Category Archives: President’s Corner

New President Identifies Priorities for IRSA

Ikegami PhotoProfessor Koichi Ikegami has been elected President of IRSA for 2016-2020. Professor Ikegami is based in the Faculty of Agriculture at Kindai University, Nara, Japan. His scholarly work embraces the areas of food, agriculture, fair trade and community sustainability. He has held many important and influential roles over the past few decades including President of the Asian Rural Sociology Association and President of the Japanese Association for Rural Studies. He has also been a regional representative on the Council of IRSA. He has outlined his vision for IRSA which can read here.

PRESIDENT’S CORNER: Neoliberalism – Growing Resistance?

geoffrey-lawrenceIn the last President’s Corner of 2015 I outlined evidence of the (largely negative) impacts of neoliberalism on farming and rural communities. One issue not covered was that of resistance to neoliberalism. In this President’s Corner I have attached an interesting overview of this issue by leading rural sociologists Professors Alessandro Bonanno (Sam Houston State University) and Steven Wolf (Cornell University). They provide examples of opposition to a corporate-based agri-food system, highlighting the groups which are proposing alternative futures. Their contribution is a background ‘white paper’ for the mini-conference on ‘The New Frontiers of Resistance in Global Agri-food’, to be held at the IRSA World Congress of Rural Sociology in Toronto this August.

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PRESIDENT’S CORNER: Neoliberalism, Agriculture and Rural Society: Reaching Some Conclusions

geoffrey-lawrenceIn recent times our colleagues have been evaluating neoliberalism and its impacts upon farming – and upon rural society, more generally. A significant contribution has been Steven Wolf and Alessandro Bonanno’s edited collection The Neoliberal Regime in the Agri-food Sector: Crisis, Resilience and Restructuring which arose from an RSS Sociology of Agrifood Research Interest Group (SAFRIG) mini-conference held in Chicago in 2012. In August this year the theme of the European Society for Rural Sociology Congress was ‘Places of Possibility: Rural Societies in a Neoliberal World’. Globally, agri-food scholars including Alessandro Bonanno, Hilde Bjorkhaug, Larry Busch, Hugh Campbell, Jennifer Clapp, Madeleine Fairbairn, Vaughan Higgins, Phil McMichael, Terry Marsden, Bill Pritchard and many others have sought to understand links between neoliberalism and agrifood restructuring. What have been the impacts of neoliberalism upon agriculture and rural society? Are we moving beyond neoliberalism?
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President’s Corner: A Prosperous Future for Rural Asia?

geoffrey-lawrenceThe Fifth International Conference of the Asian Rural Sociological Association was held in Vientiane, Laos, from 2-5 September 2014. I was invited to present a keynote which I had written with colleagues from Australia and Germany (click to access paper). The keynote dealt with the process of ‘financialisation’ and what this might mean for rural Asia. However, there were several other prominent themes which emerged from the conference. Continue reading

PRESIDENT’S CORNER – The International Year of Family Farming

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2014 has been designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Family Farming. It is estimated that there are over 500 million small-holder/family farms worldwide and that these farms provide food for up to 2 billion people (the majority in the developing world). Some 85% of smallholder farms operate on no more than about 4 acres (1.6 hectares) of land. Yet, these small-scale operations occupy about 60% of the world’s arable land. With such a significant presence it is obvious that small-scale, family, farming is very important not only to food provision, but also to ensuring biodiversity and the protection of natural resources. What is the future of the family farm?
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President’s Corner: CAFO Contradictions and Test-tube Meat

geoffrey-lawrenceConcentrated Animal Feeding Operations – commonly referred to as CAFOs – have become an important, if not controversial, component of industrial farming throughout the world. CAFOs are often praised for the efficient way in which animals can be raised, slaughtered, and their protein delivered to a hungry world. But they also raise concerns about environmental pollution and, in particular, animal cruelty. What do we know about CAFOs? Are they the future of animal protein production, or will they be irrelevant in a world of test-tube meat? Continue reading

President’s corner September 2012 Geoffrey Lawrence

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The XIII World Congress of Rural Sociology, held in Lisbon, Portugal, in July/August this year, was addressed by Professor Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.
De Schutter’s mandate, as described by the UN Human Right’s Council is to:

  • Promote the full realization of the right to food and the adoption of measures at the national, regional and international levels for the realization of the right of everyone to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger so as to be able fully to develop and maintain their physical and mental capacities;
  • examine ways and means of overcoming existing and emerging obstacles to the realization of the right to food;
  • continue mainstreaming a gender perspective and taking into account an age dimension in the fulfilment of the mandate, considering that women and children are disproportionately affected by hunger, food insecurity and poverty;
  • submit proposals that could help the realization of Millennium Development Goal No. 1 to halve by the year 2015 the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, as well as to realize the right to food, in particular, taking into account the role of international assistance and cooperation in reinforcing national actions to implement sustainable food security policies;
  • present recommendations on possible steps with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the right to food, including steps to promote the conditions for everyone to be free from hunger and as soon as possible enjoy fully the right to food, taking into account lessons learnt in the implementation of national plans to combat hunger;
  • work in close cooperation with all States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as with other relevant actors representing the broadest possible range of interests and experiences, within their respective mandates, to take fully into account the need to promote the effective realization of the right to food for all, including in the ongoing negotiations in different fields;
  • continue participating in and contributing to relevant international conferences and events with the aim of promoting the realization of the right to food.
  • To access Professor De Schutter’s talk at the Rural Sociology Congress, please visit: http://www.sendspace.com/file/hh1w70