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Ploughing Up the Farm
Neoliberalism, Modern Technology and the State of the World's Farmers
The past twenty years - the period of 'neoliberal globalization'- has seen an erosion of farmers' livelihoods and food security around the world. Increasing reliance on markets and modern technology has not generated universal farm affluence. This book brings together an impressive array of statistical evidence to show that neoliberalism has brought about rural depopulation in the North, rising rural poverty in the South and environmental problems all around the farming world.
Beginning in the 1980s, neoliberal ideology and accelerated globalization shaped farm policies worldwide. Markets, the cornerstone of neoliberalism, were said to provide higher prices to farmers. But evidence shows that farmgate prices during this period have stagnated. Moreover, market-driven growth has encouraged production of agricultural exports and growing use of chemical inputs. Since world farm prices have been in decline, the consequences for food security and the farm environment are, to say the least, questionable.
Neoliberal globalization is also premised on expanding international trade into the realms of agriculture and intellectual property. Evidence shows that trade liberalization - implemented mainly through structural adjustment programs and the WTO - is often biased against Third World farmers and small farmers everywhere. The power of transnational corporations in agricultural trade and farm technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Evidence shows that the corporate-driven GM-food revolution has had little positive effect on farm livelihoods or food security. To arrest these trends, Jerry Buckland calls for farm policies founded on farmer-led food security and a democratization of the global institutions that have had such detrimental effects on the world's farmers.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'A tour de force. It presents a comprehensive analysis of problems facing global agriculture, the perverse workings of the market and corporatization in this sector, and suggests possible solutions for sustainable agriculture with a human face.'
John Loxley, author of Alternative Budgets: Budgeting as if People Mattered and former Chair of the Board of the North-South Institute
'An authoritative and highly readable account of one of the most crucial issues of our time. Its thorough analysis, facts and figures will make it a valuable source book.'
John Madeley, author of Food for All: the Need for a New Agriculture
'This thorough and illuminating examination of the farming crisis is long overdue. Jerry Buckland applies fresh eyes, sound data, and rigorous analysis to the paradox of deepening poverty among the world's food producers. The book addresses questions that need urgent solutions: why small farms and agricultural biodiversity are sacrificed in the name of progress; why powerful countries and public institutions promote a free market in agriculture in the South but protect rich Northern markets; why large agribusiness corporations will not solve the food insecurity of the poor; why technology can be a trap rather than a solution. Buckland tackles complex economic and political questions with a wealth of evidence and convincing logic. His clear prose sweeps the reader through the intricate world of international trade and global politics. The argument for a re-visioning of food policies in the context of healthy societies and environments is compelling and should be compulsory reading for policy makers. This book is a must for all concerned with farming, food, poverty or development.'
Barbara Dinham, Pesticide Action Network UK