The Redefined Role of Finance in Australian Agriculture
Dr. Nicolette Larder (U New England), Dr. Sarah Ruth Sippel (Leipzig U), and Prof. Neil Argent (U New England)
|Publication Date||October 2017|
|Publisher||Australian Geographer (Geographical Society of New South Wales, UK)|
In their highly influential teaching and research text Global Restructuring: The Australian Experience Fagan and Webber set out a substantivist, institutionalist and multi-scalar account of the Australian space economy’s relatively rapid and radical globalisation after 1980. This paper extends Fagan and Webber’s global restructuring thesis to Australian farming and agriculture, connecting historical and more recent scholarship on agriculture–finance relations. We highlight two areas where finance has fundamentally reshaped the agricultural sector. First, we argue that financial restructuring has shifted the relationship between farmers and lenders. Second, we suggest that under the logics of finance, Australian land and water are emerging as ‘alternative’ financial asset classes. The paper demonstrates that Australian agriculture has become subject to a comprehensive process of finance-driven economic restructuring over recent decades. Regulatory changes since the 1980s have resulted in an agricultural sector where finance’s growing role is normalised as a part of the sector’s operation. Importantly, we stress the paramount role governments have played in redefining agri-finance relationships in Australia by promoting and providing the regulatory framework for processes of marketisation and assetisation, thereby making agriculture attractive to subsequent financial investments. Finance does not operate on its own but relies on the state’s crucial role in incentivising and setting the conditions for finance capital.
Keywords: Agriculture, farming, financialisation, assetisation, Australia
Dr. Nicolette Larder (School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences, U New England, Australia)
Nicolette Larder’s research agenda revolves around the social dynamics of the global agri-food system and the myriad ways people engage with and make sense of the act of food production. Within this broad scope work to date has engaged food producers from varying backgrounds across urban and rural settings and always with the intention of unraveling how food production fits within and contributes to broader social and environmental crises such as land and water scarcity, food insecurity and social inequality. She draws from a wide range of theoretical influences to explore diverse productive environments and producers including political economy, community economies, social movement studies, gender studies and most recently financialisation.
Dr. Sarah Ruth Sippel (Institute of Anthropology & SFB 1199, Leipzig U, Germany)
Sarah Ruth Sippel studied Middle Eastern studies and philosophy (Leipzig, Germany and Aix-en-Provence, France) and received her PhD in geography (Leipzig). In her PhD dissertation she combined a global agri-food systems perspective with various approaches to human and livelihood security in order to investigate processes of social differentiation in Moroccan export agriculture. Her current research project addresses the diverse imaginations of land through the lens of Australia’s increasing agricultural ties to the Gulf States and China.
Prof. Neil Argent (School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences, U New England, Australia)
Neil Argent’s research interests center on understanding the factors and processes that make robust and sustainable rural communities. He is particularly keen on investigating the role of migration – especially city to rural migration and youth out-migration from rural areas – in changing the social and demographic make-up of rural communities. He also has a strong interest in social theory, especially as it relates to our understandings of space and place, and the key roles each plays within our lives.