Environmental, Economic, and Social Impacts of NAE Agriculture and AKST | 97

of agricultural products and in the supply of credit to farm­ers (Table 3-5). Farmer cooperatives are more important in some countries than others (Figure 3-9) and are also more important in some sectors than others. The dairy sector in the US, for instance, relies heavily on marketing cooperatives with 87% of US milk purchased at the first handler level through cooperatives (Kraenzle, 1998). In northern Europe and Ireland, agricultural cooperatives have captured almost majorities (or the entirety) of the dairy market and have significant shares of the markets for inputs in many western European countries. A majority of Canadian grain has been and continues to be marketed through marketing boards. However, cooperatives are less important in the livestock marketing sector in the US and Canada, while accounting for a larger portion of sales in northern Europe.
     Traditional marketing and supply cooperatives have confronted the increased pressure from the consolidation of investor-owned firms and their increasing market share. Many cooperatives merged with other cooperatives, particularly in the dairy sector (Hendrickson et al., 2001) and those market­ing grains and oilseeds (Crooks, 2000). Others developed joint ventures and alliances with investor-owned firms.
     The agricultural and food system, that AKST has made possible, requires substantial packaging, temperature con­trol, processing and has appreciable delivery costs. Addi­tional costs may also occur when food is discarded because temperature control has failed, or where the "sell-by" date has been passed. For packaged goods supermarkets sell products in predetermined pack sizes. These may not match the requirements of small households who find they do not fully use all the items in a package before its "use-by" date has passed. These costs have to be absorbed within the sup­ply chain and borne by the consumer. They may lead to


environmental costs as a result of excessive packaging and problems of waste disposal. While such waste is of concern, it should be noted that substantial wastage occurred before modern AKST systems were used, as seasonal surpluses could not be safely preserved.

3.2.6 Structural change induced by AKST
The way in which resources are organized into businesses is determined by many factors including the competitiveness of different technologies. Among the other factors affecting the food and agricultural sector are rising labor costs, the development of communication systems, the operation of banking systems and the availability of transport systems. Even without changes in the state of AKST, changes in these areas would lead to changes in the sort of technology that was used in the sector.
     At the farm level, the most obvious structural effects have included fewer workers, increased specialization and a tendency for full time farms to become bigger, while smaller farms become part time (see chapter 2). In some cases the statistics may not fully represent the degree to which de­cisions have been concentrated, as farmers share resources such as machinery or labor and in some cases run a single large enterprise on more than one "farm". The decline in the farm labor force has profound implications for rural com­munities. In areas where agriculture was the major source of employment the rural economy can be undermined. Community services such as schools, medical facilities and transport are no longer able to operate at an economic level. Business districts may disappear and the informal, volun­tary activities that often form a crucial part of the social support system for community residents may decline. In re­gions close to urban centers this impact may be diminished.

Table 3-5. Percentage of agricultural products sold through cooperatives in the EU-15 (1997).

  Pig meat Beef/ veal Poultry meat Eggs Milk Sugar beet Cereals All fruit All vegetables
Belgium 20 0 - 53 30 75 85
Denmark 91 66 0 52 94 0 60 70-80 70-80
Germany 27 28 52 80 45-50 40 28
Greece 3 2 15 2 20 49 57 3
Spain 8 9 25 28 30 23 22 45 20
France 85 30 30 25 47 16 68 40 25
Ireland 66 15-20 20 99 57 14 18
Italy 13 12 35 8 40 6 20 43 8
Luxembourg 37 38 - - 81 - 79 - -
Netherlands 34 16 8 14 83 63 65 76 73
Austria 15 5 70   90 100 60 18 28
Portugal - - - - - - - - -
Finland 68 65 81 54 97 46
Sweden 78 73 0 32 100 0 75 20 50
UK 28 25 67 24 67 26

Source: European Commission, 2000a.