T01P12 - New Frontiers in Public Policy Studies: Lessons from Agri-food Policy Research

Topic : Policy Process Theories

Panel Chair : Peter Feindt - peter.feindt@wur.nl

Panel Second Chair : Carsten Daugbjerg - carsten.daugbjerg@anu.edu.au

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Objectives

This panel aims to assemble scholars who take a public policy perspective on current developments in agri-food policy, with a view to contextualise these in broader trends in public policy and to contribute to conceptual discussion on public policy, in particular on policy interlinkage and integration, transformational policy and policy capacity, transnational co-regulation and the consequences of anti-corporate and anti-globalization protests. 

Background: Over recent years, agricultural and food policy has morphed from a confined policy field that was often considered rather marginal due to the farm sector’s declining economic importance and employment to a policy area at the centre of much attention from the public, policy-makers and public policy scholars. There are various reasons for this shift. First, the global food crisis has reminded policy-makers that food price hikes can trigger public protest and destabilise entire political regimes. Second, new public concerns link agriculture and food to a wide array of issues, from climate change and the environment to animal welfare and healthy diets. This has triggered calls for and attempts at  policy integration. Third, concerns over the sustainability and resilience of current food production systems have made both the agricultural sector and agricultural policy the target of attempts at transformational change, raising urgent conceptual and strategic questions about the role of public policy in developing long-term transitional policy visions and the capacity to steer encompassing sectoral transformation. Fourth, the globalization and financialisation of the agricultural and food sectors has created a range of new institutional arrangement, often through private regulation or co-regulation, that has transformed the role and capacity of public policy in ways that have not been fully understood. Fifth, the developmental pathway of agriculture and food policy has become increasingly politicised over recent years, with a transnational social movement challenging “Big Ag”. Such repoliticisation of public policy in resistance to globalization and corporatisation is a broader trend that has the potential to change the context of public policy significantly.

Scientific relevance

While agri-food issues have always received much attention among sociologists, political scientists and policy scholars have also taken a significant interest in studying agricultural policy-making over the years. The agricultural policy sector could be considered an extreme case of a compartmentalized and ‘exceptionalist’ policy-making process, characterized by a distinct set of sector-oriented institutions and ideas, well-organized and well-resourced sectoral interest groups, substantial government intervention and significant redistribution of economic assets to a relatively small group of producers and land owners. The sector is therefore almost a laboratory to study how the broader  trends of policy interlinkage, sustainability challenges and stability concerns, internationalisation and anti-globalization movements affect public policy. It allows to test the traction of policy strategies such policy integration, transformational policy, and transnational co-regulation. Building on their special issue in the Journal of European Public Policy (to appear in 2017), the panel convenors aim to continue their conceptual project of using analysis of current developments in agri-food policy to characterise and understand broader trends in public policy.

 

Call for papers

This panel aims to assemble scholars who take a public policy perspective on current developments in agri-food policy, with a view to contextualise these in broader trends in public policy and to contribute to conceptual discussion on public policy, in particular on policy interlinkage and integration, transformational policy and policy capacity, transnational co-regulation and the consequences of anti-corporate and anti-globalization protests. 

We invite empirical and conceptual papers that engage with one or more of the following five trends that have contributed to increasing attention to agri-food policy by the public, policy-makers and public policy scholars. First, how has the global food price crisis affected public policy, in particular with a view to the stability of political regimes concerned over ‘bread protests’? Second, have new public concerns effectively led to link agriculture and food to a wide array of issues, from climate change and the environment to animal welfare and healthy diets? Has this effective policy integration emerged? Third, how have concerns over the sustainability and resilience of current food production systems made the agricultural sector and agricultural policy the target of attempts at transformational change? What are the ensuing conceptual and strategic challenges with regard to the role of public policy in developing long-term transitional policy visions and the capacity to steer encompassing sectoral transformation? Fourth, the globalization and financialisation of the agricultural and food sectors has created a range of new institutional arrangement, often through private regulation or co-regulation. How has this transformed the role and capacity of public policy? Fifth, the developmental pathway of agriculture and food policy has become increasingly politicised over recent years, with a transnational social movement challenging “Big Ag”. How has such repoliticisation of public policy in resistance to globalization and corporatisation changed the determinants of public policy?

 

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