Environmental and social risks, and the construction of "best-practice" in Australian agriculture

Lockie, Stewart (1998) Environmental and social risks, and the construction of "best-practice" in Australian agriculture. Agriculture and Human Values, 15 (3). pp. 243-252.

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Amongst the environmental and social externalities generated by Australian agriculture are a number of risks both to the health and safety of communities living near sites of agricultural production, and to the end consumers of agricultural products. Responses to these potential risks – and to problems of environmental sustainability more generally – have included a number of programs to variously: define “best-practice” for particular industries; implement “Quality Assurance” procedures; and encourage the formation of self-help community “Landcare” groups. Taken together, these programs appear to deal comprehensively with both the social and environmental risks associated with agricultural production and products. However, these programs may also be interpreted as strategies that actually encourage the further intensification of agriculture, while attempting to reassure consumers that their food is safe and that farmers are doing “all they can” to protect the environment. Investigation of the Australian cotton and beef industries illustrates a number of strategies that have become evident between farmers, agri-science agencies, and the retail sector to manage these risks and define good farming practices in ways that satisfy their own perceived interests. Contrary to the image, therefore, of “green consumption” that is emerging as an integrated concern for “clean” (and thereby “healthy”) and sustainably produced foods, it appears that mainstream agricultural industries have bifurcated these concerns in ways that distract attention from production and processing methods, leaving conflict over on-farm production methods a characteristic only of those industries believed to have direct health impacts on nearby communities.

Item ID: 31246
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1572-8366
Keywords: Australian agriculture, best-practice, environment, knowledge construction, Landcare, quality assurance, risk
Funders: Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2017 01:54
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160801 Applied Sociology, Program Evaluation and Social Impact Assessment @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160804 Rural Sociology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960705 Rural Land Policy @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960504 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Environments @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960704 Land Stewardship @ 40%
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