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Type: Thesis
Title: South Australian agriculture: a narrative to encourage future policy reform.
Author: Fielke, Simon James
Issue Date: 2015
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences
Abstract: South Australian agriculture has been production and export orientated since soon after European settlement. The associated cultural implications have influenced, and been influenced by, the neoliberal capitalist form that has framed Australian and South Australian governance since the 1980s. An extreme wave of neoliberal productivism has been encouraged that has led to numerous critiques of this pathway, especially in regard to the sustainability of socio-environmental outcomes of agricultural land use. The social and environmental consequences of agricultural land use are rarely explicitly valued or supported by policy in South Australia, however a multifunctional shift is occurring in other wealthy nations, which involves the increased valuation of the multiple functions of agricultural systems. This thesis examines the implications of liberal governance on agricultural stakeholders in South Australia in an effort to understand and address specific criticisms to help plan for a more multifunctional future. South Australian farmers and agricultural governance stakeholders were asked to describe their opinions on current policy and outline their perceptions of what framework was required to facilitate a multifunctional agricultural industry. Four key research questions are addressed concerning: the self-perceived priorities of South Australian farmers; farmer perceptions of agricultural governance institutions; South Australian agricultural governance stakeholders’ perceptions of their roles; and, whether there are other, more appropriate policy mechanisms available to increase the sustainability of South Australian agriculture. The original contribution to knowledge includes a survey of South Australian farmers’ perceptions of current policy settings, with a spatial focus around the rural Riverland town of Loxton and the peri-urban Barossa Valley. Three policy recommendations, which are deduced from primary and secondary data analysis, form the main conclusions. Firstly, farmers themselves, and future policy, must recognise the importance of education to generate resilient agri-businesses, as education level is shown to alter respondents’ priorities, increase the multifunctionality of land use, and reduce dependence upon government assistance. Secondly, to maximise the benefits of any policy implemented it must be flexible, community-focused to encourage cooperation, and avoid regulatory complexity to ensure farmer support. For example, a highly bureaucratic system, such as the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, that governs agriculture in the United Kingdom, is unlikely to be popular in the South Australian context. Finally, if the first two recommendations are combined into policy settings that encourage public-private partnerships in the agricultural sector, and increase explicit support mechanisms for social and environmental outcomes from farming, there will be beneficial implications for the long-term sustainability of agriculture in South Australia.
Advisor: Bardsley, Douglas Kenneth
Rudd, Dianne M.
Bryan, Brett Anthony
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2015
Keywords: agricultural policy; South Australia; multifunctionality; productivism
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