Reconciling the Divide: An Analysis of Farmers’ Land Strategies Within the Corporate-Environmental Food Regime

Rud, Helen Marie
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Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Regina

After twenty-five years of contested change following the collapse of the mercantile-industrial food regime, a corporate-environmental food regime appears to be consolidating. The new food regime consists of two distinct yet complimentary paradigms: the Ecologically Integrated paradigm, and the Life Sciences Integrated paradigm. Through the use of in-depth interviews with organic and conventional farmers living in southern Saskatchewan, this thesis examines how the management strategies utilized by Saskatchewan farmers fit within the larger world food regime in relation to farmers’ self-described identities. This study also explores the heterogeneity of management strategies, and the consistency of these strategies with the ideologies held by the farmers. Giddens’ theory of structuration, Gramci’s theory of hegemonic discourse, and the idea of the reflexive producer are used to explain how farmers make decisions concerning agricultural strategies and how these decisions impact the larger social structure. An analysis of the interviews suggests that producers exist within the emerging food regime on a continuum between the Ecologically Integrated paradigm (alternative producers) and the Life Sciences Integrated paradigm (conventional producers). Most producers frequently utilize production strategies based on their access to markets and specific groups of consumers, and on their personal eco-strategies. These farmers often identify as “conventional” or “alternative” producers, while having beliefs or using agricultural methods that are associated with the opposing paradigm. The results of this study demonstrate the importance of community in the transfer of local knowledge, including potential alternative farming methods. This study also illustrates that Saskatchewan farmers face additional barriers in the potential for resistance against conventional agriculture due to the history of agriculture in western Canada, the lack of local processors, and the corporatization of land ownership.

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Sociology, University of Regina. x, 203 l.