202 US cities. Tracts that the HOLC graded as “C” (“decline in desirability”) and “D” (“hazardous”) had reduced contemporary food access compared to those graded “A” (“best”). Increases in contemporary census tract proportions of Black, Hispanic, or other racial/ethnic minority residents, as well as disabled residents, were associated with reduced food access. Increases in contemporary proportions of residents age 75 years and older or those without a car were associated with better food access. Tracts that underwent housing redevelopment since being graded had better food access, while those undergoing gentrification had reduced food access. Results suggest that issues of redlining, housing discrimination, racism, ableism, displacement, and food inaccessibility are deeply intertwined.
Elements of social practices
Entanglement of PA with farmers in a “socio-cyber-physical system”
Advances in precision agriculture (PA), driven by big data technologies and machine learning algorithms can transform agriculture by enhancing crop and livestock productivity and supporting faster and more accurate on and off-farm decision making. However, little is known about how PA can influence farmers’ sense of self, their skills and competencies, and the meanings that farmers ascribe to farming. This study is animated by scholarly commitment to social identity research, and draws from socio-cyber-physical systems research, domestication theory, and activity theory. This conceptualization of PA within these theoretical perspectives helps to render visible how big agricultural data and machine learning algorithms can affect meaning, doing, and being for US farmers. Through analysis of data from six focus group discussions and follow-up surveys with stakeholders across the PA value chain, this paper shows that PA tools can necessitate farmers to learn and develop new competencies such as flying drones and interpreting yield maps. At the same time, PA can shape new meaning of farm work and new expectation about a ‘good farmer’, changing what it means to be a ‘successful’ farmer from someone who is not only a data observer or data gatherer but also validators of PA models by using their local knowledge of agronomic and environmental phenomenon. We conclude that PA can alter social expectations about farming by reorienting the role of farmers. Policymakers and agriculture extension and outreach programmers can develop more socially relevant PA knowledge and innovation if they can attend to both new and traditional ‘good farmer’ identities.
Map of the Midwest US showing locations of the Iowa State University Three Sisters intercropping experiment (ISU-3SI), Collaborator 3SI trials, and Participants growing Three Sisters in backyard gardens. The main research experiment is located at Iowa State University Horticulture Research Station near Story City, IA
Conceptual diagram showing the importance of collaborative science and public outreach in the Three Sisters Intercropping Network (3SI-Net) project. The Iowa State University 3SI Research Experiment (ISU-3SI) receives input from an Advisory Board composed of Native Americans (many of whom are also Collaborators or Participants). This feedback between the ISU-3SI and Advisory Board drives the logistics and research agenda at the main research experiment and extension activities that engage Native Collaborators and Participants wanting to grow the Three Sisters and/or conduct DIY soil health measurements. Photos: Left, M.D. McDaniel photo of Nebraska Indian Community College garden in Santee, NE; Right, E.M. Herrighty photo of ISU-3SI Research Experiment near Story City, IA
a The Iowa State University Three Sisters intercropping Research Experiment (ISU-3SI) showing monoculture maize, beans, squash, and Three Sisters intercropping (3SI) with sunflower border. b Dimension and layout of one 3SI plot with 16 mounds. c Dimension and layout of one mound within the 3SI plot. Monoculture mounds are the same layout without other crops. d Photo: E.M. Herrighty photo of ISU-3SI near Story City, IA
Soil properties measured on 15 August 2020 at the Iowa State University Three Sisters intercropping Research Experiment (ISU-3SI). a Soil extractable nitrate, b soil test phosphorus with Bray P1 extraction, c soil test potassium with Mehlich III extraction, d soil test sulfur with phosphate extraction, e 24 h soil respiration with air-dried, rewet soils, f salt-extractable organic C, g microbial biomass C extracted with chloroform-fumigation extraction, h microbial biomass N extracted with chloroform-fumigation extraction, i microbial biomass C-to-N ratio. Replicates for each treatment shown with open circles (n = 4), and significant differences between monoculture vs. Three Sisters intercropping (M + B + S) indicated by asterisks (*< 0.1, **<0.01, ***<0.001)
Before Euro-American settlement, many Native American nations intercropped maize ( Zea mays ), beans ( Phaseolus vulgaris ), and squash ( Cucurbita pepo ) in what is colloquially called the “Three Sisters.” Here we review the historic importance and consequences of rejuvenation of Three Sisters intercropping (3SI), outline a framework to engage Native growers in community science with positive feedbacks to university research, and present preliminary findings from ethnography and a randomized, replicated 3SI experiment. We developed mutually beneficial collaborative research agendas with four Midwestern US Native American nations. Ethnographic data highlighted a culturally based respect for 3SI as living beings, the importance it holds for all cultural facets of these Native nations, and the critical impact the practice has on environmental sustainability. One concern expressed by Native growers during ethnographic research was improving soil health—part of the rationale for establishing the 3SI agronomic experiment. To address this, we collaboratively designed a 3SI experiment. After 1 year, 3SI increased short-term soil respiration by 24%, decreased salt-extractable nitrate by 54%, had no effect on soil microbial biomass (but increased its carbon-to-nitrogen ratio by 32%) compared to the average of monoculture crops. The overarching purpose of this collaborative project is to develop a deeper understanding of 3SI, its cultural importance to Native communities, and how reinvigorating the practice—and intercropping in general—can make agroecosystems more sustainable for people and the environment.
Flow chart of data selection process for our review
Mind map used to identify themes and megatrends process
The global dairy industry is undergoing a period of expansion and consolidation, alongside heightened critique and competition from non-dairy alternatives. This review identifies four key megatrends within the global dairy sector, focusing in on the socioecological challenges associated with each. The megatrends were identified through a literature review of recent publications within the dairy science and social science fields, as well as a review of grey literature from intergovernmental and institutional reports. Key findings include geographical range shifts in production and consumption of dairy milk from the Global North to the Global South; intensification of production agendas that strive for mechanisation, standardisation, and corporatisation of the sector; increasing awareness of the ecological impacts of intensive dairying; and finally, disruptions to the sector driven by plant-based milks and, potentially, synthetic milks. We identify under-researched socioecological challenges associated with each of these trends. Although dairy milk may be homogenous in its final form, the sector remains heterogenous in its impacts across spaces, places, and scales, as increasingly intensive dairying systems fundamentally reshape human–cattle relations. The combined impacts of these trends bring into question the mythologies of milk and the assumed desirability of ever-expanding dairy industries. Our review finds that the future of dairy is not clear nor uncontroversial and that more attention needs to be directed to maximising and broadening the social benefits of the dairy and dairy alternatives, minimising the human and non-human costs, and limiting contributions to global climate change.
Two-mode network of the pork powerhouses with key player and periphery firms
Core-periphery analysis. Correlation between ideal and observed = .90
Distribution tests of market network power in hog production. CDF stands for cumulative distribution function
Critics charge that agriculture has reached an unsustainable level of consolidation and expropriation, as exemplified by the supply-chain breakdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. Simultaneously, advocates suggest the current system serves consumers well by keeping prices low and access to choices high. At the center of this debate rests a disagreement over how to compute market power to identify monopolies and oligopolies. We propose a method to study power across different sectors by using Social Network Analysis (SNA) to analyze key players, the presence of core-periphery structures, and agricultural consolidation. We test our market network approach to power through an analysis of the top ten pork powerhouses. We find that Big Finance is closely tied to Big Ag, and that key players limit the capacity for more peripheral actors, like growers, equipment producers, and regional banks, to engage in the network. We identify system level risk of collapse and suggest pathways for reform.
Advertisement for mechanization financing from Bank of America. Western Grower and Shipper. February, 1969.
Reproduced with permission from Western Grower & Shipper
Six-nozzle suction harvester for almonds, said to “reduce costs.” Western Fruit Grower. March 1948, p.16. Images originally appeared in Western Fruit Grower® magazine. Republished with permission of Meister Media Worldwide
Advertisement for Blackwelder “Steel Squirrel”, a self-propelled elevating platform that promises to “let one man out-work 2 to 3 with ladders.” Western Fruit Grower. June 1957, p.15. Images originally appeared in Western Fruit Grower® magazine. Republished with permission of Meister Media Worldwide
A Goodwin Picker used to collect fallen plums for processing into prunes, a $4,460 ($48,000 in 2021 dollars) machine estimated to cut harvesting costs (per ton) in half “if ground preparation is good.” Western Fruit Grower. June 1955, p.18. Images originally appeared in Western Fruit Grower® magazine. Republished with permission of Meister Media Worldwide
“Never such a uniform field of lettuce” reads a seed company advertisement. Western Grower and Shipper. 1949.
Reproduced with permission from Western Grower & Shipper
FULL TEXT LINK, view-only: Media outlets, industry researchers, and policy-makers are today busily extolling new robotic advances that promise to transform agriculture, bringing us ever closer to self-farming farms. Yet such techno-optimist discourse ignores the cautionary lessons of past attempts to mechanize farms. Adapting the Social Construction of Technology framework, we trace the history of efforts to replace human labor with machine labor on fruit, nut, and vegetable farms in California between 1945 and 1980—a place and time during which a post-WWII culture of faith in the beneficence of technoscience applications to agriculture reached an apex. The degree to which and forms whereby mechanization gains momentum hinges on whether, how, and among whom a technological frame for mimicking human capabilities and supplanting workers coalesces. These frames, we find, vary considerably across crops, reflecting complex interactions of biology, farmer and farm worker behavior, industry supply chains, agricultural research and development, financial flows, and beliefs about labor, race, gender, and immigration. To tease out these complex dynamics, we draw directly from archival evidence to follow the development of cultivation and harvest machines through four cases spanning a spectrum of outcomes—tomatoes, nuts, peaches, and lettuce. In comparing across these cases, we find that although agricultural engineers, scientists, and their boosters framed mechanization as a triumphal narrative of progress in ‘human vs. nature’ conflicts, this techno-optimist rhetoric camouflaged deeper ‘human vs. human’ conflicts, particularly among agribusiness, farmers, and farm workers. We conclude with several insights that this historical study brings to the study of agricultural automation today.
Location of the five ecoregions sampled from in Oregon
Farmer-farmer network by ecoregion
Common response strategies among survey respondents
Level of climate concern among surveyed farmers and their contacts. Farmers rated “A Little/A Lot” were contacts who were rated at different levels by multiple farmers
source network
Farmers’ willingness and ability to adapt to climate change are in part influenced by their social networks and sources of information. Drawing on assemblage theory and social network analysis in a novel way, this study explores the influence of Oregonian small farmers’ social and informational networks on their beliefs about and responses to climate change. The use of assemblage theory, which focuses on many disparate elements as they co-function in a space, allows for multiple entities within farmers’ networks and the ways they interact to be examined, while the use of social network analysis highlights broader patterns in the structure and composition of farmers’ networks. Theoretically, this study brings these two distinct yet similar bodies of theory and methodologies together for the first time to expand the utility of both fields and explore farmers’ networks in a novel way. Results indicate that small farmers’ connections to other farmers and media in their networks are influencing their beliefs about climate change, while their responses are influenced by their ties to various agricultural and climatological information sources, as well as other nearby farmers. Finally, while farmers’ ties to other farmers are largely limited to those nearby, certain central individuals and entities, particularly beginning farmers, can act as bridges linking distinct groups of farmers. An understanding of these networks can be used to better disseminate critical information, such as forecasts and adaptation strategies, to help farmers adapt.
Example of a completed SHC for a farmer in a village in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh.
Source Soil Health Card ‘print your health card’, Permission to reproduce image obtained
This article examines India’s response to the global soil health crisis. A longstanding centre of agricultural production and innovation, India has recently launched an ambitious soil health programme. The country’s Soil Health Card (SHC) Scheme intervenes in farm-scale decisions about efficient fertiliser use, envisioning farmers as managers and soil as a substrate for production. India is also home to one of the world’s largest alternative agriculture movements: natural farming. This puts farmer expertise at the centre of soil fertility and attends to the wider ecological health of soils. Despite emerging as a mode of resistance to dominant agricultural systems, natural farming is now being delivered in increasingly bureaucratic ways by India’s state governments. This article offers Himachal Pradesh as a case study in how the soil is governed, drawing on 38 semi-structured interviews with scientists, agricultural officers, non-governmental organisation leaders, and activists. Rather than assess approaches to soil health according to their ecological bottom line, we examine the differing forms of knowledge, expertise and ‘truth’ in the SHC and Natural Farming approaches. Our analysis reveals discontinuities in how farmers are imagined, as well as continuities in how quasi-spiritual language combines in a bionationalist project, positing assumptions about the correct arrangement of life in nationalist terms. We point to a shift toward hybrid and pick-and-mix approaches to soil health, as farmers and their organisers are increasingly invested with the capacities to combine multiple options. We see a fracturing of expertise and the opening up of epistemic pluralism in responses to the soil fertility crisis.
Doubly unstructured problems of science and technology. An unstructured problem arises because of strong disagreement both on relevant knowledge and values that are at stake. A doubly unstructured problem emerges when there is strong disagreement on how to proceed—the governance conditions; and what to aim for—a political vision on ‘goods’ and a ‘good society’—while dealing with an unstructured problem (Hisschemöller & Hoppe 1996)
End of April 2021, the European Commission published its study on New Genomic Techniques (NGTs). The study involved a consultation of Member States and stakeholders. This study reveals a split on whether current legislation should be maintained or adapted to take account of scientific progress and the risk level of NGT products. This split was predictable. New technological developments challenge both ethical viewpoints and regulatory institutions; and contribute to the growing divide between science and society that value ‘technological innovations’ differently. Such controversies are often characterized as ‘unstructured’ because of nearly unbridgeable positions on entangled scientific and value-laden issues. Initiatives for stakeholder involvement, such as consultation or participation, often focus on reaching a ‘shared vision’ without exploring the diverse societal concerns and values behind these positions. To resolve the EU stalemate in NGT regulation, we advocate to bring back politics in the EU decision-making process instead of hiding it under the veil of science, the need for regulatory change and public support. A more productive and justified use of genuine stakeholder participation is possible, if participants and deliberation design meet the criteria of what we call participation ethics. Drawing from our applied experience exploring the ethics of genetic modification, we believe that this approach can lead to more robust political decision-making and restore societal confidence in the governance of contested issues such as NGTs.
Boundary and features of the Kaskaskia River Watershed: a border of the watershed within the state of Illinois in the United States, b features of the watershed by land use.
Figure created by Juan Sebastian Acero Triana and Dana Johnson
Agroecosystems in the Midwestern United States are undergoing changes that pressure farmers to adapt their farming practices. Because farmers decide what practices to implement on their land, there are needs to understand how they adapt to competing demands of changes in global markets, technology, farm sizes, and decreasing rural populations. Increased understanding of farmer decision-making can also inform agricultural policy in ways that encourage farmer adoption of sustainable practices. In this research we adopt a grounded view of farmers by interpreting their decision-making through their stories of everyday life. We use a narrative analysis to identify recurrent themes that characterize farmer decisions as active negotiations between the demands of efficiency in maximizing crop yields with a desire to steward land through past, present, and future generations. Together these narratives portray farmer decisions as a place-making process that seeks compatibility among distinct aspirations for their land.
In order to foster a transition of the food system toward more sustainable outcomes, scholars have increasingly pointed at the need for organizing strengthened food democracy. By increasing the participation of citizens and food system actors, democratic innovations, such as food policy councils, are believed to promote the quality and legitimacy of food policymaking. However, the question of whether and how food democracy initiatives do indeed contribute to more democratic modes of governance largely remains unexplored. This study addresses this gap by performing a systematic literature review of the existing scholarship on food democracy, assessing democratic innovations for their contributions to four democratic goods: inclusiveness, popular control, considered judgment and transparency. The analysis shows that food democracy initiatives tend to be dominated by organized interests, have more influence on agenda-setting and implementation compared to decision-making, and generally aim for some form of deliberation or knowledge exchange. The precise selection mechanisms, processes and quality of deliberation, and transparency of democratic innovations remain important research gaps. The paper ends with a plea to better connect food democracy scholarship with the broader political sciences, as well as various suggestions for future research. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10460-022-10322-5.
How do crisis conditions affect longstanding societal narratives about hunger? This paper examines how hunger was framed in public discourse during an early period in the COVID-19 crisis to mobilize attention and make moral claims on others to alleviate it. It does so through a discourse analysis of 1023 U.S.-based English-language posts dedicated to hunger on Twitter during four months of the COVID-19 pandemic. This analysis finds that Twitter users chiefly adopted hunger as a political tool to make moral claims on the state rather than individuals, civil society organizations, or corporations; however, hunger was deployed to defend widely diverse political agendas ranging from progressive support for SNAP entitlements to conservative claims reinforcing anti-lockdown and racist “America First” sentiments. Theoretically, the paper contributes to understanding how culture and morality operate in times of crisis. It demonstrates how culture can be deployed in crisis to reinforce longstanding ideological commitments at the same time that it organizes political imaginations in new ways. The result, in this case, is that longstanding cultural narratives about hunger were used to defend dissimilar, and in some ways contradictory, political ends. Practically, the paper demonstrates how moralized calls to alleviate hunger are vulnerable to political manipulation and used to further conflicting political goals, yet may also offer opportunities to leverage support for bolstered state investments in food assistance during times of crisis.
Gender mainstreaming has been prioritised within the national agricultural policies of many countries, including Nepal. Yet gender mainstreaming at the national policy level does not always work to effect change when policies are implemented at the local scale. In less-developed nations such as Nepal, it is rare to find a critical analysis of the mainstreaming process and its successes or failures. This paper employs a critical gender analysis approach to examine the gender mainstreaming efforts in Nepal as they move from agricultural policies to practices. The research involved a structured review of 10 key national agricultural policy documents, 14 key informant interviews, and two focus group discussions with female and male smallholder farmers. Results suggest that gender mainstreaming in national agricultural policy and practice has largely failed. The creation of the Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) section within the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development is paradoxical to gender-responsive agricultural innovation because it has received limited human and financial resources with an expectation for women to manage this policy development in informal and largely unrecognized ways. At the regional and local levels, implementation of fundamental gender equity and social inclusion procedures-such as gender-responsive planning and budgeting-has become staff responsibility without requisite formal training, gender sen-sitization, and follow-up. In Nepal, women as smallholder farmers or agricultural labourers are recognized as a vulnerable group in need of social protection, but the welfare approach to gender mainstreaming has achieved little in terms of gender equity, social inclusion, and agricultural sustainability. This paper concludes that what is generally missing is a systemic transformation of gender roles and relations in agriculture, with policies that would support rural women's empowerment through the provision of economic and political rights and entitlement to productive resources.
Gender specific initiatives relevant to agriculture in Nepal
Results of policy scoring of national agricultural innovation policies and plan
Gender mainstreaming has been prioritised within the national agricultural policies of many countries, including Nepal. Yet gender mainstreaming at the national policy level does not always work to effect change when policies are implemented at the local scale. In less-developed nations such as Nepal, it is rare to find a critical analysis of the mainstreaming process and its successes or failures. This paper employs a critical gender analysis approach to examine the gender mainstreaming efforts in Nepal as they move from agricultural policies to practices. The research involved a structured review of 10 key national agricultural policy documents, 14 key informant interviews, and two focus group discussions with female and male smallholder farmers. Results suggest that gender mainstreaming in national agricultural policy and practice has largely failed. The creation of the Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) section within the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development is paradoxical to gender-responsive agricultural innovation because it has received limited human and financial resources with an expectation for women to manage this policy development in informal and largely unrecognized ways. At the regional and local levels, implementation of fundamental gender equity and social inclusion procedures-such as gender-responsive planning and budgeting-has become staff responsibility without requisite formal training, gender sensitization, and follow-up. In Nepal, women as smallholder farmers or agricultural labourers are recognized as a vulnerable group in need of social protection, but the welfare approach to gender mainstreaming has achieved little in terms of gender equity, social inclusion, and agricultural sustainability. This paper concludes that what is generally missing is a systemic transformation of gender roles and relations in agriculture, with policies that would support rural women's empowerment through the provision of economic and political rights and entitlement to productive resources.
The Green Revolution still exerts an important influence on agricultural policy as a technology-centred development strategy. A main policy narrative underpinning the Green Revolution was first expounded in Transforming Traditional Agriculture (TTA), a book published in 1964 by Nobel Prize-winning economist Ted Schultz. He famously argued that traditional farmers were ‘poor but efficient’. As farmers responded to economic incentives, technology-driven strategies would transform traditional agriculture into an engine of economic growth. Schultz relied on published ethnographic data and his own calculations to construct this policy narrative. My reanalysis of TTA focuses on its main case study, Panajachel, a village in Guatemala. I follow a narrative approach, evaluating whether Schultz’s story relates a plausible account of agricultural development in Panajachel and its region. I show how Schultz deliberately tried to hide that Mayan farmers in Panajachel were not challenged in technological terms and were able to reach relatively high economic returns. His interpretation of the Guatemalan rural economy ignored ethnic tensions dominating market exchange, a main barrier for agricultural development. I evaluate Schultz’s narrative further by tracing the subsequent evolution of Panajachel and its wider region. High-input strategies had to address ethnic barriers and change agents became embroiled in violent conflict along ethnic lines. Assessing the adequacy of Schultz’s contribution, from a narrative approach, shows how he ‘got the story wrong’ and that the Green Revolution policy narrative has an excessively narrow intellectual basis. New narratives should reserve a much more important place for institutional change in agricultural development.
With growing awareness of a crisis in pollinator health, the practice of urban hobbyist beekeeping has grown in Canada with practitioners arguing that this activity can help to foster healthier honey bees and more mindful beekeeping practices. However, urban hobbyist beekeepers have been critiqued for encouraging improper beekeeping practices and over-saturation of honey bees in cities. Drawing on a multispecies ethnography based in London, Ontario and Toronto, including participant observation with the Toronto Beekeeping Collective and the London Urban Beekeeping Collective and interviews with 26 urban beekeepers, I argue that urban hobbyist beekeepers develop a sensuous and embodied relationship with honey bees that typifies playful work. By integrating participant perspectives with social reproduction theory, I demonstrate that the playful work of urban hobbyist beekeeping allows practitioners to engage with non-human nature outside of the constraints of capitalist labour regimes, enabling the expression of delight, enchantment, and curiosity. This relationship between beekeepers and honey bees encourages the development of bee-centred practices in which the preferences and physiological needs of the bees are consciously put ahead of the needs of the beekeeper. The possibility for honey bee flourishing is increased significantly when bee-centred beekeeping is coupled with integrated pest management.
Methodological framework (adapted from McGinnis and Ostrom 2014). On the left, the ecological subsystems (RS and RU, green boxes), and on the right, the social subsystems (GS and A, blue boxes) with their respective scales and levels. For each subsystem, we highlight the main links with food sovereignty pillars (yellow boxes). In the center, the agri-food activities and outcomes (red boxes). (Color figure online)
Study area: parishes of San Lucas and Jimbilla in the Province of Loja, a region of southern Andean Ecuador
Agricultural calendar for the area of study, canton of Loja, Ecuador. Source: informal interviews and MBS-SSDR/IFAD/IICA 1991, Neill and Jørgensen 1999, INPC 2012, INAMHI 2014b. Author’s own data
Redundancy analysis biplot showing the explanatory and control variables (labeled in black on arrows) that explain the configuration of the third-tier SES dependent and intermediate variables (labeled in blue). Small red circles represent the households surveyed on study (N = 116). Percentage variance explained: RDA 1 (67.72%), RDA 2 (19.36%)
Description of the role played by the following explanatory variables: Indigenous Saraguro, marketing of agri-food products and off-farm works, Agroeological network of Loja (RAL) in configuring the agri-food system through agri-food activities. The diagram shows the statistical significance of the relationship between each explanatory variable and their intermediate and dependent variables. Letters within brackets show how each component of the agri-food system relates to the food sovereignty pillars: a access to resources, b production model, c local markets, d right to food, e social organization
Social Ecological System (SES) research highlights the importance of understanding the potential of collective actions, among other factors, when it comes to influencing the transformative (re)configuration of agri-food systems in response to global change. Such a response may result in different desired outcomes for those actors who promote collective action, one such outcome being food sovereignty. In this study, we used an SES framework to describe the configuration of local agri-food systems in Andean Ecuador in order to understand which components of the SES interact, and how they support outcomes linked to five food sovereignty goals. Through a survey administered to mestizo and indigenous peasants, we analyze the key role played by the Agroecological Network of Loja (RAL) in transforming the local agri-food system through the implementation of a Participatory Guarantee System (PGS). This study demonstrates that participation in the RAL and PGS increases farmers’ adoption of agroecological practices, as well as their independence from non-traditional food. Additionally, RAL lobbying with the municipality significantly increases households’ on-farm income through access to local markets. Being part of indigenous communities also influences the configuration of the food system, increasing the participation in community work and access to credit and markets, thus positively affecting animal numbers, dairy production and income diversification. The complexity of the interactions described suggests that more research is needed to understand which key factors may foster or prevent the achieving of food sovereignty goals and promote household adaptation amid high uncertainty due to global change.
Current climate changes caused by greenhouse gas emissions alter landscape and environmental conditions, increase instability in many ecosystems, and increase the global role of forest cover. We attempted to model Quercus spp. single-tree biomass using the data from 500 sample trees distributed along the trans-Eurasian hydrothermal gradients. Today, several equations for the tree biomass involve both morphological-structural characteristics of trees and stands, and climate indicators as independent variables. The models make it possible to predict changes in biomass due to shifts in climate trends, but do not show the contribution of climate variables to the explanation of biomass variability. This variability depends on both the species of the tree and stand, and the structure of a model. The models designed show to what extent the deviation from the classical allometric model caused by the inclusion of additional independent variables, increases the contribution of climate variables to the explanation of biomass variability. The model shows the greatest contribution when it includes age, stem diameter, tree height, and their combined effect. The 3D-interpretation of the "best" model showed a propeller-shaped dependence of the components of oak tree biomass on temperatures and precipitation. The shape of this dependence is a mirror image of a similar dependence for the biomass of trees of two-needled pines and larches. This may be due to the functioning traits of leaved and coniferous species. Opposed Reviewers: Additional Information: Question Response Abstract: Current climate changes caused by greenhouse gas emissions alter landscape and environmental conditions, increase instability in many ecosystems, and increase the global role of forest cover. We attempted to model Quercus spp. single-tree biomass using the data from 500 sample trees distributed along the trans-Eurasian hydrothermal gradients. Today, several equations for the tree biomass involve both morphological-structural characteristics of trees and stands, and climate indicators as independent variables. The models make it possible to predict changes in biomass due to shifts in climate trends, but do not show the contribution of climate variables to the explanation of biomass variability. This variability depends on both the species of the tree and stand, and the structure of a model. The models designed show to what extent the deviation from the classical allometric model caused by the inclusion of additional independent variables, increases the contribution of climate variables to the explanation of biomass variability. The model shows the greatest contribution when it includes age, stem diameter, tree height, and their combined effect. The 3D-interpretation of the "best" model showed a propeller-shaped dependence of the components of oak tree biomass on temperatures and precipitation. The shape of this dependence is a mirror image of a similar dependence for the biomass of trees of two-needled pines and larches. This may be due to the functioning traits of leaved and coniferous species.
Mean item score by domain of occupational satisfaction
Short food supply chains have become the focus of considerable research in the last two decades. However, studies so far remain highly localized, and claims about the economic and social advantages of such channels for farmers are not backed by large-scale empirical evidence. Using a web survey of 613 direct-market farmers across Canada, this article explores the potential economic and social benefits that farmers derive from participating in short food supply chains. We used multivariate analysis to test whether a farmer’s degree of involvement in direct food channels is positively correlated with levels of work enjoyment, social satisfaction, and economic satisfaction. The results indicate that, overall, direct-market farmers report high levels of occupational satisfaction, although work-related challenges persist, such as stress, excessive workloads, and competition. Farmer participation in short food chains was also a positive predictor of work enjoyment and economic satisfaction, but not of social satisfaction, as measured by the share of total farm sales attributable to direct selling. Net annual farm revenue, the share of direct food sales involving a middleman, age, and gender also correlated with one or more dimensions of occupational satisfaction.
Evolution in the political and scientific consideration of biodiversity
In this article, we question to what extent origin-food labels, namely Geographical Indications (GIs) and Slow Food Presidia, may effectively account for cultural biodiversity (CB). Building on Foucault’s discourse theory, we question how the Slow Food movement and GI promoters have developed their own discourse and practice on CB, how these discourses contrast, and how they inform projects. Focusing on the practices to cultivate the microbiological life of three origin labeled cheeses (from France and Italy), we have revealed the gap between these institutional discourses and what happens on the ground. We argue that how actors’ relationships in the marketplace unfold, from public authorities to the collectives of producers to consumers, may threaten the effects that these experiences of alternative food productions may have in the defense of biodiversity, causing, for instance, the loss of diversity of the invisible microbial ecosystems of artisan raw milk cheese. However, we conclude that, despite limitations, the mediatized institutional narrative on CB can amplify the political voice of local actors by fostering community and social relationships between the farmers.
Research cluster sites in Pagar Alam
Forest area types in the Upland Clusters
Illustration of the complexity of Community Forestry policy in Pagar Alam
The upstream area and irrigation channels of the new reservoir in Pagar Alam
Illustration of the complexity of Irrigation Reservoir policy in Pagar Alam
Well-intended natural resource policies that ignore the complexity of socio-ecological systems too often threaten local values and opportunities for sustainable development. Upland areas throughout Indonesia provide examples of complex socio-ecological systems experiencing rapid socio-economic and environmental transformations in response to interactions between development policies and local agendas. Broad natural resource policies influence socio-ecological systems in different ways. In some cases, there are converging national and local goals, while in others the goals of national policy conflict with local aspirations. This study identifies how broadscale policies could respond to the unique characteristics of upland areas to optimise development outcomes and avoid unintended risks for people and the landscape. The theory of reflexive modernity is utilised to illustrate how two national policies, the Community Forestry initiative and the Irrigation Reservoir program, largely discount the complexity of local values in the uplands of Pagar Alam, Indonesia. We identify local farmer aspirations through an analysis of development narratives and relate how they are impacted upon by the two policies. Our findings indicate that dominant development goals and associated sustainability pathways diverge in a range of ways from local farmer values and aspirations. We suggest that policymakers take more consideration of four interacting elements, namely: local ecological traits; local values and institutions; the multiple development pathways; and exogenous market drivers that affect local development, to promote sustainability and increase the likelihood of achieving all desired policy outcomes.
Can gene editing and agroecology be complementary? Various formulations of this question now animate debates over the future of food systems, including in the UN Committee on World Food Security and at the UN Food Systems Summit. Previous analyses have discussed the risks of gene editing for agroecosystems, smallholders, and the concentration of wealth by and for agro-industry. This paper takes a different approach, unpacking the epistemic, socioeconomic, and ontological politics inherent in complementarity. I ask: How is complementarity understood? Who is asking and defining this question? What are the politics of entertaining the debate at all? I sketch the epistemic foundations of science and technology that organize different notions of evidence used in agroecology and genetic engineering. On this base, I offer 8 angles on the compatibility question, exploring the historical contradictions that complementarity discourses reveal and the contemporary work they do. I work through questions of (1) technological neutrality, (2) “root cause” problems, (3) working with nature, (4) encoding racism, and dilemmas of (5) ownership and (6) access. These questions, I argue, require a reckoning with (7) ontologies of coloniality-modernity, which help us get underneath—and beyond—the complementarity question. Finally, I offer (8) a framework for thinking about and working toward technology sovereignty.
Model of how key factors shape learning processes and outcomes of collaborative research
Key themes for data analysis
Learning outcomes as a result of boundary work by rice growers and conservation professionals
Summary of lessons learned from the Rice and Birds workshop (MBCP, 2010)
Priority ranking of candidate rice management practices to benefit waterbirds
Multi-stakeholder initiatives for biodiversity conservation on working landscapes often necessitate strategies to facilitate learning in order to foster successful collaboration. To investigate the learning processes that both undergird and result from collaborative efforts, this case study employs the concept of boundary work as a lens to examine learning between rice growers and conservation professionals in California’s Central Valley, who were engaged in a collaborative research project focused on migratory bird conservation. Through analysis of workshop observations, project documents, and interviews with rice growers and conservation professionals, we identified five distinct factors of the collaborative research process that influenced learning amongst these two groups: having mutually beneficial goals, sharing ownership of the collaborative research process, building trust, integrating knowledge, and institutional alignment. We also examined and identified learning outcomes for both rice growers and conservation professionals, which included new knowledge of the social-ecological system, new practices around farming and collaboration, and shifting identities. Our findings suggest that applying these factors and outcomes for learning when structuring collaborative research, and other multi-stakeholder initiatives, can foster learning amongst diverse stakeholder groups to support new approaches for balancing resource use and adaptive management.
Map of study sites
Research participants
Nutrition-sensitive agriculture (NSA) has emerged as a major development paradigm that works to diversify crops and diets throughout the Global South in order to improve nutritional outcomes. Drawing on a conceptual framework from political ecologies of health that looks at political economic factors, social discourse, and embodied, material experiences of food, I analyze qualitative and ethnographic data from an integrated NSA intervention in Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand, India. The analysis shows that while embodied experiences of differing rice varieties (either indigenous or improved) were central to research participants’ conceptions of bodily health, mainstream NSA metrics had trouble ‘seeing’ these relations in meaningful ways. Moreover, although material experiences of rice cultivation and consumption anchored participants’ rice preferences, structural economic realities along with notions of social identity were always interwoven. Yet, while villagers expressed divergent perceptions around how the different rice cultivars shaped their bodily health, agricultural officers tended to view rice experiences as a product of culture, rather than as material and socio-ecological food-body interactions. In sum, this paper argues more deeply engaging with the political economic, socially symbolic, and embodied ways that communities relate to food production and consumption would allow NSA research to develop more grounded and inclusive understandings of agriculture-nutrition linkages.
A four-quadrant typology of food systems based on the flexibility of livelihoods (X axis) and the diversity of resources available (Y axis). Degenerative regimes focus too rigidly on one or a few resources despite a diversity of options, which causes serial depletion of resources (e.g., fishing down the food web). Regenerative systems conserve change via flexible and diverse livelihood strategies. Livelihoods in impoverished systems are tightly coupled to, but trapped by, the limited resources available in a degraded environment. Coerced systems subsidize and favor a high-value (“gilded”) resource at the expense of the surrounding ecosystem
Detail on patterns in livelihoods and resources for each of the four regimes. Charts in each of the four quadrants illustrate variability of specific livelihood strategies (Y axes on upper charts) targeting specific resources (Y axes on lower chart) over time (upper and lower X axes). Degenerative systems (a) deplete resources in a serial or simultaneous way, with livelihoods focusing on a single resource, ignoring environmental feedbacks, and only switching to an alternative when the targeted resources are fully depleted. Regenerative systems (b) entail a portfolio of flexible livelihood strategies that allow people to respond rapidly to changes in resource availability in the service of integrating human activities with endemic cycles of variability and change. Impoverished systems (c) are highly degraded and characterized by tight couplings between resource status and livelihoods, because people no choice but to harvest whatever resources are available, which prevents any regeneration. Coerced systems (d) often start from a position of livelihood and ecological diversity, but incentives arise to actively favor and cultivate highly valued resources at the expense of others. In so doing, regenerative capacity is depleted to the point where subsidies are required, and communities and ecosystems are vulnerable
The interplay between resilience and entropy or negentropy in the four regimes. Regenerative systems generate shared wealth via a give and take of resilience; in some cases, people draw resilience from ecosystems, in other cases they impart it by altering their strategies in response to environmental feedbacks. Degenerative systems extract wealth with little concern for the status of resources and are resilient because they readily exploit alternatives when resources are overharvested. Coerced systems make great investments to impose and sustain structure to enable the continued extraction of wealth from a single highly valued resource but reduce resilience over time. In impoverished systems, wealth has been previously extracted and entropy is high, which also results in high, but maladaptive resilience (i.e., the poverty trap)
In recent years, interest has increased in regenerative practices as a strategy for transforming food systems and solving major environmental problems such as biodiversity loss and climate change. However, debates persist regarding these practices and how they ought to be defined. This paper presents a framework for exploring the regenerative potential of food systems, focusing on how food systems activities and technologies are organized rather than the specific technologies or practices being employed. The paper begins with a brief review of debates over sustainable food systems and the varying ways that regenerative food systems have been defined and theorized. Then, it provides the theoretical backing of the framework—the conservation of change principle—which is an interpretation of the laws of thermodynamics and theories of adaptive change as relevant to the regenerative capacity of living systems. Next, the paper introduces the framework itself, which comprises two independent but intersecting dimensions of food systems organization: resource diversity and livelihood flexibility. These two dimensions result in four archetypical regimes for food systems: degenerative, regenerative, impoverished, and coerced. The paper defines each and offers real-world examples. Finally, the paper concludes with a discussion of pathways for transforming food systems and opportunities for additional research.
Global development initiatives frequently promote agricultural commodity chain projects to improve livelihoods. In Morocco, development projects, including the Plan Maroc Vert (PMV), have promoted apple production in rural regions of the country. In order to access domestic markets, these new apple producers often use pesticides to meet market standards. Through situated ethnographic inquiry and commodity chain analysis, using a combination of surveys (n = 120) and interviews (n = 84) with apple wholesalers, government officials, along with farmers, this paper works to critique the PMV’s development approach that implicitly values commodification. By exploring interconnected processes of commodification, I link subsidized apple saplings and cold storage infrastructure to the dependence on pesticide usage, which has become a part of daily village life. This has important implications for community health and riparian ecosystems. Alternatively, I propose how we can imagine different development trajectories that decommodify livelihoods by focusing on local knowledge creation and diversification strategies.
Kernel density for women’s and men’s responses to women’s participation in 21 agricultural decisions.
Taken from all responses regardless of the activity
Box plots for women’s and men’s responses to women’s participation in 21 agricultural decisions
Women’s and men’s reasons for women’s participation in the 21 agricultural decisions
Definitions of variables used in analysis and summary statistics
Increasing women's participation in intrahousehold decision-making has been linked with increased agricultural productivity and economic development. Existing studies focus on identifying the decision-maker and exploring factors affecting women's participation, yet the context in which households make decisions is generally ignored. This paper narrows this gap by investigating perceptions of women's participation and the roles of social norms in agricultural decision-making. It specifically applies a fine-scale quantitative responses tool and constructs a women's participation index (WPI) to measure men's and women's perceptions regarding women's participation in decisions about 21 agricultural activities. The study further examines the correlation between social norms in these perceptions as measured by the WPI for 439 couples in West Java, Indonesia. We find that first, men and women have different perceptions about women's decision-making in agricultural activities, but the same perceptions of the types of activities in which women have the most and the least participation. Second, joint decisions come in various combinations but overall, the women's role is smaller. Third, social norms influence spouses' perceptions of decision-making participation, which explains most of the variation of the WPI. These results suggest that rigorous consideration of social norms is required to understand intrahousehold decision-making.
Leveraging regenerative discourses for transformation
Agriculture occupies 38% of the planet's terrestrial surface, using 70% of freshwater resources. Its modern practice is dominated by an industrial-productivist discourse, which has contributed to the simplification and degradation of human and ecological systems. As such, agricultural transformation is essential for creating more sustainable food systems. This paper focuses on discursive change. A prominent discursive alternative to industrial-productivist agriculture is regenerative agriculture. Regenerative discourses are emergent, radically evolving and diverse. It is unclear whether they have the potential to generate the changes required to shift industrial-productivist agriculture. This paper presents a literature-based discourse analysis to illustrate key thematic characteristics of regenerative agricultural discourses. The analysis finds that such discourses: situate agricultural work within nested, complex living systems; position farms as relational, characterised by co-evolution between humans and other landscape biota; perceive the innate potential of living systems as place-sourced; maintain a transformative openness to alternative thinking and practice; believe that multiple regenerative cultures are necessary for deeply regenerative agriculture; and depart from industrialism to varying degrees. The paper concludes by reviewing three transformative opportunities for regenerative discourses-discourse coalitions, translocal organising and collective learning. Supplementary information: The online version supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10460-021-10276-0.
Despite decades of action to reduce global malnutrition, rates of undernutrition remain stubbornly high and rates of overweight, obesity and chronic disease are simultaneously on the rise. Moreover, while volumes of robust research on causes and solutions to malnutrition have been published, and calls for interdisciplinarity are on the rise, researchers taking different epistemological and methodological choices have largely remained disciplinarily siloed. This paper works to open a scholarly conversation between “mainstream” public health nutrition and “critical” nutrition studies. While critical nutrition scholars collectively question aspects of mainstream nutrition approaches, they also chart a different way to approach malnutrition research by focusing on politics, structural conditions, and the diverse ways people make sense of food and malnutrition. In this paper, we highlight the key research agendas and insights within both mainstream and critical nutrition in order to suggest spaces for their potential conversation. We ultimately argue that global public health nutrition interventions might achieve greater success in more equitable ways if they are informed by critical nutrition research. We aim for this intervention to facilitate more substantial crossing of disciplinary boundaries, critical to forging more socially and environmentally just dietary futures in the global South and beyond.
Many low-income college students are barred from food assistance for no reason other than the fact that they are pursuing a college education. Based on 22 interviews that capture the experiences of food insecure college students as they attempt to navigate SNAP, this study shows how low enrollment in the program and food insecurity are the predictable outcomes of policy decisions intended to restrict access to both free public higher education and public assistance in the 1980's and 1990's and were shaped by the racialized politics of deservingness. By documenting the barriers students encounter attempting to access food assistance, this study shows how these policies play out in the lives of students at the City University of New York (CUNY) today. Ultimately, the politics of deservingness create significant direct and indirect barriers to SNAP enrollment for students and limit policy makers' and advocates' attempts to expand SNAP and address food insecurity on college campuses. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10460-021-10273-3.
Counter-frames of genome editing in agriculture
New techniques in genome editing have led to a controversial debate about the opportunities and uncertainties they present for agricultural food production and consumption. In July 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union defned genome editing as a new process of mutagenesis, which implies that the resulting organisms count as genetically modifed and are subject, in principle, to the obligations of EU Directive 2001/18/EG. This paper examines how key protagonists from academia, politics, and the economy strategically framed the debate around genome editing in agriculture in Germany prior to its legal classifcation by the Court of Justice. It is based on an analysis of 96 ofcial statements, including position papers, press releases, and information brochures. Our study reveals eight strategic frames used in the discourse on genome editing and uncovers the strategies used to disconnect from or connect with the previous discourse on green genetic engineering in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Building on competitive framing theory, the study provides explanations for the use and emergence of counter-framing strategies and their success or failure in the debate around genome editing
Alnatura’s lemniscate symbolising the entanglement of society and nature through social and cultural issues, animals, plants, soils, water, air, energy, and economy (
Discursive Frames exemplified by companies' own statements on their food sustainability commitments
It is widely accepted that overcoming the social-ecological crises we face requires major changes to the food system. However, opinions diverge on the question whether those ‘great efforts’ towards sustainability require systemic changes or merely systematic ones. Drawing upon Brand and Wissen’s concept of “imperial modes of living” (Rev Int Polit Econ 20:687–711, 2013; The imperial mode of living: everyday life and the ecological crisis of capitalism, Verso, London/New York, 2021), we ask whether the lively debates about sustainability and ‘ethical’ consumption among producers and consumers in Germany are far reaching enough to sufficiently reduce the imperial weight on the environment and other human and nonhuman animals. By combining discourse analysis of agri-food businesses’ sustainability reports with narrative consumer interviews, we examine understandings of sustainability in discourses concerning responsible food provision and shed light on how those discourses are inscribed in consumers’ everyday food practices. We adopt Ehgartner’s discursive frames of ‘consumer sovereignty’, ‘economic rationality’, and ‘stewardship’ to illustrate our findings, and add a fourth one of ‘legitimacy’. Constituting the conditions under which food-related themes become sustainability issues, these frames help businesses to (1) individualise the responsibility to enact changes, (2) tie efforts towards sustainability to financial profits, (3) subject people and nature to the combination of care and control, and (4) convey legitimacy through scientific authority. We discuss how these frames, mirrored in some consumer narratives, work to sideline deeper engagement with ecological sustainability and social justice, and how they brush aside the desires of some ostensibly ‘sovereign’ consumers to overcome imperial modes of food provision through much more far reaching, systemic changes. Finally, we reflect on possible paths towards a de-imperialised food system.
This paper offers observations on people’s lived experience of the food system in Michigan during the early Covid-19 pandemic as an initial critical foray into the everyday pandemic food world. The Covid-19 crisis illuminates a myriad of adaptive food behaviors, as people struggle to address their destabilized lives, including the casual acknowledgement of the pandemic, then anxiety of the unknown, the subsequent new dependency, and the possible emergence of a new normal. The pandemic makes the injustices inherent in the food system apparent across communities, demonstrating that food injustice destabilizes all members of the food system, regardless of their social location. The challenges of eating in a pandemic also reinforce the importance of building a sustainable food system; the challenges of food sovereignty and food sustainability are inextricably linked, and the pandemic lays this bare.
Conceptual model of relationships between efficacy, motivations, economic pressures, and structural factors and farmers’ use of in-field nutrient management BMPs
The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) aims to reduce nutrient loads in waterways from nonpoint sources such as farm fields. Farmers’ voluntary adoption of soil and water conservation practices is crucial for achieving NRS goals. Although the Iowa NRS has been active since 2013, farmer participation and net pollutant reductions have been insufficient. Therefore, continued efforts to understand the motivations and barriers that underlie farmers’ conservation actions in a comprehensive and integrated manner are needed to improve outreach strategies, and research examining the relationships among factors such as farmers’ self-efficacy, motivations, perceived economic pressure, and soil and water conservation practices adoption in row crop production systems is needed to inform that outreach. This research employed social cognitive theory and previous research around the conceptual category of “motivations” to inform the study of relationships between the dynamic precursors and later modifiers of farmers’ adoption of in-field nutrient management Best Management Practices. Data are from the 2014–2016 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll. Self-efficacy, collective efficacy, stewardship motivation, crop insurance, perceived economic pressure, age, and crop acres were important predictors of adoption. This research provides innovative insights for policymaking, extension agencies, and other researchers concerning the adoption of nutrient management practices.
Map of 15 municipalities in Puerto Rico where 30 participating farms were located. Location of farms are shown in light gray for municipalities with 1–2 farms represented, and in dark gray for municipalities with 3–8 farms represented. Most were located in central mountainous municipalities of Puerto Rico, where smallholder farmers typically produce food for both market and personal consumption, support rural communities, and face similar land and resource constraints
Illustrative model summarizing smallholder farmer’s perspectives of a climate resilient food system. Natural disasters, import dependence, and other disturbances can have adverse consequences, particularly in a small island food system. Serving as longstanding intermediaries between their communities and natural environments, smallholder farmers seek to prevent poor outcomes associated with these external shocks by leveraging traditions of social support and adaptive agricultural practices to bolster food access, farm recovery, and community-wide resilience. This local expertise, described here as socioecological knowledge, can inform the promotion of a healthier, sustainable, and more self-determined food system. Figure
adapted from RIHN 2013
Climate change is a threat to food system stability, with small islands particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events. In Puerto Rico, a diminished agricultural sector and resulting food import dependence have been implicated in reduced diet quality, rural impoverishment, and periodic food insecurity during natural disasters. In contrast, smallholder farmers in Puerto Rico serve as cultural emblems of self-sufficient food production, providing fresh foods to local communities in an informal economy and leveraging traditional knowledge systems to manage varying ecological and climatic constraints. The current mixed methods study sought to document this expertise and employed a questionnaire and narrative interviewing in a purposeful sample of 30 smallholder farmers after Hurricane María to (1) identify experiences in post-disaster food access and agricultural recovery and (2) reveal underlying socioecological knowledge that may contribute to a more climate resilient food system in Puerto Rico. Although the hurricane resulted in significant damages, farmers contributed to post-disaster food access by sharing a variety of surviving fruits, vegetables, and root crops among community members. Practices such as crop diversification, seed banking, and soil conservation were identified as climate resilient farm management strategies, and smallholder farmer networks were discussed as a promising solution to amass resources and bolster agricultural productivity. These recommendations were shared in a narrative highlighting socioecological identity, self-sufficiency, community and cultural heritage, and collaborative agency as integral to agricultural resilience. Efforts to promote climate resilience in Puerto Rico must leverage smallholder farmers’ socioecological expertise to reclaim a more equitable, sustainable, and community-owned food system.
This paper analyses the use of metaphor in discourses around the “superweed” Palmer amaranth. Most weed scientists associated with the US public agricultural extension system dismiss the term superweed. However, together with the media, they indirectly encourage aggressive control practices by actively diffusing the framing of herbicide resistant Palmer amaranth as an existential threat that should be eradicated at any cost. We use argumentative discourse analysis to better understand this process. We analyze a corpus consisting of reports, policy briefs, and press releases produced by state extension services, as well as articles from professional and popular magazines and newspapers quoting extension specialists and/or public sector weed scientists or agronomists. We show how the superweed discourse is powered by negative metaphors, and legitimizes aggressive steps to eradicate the weed. This discourse reinforces the farmers’ techno-optimism master frame, contributes to deskilling of farmers and sidelines ethical concerns.
South Korean cultivators share features with counterparts in both the global south and north. This combination of traits has produced a diversity of sources that underpin a food sovereignty movement. A case study of t’ojong, or native, seed activism illustrates how local systems of meaning and particular constellations of interests make food sovereignty appealing to a broad coalition of farmers, consumers, part-time cultivators, agricultural scientists, and activists for farmers and for women. The country’s experience demonstrates that responses to market encroachment on food production provide only part of the force driving food sovereignty movements.
Location of El Hondo Natural Park
Main water uses in El Hondo Natural Park: environmental, agricultural and recreational
Contrasted own and external value regarding the importance and support of each actor
Main codes assigned to each actor
Coastal wetlands are among the most productive and valuable ecosystems worldwide, although one of the main factors affecting their survival is the coexistence between agriculture and conservation. This paper analyses the complex balance between agriculture and conservation coexistence in El Hondo Natural Park (Alicante, Spain) coastal wetland by examining stakeholders’ narratives, perceptions, and interactions. The aim is to highlight the concurrence between socio-economic progress and socio-environmental justice perspectives by identifying those driving factors motivating stakeholders’ conflicts while expanding stakeholders’ behaviour and interaction when discussing the current and future management of this socioecological system. Data were collected between April and June 2019 from semi-structured interviews and questionnaires to river basin authorities, regional governments, municipalities, irrigation communities, union farms, regional and local ecologist groups, and social movements; and scrutinized through qualitative data analysis and descriptive statistics. Stakeholders discussed the main driving factors identified through the local newspapers to motivating current conflicts and confronting perspectives in El Hondo Natural Park: (1) the origin and evolution of the coastal wetland, (2) the provision and value of ecosystem services, (3) the management of water scarcity and water quality standards, (4) the guarantee and management of public and private investment, and (5) consequences of a natural park declaration. Likewise, the triple-loop analysis of stakeholders’ representativeness, relevance and collaboration highlighted examples of stakeholders’ underrepresentation and power imbalance, a negative assessment of the stakeholders’ actions, and how agreements are based on both stakeholders’ predisposition to collaborate and affinity
Three steps in data analysis and conceptualization
Increased pressures on agri-food systems have indicated the importance of intermediaries to facilitate sustainability transitions. While producer organizations are acknowledged as intermediaries between individual producers and other food system actors, their role as sustainability transition intermediaries remains understudied. This paper explores the potential of producer organizations as transition intermediaries to support producers in their needs to adopt sustainable production practices. Ten cases of producer organizations in conventional (regime) and organic (niche) vegetable systems in Uruguay were studied qualitatively. Findings show that the classic intermediary roles that producer organizations fulfil in food systems also address the needs of producers in their transition to sustainable food systems. By providing organic inputs, organizing access to output markets, sharing knowledge, and facilitating sustainable production practices, producer organizations support producers within and across regime and niche. Producer organizations mostly function as implicit transition intermediaries, facilitated by their legitimacy among producers, their embeddedness in rural networks, and by refraining from taking a strong normative position. Producer organizations have the potential to be more explicit transition intermediaries, however this position comes with limitations. We provide policy recommendations to optimize the transition intermediary potential of producer organizations in their facilitation towards sustainable food systems.
Components of agroecology,
adapted from IPES-Food (2020)
Framework for agroecology in the North
Warming temperatures in the circumpolar north have led to new discussions around climate-driven frontiers for agriculture. In this paper, we situate northern food systems in Canada within the corporate food regime and settler colonialism, and contend that an expansion of the conventional, industrial agriculture paradigm into the Canadian North would have significant socio-cultural and ecological consequences. We propose agroecology as an alternative framework uniquely accordant with northern contexts. In particular, we suggest that there are elements of agroecology that are already being practiced in northern Indigenous communities as part of traditional hunter-gatherer food systems. We present a framework for agroecology in the North and discuss its components of environmental stewardship, economies, knowledge, social dimensions and governance using examples from the Dehcho region, Northwest Territories, Canada. Finally, we discuss several challenges and cautions in creating policy around agroecology in the North and encourage community-based research in developing and testing this framework moving forward.
Top-cited authors
Ina Opitz
  • Berlin University Alliance
Thomas Krikser
  • Universität Kassel
Regine Berges
  • agrathaer
Annette Piorr
  • Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research
Sarah Taylor Lovell
  • University of Missouri