A tripartite standards regime analysis of the contested development of a sustainable agriculture standard
As concerns over the negative social and environmental impacts of industrial agriculture become more widespread, efforts to define and regulate sustainable agriculture have proliferated in the US. Whereas the USDA spearheaded previous efforts, today such efforts have largely shifted to Tripartite Standards Regimes (TSRs). Using a case study of the Leonardo Academy’s initiative to develop a US sustainable agriculture standard, this paper examines the standards-development process and efforts by agribusiness to influence the process. Specifically, we analyze how politics operate in seemingly “depoliticized” TSRs, and how agribusiness and the USDA use “framing practices” and procedural complaints to influence the standard-development process. We contend that although governance mechanisms are a potentially powerful tool for advocates of alternative agrifood, their efficacy may be constrained by science-based requirements, an agribusiness countermovement, and a captured state.
KeywordsAgribusiness Governance Policy Sustainable agriculture Standards Social movements
American Standards Institution Initiative
International Accreditation Forum
International Organization for Standardization
Scientific certification systems
Social movement organizations
Tripartite standards regime
United States Department of Agriculture
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