Agriculture in Britain changing pressures and policies

Agriculture in Britain changing pressures and policies

topical issues of climatic warming and the phenomenon of forest decline. The author suggests that the biggest cost of forest decline may be the alarm ...

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topical issues of climatic warming and the phenomenon of forest decline. The author suggests that the biggest cost of forest decline may be the alarm generated in the population. Equally satisfactory are the subsequent discussions concerning the effects of forests, logging operations and deforestation on water regimes, soils and wildlife. Perhaps it might have been worth stressing that the reference to ‘declining production from forests in the European Community in recent years’ refers to particular forests and not to total wood production in the EC, which is continuing to rise. In Chapter 8 the author poses the question whether the tropical forest, and more particularly the rainforest, can be saved. After discussing forest degradation and clearance through uncontrolled logging. subsistence farming, the conversion to commercial ~k~ricultural crops and cattle ranching, he considers to what extent these pressures could be reduced through improved farming methods, a slowing in the rate of population growth, sustained yield management of the tropical forest and the establishment of timber and fuelwood plantations outside the forest. He also discusses the Tropical Forest Action Plan, the International Tropical Timber Agreement and debt-for-nature swaps; he believes that it remains to be seen how effective such measures may be. Whatever one’s views on the issues concerning tropical forests, the chapter warrants careful study.

Forest functions Chapter 9, on ‘People and policies’, shows how in the developed world the general public is concerned more with the environmental and recreational functions of forestry than with the production of wood; the influence of this preference on policies and forest management is also discussed. On relations between the public and foresters, the author repeats Westoby’s well publicized claim that ‘down through the ages, the forester has usually been looked upon as the gendarme of landed property and rich forest owners’. Jack Westoby deserves to be remembered for his outstanding

LAND USE POLICY

April 1991

services to world forestry but not for this claim which is patently absurd because the great majority of foresters has always been employed by the state and other public bodies and not by private estates. The chapter ends with a section in which the author, after explaining that only a few countries have a coherent forest policy, proffers a set of very cogent and concise ‘prescriptions for forest policies’. The short review in Chapter 10 adds nothing new but restates some of the main points made earlier. The structure of the book renders each chapter more or less self-

contained, but spreads information on any particular part of the world over several chapters. This is no great disadvantage as there are more specialized publications on regional forest resources. The author has made a few minor slips such as referring to a genus as a species or missing out digits in nutmbers, but the book is generally well presented and provides ample food for thought and debate.

Fred Hummel Guildford Surrey, UK

Partial enlightenment for the informed AGRICULTURE Changing

IN BRITAIN

Pressures

and Policies

edited by Denis Britton

CAB International, 215 pp, f 15.95 During

the

1980s

Wallingford,

most

UK,

assumptions

in our society have been critically reexamined. For example, the assumed beneficial relationships between agriculture and the environment, food, health and the allocation of resources have been questioned, leading to new and increasing pressures on the farm sector and to changes in state policies for agriculture. This book addresses these contemporary issues in the context of UK farming, but necessarily adopts perspectives wider than agriculture itself. There are substantial discussions on public opinion polls concerned with farming matters, for example. as well as electoral influences and broader land use conflicts. Indeed the general approach is to provide a readable discussion of contemporary farming problems, rather than a statistically analytical text. Denis Britton has assembled a team of five writers to cover the 11 chapters of the book. A strong Wye CollegeUniversity of Cambridge (Land Ecoabout

the

role

of agriculture

nomy) axis can be detected amongst the writers, so that much of the material and argument in the book reflects research carried out in these two institutions in recent years. Ruth Gasson’s chapter on part-time farming and pluriactivity. for example, summarizes her published work on the topic; Berkeley Hill contributes a chapter based on his research into farm incomes and wealth; John North examines the impact of recent and prospective new agricultur~il technology, as well as updating his work in a chapter on land budgeting; while Ian Hodge offers four broader perspectives on ‘The changing place of farming’, ‘Conflict or consensus over agricultural and countryside issues’, ‘Land use by design?’ and ‘The future public pressure on farming’. Rritton adds his own introductory chapter on recent changes and current trends in UK farming, together with a brief conclusion in which a wide range of unanswered questions are posed on the future directions of agriculture. Lastly Edmund Neville-Rolfe updates his well known analyses of the politics of agriculture with a lengthy but rewardingly detailed account of policymaking issues between the UK and the European Community in the 1980s. A threefold division of the chapters can be made between those that use-

163

Book

reviews

fully

summarize

existing

those that contribute

knowledge,

new material

and

ideas, and those that fail to do justice

to either the existing literature or new material. Into the first category can be placed the chapters on new farm technology, farm incomes and part-time farming. The technology chapter, for example, reviews progress in the control of diseases and pests, pointing up biocontrol agents as an alternative to chemical pesticides, and describes the upward trajectory of crop and animal performances, the latter employing techniques such as multiple ovulation and embryo transplants. The implications for the environment, farms of different sizes, the food industry and farm inputs are summarized.

Farm incomes The chapter on farm incomes provides a most useful review of the problems concerned with definition and data availability, while demonstrating the downward trend in all indicators of agricultural income since the early 1970s. Indeed the author is pessimistic on future projections, even though the non-agricultural sources of farm household income are playing an increasingly important role. This development is taken up in the chapter on part-time farming: recent research shows that 21% of UK farmers practise some other gainful activity (OGA) in addition to farmwork, with implications for the basis upon which farm support prices arc set. The chapters on farming trends, land budgeting and agricultural policy all contain significant elements of new material. The analysis of farming trends, for example, updates to 19X(1/ 88 statistical series on features such as real product prices, crop and animal yields, farm size and enterprise structure. Trends are then projected (linear and exponential) to the year 2000 so as to establish the trajectory of UK farming. This methodology makes the bold assumption that many adverse fcatures of the 1980s are only temporary aberrations to long-term trends, for example recently declining cereal and milk yields, an assumption that is never seriously questioned throughout the book.

164

Some bold assumptions also underlie the estimates of future land use in the chapter on land budgeting. 2015 is the target year, with a distinction drawn between ‘extensive’ and ‘efficient’ policy scenarios. The two scenarios produce land ‘surplus’ estimates of 4.9 and 5.01 million ha respectively, thereby posing a major, and in a sense non-agricultural, problem for the UK in how best to reallocate farmland to other uses. The chapter on agricultural policy in the UK and EC is not encouraging in this respect. ‘Muddling through’, rather than a clear sense of direction in how to handle the challenges posed by new technology, changing sources of farm household income and surplus farmland, seems the best description of policy making. The remaining chapter\, which attempt to place these farming trends and policies in a wider contextual framework, are disappointing. There appear to be three limiting features. First, judging from the short list of references which concludes each chapter, material is drawn from a relatively restricted sector of the available literature. In discussing the changing place of farming, for cxamplc, no mention is made of the evolving relationships between agriculture and the foodprocessing industries, food retailers and food caterers. Nor is the role of the organic any detail. social

food

examined

in

A second limitation tial

treatment

matter. sed,

book’s

while

future

mental

policy

spatial

emerging

and

environ-

considerations. on

Thirdly,

of

these

in the argu-

in this book.

the

authors

remain

and cautious

conclusions

The

all

is not reflected

ments deployed servative

on

will need impor-

literature

features

making

diversification,

of farmland

conservation

dif-

trends discus-

such as farm

‘set-aside’

aspa-

subject

are sharp regional

in the farming

matters

tant

lies in the

of the

There

ferences

than

in this book.

from

drawing

work,

prefer-

their

ring to list problems

con-

when

to be solved or

questions to be answered.

While

ques-

tions such as ‘If farmers do not take up the offers made in the voluntary aside”

should

scheme,

compulsory?’ important,

arc

both

the reader

“set-

be

made

relevant

and

could expect to

be given an informed In summary,

it

point of view.

an uninformed

reader

searching for guidance on the contemporary

problems

readable,

besetting

concise and well organized

text. The judgments context The

agriculture

will find this book a very

in the UK

is wider

informed

are sound and the

than

farming

reader,

find only parts of the book and

a partial

pressures

analysis

and policies

itself.

however,

will

rewarding

of

changing

in UK

agricul-

ture.

In discussing the changing

structure

attention

sector

the changes to be more complex as described

of rural

arcas,

is given to the literature

countcrurbanization,

which

littlc

Ian Bowler Universiry of Leicester, UK

on

reveals

Good documentation URBANIZATION

IN ASIA

Policies

in the

Asia-Pacific

held in llonolulu.

Spatial Dimensions

and Policy Issues

the

International

Asian

edited by Frank J. Costa, Ashok K. Duff, Laurence J.C. Ma and Allen G. Noble

volume

Two

20 chapters

One

were held in April

was the Conference

tion Growth.

Urbanization

1985.

on Populaand Urban

is a collection

of

selected papers from the latter confcrThe

urbanizaton

led to the

of

ence.

on Asian

on

in Akron,

Urhrrtlizrtriotl rtttd Urban Policic~s it1 Puu’Jic. A.ricl. ’ The

present

conferences

held

first conference

publication

University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, HI, 1989, 472pp, f35.20 important

was

Conference

Urbanization

01 I. The

Region,

and the other

This

editors

have

nicely

organized

into five major

sections.

was not an easy task given

large variety papers.

LAND

of topics covered

Part I, the Introduction.

USE

POLICY

April

the

by the

COIV

1991