The conventions of agri-environmental practice in New Zealand: farmers, retail driven audit schemes and a new spirit of farming
Audit schemes dictating the parameters of environmentally and socially acceptable management practice have emerged as a pervasive feature of global agri-food production. While the impacts of such schemes on the global movement of food and fibre and the evolving terrains of power in agri-food relations are well documented, the associated reconstruction of farming identities in the localities where audits are implemented has received less attention. The emerging responses to audit schemes in the New Zealand kiwifruit and dairy sectors are key examples of the contentious nature through which auditing is incorporated within farming practice. Analysis of these responses reveals the potential for audits to alter the spirit of farming in New Zealand, initiating new conventions of interaction between producers and industries. Within a convention theory framework, the incorporation of auditing within standard management practice involves a negotiated process in which the farmers employ strategic justifications of their capability (and value) relative to the quality designations established by the audit. Rather than evaluate the relative merits of a farm, its product and its owner through the craft and skill of the independent land manager, successful farming is increasingly associated with the individual’s ability to conform to an audit’s structures. The global trend toward audit schemes suggests that similar challenges to the spirit of farming may be replicated in other contexts.
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Rights Statement: © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008
Keywords: Agri-food system; Audit; Convention theory; New Zealand; Retailers; Spirit of farming
Research Type: Journal Article