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Farm Policy Theme General Discussion

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Re: Farm Policy Theme Discussion area

Posted by Juliann Aukema at February 21. 2007

I added some links in the workspace section. There was a recent UK report on environmental impacts of food production, specifically it suggests that organic agriculture may not be better for the environment. There's also a link to a radio article on fam=rm subsidies that Denise sent.

Re: Farm Policy Theme Discussion area

Posted by Julio Postigo at February 21. 2007

My name is Julio Postigo, and I am
PhD student of Geography. My research investigates the responses of Andean
herders to climate change. Before I started graduate school, I worked for eight
years for two non-governmental organizations. This work involved conducting tasks
such as strengthening herders’ social and political organizations and
developing proposals with agrarian unions as alternatives to the governmental
proposals to be included in the Peru-US Free Trade Agreement. The main goal of
the proposals was to defend Peruvian agrarian production against subsidized
imports from the US.


Possible directions to pursue to
further develop the farm policy theme:


  1. How does US farm policy (also EU?) impact agriculture
    in the third world?
  2. Is farm policy oriented towards sustainable
    agriculture or towards producing cheaper food?
  3. What are the politics motivating US farm policy?  

Re: Farm Policy Theme Discussion area

Posted by Amy Lerner at February 22. 2007

Hi Julio and others in farm policy group,

I'm  also a Phd student in Geography, at University of California, Santa Barbara.  There are actually some geographers here looking at farmer response to climate change as well (mostly in Mexico) and issues of vulnerability and adaptive capacity.  I'd really be interested in knowing more about your work, and I'm sure others here would as well.  I'm interested in the future of maize in Mexico with the combination of liberal trade policies (NAFTA), urbanization, migration, and cultural preferences playing roles in areas outside of Mexico City. 

I really don't know what kind of data we could get our hands on for this theme, but things I'm interested in are: What factors lead to more small farm landscapes in the U.S. (or the scale can be reduced)? - is it possible to do some sort of spatial analysis of where small farms occur or more "polycultural" landscapes and hypothesize on factors impacting these trends?

Another direction is looking at farm size over time, since we generally see a trend of bigger farms, less farmers and fewer small farms, but is that true for all farm sizes (i.e. maybe decrease in medium size, increase in small size with increase niche products and farmer's markets)

I'll do some more thinking about this. I look forward to seeing ideas from all of you! 

Amy Lerner, UCSB Geography

Re: Farm Policy Theme Discussion area

Posted by Denise Hewitt at February 22. 2007
Hi everyone-

My name is Denise Hewitt and I am a doctoral student in ecology at Rutgers University, NJ. My background is in nutrition and public health and I hope future research in sustainable agriculture can integrate these themes - even in a small way.

I found the ideas in the previous postings really interesting and worth exploring. One point to think about is how are we defining "sustainable?" Are we talking about environmental, cultural, or economic sustainability, or all 3? For example, we will not be able to create environmentally sustainable farms unless we also consider the economic sustainability of the farmer. Cultural preservation will also ultimately be linked to how well indigenous people can survive. The idea of promoting small farms was mentioned - here in NJ (which is so different from California) property value is beyond the reach of the average farmer, so this presents a tremendous barrier to small farm preservation here because access to land is very limited.

So, some other thoughts to add to the mix:

Are farm subsidies affecting farm size in this country? In other words, do small farmers even qualify for subsidies, are they easily available, and if not, has this been a contributor towards driving the small farmer out of business? What about other government policies that may favor large farming operations? What ultimately drives much of this is consumer demand for "cheap" food.

What has the loss of small farms done to the farming & rural culture of this country? There is a strong concern about who will be tomorrows farmers but what is and has happened to all of that traditional knowledge that could be used today to promote ecological sustainablilty? Perhaps this idea could be integrated & compared with what is occurring internationally.

I also have to give this more thought.


Re: Farm Policy Theme Discussion area

Posted by Pavel Bautista Solis at February 22. 2007

Hi everyone:


My name is Pavel Bautista. I am a tropical agroforestry PhD student at the joint program of CATIE and the University of Wales in Bangor. I have worked on breeding of subtropical fruit trees, plant health inspections in Mexico, and as a land use survey expert in Costa Rica.


Among my research interests are the design, transfer and adoption of complex agroecosystems (agroforestry systems or silvopastoral systems). I have chosen the FP&SP theme because I think that with adequate policies the adoption of such systems can be increased. However, I am also interested in the impacts of free trade agreements in the environment and the livelihood of farmers in developing countries.   




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