Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 65–78 | Cite as

A tripartite standards regime analysis of the contested development of a sustainable agriculture standard

  • Maki Hatanaka
  • Jason Konefal
  • Douglas H. Constance
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Agribusiness Governance Policy Sustainable agriculture Standards Social movements 

Abbreviations

AA

Accreditor association

ANSI

American Standards Institution Initiative

AO

Accreditation organization

CB

Certification body

IAF

International Accreditation Forum

ISO

International Organization for Standardization

SCS

Scientific certification systems

SDO

Standard-development organization

SMO

Social movement organizations

TSR

Tripartite standards regime

USDA

United States Department of Agriculture

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maki Hatanaka
    • 1
  • Jason Konefal
    • 1
  • Douglas H. Constance
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologySam Houston State UniversityHuntsvilleUSA

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