Identifying vulnerabilities, exploring opportunities: reconfiguring production, conservation, and consumption in California rice
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This paper describes a role for rural sociology in linking agrifood system vulnerabilities to opportunities for encouraging sustainability and social justice. I argue that the California rice industry is particularly vulnerable for two reasons. First, a quarter of rice growers’ revenues derive from production-based subsidies that have been recently deemed illegal by the World Trade Organization. Second, about half of California’s rice sales depend on volatile export markets, which are susceptible to periodic market access disruptions. Such vulnerabilities present political opportunities to reconfigure the connection between production and consumption. By exploring how production subsidies could be transformed into multifunctionality payments, and investigating new regional markets, rural sociology can contribute to discussions about how to encourage a more sustainable and socially just California rice industry. My discussion aims to prompt rural sociologists to explore similar questions in comparable agrifood systems.
KeywordsAgriculture Agrifood activism California Japan Multi-functionality Rice
I would like to thank Jill Harrison, Steven Wolf, two anonymous reviewers, and Harvey James, for helpful comments on earlier drafts, and Kaden Koffler and Tim Krupnik for sustained rice conversations. The usual disclaimers apply.
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