Environmental, Economic, and Social Impacts of NAE Agriculture and AKST | 103

of farmers (Goldschmidt, 1978; Ikerd, 2002; Stofferhan, 2006). The above description of events may be too sweep­ing because changes in social and economic structure of rural communities have differential effects, creating oppor­tunities for some and disadvantaging others (Buttel, 1983). Such reasoning suggests that socioeconomic effects of indus­trialization and globalization are variable and fluctuate in response to local and non-local forces. Concern may also be indicative of a nostalgic worldview that idealizes how rural farming communities once were.
     The rise of retail concentration (see Chapter 2) has led to the concern that retailers may abuse their market power vis-à-vis other actors with smaller market shares, in particu­lar farmers and consumers (Hendrickson et al., 2001; Mor­gan et al., 2006). Farmers have for a long time noted how small a share of consumer prices for food and fiber products comes from what farmers receive for the raw commodities at the farm gate. The declining share of the consumer food Euro/dollar allocated to producers is reflected in rising retail-farm price margins. A factor contributing to this decline is the increase in consumer demand for off-farm or marketing services for food. Farmers' ever-increasing productivity has made agricultural products steadily cheaper in real terms; this alone would cut the farmer's share of retail prices if the margins for processing and retail distribution just kept up with inflation. But growing farm productivity is only half of the story. In some markets the farm-to-retail margins have risen significantly faster than overall food marketing costs. Growing retail margins may be variously explained in dif­ferent markets (Reed et al., 2002). Reduced competition among retailers or (for some products) processors may pro­duce monopoly profits, stifle cost saving innovation and dull the efficiency of management; alternatively, consumers may choose products to which more value has been added, fewer competitors may increase the importance of competition on things other than price. There may be more value-added at the retail level, including better service and a greater variety within the category. All farmers are facing a shrinking share of the retail dollar/Euro. With the ever-growing efficiency of production agriculture and the continuing tendency of the marketing system to add more value for wealthier consum­ers, this trend is expected to continue (Kinsey and Senauer, 1996). Equity in access to resources
The development of agricultural technology in NAE, based on external, purchased inputs has affected global equity. Poor farmers especially in developing countries often do not have the option of introducing modern methods because of the lack of market integration and infrastructure, the heterogeneity of the environment, or because they cannot afford purchased inputs. The nutrient case illustrates the more general consequences. Large field areas of the NAE, especially in Europe, have been enriched with phosphorus and nitrogen but only a proportion of the industrially fixed nutrients is retained in food products. This leads to eutro-phication and biodiversity decline in both aquatic and ter­restrial systems (see Chapter 3.1). Conversely, the soils of several cultivated systems especially in sub-Saharan Africa are nutrient-depleted. This is especially problematic where


fruits, vegetables and other crops are exported on a large scale from rural areas to urban centers, or from regions with nutrient-poor field soils to nutrient-enriched NAE. In fact, NAE increasingly relies on food, feed and resources origi­nating beyond its borders (Deutsch, 2004). For example, only a third of African phosphate fertilizer production was used in Africa in 2002 (FAOSTAT, 2006). Equity in control and influence

Critics concerned with the global equity of agri-business assert that powerful food retailers situated in the North, whose success has been partly driven by NAE AKST, largely dictate the social relations of production in the South and provide little opportunity to encourage local value capture (Marsden, 1997). Such processes are seen to be powerful drivers for divergence and marginalization in traditional farming communities. Further, it is contended that the only way forward is for these localities to disengage and reinte­grate into local and regional settings. Paradoxically, in some regions (e.g., Tuscany), these same phenomena described above have been the catalyst for stimulating vibrant new livelihood strategies (such as tourism) in traditional farm­ing communities, as they have endeavored to innovate and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances (Miele and Pinduc-ciu, 2001; Morgan et al., 2006).
     Historically, some of the effects of the trends described above have been mitigated in Europe and the US by costly market intervention to support prices, often under the pol­icy guise of rural poverty mitigation, rural development pro­grams or more recently nature conservation (Petit, 1997; Dimitri et al., 2005). The impacts of these policies are in the decline in the US, but due to effective lobbying and public support the agricultural sector in the EU was largely ex­empted from trade liberalization agendas until the Uruguay Round in 1992.
     Understanding the wants  and  demands  of consum­ers within highly differentiated food markets has become a source of power within food systems. Related to this point, consumers are demanding more transparency and information  (essentially control)  about food production methods and labor relations on which to base purchasing decisions (Miele and Parisi, 2001; Blokhuis et al., 2003). Thus the role of knowledge and information is assuming more and more importance as a point of influence and con­trol in food systems, especially in NAE. Supermarkets and fast food outlets with their proximity to customers have a unique capacity to influence the rest of the production and food distribution chain. These powerful retailers continue to strive to meet consumer welfare concerns (price, quality and variety), often to the detriment of producer welfare. A recent spate of food controversies in North America and Europe has re-stimulated the continuing debate and con­cern about human and environmental health risks (the so-called food anxieties) associated with food production and consumption (Holloway and Kneafsey, 2004). The response is tougher more restrictive food quality criteria managed through resource intensive, producer responsible, certifica­tion processes to manage risk and quality. Clearly it is larger scale producers who are in a better position to meet such demands.