Poultry Grabs, Venture Capital, and Debt Bondage: Contracting Access to the Means of Production

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:45 PM
Room: Booth 61
Oral Presentation
Douglas H. CONSTANCE , Sam Houston State University
Jane DIXON , Australia National University, Australia
Jason KONEFAL , Sam Houston State University
Francisco MARTINEZ , Autonomous University of Coahuila, Mexico
Gilberto ABOITES , Autonomous University of Coahuila, Mexico
The paper applies a sociology of agrifood conceptual framework combined with a commodity systems analysis methodology to investigate the case of poultry grabs to inform discussion on the globalization of economy and society based on neoliberal restructuring. The topic of land grabs is a central discussion in the literature on agrifood globalization. The vertically-integrated poultry commodity system has been advanced as the model of agrifood globalization based on flexible accumulation in production and processing. The contract model of production most common in the poultry industry is a form of sharecropping that allows the integrating firm to control the production process without incurring the fixed costs of land and buildings, as well avoiding the responsibility and liability for labor and production externalities. The processes of vertical integration plus horizontal integration has resulted in a system of monopsony opportunism whereby the poultry corporations discipline the growers through debt bondage. Companies such as Tyson Foods, Inc. of the US, JBS of Brazil, and Charoen Pokphand of Thailand are diffusing this model into developing countries. Proceeding from a financialization of agrifood regimes framework, we investigate two cases of venture capital poultry grabs, one by Goldman Sachs in China and the other by TPG Capital in Australia, to illuminate the particular characteristics of the venture capital poultry grabs.