SAC # 106

Caught between a Hungry World and a Warming Climate: The contested moral terrain of pastoral agriculture in New Zealand



TIME | 24 March 2011, 4pm onwards

LOCATION | CSAFE Seminar Room, , Dunedin

SPEAKER | Chris Rosin


The situation of pastoral farmers in New Zealand establishes a complex and fractured ethical terrain of greenhouse gas mitigation. Current strategies to encourage societal response to the threat of global climate change most commonly involve the capping of national level emissions linked to some form of financial mechanism to establish the ‘true cost’ of carbon. The relatively slow adaptation engendered by such policies has highlighted the challenge of altering strongly established patterns of resource use. The immediate and obvious means of reducing carbon emissions (including methane and nitrous oxide) involves the reversal of more intensive inputs that have increased the production on farms, a clear factor in the viability of the meat and milk producing sectors. In addition, this orientation toward production is underlain by an equally ethical imperative – the charge to feed the world. The clash of imperatives is very evident in contestation of the emissions trading scheme by the farming sector, suggesting a strong anti-mitigation orientation. A recent survey of pastoral farmers demonstrates, however, a latent sense of responsibility to contribute to climate change solutions. This presentation interrogates this contradiction in the ethical positioning of New Zealand farmers and examines how the sole reliance on economic incentives to encourage mitigation has failed to achieve desired response.

About the Speaker

Chris Rosin is a Research Fellow and Deputy Director at CSAFE. Since arriving in New Zealand six years ago, he has been a member of the social research team in the ARGOS (Agriculture Research Group on Sustainability) project, contributing to the comparative analysis of market access pathways (organic, integrated and conventional) in the New Zealand kiwifruit, sheep/beef and dairy sectors. This research has also led to examinations of the response of pastoral farmers to climate change and greenhouse gas mitigation policy. More recently, he has also focused on the global food crisis as co-director (with Hugh Campbell) of the 2009 Otago Foreign Policy School. With help from Hugh and Paul Stock, he is preparing an edited book based on presentations from that symposium. The seminar presentation involves a paper invited for presentation at the Association of American Geographers Meetings that reflects on the diverse ethical demands placed on farmers as producers of food.


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