International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Where Is the Coherent Response to Climate Change and Peak Oil? An Examination of Policy and Practice Affecting Agriculture in Regional Australia

International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Volume 18, issue 3 (2011), pages 199-216

Authors: Ruth Beilin, Serenity Hill and Tamara Sysak
Affiliation: Department of Resource Management and Geography, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

ISSN: 0798-1759


Abstract

Climate change and peak oil will have profound impacts on food production across the world. This article uses selected documents from the agriculture policy arena to explore international, national and local scale responses and recommendations. Using two regional Australian case-studies, we describe local farming practice. We find that while seeking to be adaptive overall, farm decisions are, necessarily complex, often limited and result in both short- and long-term perverse outcomes. This includes changes previously considered as innovative or adaptive responses to climate change or energy constraint. By contrast, these responses now may appear reactive and maladaptive. We argue that the maladaptive responses are most likely to continue because of a lack of policy coherence and integration across scales. Farm experimentation and improvization requires supportive coherent policies. Good on-ground decision-making requires clear signals that support change beyond current variations within a ‘business as usual’ trajectory.

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