Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 245–256

Visions of the middle landscape: Organic farming and the politics of nature


DOI: 10.1023/A:1007623832251

Cite this article as:
Vos, T. Agriculture and Human Values (2000) 17: 245. doi:10.1023/A:1007623832251


The proposed federal regulation oforganic agriculture in the United States raisesquestions both about the nature and character oforganic farming, as well as its relation to theagro-food system at large. The regulatory process hasengendered a public debate about conventional andalternative approaches to agricultural production,which in turn raises issues of environmental politicsand society-nature relations. An analysis oftranscripts from public hearings, organic farmingmovement literature, and interviews with organicpractitioners and advocates reveals the broaderecological, social, and political ramifications. Inexamining the proposed federal rule and its criticalopposition, we encounter two different worldviews; twoconflicting visions of agriculture, rural life, andnature itself. Whether this is a fundamental impasse,or a controversy that can be fruitfully resolved,remains an open question. But organic farming hasarrived at a critical juncture, both fraught withperil, and full of opportunity. The enormous publicresponse to this issue indicates the renewed potentialon the part of civil society to participate ingrassroots environmental social movements in supportof alternative agriculture.

Environmental politicsFederal regulationNature-society relationsOrganic farming and food

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental StudiesUniversity of California, Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA