It would seem the entire world is embroiled in heated debates over food. In some places there simply isn’t enough, in others there’s too much and this surplus creates waste. In other places still there is an overabundance of food but the structure of local economies, corporate policies, and even societal pressures and scrutiny over the food consumed mean that somehow there still isn’t enough to go around. I have reached the conclusion that in North America the issue is that corporate entities and their handling of agriculture has lead to unfair and repetitive patterns of power, production, authority, and distribution, and has lead to a political crisis in the United States. Moving forward I will examine the effects of class and necessity have on local food economies in addition to gender, population, resources, environment, militarisation, food and finance.
Small farmers around the world, as well as most small business owners, generally simply wish to improve their income for their own sake, and that of their dependents, while retaining their independence as owners and operators of their farm. Since the eighties it has become increasingly difficult to achieve, let alone maintain, any of these goals. Small farmers have been swayed by the increasing demands of the ‘free market’ to become tangled in a web of contracts that turn their farm into a minor blip in the international market. The hallmark of the modern political agribusiness situation is the wide range of influencers with which small farms must interact. Simple partnerships with other businesses and with their governments have been warped into complex systems of powerful organizations. The most significant examples are the large-scale private institutions with monopolies over production, sale, and even publicity; some of these even influence the local authorities and define the standards by which their smaller competitors must operate. The size, complexity and impersonality of these corporations has resulted in massive change in the nature of the small farmers’ relationships to not only their economies, but society as well.
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