NPR - CAN MODERN AGRICULTURE MEET SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS?
The agricultural sector in many industrialised countries remains in the spotlight of controversial societal debates that testify to an advancing alienation between modern agriculture and society. Key issues include animal welfare, environmental externalities, industrialisation of agricultural production, and the extinction of family farms. As steadily increasing animal welfare or environmental standards are requested by society, the respective agricultural de- bates take on ideological tenors. A key concern is the increasingly large and technology-based farms, partly considered as ‘factory farms’. The present paper asks to what extent the existing economic conditions allow the agricultural sector in general and large farms in particular to benefit from agricultural innovations on the one hand and to meet societal expectations on the other. The analysis builds on two concepts: the agricultural treadmill theory, which assumes the agricultural sector to be under a permanent economic pressure, and the concept of corporate social responsibility, which presumes that firms have an interest to comply with societal expectations. We describe and analyse the internal mechanisms of these concepts theoretically and conceptually. We then discuss opportunities which may help to overcome the increasing alienation of agriculture and society.
Keywords: agriculture, technological progress, corporate social responsibility, acceptance of modern agriculture, large-scale agriculture