A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
Thierry Pouch
Personnal accounts

The Farmland War



by Thierry Pouch,
Permanent Assembly of the French chambers of Agriculture


The gradual liberalization of agricultural trade since the early 1990’s has, for almost every country in the world, generated a re-examination of the role of agriculture in the various national strategies.

In fact, in a world suffering from increasingly frequent economic and food crises, and where “food riots” are multiplying and destabilizing the political stability of many developing countries, agriculture is now again a strategic issue. In addition, the structural volatility of agricultural markets and the multiplication of natural and/or trade risks have strengthened the geopolitical and geo-economical scope of agriculture, which is today at the heart of economic wars between key historical and emerging powers.

In his recent book published by Editions Choiseul1, French economist Thierry Pouch addresses this issue again. In his conclusion, which we are publishing below, Thierry Pouch especially points out that, confronted with these increasing tensions, many hopes are focusing on the establishment of “a new global agricultural structure.”

Momagri Editorial Board



“If we can decipher the crisis of globalization through such a string of economic, monetary, financial and now agricultural imbalances, we must also interpret it as the all-out deployment of an economic war, whose harbingers first appeared in the early 1990’s. Since the latest round of talks in the GATT negotiations launched in 1986 and the conclusion of the Marrakech Agreement in 1994, Agriculture––as the economic sector producing goods intended to feed humans or animals––represents an activity where an economic war declared, first between the United States and the European Union, and then emerging agricultural powers, which, following Brazil’s example, are putting forward strategies to conquer global markets, strategies that cannot but go against the so-called “established” economies.

[…]

In other words, agriculture and food production take on a geostrategic aspect, on which are forged contradictory intentions and interests generated by older as well as newer food producing and exporting nations. It follows then that agriculture provides an opportunity to fully measure the impossibility to define any trade peace, as fully illustrated by the long-lasting and deep-seated deadlocks that periodically materialize out of the WTO negotiations since 2001 at least.”

[…]

The changes in the global agricultural situation, the 2007 and 2008 food crises, the deep-seated uncertainty now prevailing over the profile of key agricultural prices, the empowerment of new players, the sweeping slump in European––and strangely French––agriculture in global markets, represent so many possibilities to bear out the relevance of the concept of geo-economics.

The level of conflict in international economic relations affecting both production and trade of agricultural goods brings back observers to old discussions they have forgotten through force of circumstance. Yet, due to current agricultural burning events, it seems imperative to rethink the controversies forged around the theories advanced by the great figures in political economics. Their rationale still retains its relevance and significant validity. Can we regard agriculture as a common economic sector? Are agricultural goods, whose first purpose is to feed humankind, like any other goods? What makes governmental intervention in agriculture justified, and above all, must we construe agricultural trade liberalization as a threat to a nation’s independence? Because agriculture is both part of the organizational structure of a society and a nation’s strategy for power, the agricultural issue continues to raise heated debates.

[…]

All these hurdles are closely interwoven in the economic, monetary and environmental––such as water sharing––uncertainties that raise the level of bellicosity between nations… While the food crisis of the past three years has restored agriculture’s significance and legitimacy by calling all nations to silence their discordances and thirsts for power, it also shows that, in the absence of secure access to food for all, the economic war occurring around agriculture could possibly evolve into military conflicts. From this standpoint, yesterday’s food crises––and those of tomorrow––cannot be addressed or resolved without a structured analysis regarding all crises, without the conviction that agriculture cannot and must not be a commercial product. Current events have just proved us that we are indeed very far from what French sociologist Emile Durkheim called the “organic solidarity.” The rationale of interest and power through wealth are presently remaining the very essence of international relations.”


1 The book can be ordered from the publisher’s website: http://choiseul-editions.com/livres-politique-internationale-La-guerre-des-terres-Strategies-agricoles-et-mondialisation-26.html
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Paris, 13 December 2017