Alternative Land Tenure: A Path Towards Food Sovereignty in Saskatchewan?
Beingessner, Naomi Ellen
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In the past few years, a global food crisis has fuelled corporate investment and speculation in land and the attendant dispossession of smallholders and ecological damage, while doing little to alleviate hunger or secure livings for rural dwellers. This phenomenon is most evident in the Global South, but it is happening in Canada too. The dominant industrial agricultural model in Saskatchewan, with roots in the foundation of colonial capitalist agriculture and private ownership of land on the prairies, has resulted in a decades-long “farm crisis” as smaller farmers are forced off the land and agribusinesses consolidate and dominate production. A radically different vision of access to and control over land, as the basis of a new food system, is necessary in striving for socially and ecologically just agriculture. In this thesis, the concept of food sovereignty is used as a theoretical framework because it challenges the hegemony of global industrial agriculture and offers an alternative vision for land tenure and agrarian reform based on principles of social justice. Using data from in-depth qualitative interviews as well as critical discourse analysis of primary documents, this thesis explores alternative land tenure models proposed and practised by farmers involved in a progressive agrarian organization and participants in alternative agricultural land-ownership models in Saskatchewan. Analyzing key themes from the qualitative data using food sovereignty's principles of agrarian reform, this thesis illuminates the ideology behind the dominant global industrial agriculture system, provides historical, global, and Saskatchewan-specific context for issues of access to land, and suggests an approach that unites resistance and expands possibilities for alternatives, based on the social justice principles of food sovereignty.