Governing Agriculture Sustainability: Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives, Sustainable Intensification and Systematic Change

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:30 AM
Room: Booth 61
Oral Presentation
Douglas H. CONSTANCE , Sam Houston State University
Maki HATANAKA , Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX
Jason KONEFAL , Sam Houston State University
Efforts to increase sustainability are increasingly being promulgated using non-state forms of governance.  In the United States, there are currently multiple initiatives developing sustainability standards and metrics for agriculture.  These include: LEO-4000, Field to Market, the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops, the Sustainability Consortium, and the National Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture.   Each of these initiatives is a multi-stakeholder initiative in that it includes a variety of stakeholders and uses democratic procedures.  Using the sustainable agriculture initiatives as case studies, this paper examines whether multi-stakeholder governance is producing ecological modernization of agriculture in the United States.  To do this, first, the ways that each initiative is framing sustainable agriculture is reviewed.  Second, using Paul Thompson tripartite sustainability framework, the implications of the different proposed sustainability standards and metrics for United States agriculture is assessed.  In concluding, we argue that the current sustainability initiatives are advancing a program of sustainable intensification, and do not have the capacity to generate systematic change.