Submitted to: Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/16/2006
Publication Date: 12/1/2008
Citation: Archer, D.W., Dawson, J., Kreuter, U.P., Hendrickson, M., Halloran, J.M. 2008. Social and Political Influences on Agricultural Systems. Renewable Agriculture and Food System. 23(4):272-284. Interpretive Summary: Social and political factors influence agricultural systems. If agriculture is to be sustainable, it is critical to understand how it is affected by social and political factors. A panel of experts was surveyed to identify the most important social and political influences on U.S. agriculture. Although the panelists often had contrasting views about the importance of some factors, there was strong agreement on many of them. Globalization and low margins that require increased scale and efficiency were identified as the two most important factors affecting agriculture. This research provides agricultural scientists with a better understanding of social and political effects on agriculture resulting in the development of agricultural systems that will be accepted and used by farmers. This research also provides information needed by social scientists and policy makers in developing policies that lead to more sustainable agricultural systems.
Technical Abstract: Agricultural systems are situated within social and political environments that have tremendous influence on how they operate. If agricultural systems are to be sustainable, it is critical to understand how they are influenced by social and political factors. An expert panel approach was used to identify and rank the importance of social and political factors on agricultural systems in the U.S. The panel identified a wide range of social and political factors that affect agricultural systems. The factors were divided into three categories: internal social factors, external social factors and political factors. Factors from each of the three categories were highly ranked, indicating no single category dominated the others. Although the panelists often had contrasting views about the importance of some factors, there was strong agreement on many of them. Globalization and low margins that require increased scale and efficiency were identified as the two most important factors affecting agricultural systems.