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Ecologies of scale : socio-economic obstacles to sustainable agriculture in the Lower Fraser Valley,… Fraser, Evan David Gaviller 2002

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Ecologies of Scale: Socio-economic obstacles to sustainable agriculture i n the Lower Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada by E V A N DAVID GAVILLER F R A S E R B.A., The University of Toronto, 1996 M . S c , The University of Toronto, 1997 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT O F T H E REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E D E G R E E O F DOCTOR O F PHILOSOPHY in T H E FACULTY O F G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Resource Management and Environmental Studies) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  T H E UNIVERSITY O F BRITISH C O L U M B I A January, 2002 ©Evan David Gaviller Fraser, 2002  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  Department of Resource Management and Environmental Studies The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date February  1 0 ,  2 0 0 2  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  11  ABSTRACT  T h i s r e s e a r c h a s k s : "what forces shape a g r i c u l t u r e s u c h t h a t e n v i r o n m e n t a l p r o b l e m s persist o n farms?" The h y p o t h e s i s is t h a t socioe c o n o m i c forces, c o m b i n e d w i t h geography a n d technology, have created a "food system" that precludes good farm management. S e c o n d a r y hypotheses are: (1) either government policies or global trade lead to e n v i r o n m e n t a l l y d a m a g i n g m a n a g e m e n t practices. (2) i n s e c u r e l a n d tenure influences w h e t h e r a farmer w i l l invest i n long-term management. These hypotheses are tested u s i n g d a t a from the Lower F r a s e r Valley, a fertile region adjacent to Vancouver, Canada. R e s u l t s s h o w t h a t rented fields have more a n n u a l c r o p s a n d less g r a s s l a n d s , legumes, a n d g r a i n t h a n o w n e d l a n d . T h i s h a s negative e n v i r o n m e n t a l i m p l i c a t i o n s . To test the role of i n t e r n a t i o n a l trade, d a t a o n f a r m practices were c o m p a r e d over time for traded v e r s u s governmentprotected c o m m o d i t i e s . R e s u l t s s h o w that e n v i r o n m e n t a l m a n a g e m e n t o n vegetable farms h a s i m p r o v e d as trade i n these c o m m o d i t i e s h a s r i s e n . These i m p r o v e m e n t s are b o u g h t at the expense of the e n v i r o n m e n t i n the regions t h a t B . C . trades w i t h . D a i r y a n d p o u l t r y farms, w h i c h are protected b y the government, have g r o w n more concentrated a n d c a u s e serious e n v i r o n m e n t a l p r o b l e m s . However, these same changes have o c c u r r e d i n other regions of N o r t h A m e r i c a where farmers do not have the same type of pr otection. There are three o v e r a r c h i n g c o n c l u s i o n s . (1) It is difficult to investigate large-scale abstract forces like the role of government p r o g r a m m e s or global trade i n isolation. These forces interact i n s u r p r i s i n g w a y s t h a t c a n l e a d to b a d m a n a g e m e n t . (2) It is necessary to u n d e r s t a n d l o c a l e n v i r o n m e n t a l c o n d i t i o n s a n d not to generalize the possible ecological c o n s e q u e n c e s of forces like global trade b a s e d o n aggregate data. (3) T h i s r e s e a r c h suggests t h a t r i s k plays a significant role i n d e t e r m i n i n g good farm m a n a g e m e n t . If farmers do n o t have secure l a n d tenure, they w i l l be at r i s k of l o s i n g their l a n d a n d w i l l n o t receive the benefits of good farm management. However, i f the government protects farmers, farmers w i l l be able to increase profits b y e x t e r n a l i z i n g e n v i r o n m e n t a l costs. F a r m e r s m u s t be able to f a r m i n a sufficiently stable economic e n v i r o n m e n t that they c a n p l a n into the future, b u t s h o u l d not be so protected that they c a n damage the e n v i r o n m e n t .  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D . G . Fraser  Ill  T A B L E OF CONTENTS  Abstract Table of Contents List of Tables List of Figures Acknowledgements  ii iii v vi vii  Introduction: studying the effects of the economy on sustainable agriculture. 1 Research Question: Technical Solutions or systemic problems? 2 Hypothesis and locale for study 3 Thesis Objectives, Goals and structure 10  Part I - Framework  14  Chapter 2 Conceptual Framework: Economic incentives for poor environmental management Introduction • The Market Market Failure Three General Conditions of Market Failure, with examples from The Lower Fraser Valley Conclusion Chapter 3 Conceptual Framework Part II: the ecosystem approach to agriculture Introduction Sustainable Agriculture Ecological Concept # 1: Biodiversity Ecological Concept #2: Nutrient Cycling Conclusion Conclusion to Part I: Theoretical Framework  Part II - Possible Explanations Chapter 4 Possible explanations Introduction '. Theory # 1 Are Neglect and Ignorance Responsible? Theory #2: Land Tenure Theory #3: the impact of global trade Theory #5: The Nature of Farm Products Conclusion to Part II: Possible Explanations The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  15 15 15 17 19 23 24 24 25 28 39 42 44  46 47 47 48 54 57 70 73  iv  Part III - Analysis  ?4  Chapter 5 The Role of Land Tenure: Data from British Columbia 75 Introduction 75 Discussion 81 Conclusion to Land Tenure 82 Chapter 6 The Role of Trade: Data from British Columbia 83 Introduction 83 Data from the Lower Fraser Valley 90 California: the centre for North America's horticultural industry 110 Summary and conclusion to the effect of trade 118 Chapter 7 The role of Government Programmes: Data from the Fraser River Valley 120 Introduction 120 Data from the Lower Fraser Valley 121 Discussion 127 Summary and Conclusion 133 Conclusion to Part III: Analysis 135  Part IV - Conclusions Conclusion Summary of research Overarching Conclusions Final Remarks Appendixes Appendix I: The Varieties of Agricultural Experiences Appendix II: Methodology use to analyze transcripts Appendix III: 1991 Census Data 1996 Census Data Appendix V: Statistics Tables Appendix VI: Works Cited  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  137 138 138 141 143 145 145 150 154 155 156 158  LIST O F T A B L E S  T A B L E 3-1 A HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION W H E R E T H E CROPS IN T H E FIELD A R E HIGHLY SPECIALIZED 34 T A B L E 3-2 A HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION W H E R E T H E CROPS IN T H E FIELD A R E DIVERSE 34 T A B L E 3-3 H E C T A R E S O F GRAIN IN DELTA, B . C . B E T W E E N 1996 - 1999. .38 T A B L E 4-1 N U M B E R O F FARMS IN T H E LOWER F R A S E R V A L L E Y REPORTING USING DIFFERENT SOIL CONSERVATION PRACTICES IN 1991 AND 1996 52 T A B L E 5-1 P E R C E N T A G E OF FIELDS WITH DIFFERENT L E A S E LENGTHS THAT HAD B E E N PLANTED TO GRASSLANDS B E T W E E N 1996-1999.... 80 T A B L E 6-1 ESTIMATE OF TOTAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORT IN 1998 U . S . DOLLARS FOR F A R M E R S IN T H E U.S., CANADA, AND E U R O P E B E T W E E N 1996 AND 1998 86 T A B L E 6-2 A C R E S O F TOP T H R E E CROP HORTICULTURAL CROPS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA 1992 - 1997 96 T A B L E 6-3 NITROGEN (N) SURPLUS / DEFICIT F R O M A L L F A R M S IN C E N S U S A R E A S IN T H E WEST END OF T H E LOWER F R A S E R V A L L E Y FOR 1991 AND 1996 98 T A B L E 6-4 PHOSPHORUS (P) SURPLUS / DEFICIT F R O M A L L F A R M S IN C E N S U S AREAS IN T H E WEST END OF T H E LOWER F R A S E R V A L L E Y IN 1991 AND 1996 .....99 T A B L E 6-5 SOIL CONSERVATION PRACTICES ON L A R G E F A R M S IN T H E LOWER FRASER V A L L E Y IN 1991 AND 1996 100 T A B L E 6-6 V A L U E (IN MILLIONS O F C U R R E N T CANADIAN DOLLARS) O F B.C.'S V E G E T A B L E IMPORTS F R O M CALIFORNIA B E T W E E N 1991 AND 2001 109 T A B L E 7-1 K G OF SURPLUS NUTRIENTS IN T H E LOWER F R A S E R V A L L E Y . 126 T A B L E 7-2 COW DENSITY ON B . C . FARMS B E T W E E N 1941 A N D 1964 130 T A B L E 7-3 C H A N G E S IN T H E SIZE AND PRODUCTION O F T H E U.S. AND WISCONSIN DAIRY INDUSTRY, 1993-1998 131  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  vi LIST OF F I G U R E S F I G U R E 1-1 M A P O F T H E L O W E R F R A S E R V A L L E Y 5 F I G U R E 3-1 J O I N I N G T H E E C O S Y S T E M A P P R O A C H A N D ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMICS LITERATURE 45 F I G U R E 5-1 S O I L O R G A N I C M A T T E R O N F I V E F I E L D S F R O M T H E E X P R O P R I A T E D L A N D I N D E L T A , B . C . B E T W E E N 1971 A N D 1990 77 F I G U R E 5-2 P E R C E N T A G E O F F I E L D S WITH D I F F E R E N T L A N D T E N U R E THAT HAD POTATOES, OTHER ANNUALS, GRAIN, OR PERENNIALS B E T W E E N 1996 A N D 1999 I N D E L T A B . C 78 F I G U R E 5-3 P E R C E N T A G E O F F I E L D S O W N E D B Y T H E G O V E R N M E N T A N D R E N T E D TO F A R M E R S W H E R E L E G U M E S W E R E PLANTED B E T W E E N 1996 A N D 1999 I N D E L T A , B . C . D I V I D E D B Y T H E L E N G T H O F L E A S E FOR THAT FIELD 79 F I G U R E 6-1 E S T I M A T E O F C A N A D I A N G O V E R N M E N T F A R M S U P P O R T I N M I L L I O N S O F (1998) D O L L A R S B E T W E E N 1986 A N D 1998 85 F I G U R E 6-2 G O V E R N M E N T F A R M S U P P O R T P A Y M E N T S I N T H O U S A N D S O F 1998 D O L L A R S , A S R E F L E C T E D I N F A R M C A S H R E C E I P T S I N B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A , 1985-1998 87 F I G U R E 6-3 R E L A T I V E S P E C I A L I Z A T I O N S C O R E F O R A L L H O R T I C U L T U R A L C R O P S I N B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A B E T W E E N 1989 A N D 1999. F<0.01 (YEARS WITH A H I G H E R S C O R E H A V E A G R E A T E R D E G R E E O F O N F A R M S P E C I A L I Z A T I O N , I.E. L E S S BIODIVERSITY) 94 F I G U R E 6-4: P E R C E N T O F T O T A L A R E A O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A ' S HORTICULTURAL CROPLAND OCCUPIED BY LARGEST FOUR CROPS B E T W E E N 1992 A N D 1997. F<0.05 95 F I G U R E 6-5 R E L A T I V E S P E C I A L I Z A T I O N S C O R E F O R T H E M U N I C I P A L I T Y O F D E L T A . F = 0.33 (YEARS WITH A H I G H E R S C O R E H A V E A H I G H E R DIVERSITY O F CROPS) 97 F I G U R E 6-6 R E L A T I V E S P E C I A L I Z A T I O N S C O R E F O R P R O C E S S E D V E G E T A B L E C R O P S I N B . C . B E T W E E N 1990 A N D 1999. F<0.05 (YEARS WITH H I G H V A L U E INDICATE L E S S BIODIVERSITY A N D G R E A T E R SPECIALIZATION) 105 F I G U R E 6-7 S A L E S F R O M T O T A L F I E L D C R O P S , P R O C E S S E D F I E L D C R O P , A N D F R E S H FIELD CROPS F R O M B.C.'S LOWER MAINLAND 106 F I G U R E 6-8 P E R C E N T O F T H E T O T A L H A R V E S T E D A R E A F O R F R E S H O R P R O C E S S E D V E G E T A B L E S IN BRITISH C O L U M B I A 107 F I G U R E 6-9 A R E A (IN A C R E S ) O F T H E T H R E E L A R G E S T P R O C E S S E D VEGETABLES 108 F I G U R E 7 - 1 D I S T R I B U T I O N O F B . C . DAIRY, C A T T L E , P O U L T R Y A N D F R U I T FARMS BY R E V E N U E CLASS... 125  The Ecologies of Scale  Evan D . G . Fraser  Vll  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  This work would have not been possible without the amazing support (both personal and financial) that I have received over the past four years. First, my deepest heartfelt thanks goes to my supervisor, Dr. M. P. Marchak, who guided me through this process, helping me turn a grand vision into an argument. Second, my committee made up of Rich Barichello, Art Bomke and Les Lavkulich were all wonderfully helpful throughout this project. I owe a special thanks to Art Bomke who, in the difficult first year of my thesis, hired me as a research assistant on a contract that introduced me to the Lower Fraser Valley. Dr. B. Vernon, from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, provided much of the data used in this thesis. Klohn Leonoff Ltd., also provided data on land tenure. Finally, to friends, family, and loved ones who helped proofread, edit, and otherwise encourage me throughout this process: thank you very much. Thanks also to the Social Science and Humanities Research Council and the University of British Columbia. Without the financial assistance provided by these organizations it would have been much more difficult to complete this work.  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  1 INTRODUCTION:  STUDYING T H E E F F E C T S O F T H E E C O N O M Y ON  SUSTAINABLE A G R I C U L T U R E  For the last ten thousand years, humans have been ploughing the soil and cultivating those species of plants and animals that help maintain our lives and our societies. During this period, we have used a vast array of techniques. For most of agricultural history, our methods of raising domesticated crops and animal husbandry have caused no serious problems. Shifting cultivation was a common practice for many cultures on all continents except Australia and Antarctica. The process of burning forests and cultivating the cleared area for a short time before moving to a different patch allowed for continuous agricultural production for millennia. Today, approximately 500 million people, in 90 tropical countries make their living in this way (Lamprecht, 1989 p. 96). Similarly, there are archaeological examples of extremely intensive agriculture that do not seem to have led to major environmental problems in many parts of the world (Altieri, 1990, p. 158). Global agriculture now supports over six billion people, three billion of whom live in cities. This unprecedented demand for food has forced our agricultural management systems to adapt to new challenges and maximize productivity in ways that were unexpected just 100 years ago. The impact of our species reverberates around the planet and many agricultural systems are seriously degraded (Government of Canada, 1992, p (9)1 - (9) 10; Jacobs, 1993; Kneen, 1999; Mannion, 1995, p. 13-14; Shiva, 1993). From a global perspective, farming can have a profound influence on the environment. It can directly contribute to soil erosion, water and air pollution, the loss of biodiversity, and deforestation. For example, with an estimated 35,000 species going extinct every year, the extinction rate today is comparable to the two great historic periods of mass extinction in the Paleozoic and Mesozic ages (Jacobs, 1993, p. 9-10; Rees, 1996, p. 2). Agriculture contributes to this loss in two ways. First, by cultivating only those varieties of plants and animals that are useful to human needs, farmers reduce the number of species that live on cultivated land (Mannion, 1995, p. 13-14). Second, as farms expand, they do so at the expense of forested land that is usually biologically more diverse. It is also important to realize that agriculture can have a positive influence on the environment. Although some authors are highly critical of industrial agriculture (Groh 8B McFadden, 1997; Kneen 8s McDougall, 1999), the techniques of modern farming helped overcome the problem of soil erosion in 1999 when the worst drought since the Great Depression hit the Eastern United States. Highly mechanized American farmers used specialized equipment and zero till techniques (where crops are planted without 1  While some forests are genetically very homogenous (for example even-aged pine or spruce forests or poplar stands in the boreal forest) generally forests are home to a greater diversity of species than farms. 1  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  2 ploughing the soil) to reduce the impact of the drought and the problems of erosion that seriously damaged the environment and hurt rural communities earlier this century (Borger, 1999, p. 8). Similarly, there are many ways that farmers can control pest outbreaks without the use of potentially environmentally damaging chemicals (Altieri, 1990, p. 158-161; Altieri, 1999; Thrupp, 1997, p. 2). Traditional farmers in Latin America use animal grazing to turn non-useful weeds into animal proteins, and plant different crops in one field to stop the spread of diseases that damage harvests (Altieri, 1999). Nevertheless, a brief survey of the problems confronting modern agriculture is a sobering reminder that all is not well with our methods of food production: • The United Nations reports that 38 per cent of agricultural land worldwide has been damaged "...to some degree by agricultural practices since World War II" (Gliessman, 1998, p. 8). • Because soil movement is a natural process, the US Soil Conservation Society considers 11 tonnes per hectare an acceptable rate of erosion. In the US, however, there is an average loss of 18 tonnes/ha of topsoil each year (Soule 8B Piper, 1992, p. 15). • As a result of poor agricultural practices, the Soil Conservation Society estimates that 20 per cent of all US cropland is heavily eroded and that 90 years of agriculture in Washington State has resulted in a 50 per cent reduction of the natural productivity of the soil (Soule 8s Piper, 1992, p. 15). • Gliessman points out that due to bad agricultural management, agriculture is the world's largest source of water pollution (Gliessman, 1998, p. 8). Surveying these sorts of statistics, Pierce argues that agriculture threatens its own land base "...through various forms of land degradation, contamination of ground waters, decline of rural amenity values and the proliferation of undesirable chemicals..." (Pierce, 1993, p. 383-384). RESEARCH QUESTION: TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS OR SYSTEMIC PROBLEMS? Despite this grim perspective, there seem to be no physical or technical reasons why these problems should occur and we must question why farmers cause damage to their farms (Olson, 1992, p. 9-10). There are clear and simple solutions to almost all of the challenges posed by modern agriculture. For example, if farmers apply only the amount of nitrogen that plants can use, and time nitrogen application to coincide with plant growth, then there will be no nitrogen to pollute ground water from farmers' fields. This example highlights one of our society's larger ironies: we can add fish genes to enhance a tomato's ability to withstand frost yet (The Independent, 1999) we mismanage nitrogen fertilizer so that it pollutes drinking water. Furthermore, farmers have extensive knowledge of environmental conditions on their farms and know how to sustain the environment. Altieri shows that indigenous farming systems in Latin America are highly The  Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  3  productive and environmentally sensitive, and Lamprecht points out how traditional farmers in many parts of the world have been able to farm within ecological parameters for generations (Altieri, 1990, p. 158-161; Altieri 1999; Lamprecht, 1989, p. 96-100). While the majority of the environmental problems that this thesis will discuss are found in the industrialized world, it is not as if farmers there have lost this understanding of ecology. Farmers in British Columbia, for instance, showed their understanding of the environmental impact of farming at public hearings on the state of farming in the province. During these hearings farmers indicated that they supported environmental stewardship and that they understood how to practice "sustainable farming." Their actions reflect this. In the Municipality of Delta, at the mouth of the Fraser River, farmers made full use of government sponsored programmes that enhance soil conservation. Despite this, evidence shows that environmental problems on these same farms have increased. In view of this paradox, the question that this thesis will tackle is: "what are the forces that shape modern agriculture such that environmental problems persist?" Since farmers seem to possess the technical knowledge to address environmental problems, there must be social, economic, and political reasons for environmental degradation. To answer this question, the first task is to develop a theoretical framework that links social and economic factors with environmental problems. Then I propose to show conclusively that farmers themselves are not the cause of the problem but that socioeconomic forces have organized modern agriculture so that sustainable farming is impossible. HYPOTHESIS AND LOCALE FOR STUDY To address this question, the hypothesis of this thesis is that the socioeconomic system as a whole, combined with geographical limitations and technological developments in the transportation and storage of food, has created a food production and distribution system that precludes environmentally sound farm management for farmers. The secondaryhypotheses are: (1) government policies and global trade have precipitated a "farm crisis" that constrains farmers, and forces them to use poor environmental management. This is because there are insufficient, incomplete or un-enforced regulations that do not provide sufficient incentives to deal with environmental problems; and (2) insecure land tenure reduces the value of the land and influences how much a farmer will invest in good environmental management. We will test these hypotheses on data from the Lower Fraser Valley (map 1), a fertile region adjacent to Vancouver, a rapidly growing city on Canada's West Coast. The Lower Fraser Valley is a relevant place to study these forces because these farms produce both globally traded commodities and commodities protected by the government and consumed locally. Hence, this is a good place to test the effect of trade and government on the environment. The Lower Fraser Valley also contains a number of different land tenure arrangements that allow us to test the role of land tenure. The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  4 Finally, this is a n environmentally sensitive area where it is possible to witness the impact of farm management on the environment.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  5 Figure 1-1.  The Lower Fraser Valley  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G . Fraser  6  Reason to study this problem in the Lower Fraser Valley # 1:  Trade,  Government and "the Farm Crisis" Regularly u s e d by the p o p u l a r media, the "farm crisis" refers to the r a p i d changes that have o c c u r r e d i n the agricultural i n d u s t r y since World W a r II. T h e farm crisis h a s m a n y causes, s u c h as technological improvements that have made it possible for farmers to produce food very intensively. T h i s has led to demographic a n d economic shifts i n the farm economy. G l o b a l trade has facilitated this by m a k i n g local farmers compete with produce from a r o u n d the entire world. In C a n a d a , both the n u m b e r of farms a n d farm income are i n decline. Between the 1930s a n d the 1980s, the n u m b e r of farms dropped from approximately 800,000 to 100,000 (Canada, 1992, p. (9)5). A government publication entitled The Farm Income Crisis in Canada ( C a n a d a , 1998b, p. 1) shows that net farm income dropped by 53.4 per cent i n 1997. T h e country's public broadcaster has devoted extensive coverage to this issue: ...last fall's drastic drop in hog prices, together with falling grain prices, together with competition from subsidized farmers in the United States and Europe, brought many Canadian farmers - not just prairie farmers - to their knees. This resulted in the $1.5 billion farm aid rescue package... (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2000; electronic source, available athttp:/ / cbc.ca/news/indepth/onthefarm/  onthefarm_battlel. html  )• Roberts of the Globe and Mail writes, "...today's farm woes are precipitated by a s h a r p cyclical d o w n t u r n i n commodity prices, rising i n p u t costs, a n d ... overproduction." (Roberts, 2001, on-line) S o u t h of the border, T h e New Y o r k T i m e s reported that i n October, 2000, the U n i t e d States government approved the biggest bailout i n the history of the apple i n d u s t r y to help compensate farmers for a n estimated $760 million loss i n the previous three years (New York T i m e s , 2000, on-line). M a n y of these concerns resonate i n the Lower Fraser Valley. F a r m e r s c o m p l a i n about a lack of income, a report on agriculture i n the region indicates that productivity is i n decline, a n d a government d o c u m e n t shows 2  T h i s is not restricted to the i n d u s t r i a l i z e d world. T h e I n d i a n m a g a z i n e , Frontline, recently devoted a n entire i s s u e to the I n d i a n f a r m crisis, a subject that received press i n N o r t h A m e r i c a a n d E u r o p e i n 1999 w h e n 5 0 0 I n d i a n f a r m e r s c o m m i t t e d s u i c i d e b y d r i n k i n g a g r i - c h e m i c a l s . T h e y were p r o t e s t i n g h i g h i n p u t prices (Shiva, 1999, p . 20; V i d a l , 1999 p. 1617). In Frontline, S w a m i n a t h a n , one of India's foremost a g r i c u l t u r a l i s t s , a r g u e s that: 2  The government is today operating as a purchaser of [rice] paddy. This is what I call the trade relief method, like drought relief, flood relief, and so on. It has become a calamity approach to trade, which is most unfortunate. Owing to political pressure, the government rushes to some place and purchases sub-standard grain at a high price. This is a relief operation and not trade operation. (Swaminathan, 2001) The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  7 that B r i t i s h Columbia's fruit a n d vegetable processing i n d u s t r y has all b u t v a n i s h e d (Klohn Leonoff L t d . , 1992 p. 95). Since there seems to be a n agreement that there is indeed a crisis, the obvious questions are what are the causes of this crisis, a n d is it linked to the lack of agricultural sustainability? Typically, there are m a n y explanations. Some argue that global trade is at fault. T h i s school of thought combines a n u m b e r of related issues that together paint a picture of large multi-national companies controlling o u r food supply. These companies force low prices o n farmers a n d convert family farms into corporate b r a n c h plants that more closely resemble assembly line factories t h a n the family farms of history. These farms are able to grow by ignoring environmental costs. Consequently, one theory suggests that the farm crisis has (i) been created by changes i n the economy a n d technology, (ii) favours large corporations, a n d (iii) h a s created the conditions where food is p r o d u c e d very cheaply b u t with little regard for the environment (Kneen et al., 1999; Shiva, 1993). Others fault governments. These postulate that high subsidies i n some countries p u t farmers i n other countries at a disadvantage. F o r example, the rates of farm subsidy are m u c h higher i n the E u r o p e a n U n i o n t h a n they are i n the U S , while C a n a d i a n farmers are amongst the least subsidized i n the industrialized world (Canada, 1998b, p. 2-3) . T h i s puts C a n a d i a n farmers at a disadvantage on the world market a n d forces t h e m to adopt poor environmental management to cut costs. Other scholars argue that domestic subsidies allow farmers to specialize in a narrow n u m b e r of crops. T h i s not only helps to create environmentally fragile monocultures b u t also leaves farmers vulnerable if income products p r o d u c e d from all over the world. T h e dairy a n d poultry farms are m u c h larger, more intensive, a n d wealthier t h a n the soil-based farms that specialize o n fruit a n d vegetable subsidies are removed. Pierce (1993) argues that governmental programmes that support farm income take some of the risk out of farming (Pierce, 1993, p. 386). T h i s gives farmers the opportunity to specialize on only those crops that have a financial r e t u r n guaranteed by the government. In this way, taxpayers m a y support poor environmental management on farms. 3  T h e Lower Fraser Valley is a good place to investigate these competing theories. First, there are a n u m b e r of different types of farms i n this area. In the eastern part of the F r a s e r River Valley, where the t r a n s - C a n a d a highway leaves the m o u n t a i n s , dairy farms a n d poultry farms are densely clustered. In B . C . , provincial marketing boards control the supply of these products a n d offer the farmers guaranteed prices by imposing tariffs on any products that enter the market from elsewhere. A t the west end of the F r a s e r Valley horticultural farms dominate. These farms produce commodities like lettuce a n d potatoes, that m u s t compete on the market with h o r t i c u l t u r a l production.  Notable exception to this are the dairy and poultry industries that still enjoy a considerable degree of governmental protection. 3  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  8 T h e dairy a n d poultry farms are also larger a n d less n u m e r o u s today t h a n they were i n the past. Horticultural farms at the m o u t h of the river have grown smaller b u t more n u m e r o u s (Statistics C a n a d a , 1992). F a r m income reflects this split between farms that produce governmentprotected poultry a n d dairy a n d globally-traded horticulture. In 1995, approximately 50 per cent of all vegetable farms i n the province h a d incomes over $50,000 per year. Approximately 50 per cent of poultry farms earned over $ 2 5 0 , 0 0 0 per year i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a (Canada, 1995, p. 1-5). F r o m this we conclude that the socio-economic forces that have contributed to the farm crisis have h a d very different results on the different types of farms i n the Lower F r a s e r Valley. Consequently, since some farmers produce commodities that compete on international markets (fruit a n d vegetables), while others work u n d e r government programmes (dairy a n d poultry), it is possible to compare different types of farms to test the theories presented i n the literature on the farm crisis i n this region.  Reason to study this problem in the Lower Fraser Valley #2: Tenure and the Agricultural Land Reserve  Land  T h e Lower F r a s e r Valley is also useful for o u r purposes because farmland falls u n d e r a n u m b e r of different land-ownership agreements. Specifically, f a r m l a n d i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a is administered t h r o u g h two systems that m a r k this region as u n i q u e i n the world. First, i n the late 1960s, the government expropriated a large a m o u n t of prime f a r m l a n d at the m o u t h of the Fraser River to make way for i n d u s t r i a l development. C o n s t r u c t i o n o n this development never began, b u t the l a n d - called the Roberts B a n k b a c k - u p lands - was never returned to farmers a n d h a s been farmed o n short-term leases ever since. Second, i n a n effort to preserve local farmland i n the early 1970s, the province of B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a established the A g r i c u l t u r a l L a n d Reserve (ALR), a region composed of all high quality farmland i n the province. Owners are prohibited from b u i l d i n g or developing A L R l a n d without a permit, w h i c h are u s u a l l y impossible to obtain for a n y t h i n g other t h a n agriculture. A s a result, tenant farmers work a large a m o u n t of f a r m l a n d at the m o u t h of the F r a s e r River where development rights are restricted as most of the l a n d is i n the A L R . 4  While at first glance these seem to be local issues, i n fact the A L R a n d the b a c k - u p lands highlight the role of l a n d tenure. A r o u n d the world insecure l a n d tenure is cited as a primary cause of environmental agricultural l a n d degradation. Given the diversity of l a n d tenure arrangements, the Lower Fraser Valley provides a n ideal place to test the influence of l a n d tenure on the environment.  T h i s w a s officially r e - n a m e d i n the 1990s to the Robert's B a n k P r o v i n c i a l F a r m l a n d t h o u g h it is still c o m m o n l y referred to a s the B a c k - u p L a n d s . 4  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  9  Reason to study this problem in the Lower Fraser Valley 3: Environmental Sensitivity Two u n i q u e ecological features make this region especially relevant to study. First, the entire west coast of North A m e r i c a is o n the migration path for the millions of birds that spend their winters i n California a n d Mexico a n d their s u m m e r s i n the Arctic or Siberia. T h e Lower F r a s e r Valley is a vital environmental resource as it is one of the last undeveloped river deltas, a n d one of the largest areas where wetlands a n d tidal flats are still reasonably u n d i s t u r b e d o n the West coast. T h e inter-tidal flats a n d m a r s h e s of the Lower Fraser B a s i n support a n average of half a million waterfowl, gulls, a n d shore birds. In addition, researchers have observed u p to 1.4 million i n d i v i d u a l birds i n this area d u r i n g migration. Between October a n d A p r i l , the Lower Fraser B a s i n is home to tens of t h o u s a n d s of snow geese that feed o n the shores a n d m a r s h e s a n d through the winter months, no other area i n C a n a d a is host to this density of bird life (Canada, 1992, p. (16)6). However, less t h a n 1 per cent of the Fraser B a s i n is reserved for the use of wildlife (Canada, 1992, p. (16)6 ). M a n y wetlands have been drained for agriculture. F o r example, the S u m a s Lake, u p s t r e a m from the m o u t h of the F r a s e r River, was d r a i n e d i n the 1920s, a n d between 1967 a n d 1982 wetlands declined by 26 per cent (Canada, 1992, p. (16)6). W i t h these changes to habitat, at least five bird a n d one m a m m a l species have v a n i s h e d since E u r o p e a n settlement a n d the yellow-billed cuckoo, purple m a r t i n , western b l u e b i r d , h o r n e d lark, a n d burrowing owl no longer nest i n the region (Canada, 1992, p. (16)6). T h e b a r n owl, s a n d h i l l crane, a n d yellow-headed black bird now only nest i n small n u m b e r s a n d the n u m b e r s of greater white-fronted goose, brant a n d some races of C a n a d a goose have also declined. Despite these problems, more t h a n 300 species of birds, 46 species of m a m m a l s , a n d 16 species of reptiles still use this area (Canada, 1992, p. (16)6). A s a result, farm fields provide a n ideal stopping g r o u n d for these migrating a n i m a l s who find newly sprouted winter wheat crops excellent forage o n their way south. T h i s brings these birds into conflict with farmers as they do a huge a m o u n t of damage to fields i n a very short period. T h i s environmentally sensitive area m u s t be managed very carefully to promote both farming a n d wildlife. A s a result, farming has a major impact on the environment i n this area, m a k i n g this a n excellent locale for this study. The second ecological characteristic of this region that is relevant to this study is the soil. M a n y of the dairy a n d poultry farms i n the central part of the F r a s e r River Valley, are on well drained soils with a limited ability to absorb nutrients. Three c o m m o n soil types i n this region are Marble Hill, C o l u m b i a , a n d Abbotsford soils. Marble Hill a n d Abbotsford soils are medium-textured eolian deposits that have a silt-loam loess cap, approximately 45-60 c m deep, over gravel outwash. C o l u m b i a soils are coarse-textured glaciofluvial deposits. There is a large unconfined aquifer u n d e r m u c h of this area, w h i c h provides d r i n k i n g water for a n u m b e r of c o m m u n i t i e s o n both the U . S . a n d C a n a d i a n sides of the border. The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G . Fraser  10 At the m o u t h of the F r a s e r River, where the horticultural farms are situated, the soils are m e d i u m to fine textured, made u p of silt, clay, a n d loam deltaic deposits. These soils, w h i c h include Spetifore, Delta, a n d Crescent, are prone to salination, d r a i n poorly, a n d compact easily due to the fine particles that make u p these soil types. There is a direct interaction between the types of agriculture on these soils a n d the soils themselves. In the central a n d eastern part of Lower F r a s e r Valley, livestock m a n u r e accumulates on the surface a n d pollutes water sources. T h i s is especially important i n the Abbotsford area since the soil d r a i n s into a n aquifer. E a s t of the aquifer, soil morphology is different, a n d m a n u r e ends u p as surface runoff, polluting streams. Consequently, whatever the immediate soil conditions m a n u r e disposal is a logistical challenge throughout this area. A n a l y s i n g livestock p r o d u c t i o n trends i n the Lower Fraser Valley, Schreier et. al. point out that although the agricultural l a n d base has more or less remained constant over recent decades there has been a n intensification of livestock production i n c l u d i n g the area directly over the Abbotsford Aquifer. At the same time, fertilizer expenditures have roughly d o u b l e d i n the same area (Schreier, Bestbier, D e r k s e n , & B r i s b i n , 2000, electronic source). These two factors have c o m b i n e d to result i n serious problems of nutrient overloading a n d water pollution i n a n u m b e r of districts in this region. In the west, intensive horticulture takes place o n poorly d r a i n e d soils that are easily compacted. T h i s has resulted i n serious soil structural problems. A s a result, m a n y farmers have seen a n increase i n salinity a n d a loss of earthworms on their fields. T h i s contributes to compaction a n d even greater drainage problems. It also leads to reduced crop yields a n d higher i n p u t costs. T h e loss of soil quality h u r t s economic competitiveness, a n d there is less money for soil remediation. A l m o s t two-thirds of farmers from Delta, the town at the m o u t h of the F r a s e r River, reported that they h a d problems with soil compaction, 57 per cent h a d trouble with salinity, a n d 55 per cent h a d trouble with low p H . A c c o r d i n g to a 1992 report commissioned by the municipality to study the state of the local agricultural economy, levels of agricultural p r o d u c t i o n i n Delta are below potential a n d declining (Klohn Leonoff Ltd., 1992, p. 95). T h e authors of the report c o n c l u d e d that "inadequate sub-surface drainage a n d declining soil organic matter levels," are largely responsible for these soil degradation problems (Klohn Leonoff Ltd., 1992, p. 95). As a result of these environmental differences, we c a n observe a n interaction between agricultural organization a n d the environment. T h e fact that different soil types correspond with livestock a n d horticulture make the Lower F r a s e r Valley a n excellent place to observe the effect of social a n d economic factors on how farms impact the environment.  THESIS OBJECTIVES, GOALS AND STRUCTURE The goal of this thesis is to link social a n d economic influences with environmental problems. T o do so we will develop a n d test hypotheses about The  Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  11 why environmental problems persist o n farms i n the Lower F r a s e r Valley of B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , C a n a d a . In order to achieve this goal the thesis has three major sections. Framework. T h e objective of part one is to develop a theoretical framework i n w h i c h to assess the impact that social a n d economic factors play i n contributing to environmental degradation on farms; Explanations. T h e objective of part two is to posit theories a n d explanations for the persistence of on-farm environmental problems; a n d Analysis. T h e objective of part three is to c o n d u c t a n analysis of these theories u s i n g the Lower Fraser Valley as a test site.  Part I.  Framework  Part one is the conceptual framework. In order to assess the role that social a n d economic factors like l a n d tenure a n d the farm crisis play, it is necessary to develop a theoretical framework to examine these forces. T h i s thesis draws on two different bodies of literature for this framework. First, chapter two reviews the environmental economics literature that helps u s u n d e r s t a n d how economic forces fail to recognize environmental costs. T h i s literature uses economic concepts like externalities, public goods, a n d discount rates to explore how economic d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g c a n fail to take environmental degradation into account. C h a p t e r three reviews the sustainable agriculture literature that helps u s a p p r o a c h farming i n terms of a n ecosystem. T h i s chapter u s e s the "ecosystem approach" to explore how agriculture h a s a n effect o n soil fertility a n d water pollution. T h e ecosystem a p p r o a c h shows how to identify a n d examine the environmental sustainability of farming. In this chapter, environmental problems c a u s e d by agriculture are established, technological solutions are discussed, a n d the nature of sustainable agriculture is explored. There is a special emphasis on (1) nutrient cycling, a n d (2) biodiversity. Nutrient cycling is the way that u n d i s t u r b e d ecosystems use the waste from one generation to provide the b u i l d i n g blocks for the next generation. Biodiversity refers to the n u m b e r a n d a b u n d a n c e of living organisms that help contribute to the robustness a n d efficiency of a n ecosystem. These two concepts s u p p l y the indicators for assessing the sustainability of agriculture in the Lower Fraser Valley. These two theories work together to provide the intellectual framework for this thesis. T h e ecosystem a p p r o a c h provides a way of c o m p a r i n g a n d describing ecosystems a n d identifying the u n d e r l y i n g causes of environmental problems. E n v i r o n m e n t a l economics helps u s analyse why those problems emerged by showing how economic incentives sometimes make poor management inevitable. Together, these concepts link h u m a n systems (such as the agri-food i n d u s t r y a n d l a n d tenure arrangements) to the environment t h r o u g h biodiversity a n d nutrient cycling.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  12 Part K  Theories /  explanations  Part II of this thesis establishes possible explanations for the persistence of on-farm environmental problems. First, we investigate whether farmers are themselves responsible for the impact that their farms have on the environment. C o m m e n t s made by farmers a n d other people involved with B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a ' s food a n d agricultural economy demonstrate that farmers u n d e r s t a n d the implications of their actions, a n d stakeholders suggest social a n d economic factors favour ecologically poor farming. F a r m e r s ' actions support this assertion. C a n a d i a n c e n s u s data clearly show that farmers m a k e full use of government programmes designed to reduce the environmental impact of farms. T h u s , w h e n farmers have a n opportunity to protect the environment, they do so readily. T h e next possible explanation is that insecure l a n d tenure erodes longterm farm-conservation. In the literature, as well as i n the comments made at public hearings held by the provincial government on the state of farming i n B . C . , m a n y argue that farmers who do not have secure l a n d tenure will not have incentives to invest i n long-term management of their properties. T h e third theory is that government subsidies encourage specific crops a n d provide a n incentive for farmers to specialize only o n these crops, t h u s promoting environmentally poor agriculture. T h e fourth theory is that global trade i n agricultural commodities has led to serious problems for the environment because trade favours large, input-dependent farms that do not respect ecological limits. T h i s position, however, is very controversial a n d other scholars suggest that increased trade allows farmers to specialize o n those crops that are naturally suited to local ecological conditions, that this helps to increase incomes, a n d that higher incomes create d e m a n d for better environmental standards. F o u r t h , still another group of authors argue that some farm commodities are naturally suited to large-scale i n d u s t r i a l processes due to the nature of the specific farm commodity. Briefly, some commodities c a n be efficiently raised u s i n g specialized m a c h i n e r y a n d high inputs. O t h e r commodities cannot be p r o d u c e d i n s u c h a fashion. T h i s explanation suggests that environmental problems m a y be a function of the specific commodity rather t h a n the farming system.  Part IE.  Analysis  Part III presents data from the Lower Fraser Valley to test each of these theories. A n analysis of rented versus owner-operated fields i n chapter six shows that farmers who own their l a n d plant more perennial species (which are less prone to soil erosion a n d cause less compaction problems) t h a n farmers who rent their land. Fields that have long-term leases also have more legumes planted on t h e m t h a n fields with short-term leases (this is important as legumes fix nitrogen). T h i s is consistent with what we expect from the literature on l a n d tenure that posits that farmers with long-term tenure will make long-term investments i n soil fertility. O n the other h a n d , grasslands (a very important component of sustainable agriculture) are planted with equal T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  13 regularity o n rented a n d owned fields. A special p r o g r a m that pays farmers to establish grassland for bird habitat explains this anomaly. C h a p t e r seven applies data to test the theory that increased trade a n d a decrease i n government subsidy lead to better environmental management. D a t a from horticultural farmers i n the Lower F r a s e r Valley illustrate that (1) there h a s been a n increase i n trade a n d a decrease i n government support for this i n d u s t r y (2) horticultural farmers have adopted better environmental practices i n recent years. T h i s is consistent with the theory that increased trade s h o u l d lead to better farm management. It is unclear, however, if we c a n use this example to conclude that trade will generally lead to better management, or if this situation is peculiar to the Lower F r a s e r Valley. In order to answer this question, chapter seven examines how trade has h a d a n impact on B . C . ' s largest horticultural trading partner, California. C h a p t e r eight explores the role of government protection. A l t h o u g h overall levels of government support to farmers have declined i n the last ten years, poultry, dairy a n d egg farmers are still protected from international competition through government-controlled marketing boards. Since these boards were established, livestock farms have become both geographically concentrated a n d m u c h larger. T h i s has resulted i n serious groundwater pollution. D a t a from the two leading m i l k - p r o d u c i n g states, California a n d W i s c o n s i n , however, show a similar trend i n the U S despite lower levels of government support. A s a result, it is difficult to suggest that the supply management system is solely responsible for these environmental problems. In order to u n d e r s t a n d why livestock farms have grown large, it is necessary to analyse the historic a n d economic context of this industry. T h i s includes technological innovation, government policy, local ecology, a n d the nature of the farm commodity.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  14  PART I - FRAMEWORK Thus far, we have uncovered a basic paradox: despite the fact that we possess a good scientific understanding of agriculture, food production causes serious environmental problems. Consequently, the research question of this thesis is "what are the causes of this paradox." The overall hypothesis is that social and economic incentives favour un-ecological agriculture. This hypothesis will be tested in the Lower Fraser Valley because this area: (1) has different forms of land tenure. (2) has farms protected by the government and farms that must compete on international commodity markets. (3) is environmentally sensitive. As a result, the Lower Fraser Valley is a relevant place to test competing hypotheses about the effect of social and economic incentives on farm-environmental management.  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  15  Chapter  2  CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK:  ECONOMIC  INCENTIVES FOR POOR ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT INTRODUCTION The objective of this section is to develop a methodology for assessing the environmental impact of the social a n d economic system on farms i n the Lower F r a s e r Valley. T h i s method m u s t allow u s to test specific hypotheses that will determine the influence of international trade, government policy, and l a n d tenure o n the environment. To create this methodology, the objective of this a n d the following chapter is to establish a theoretical relationship between social a n d economic influences a n d the environment. T h i s chapter will review the literature on environmental economics, w h i c h helps to uncover the economic conditions that lead to environmental degradation. T h e literature on sustainable agriculture, reviewed i n the next chapter, builds on this abstract foundation a n d develops specific indicators for the environmental problems c a u s e d by agriculture i n the Lower F r a s e r Valley. We will first review the literature o n the role a n d function of the market. T h e n , we will outline how markets fail to include environmental damage as a cost of doing business. T h i r d , we will present three specific types of "market failure" that relate to the environment. In each of these three cases, we will include examples relating to agriculture a n d the Lower F r a s e r Valley that show how these "market failures" have a n impact on the way farmers engage in environmental management.  THE MARKET In a n ideal situation, entrepreneurs produce goods a n d services a n d compete for customers. C o n s u m e r s b u y these goods a n d services a n d generally choose the p r o d u c t with the lowest price. T h e price that c o n s u m e r s pay is a reflection of the cost of p r o d u c i n g the item p l u s a profit m a r g i n for the entrepreneur. Competition between firms to attract customers ensures that the lowest price is available at all times, a n d the profit m a r g i n provides a n incentive for firms to stay efficient. T h i s system of economic organization h a s been so successful at distributing resources that it now dominates global society. Despite these successes, there is a r i c h a n d often controversial debate o n how the market deals with s u c h non-economic factors as the environment or social welfare (Clark, 1991; J a c o b s , 1993; Panayotou, 1993). As a result, this literature helps u s u n d e r s t a n d why environmental problems persist on farms. To u n d e r s t a n d why the market fails to recognize environmental concerns, it is necessary to quickly outline some of the ideas that capitalism rests on. A s presented i n A d a m Smith's The Wealth of Nations, m o d e r n capitalism is based on free competition that is supposed to lead to the most The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  16 useful distribution of goods. Free competition, however, d e m a n d s a n u m b e r of pre-conditions: (1) F i r m s m u s t not be able to exert significant influence on the market by withholding supply or d u m p i n g products. (2) No buyer c a n have enough control to influence the price of a n input. (3) New firms m u s t have the freedom to enter the market, while non-viable enterprises m u s t be allowed to go b a n k r u p t (Winson, 1992, p. 98). B u i l d i n g on Smith's foundation, Stigler s u m m a r i z e s the neo-classical economist's position by focusing on the role that the c o n s u m e r plays w h e n she or he decides to b u y a product:  5  To maximize his utility, the buyer searches for additional prices until the expected savings from the purchase equals the cost of visiting one or more dealers. Then he stops searching and buys from the dealer who quotes the lowest price he has encountered (Stigler, 1966, p. 2) T h i s position, says Stigler, a s s u m e s that c o n s u m e r s will maximize their own utility by seeking out the most advantageous way to use their resources. A s a result, c o n s u m e r s must: (1) have constant tastes, (2) be correct w h e n they calculate what is best for themselves, a n d (3) consistently seek to maximize their utility (Stigler, 1966, p. 57). A l t h o u g h Stigler readily acknowledges that these a s s u m p t i o n s do not h o l d for all c o n s u m e r s all the time, he cites considerable empirical evidence to show that c o n s u m e r s i n general use a process of rational utility maximization (Stigler, 1966, p 2 a n d 60). W h e n it comes to the environment, we all have a direct stake i n keeping it safe a n d clean. Therefore, c o n s u m e r utility s h o u l d ensure that deleterious production methods are not u s e d . In fact, as long as the market is functioning smoothly, no resource s h o u l d become extinct because rising market prices (caused by scarcity) will ensure conservation. C l a r k argues that resource scarcity s h o u l d generate price signals that will lead to the creation of new ways to manage resources. New firms will also develop new products that c a n substitute for ones that have become scarce or to recycle old resources. Therefore, a declining supply of f a r m l a n d will increase the value of r e m a i n i n g l a n d u n t i l it becomes profitable to farm again (Clark, 1991, p. 320).  While Smith and his contemporaries revolutionarized the way we understand the economy, not all of what he wrote holds true today. For example, Smith argued that individuals would naturally support domestic over foreign industry, because it is in the individual's own interest to have a healthy local economy: 5  By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, [the general population] intends only [their] own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, [people] intend only [their] own gain... [they] are led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was not part of [their] intention... (Smith, 1776)  The opportunities presented by the global economy illustrate that individuals do not necessarily support domestic industries. The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  17 F r o m this some argue that economic growth is good for the environment (Anderson 8B Strutt, 1996; E r v i n , 1997; G r e u n s p e c h t , 1996). While prosperity brings increased c o n s u m p t i o n , once people are affluent e n o u g h they will start to insist on environmental regulations (Arrow et a l . , 1995). Paris, for example, built its first citywide sewer system because the bourgeoisie were concerned about their own health. In this case, S a u l suggests that self-preservation was the p r i m a r y motivator b e h i n d this massive p u b l i c investment to obtain a better environment that would have been impossible i n a less wealthy society (Saul, 1993 p. 239 8B 245). Similarly, i n the future, economic growth m a y allow B r i t i s h factories a n d c o n s u m e r s to switch from coal to n a t u r a l gas at some point. If this were to occur, the U n i t e d K i n g d o m would substantially reduce its CO2 emissions while m a i n t a i n i n g its present level of energy c o n s u m p t i o n (Jacobs, 1993, p. 56). Another case i n point is the effect that the O P E C oil crisis h a d i n North A m e r i c a . D u e to (a) the increase i n prices, a n d (b) the expectation that world-wide oil supplies were dangerously low (which itself led to the expectation that oil prices would continue to rise), companies a n d c o n s u m e r s became m u c h more energy conscious. T h i s translated into reduced energy d e m a n d s as companies i n particular worked to become more energy-efficient (on-line source: http: / / www. eia. doe. gov / emeu / cabs / c h r o n .html). 6  M A R K E T FAILURE Panayotou points out a n u m b e r of situations w h e n the competitive market m e c h a n i s m s of supply a n d d e m a n d fail to protect n a t u r a l resources (Panayotou, 1993). Panayotou argues that w h e n resources are inefficiently u s e d , or there are problems with environmental degradation, then a "market failure" h a s occurred. Market failures result w h e n the pre-conditions for competition are not met. In Panayotou's opinion, a market failure h a s occurred (the following s u m m a r i z e s Panayotou, 1993, p. 8-22): (1) w h e n waste a n d inefficiency co-exist with growing resource scarcity a n d shortages. F o r example, i n the eastern part of the Lower Fraser Valley, s u r p l u s m a n u r e pollutes d r i n k i n g water while there are nutrient deficits on farms at the m o u t h of the river. (2) w h e n a n increasingly scarce resource is p u t to a low value, inferior, a n d / o r u n s u s t a i n a b l e use w h e n a n alternative exists. F o r example, if wetlands, w h i c h are ideal b u t scarce bird habitat, are drained to provide fields that provide relatively low economic value. (3) w h e n renewable resources are exploited (or mined) as if they were non-renewable. At the m o u t h of the Lower Fraser River, farms that plant c a s h crops year after year, draw down soil fertility a n d organic matter, w h i c h c o u l d be m a i n t a i n e d t h r o u g h sustainable crop rotations, i n order to provide short-term economic returns to farmers.  Note t h a t not a l l policy m a k e r s s h a r e this o p i n i o n . T h e B u s h A d m i n i s t r a t i o n ' s n a t i o n a l energy policy, u n v e i l e d i n 2 0 0 1 , m a k e s it very clear t h a t i n c r e a s i n g the U S d o m e s t i c s u p p l y of fossil fuel is the best strategy for m e e t i n g A m e r i c a n d e m a n d for energy. 6  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  18 (4) w h e n a resource is p u t to a single use even though multiple u s e s would generate a larger net benefit. F o r example, fields i n the Lower F r a s e r Valley c o u l d be organized to provide both bird habitat a n d economic r e t u r n by coordinating rotations to ensure that a certain percentage of the l a n d base each year was left fallow i n order to provide habitat. (5) if investments i n the environment or i n ecological preservation are not taken even though they would generate a positive social "net present value" by increasing productivity or sustainability. A n example of this is w h e n farmers fail to invest i n tile drainage systems, level their fields, a n d plant w i n d breaks or shelter strips, although these improvements would improve both environmental protection a n d crop yields. (6) w h e n resources a n d their by-products are not recycled even w h e n this w o u l d generate both economic a n d environmental benefits. A g a i n , the failure to use m a n u r e from livestock farms at the m o u t h of the F r a s e r River where it is needed is a n example of this problem. T h e literature is rich with reasons why the market has failed the environment i n these situations. Countless examples of environmental degradation led Berry to conclude that the "money economy" does not represent "The Great Economy" as the true costs of o u r actions are not always reflected i n the price we pay for o u r services (Berry, 1987). J a c o b s posits that the s u m of m a n y individual decisions c a n create a huge (negative) impact u n l e s s there is careful environmental regulation (Jacobs, 1993, p. 22-23 & 25). C l a r k shows that the entrepreneur c a n profit at the public expense with no concern for environmental or social costs (Clark, 1991, p. 322). F r o m a n economic perspective Panayotou argues that m a n y market failures result from u n p r i c e d , open-access or insecure resources s u c h as government-subsidized irrigation water. Here, the government h a s failed to provide the legal backbone of capitalist competitive markets (Panayotou, 1993, p. 2 8s 27). Similarly, a c o m m o n market failure is insecure resource tenure. Resource managers - farmers, foresters, fishers, or miners - m u s t have well defined, exclusive, a n d secure tenure. T h e y m u s t also be able to transfer their tenure to other users. T h i s will create the m a x i m u m incentives to conserve the resource for future generations. T h e laws that enforce these property rights m u s t also be well-defined, a n d the penalties for committing a n infraction m u s t be higher t h a n any possible benefits of the infraction. A second c o m m o n market failure h a p p e n s w h e n the market does not accurately price a resource. T h i s c a n o c c u r w h e n there is little or no competitive market for a resource, for example, if a crop is for subsistence a n d is not for sale on the market. Alternatively, if the price a crop fetches only reflects the cost of labour, the opportunity cost a n d the capital costs, then it 7  R e g a r d l e s s of the m a r k e t , s u b s i s t e n c e f a r m e r s d e p e n d o n the s u s t a i n a b i l i t y of their a g r i c u l t u r a l practices. Poverty or political u n c e r t a i n t y , however, m a y m e a n that s u b s i s t e n c e f a r m e r s m a y externalize the costs of their practices. 7  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  19 m a y not reflect any environmental damage c a u s e d by the p r o d u c t i o n of that crop. In this case, the government m u s t accurately price both the damage done a n d costs to the future (Panayotou, 1993, p. 39). F o r example, if the pesticide u s e d on a rice farm h u r t s a down-stream fish farm, then the price of the pesticide s h o u l d reflect the cost to the fish farmer who w o u l d then receive this as a s u b s i d y from the government. In this way the economically "ideal" situation would be to price pesticides high enough that farmers will reduce their use to the point where the benefits that the rice farmer receives equals the cost of the pesticides plus the damage done to the fish f a r m . A free market, however, will not automatically adjust the cost of the pesticide because pesticides affect non-economic populations s u c h as plants a n d water, and there is no direct economic link between the rice a n d fish farms. In the real world, h u n d r e d s of farms, long range pollution, a n d the difficulty of assessing the cost of non-point sources of pollution make it impossible to realistically determine the marginal costs a n d benefits of pesticide a n d fertilizer use (Panayotou, 1993, p. 41 8& 42). 8  A third problem occurs w h e n monopolies or oligopolies prevent competition. Monopolies a n d oligopolies sometimes emerge i n industries like energy a n d water provisioning. T h e major cost i n providing energy or water is the infrastructure. Because of this, it is impossible to divide the initial investment a m o n g users i n the same way that the cost of p r o d u c i n g a c o n s u m e r good is divided between the people who p u r c h a s e that good. F o r these industries, average costs will fall as more a n d more customers come to the same company. In industries that require huge infrastructures, c o n s u m e r markets m a y only be large enough to m a i n t a i n one firm. A s a result, a n a t u r a l monopoly may form a n d this lack of competition m a y m e a n that there are few incentives to conserve scarce resources.  T H R E E G E N E R A L CONDITIONS OF M A R K E T F A I L U R E , WITH E X A M P L E S F R O M T H E LOWER FRASER VALLEY J a c o b s a n d Panayotou both argue that three over-arching market failures consistently u n d e r m i n e the environment: (1) short-sighted p l a n n i n g , (2) negative externalities, (3) public goods (Jacobs, 1993; Panayotou, 1993).  Short-sighted planning horizons and discounting. The conservation of any n a t u r a l resource, be it soil organic matter, forests or water, involves sacrificing present c o n s u m p t i o n for the promise of future benefits. Panayotou points out that since people u s u a l l y prefer immediate over future benefits "...such a n exchange appears unattractive u n l e s s one dollar of sacrifice today yields more t h a n one dollar of benefits tomorrow." (Panayotou, 1993, p. 50) In other words, there is a n opportunity cost associated with conserving the environment (Clark, 1991, p. 324).  In this case, an economist would say that the marginal benefit of the sprays equals the marginal costs. 8  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  20 F u t u r e benefits m u s t be discounted a n d the more heavily they are discounted the less attractive conserving a resource is. T h e B r u n d t l a n d report stresses that sustainable development m u s t take into a c c o u n t the future. A n y n u m b e r of real world factors c a n increase the d i s c o u n t rate. Insecure l a n d tenure, w h i c h means that a firm or i n d i v i d u a l m a y not reap the benefits of improving a resource, will increase the discount rate. Similarly, poverty will also increase discounting, as people who are worried about survival will not have the l u x u r y of saving resources for subsequent years. W h e n life or death is i n question, any opportunity cost is too high to bear. Sustainable agriculture m u s t take into a c c o u n t the future by e n s u r i n g that discount rates are low enough to ensure conservation. T h e behaviour of some farmers i n the Lower F r a s e r Valley reveals a preoccupation with the present indicating that they m a y face high discount rates. First, as will be d i s c u s s e d i n more detail i n subsequent chapters, farmers at the m o u t h of the Fraser River have focused o n intensive soil-based agriculture a n d produce horticultural crops like potatoes a n d cole crops. U n l e s s this is a c c o m p a n i e d by the regular use of grass forage as part of the rotation, a n d the use of local m a n u r e for fertilizer, this draws down the n a t u r a l fertility of the soil, h u r t s drainage, increases salinity, a n d causes compaction. A l l of these problems were identified by a major survey of this area (Klohn Leonoff L t d . , 1992 p. 32). In this situation, farmers have p u t short-term profitability a h e a d of long-term soil conservation. Similarly, tenant farmers, who will not have the long-term p l a n n i n g horizon required to establish sustainable management practices, farm some of the l a n d i n this area. Myopic p l a n n i n g or a high d i s c o u n t rate, therefore is a n indication of environmental difficulties.  Externalities. T h e market does not assign a price to things that do not have a monetary value. A s a result, the price of food reflects the immediate cost of production (such as the value of the l a n d , the labour, a n d any equipment, processing a n d transport) b u t does not necessarily include any other costs i n c u r r e d . In general, therefore, unregulated markets ignore social a n d environmental costs (Strange, 1988). If, for example, a livestock farm pollutes a stream because of poor m a n u r e management, a n d the farmer is not obliged to clean u p the pollution, this environmental cost will not appear i n the price that the c o n s u m e r pays. In this way, the pollution of the stream is a n "externality" (Jacobs, 1993; Panayotou, 1993, p. 40-42). A n externality occurs w h e n the price for a product does not include all the impacts of that good or service. While externalities c a n be negative or positive, i n the environmental literature externalities refers more often to negative impacts. There are a n u m b e r of ways that negative externalities are internalised. A firm m a y m a k e a voluntary decision to take a c c o u n t of (negative) externalities. T h i s m a y lower profits, pricing a firm out of the market u n l e s s the firm c a n obtain a p r e m i u m price for p r o d u c i n g a n "environmentally  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  21 friendly" p r o d u c t . Alternatively, a government c a n pass legislation that taxes externalities or applies charges to firms that produce negative externalities. Governments m a y also establish regulations to internalise environmental costs. T h e fact that horticultural farmers at the west e n d of the Lower F r a s e r Valley do not import m a n u r e from the east to meet all their fertilizer needs illustrates how environmental costs are external to the market. Relative to c h e m i c a l fertilizers, m a n u r e is heavy a n d takes u p a great deal of space. Consequently, m a n u r e is expensive to ship. F a r m e r s c a n u s u a l l y only afford to ship m a n u r e if a transport t r u c k has already dropped off its load a n d is r e t u r n i n g with empty space (this is called the "back-haul"). In the Lower Fraser Valley, this is rare because t r u c k s drive west along the t r a n s - C a n a d a highway carrying cargo destined for V a n c o u v e r or Victoria. W h e n they return on the b a c k - h a u l , they pass the region that concentrates o n horticulture before they reach the livestock farms. A s a result, the b a c k - h a u l does not favour s h i p p i n g m a n u r e to the west delta. Instead, m a n u r e tends to be shipped to the fruit-growing interior of the province, a n d the Sustainable Poultry F a r m i n g G r o u p i n Abbotsford has established the infrastructure to load m a n u r e onto t r u c k s that are returning from V a n c o u v e r t h r o u g h the Rocky M o u n t a i n s to the p r a i r i e s . 9  10  T h i s economic situation would u n d o u b t e d l y change if the price of the energy required to manufacture chemical nitrogen i n c l u d e d the environmental cost of u s i n g fossil fuels. These costs include global climate change a n d acid r a i n (Rees, 2000; T h e U n i o n of C o n c e r n e d Scientists, 2 0 0 0 , electronic source). Most commercial nitrogen fertilizer is m a n u f a c t u r e d u s i n g the H a b e r process that takes dinitrogen gas from the atmosphere a n d combines it with hydrogen at high temperatures to produce a m m o n i a ( N H 3 ) . T h i s energy-intensive  A number of companies have found that by volunteering to internalise costs they have developed new and creative ways to produce goods and services. This has lowered costs while reducing environmental impact. For example, Interface Corporation, one of the world's largest carpet and textile manufacturers, has voluntarily pursued a zero waste strategy in an industry that is notorious for the pollution caused by its energy-intensive activities. Between 1994 and 1998, Interface not only dramatically cut waste, but also kept input constant while seeing revenues rise by $200 million (Lovins, Lovins, & Hawken, 1999)By adopting a strict environmental policy, Interface achieved two specific business advantages: (1) their cost of production dropped through innovative manufacturing procedures, and (2) they have benefited from extremely good publicity. Subsequently, Interface has been able to capture a growing share of an increasingly environmentally conscious global market. Interface now promotes itself as a company that is "...doing well by doing good." The reverse also holds true and consumers can demand that companies include the cost of the environment when they do business. MacMillan Bloedel, targeted by European environmentalists concerned with clear-cutting in old growth forests, lost approximately 5 per cent of its direct sales overnight when Scott and Kimberly-Clark dropped them as their U.K. supplier of wood fibre (Lovins et al., 1999) Recently the B.C. organic farming industry has grown. This has increased the demand and price of manure. Consequently, organic farmers, and some conventional farmers, in the Lower Fraser Valley are now shipping poultry manure to their farms, though this is still a rare practice. 9  10  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  22 process requires approximately 18,000 calories to produce one kilogram of plant available nitrogen (King, 1990, p. 102). Alternatively, 1,000 kg of coal is needed to make approximately 2.5 kg of nitrogen fertilizer (Purves, O r i a n s , & Heller, 1992 p. 684). A s a result, the cost a n d availability of fertilizer is directly dependent on the price of energy. C u r r e n t l y energy is so cheap that c h e m i c a l fertilizers are regularly over-applied all over North A m e r i c a . C o r n typically uptakes only 50 per cent of the c h e m i c a l nitrogen (N) that is applied, while other grain crops grown i n North A m e r i c a generally receive 30 per cent more N t h a n they utilize. In Iowa this has resulted i n a tripling of nitrate levels i n g r o u n d water between 1958 a n d 1983 (Soule 8& Piper, 1992), a n d i n the F r a s e r River Valley the Abbotsford aquifer h a s experienced a rise i n nitrate l e v e l s . A l l over the U S a n d C a n a d a , a huge a m o u n t of fossil fuel is u s e d needlessly i n order to synthesize chemical fertilizer that is wasted. 11  T h i s example highlights two separate externalities. First, livestock producers do not bear the cost of nutrient pollution. Second, the use of c h e m i c a l nitrogen does not include the environmental cost of fossil fuels. B o t h of these problems c o u l d be addressed if the environmental cost of the fossil fuel was i n c l u d e d i n the price of chemical nitrogen. If this was the case, the relative prices of m a n u r e (which is currently considered a waste product) a n d fertilizers would u n d o u b t e d l y change. Public  Goods  T h e third market failure is the corollary of externalities. T h e market c a n efficiently assign values to some resources, b u t not all of the goods provided by this planet fit into this framework. J a c o b s (1993), points out that resources s u c h as clean air a n d water are "public goods" because they provide benefits for all people, yet none c a n personally profit from t h e m (Jacobs, 1993; see also Panayotou, 1993, p. 44). In other words, if a firm was to produce a "public good" for one c o n s u m e r they would have no way of excluding all other potential c o n s u m e r s from u s i n g it at no cost. Similarly, c o n s u m e r s of public goods cannot limit their c o n s u m p t i o n a n d will always use roughly the same a m o u n t no matter what the circumstances. Panayotou argues that public goods are goods "that have only externalities" (Panayotou, 1993, p. 44). A s a result, no one i n d i v i d u a l c a n obtain profit from these, they are free for the c o n s u m e r , a n d valueless from the perspective of the market. In a capitalist setting, public goods are inevitably u n d e r - p r o d u c e d a n d u n d e r - v a l u e d despite the fact that they m a y be integral to o u r survival. T h i s is relevant to our d i s c u s s i o n because f a r m l a n d produces both public goods a n d private goods. T h e private goods it produces are the commodities that the farmer c a n sell on the market. A c c o r d i n g to O s t r o m , these goods are "subtractable" a n d "excludable" (Ostrom et a l . , 1994, p. 7).  Although there is a consensus in the literature that concentrated livestock production leads to nutrient overloading and nitrate pollution, other factors may contribute to elevated nitrate levels in groundwater. For example, if grasslands are cultivated for the first time, large amounts of organic matter will decompose and send a pulse of nitrogen through the system that may also contribute to increased water pollution. 11  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  23 Commodities are s u b tractable because once the food is c o n s u m e d it is gone. Excludability refers to the fact that once a c o n s u m e r p u r c h a s e s the commodity all other c o n s u m e r s are excluded from u s i n g it. F a r m l a n d , however, also provides public goods that are neither subtractable nor excludable. Wildlife habitat, the conservation of biological diversity, a n d r u r a l amenity, are all services that f a r m l a n d provides, yet farmers cannot profit from a n y of these services because they are not subtractable or excludable. Consequently, f a r m l a n d is managed to produce m a x i m u m private goods, b u t public goods are often ignored. T h e study area for this thesis clearly represents this situation. A s was already discussed, the Lower Fraser Valley lies o n the Pacific Flyway, a n extremely important ecological area that provides a twice-yearly stopping g r o u n d for millions of migrating birds. These birds do a huge a m o u n t of damage to crops a n d are a liability to local farms. F a r m e r s find themselves i n conflict between the economic need to produce private goods that they c a n sell a n d the very important, yet non-economically beneficial public goods their l a n d provides to the ecosystem.  CONCLUSION T h e objective of this chapter was to establish the theoretical relationship between economic incentives a n d the environment. B a s e d o n the environmental economics literature, we observe that w h e n the market fails to include the costs of pollution or l a n d degradation, there are incentives to u n d e r m i n e the environment. There are three over-arching types of market failure: (1) a high discount rate leads resource managers to adopt a short term p l a n n i n g horizon. (2) negative externalities o c c u r w h e n the cost of pollution is not factored into the price c o n s u m e r s pay for a product, a n d (3) if environmental services are public goods resource managers will not be able to profit from them. Preliminary evidence, presented as examples of each of these market failures, suggests that discount rates, negative externalities, a n d public goods all create incentives for b a d management o n farms i n the Lower Fraser Valley. It is necessary, however, to move beyond these examples a n d systematically analyse how market failures influence farmers i n this region. T o do this we need to establish specific indicators that will identify good a n d b a d environmental management o n farms i n the Lower F r a s e r Valley. T h e next chapter builds o n the sustainable agriculture literature a n d develops indicators that are u s e d i n this thesis to show w h e n market failures have occurred.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  24  Chapter 3 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK PART II: T H E ECOSYSTEM APPROACH TO AGRICULTURE INTRODUCTION The objective of this chapter is to develop indicators of sustainable agriculture that are relevant to the Lower F r a s e r Valley a n d show where market failures have occurred. To meet this object, this chapter reviews the sustainable agriculture literature that provides a picture of sustainable farming. T h i s literature suggests that sustainable farms m u s t try to emulate n a t u r a l or u n d i s t u r b e d ecosystems. T h i s is based o n the belief that n a t u r a l systems, because they have evolved over millennia, are inherently more stable a n d balanced t h a n most h u m a n - d e s i g n e d systems. B e n y u s (1997) is one of the strongest promoters of this view. In her seminal book, Biomimicry, she argues that: The core idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most important, what lasts here on Earth. This is the real news of biomimicry: After 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival. (Benyus, 1997; quote on-line at http://www, biomimicry. org/fag, html) T h i s book, a n d others like it, lay out detailed explanations of how we c a n u s e the earth's n a t u r a l systems as a model to design o u r own society (for example, see Lovins, 1999; Nattrass, 1999; H a w k e n , 1994). While u s i n g nature as a template establishes a strong normative framework, it does not provide m a n y practical b e n c h m a r k s that are useful for assessing specific problems s u c h as agriculture's impact o n the environment. A s a result, the purpose of this chapter is to move beyond the categorical position that sustainable systems s h o u l d emulate nature, a n d develop specific methods that will allow u s to analyse agricultural systems while u s i n g nature as a model. T h i s chapter h a s three parts: the first section presents literature that highlights the importance of u s i n g nature as a model. A s will be illustrated, this provides a starting place, b u t does not give u s the specific tools we need to assess agricultural systems. T h e following sections develop two ecological concepts as methods for assessing agriculture: section two operationalizes the concept of b i o d i v e r s i t y ; section three assesses problems of soil conservation a n d water pollution from the perspective of nutrient c y c l e s . 12  13  Biodiversity. "The variety, distribution, and abundance of different plants, animals, and microorganisms, the ecological functions and processes they perform, and the genetic The Ecologies of Scale 1 2  E v a n D . G . Fraser  25  SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE  1 4  F o r m a n y of the environmental problems c a u s e d by agriculture (such as soil n u t r i e n t depletion, n u t r i e n t overloading, water pollution, erosion a n d compaction: see chapter 1), there are simple technological solutions.  Sub-  soiling, deep tilling, a n d the careful timing of farm work c a n substantially reduce c o m p a c t i o n .  S p r e a d i n g lime a n d i n c r e a s i n g organic matter helps  buffer soil against acidification.  A more expensive solution to drainage  problems is to establish s u b - s o i l tiles a n d run-off ditches to e n s u r e that fields are well d r a i n e d a n d kept free from salination. At a more f u n d a m e n t a l level, however, there is a c o n s e n s u s i n the literature that, from a bio-physical perspective, sustainable agriculture (or agriculture that does not degrade the l a n d base while providing adequate i n c o m e to farmers) m u s t move towards u s i n g nature's own ecosystems as a m o d e l (for example, see: Mannion,  1995;  Stinner, 1992;  Altieri, 1990;  G l i e s s m a n , 1998;  M i n e a u 8B M c L a u g h t o n , Soule 8B Piper, 1992;  1996;  Ikerd,  1997;  Paoletti, Pimentel, Stinner, 8B  Thrupp, 1997).  15  T h e n a t u r a l m o d e l is  u s e f u l because:  ... contemporary life is fundamentally supported by natural processes, such as the capturing of energy from the sun by photosynthetic organisms and the purification of air and water. These processes are essential to maintaining human life. However, as a society we are systematically altering the ecosystem structures and functions that provide life-supporting services.  diversity they contain at local, regional or landscape levels of analysis." (Dunster & Dunster, 1996 p. 37) Nutrient cycling. "Circulation or exchange of elements, such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide, between nonliving and living portions of the environment. Includes all mineral and nutrient cycles involving mammals and vegetation." (Dunster & Dunster, 1996 p. 224) One of the earliest uses of the term sustainability was in a 1972 article from The Ecologist entitled "The Blue Print for Survival." The term later gained popularity with the publication of the U.N.'s Brundtland Report in 1986 (Mclsaac, 1994). According to the Brundtland report, sustainable development depends on ensuring that the needs of future generations are not compromised by our behaviour today. Edwards et. al. believe, however, that since future needs cannot be perfectly anticipated, sustainable agriculture must be a system that can evolve indefinitely "...towards greater human utility, greater efficiency of resource use and a balance with the environment that is favourable to humans and most other species" (Edwards, Lai, Madden, Miller, 8s House, 1990). This has been further interpreted to mean that sustainability must be ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially responsible (Ikerd, 1997, p. 14). There is no single definition of sustainable agriculture. At its most fundamental, sustainability means change. Implicit in any discussion on sustainability is the realization that there are some problems with the way we currently do something and some vision about how to correct these failures. It is important to remember, however, that no system will be entirely "sustainable." Consequently, sustainability also means constant change, as circumstances and technologies shift over time. The goal of sustainable agriculture, therefore, is a process where we continually change our management in order to reduce our negative impact on the environment. 13  14  15  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  26  (The Natural Step, 2001; Online source: www, naturalstep. org) A c c o r d i n g to H a w k e n (1994) some of today's most successful a n d innovative businesses have benefited financially by "...redesigning i n d u s t r y on biological models with closed loops a n d zero waste..." (Hawken, 1994, quoted from online source: http: / /www.natcap.org/sitepages/pid5.php) W h e n it comes to applying this concept to agriculture this is sometimes called the "ecosystem approach." Literature promoting the ecosystem a p p r o a c h tends to identify a broad range of management practices that are good for the environment. F o r example, Pierce believes that i n order to m i m i c n a t u r a l ecosystems the sustainable farmer must: (1) Promote species diversity a n d soil nutrient conservation by u s i n g crop rotations. (2) Recycle nutrients on the farm through composting a n d u s i n g a n i m a l m a n u r e . (3) Diversify crops through multi-cropping various plant species a n d agroforestry. (4) Reduce the a c c u m u l a t i o n of a n i m a l wastes by integrating livestock a n d horticultural products onto one farm. (5) Increase energy efficiency (Pierce, 1993, p. 382). A c c o r d i n g to this literature, sustainable agriculture s h o u l d also promote the use of solar power, enhance species diversity a n d nutrient cycling, use perennial crops, a n d minimize chemical use. Sustainable agriculture s h o u l d move away from u s i n g chemicals that are not a n a t u r a l component of local ecosystems a n d minimize the use of c h e m i c a l fertilizers. Fertilizers cause problems because, w h e n over-applied, they contribute to g r o u n d water pollution. C h e m i c a l fertilizers also require large a m o u n t s of fossil fuel energy to produce (King, 1990, p. 92-102). Others point to pre-capitalist or subsistence agriculture for examples of sustainable agriculture. F o r example, Altieri uses the traditional farming systems of S o u t h a n d Central A m e r i c a to illustrate that peasant systems, w h i c h d i d not have the benefit of any inputs other t h a n h u m a n a n d a n i m a l labour, (a) cause no serious soil degradation (b) m i m i c k e d n a t u r a l ecosystems to a greater degree t h a n most m o d e r n agricultural systems, a n d (c) were highly productive i n terms of yield (Altieri, 1990, 1999). U s i n g the native K a n s a s prairie as a model, J a c k s o n has attempted to devise a n economically efficient grain production system that m i m i c s the n a t u r a l ecosystem. J a c k s o n has shown that grain c a n be efficiently p r o d u c e d with few i n p u t s a n d perennial grain species. J a c k s o n ' s system ensures that there is c o n t i n u o u s crop cover to minimize soil erosion (Jackson, 1998, public lecture). T o achieve this he has been able to use traditional plant breeding techniques to produce productive perennial grasses that are representative of the native prairie ecosystem. B y c o m b i n i n g a mix of species, J a c k s o n has also managed to control losses to pests, a n d through complex crop rotations he h a s kept nitrogen levels high enough to require few i n p u t s (Jackson, 1998, public lecture). Soule a n d Piper argue that sustainable agriculture would also reduce the wide-spread use of heavy machinery. T h i s m a c h i n e r y is not only energyintensive, it also directly contributes to soil erosion i n four ways: (1) heavy T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  27 farm equipment encourages farmers to plant large, regularly shaped fields, with few w i n d breaks, straight planting lines, a n d rows that r u n along slopes. T h i s creates a situation that is conducive to soil erosion by w i n d a n d water; (2) heavy farm equipment compacts the soil, breaks u p soil aggregates, reduces moisture retention a n d may create a compacted plough p a n below the surface of the field that reduces root depth a n d drainage capacity; (3) by displacing draught animals, tractors have eliminated a n o n - f a r m source of m a n u r e ; a n d (4) specialized equipment is not compatible with complex crop rotations. O n c e a farmer invests i n specialized planters or harvesters, he or she is less likely to plant a diversity of species (Soule & Piper, 1992, p. 50-56). More generally Macrae et. al. argue that the progress towards sustainable agriculture has three steps (Macrae, H e n n i n g s , 8B Hill, 1993, p.22-23). T h e first step is to increase efficiency, w h i c h m e a n s that conventional systems m u s t be altered to reduce waste a n d environmental impact a n d make current practices less destructive. T h e second stage is to substitute damaging products a n d non-renewable resources for more benign ones. Replacing synthetic fertilizer with organic matter would be a n example of the second stage. T h e third stage would involve redesigning entire systems to m i m i c n a t u r a l ecosystems by taking into account nutrient cycling a n d biodiversity. Sustainable agriculture m u s t also be economically viable a n d socially acceptable to farming communities. Consequently, Pierce writes that sustainable agriculture m u s t m a i n t a i n or enhance environmental quality, provide adequate social a n d economic returns for all firms involved, a n d provide a sufficient a n d accessible source of food for c o n s u m e r s (Pierce, 1993, p. 383). O l s o n points out that although ecological knowledge is necessary for environmental sustainability, farms succeed a n d fail i n the "real" world of competitive markets a n d global commodity trading (Olson, 1992 p. 9-10). A s a result, any improvements i n a farm's ecological sustainability cannot be made at the expense of economic viability or social r e l e v a n c e . 16  A s evident from this brief review, the sustainable agriculture literature ranges from suggestions on micro-level management (i.e. Soule a n d Piper's suggestion that sustainable agriculture is incompatible with the use of heavy machinery) to very broad concepts like Macrae's three stages of sustainable agriculture. Unfortunately, there is little i n this literature i n the way of systemic or analytic tools that we c a n use to evaluate agricultural systems. While u s i n g n a t u r a l systems as a model is a n intuitively appealing concept to authors writing from within the environmental movement, there is a real need to rigorously u n d e r s t a n d what components of n a t u r a l systems we s h o u l d try to copy, a n d what this means for how we produce food. T h e remainder of this chapter will develop two ecological concepts as analytic tools to evaluate agriculture i n the Lower Fraser Valley: (1) biodiversity, a n d (2) nutrient cycling.  This might lead to a catch-22 where the only way a farmer can improve economic viability is to externalise environmental costs 16  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  28 E C O L O G I C A L C O N C E P T # 1:  BIODIVERSITY  L o n g recognized as a necessary component for good environmental management, biodiversity has rested at the centre of the global environmental agenda for at least ten years. In 1992, the United Nations established the Convention on Biological Diversity. The U.N.'s Global E n v i r o n m e n t Facility (GEF) p u b l i s h e d a draft biodiversity a n d agriculture policy titled "Conservation a n d Sustainable use of Biological Diversity Important to Agriculture." In it, the authors argue that biological diversity itself presents opportunities for e n h a n c i n g soil fertility, naturally controlling pests, a n d reducing the use of pesticides while m a i n t a i n i n g yields (Global E n v i r o n m e n t Facility, 2000, p.3). The C a n a d i a n Department of Agriculture a n d Agri-Food's "Strategy for Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture a n d Agri-food Development i n Canada" states that one way to assess sustainable agriculture is to "...monitor biodiversity i n agricultural ecosystems by m e a s u r i n g changes in ... species diversity a n d abundance." (Canada, 1997, p. 13). T h e C a n a d i a n Government's "Action Plan for Food Security" argues that if environmental challenges are to be overcome i n agriculture, C a n a d i a n farmers m u s t "...conserve genetic resources." (Canada, 1998a, p. 19) T o achieve this, the C a n a d i a n government plans to "... i m p l e m e n t . . . strategic directions aimed at the conservation a n d sustainable use of biological diversity i n agricultural areas..." Canada's International Development Research C o u n c i l (IDRC) argues that m o d e r n agriculture is vulnerable to problems because "...a few major crops feed most of the world a n d m a n y are genetically similar." (IDRC, 1992, p. 48-51) Moving beyond bureaucratic policy statements, Altieri postulates that one reason that conventional industrial agriculture is dependent o n pesticides is that monocultures are extremely susceptible to pest outbreaks (Altieri, 1999). Following this logic, if a farmer depends less o n monocultures there will be a reduced d e m a n d for chemical pest control. M i n e a u a n d M c L a u g h t o n , a n d Soule a n d Piper all argue that chemical inputs act as substitutes for n a t u r a l processes (Mineau 8B M c L a u g h t o n , 1996, p. 94; Soule 8B Piper, 1992, p. 56). For example, the application of fertilizer replaces the decomposition of organic matter that forms the fertilizer for the next generation of plants. Altieri, Benbrook, G l i e s s m a n a n d M a n n i o n all present cases where increasing species diversity i n a field enhances pest resistance (Altieri, 1999; Benbrook, 1990, p. 68; G l i e s s m a n , 1998, p. 24; M a n n i o n , 1995, p. 13-14). A l l four authors independently argue that biologically diverse agricultural systems are better able to withstand pest outbreaks or adverse climate conditions, a n d recover faster after s u c h disturbances, t h a n conventional systems. Certain "weeds" for example, c a n be u s e d as trap crops for some pests. F o r example, planting a small n u m b e r of eggplants i n a potato field will attract potato grubs away from the harvest crop. Providing habitat for bird species that prey o n s u c h pests as the E u r o p e a n c o r n borer a n d the codling m o t h will also reduce pesticide demands. Leaving two to three uncultivated metres at the edge of each field (a "field margin") provides a break between The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  29 crops, t h u s r e d u c i n g the chance that a single pest will destroy a n entire harvest (Mineau & M c L a u g h t o n , 1996, p. 97-101). It is also important for farmers to promote biodiversity by planting different crops on the same field year after year. Rotating crops has been u s e d for centuries by m a n y different cultures to prevent pests from b u i l d i n g u p a n d to conserve soil fertility. C r o p rotations s h o u l d include forage crops, grains, legumes, as well as horticultural commodities (Benbrook, 1990, p. 71). T h i s has a n u m b e r of benefits. First, pests that are specific to one crop will not accumulate. Second, forage crops do not require cultivation as do horticultural crops. Therefore, farmers will not compact the soil or pulverize aggregates w h e n a field is i n forage. T h i r d , legumes fix atmospheric nitrogen, the most limiting of all soil nutrients, m a k i n g it accessible for crops i n subsequent years. Soule a n d Piper state that problems of agricultural pollution c a n be reduced by properly p l a n n i n g the selection of species i n a crop rotation (Soule & Piper, 1992). F o r example, if a farmer plants a shallow rooting crop one year, a n d follows it with a deep rooting crop, nutrients that leach below the root zone of the first crop will be accessible to the deeper rooting species. Similarly, planting a fall/winter cover-crop without fertilizer will help to absorb excess nitrogen that was applied d u r i n g the m a i n growing season a n d would otherwise e n d u p i n g r o u n d water. T h e effect of these sort of management practices is highly site-specific. F o r example, i n some fields it will take nitrogen years to move through the soil a n d pollute g r o u n d water. In other areas, this m a y h a p p e n m u c h more quickly. T h i s will influence whether different rooting depths will be effective at u p t a k i n g s u r p l u s nitrogen. O f key consideration is the a m o u n t of precipitation that a n area receives, drainage, a n d soil structure. Nutrients will typically pass quickly t h r o u g h well-drained soils that experience large a m o u n t s of rain a n d pollute g r o u n d water. If soils are dry for m u c h of the year, or are not well drained, then there is less chance that excess nutrients will pollute g r o u n d water. Another important site-specific characteristic is the soil's ability to absorb nutrients or the "cation exchange capacity" of the soil. Typically sandy soils have a lower cation exchange capacity a n d are m u c h more prone to leaching t h a n clay soils. Finally, some authors see agriculture as a n enemy of biodiversity because, by definition, it involves cultivating only those species that are useful to h u m a n welfare (Mannion, 1995, p. 13-14). C l e a r i n g new farmland also destroys n a t u r a l habitat a n d , w h e n marginal l a n d is cultivated, problems of soil degradation a n d erosion are c o m p o u n d e d . Industrial agriculture, w h i c h focuses on the large-scale production of single-crop fields - the hated monoculture - u s u a l l y requires environmentally damaging chemicals a n d fertilizers to sustain high outputs. A s a result, Srivastava et. al. point out that agriculture a n d biological diversity are intimately connected (Srivastava, S m i t h , 8B Forno, 1996, p . l ) .  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  30  The difficulty of using biodiversity as an indicator of sustainable agriculture B a s e d o n this discussion, it is clear that biodiversity is a n indicator that we might u s e to identify sustainable agriculture. T h i s is especially relevant considering that two of the most serious problems facing the global environment today are species extinction a n d habitat loss. Consequently, it seems reasonable to suppose that any increase i n farm biodiversity s h o u l d (1) reduce the negative impact that farms have o n the local environment a n d (2) benefit the global environment. Unfortunately, w h e n we move beyond these general statements, a n d try to apply biodiversity to the farmer's field we r u n into significant problems. There is a serious gap i n the current literature because there seems to be no practical way to use our u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the benefits of biodiversity as a n indicator of good farming practices. F o r example, there are at least three situations where a "high-diversity farm" is less sustainable t h a n a farm with a lower diversity. 1. Species composition. A field with only one species present m a y be more desirable or more sustainable t h a n a field with a larger n u m b e r of species if these species compete with the crop that the farmer is trying to grow. In other words, although a weedy field will have higher biodiversity it will require more management t h a n a field that does not have m a n y weeds. T h i s will often involve the addition of chemicals or m e c h a n i c a l cultivation that c a n lead to pollution, erosion a n d compaction. Some fields are more prone to invasive weeds t h a n others based o n their physical location or past management. T h e composition of the species, therefore, is integral to u n d e r s t a n d i n g whether increased diversity translates into better environmental health. 2. Species abundance. Imagine two fields of exactly the same size. In the first field, four crops are evenly distributed while i n the second about 80 per cent h a s been planted with wheat while the r e m a i n i n g 20 per cent h a s a n u m b e r of vegetables (this c o u l d be a grain farm with a small vegetable garden). Field two would have a higher diversity. However, because j u s t one crop occupies the majority of the l a n d the farmer m a y r u n the risk of losing the entire crop or having high pesticide costs if a pest becomes established i n the second field. T h e first field, o n the other h a n d , h a s less diversity but, because the crops are more evenly distributed, any given pest will only damage 25 per cent of the field. T h i s s h o u l d translate into decreased pesticide costs. A s a result, i n order to assess the benefit of crop diversity it is necessary to know the relative a b u n d a n c e a n d spatial distribution of the crops. 3. Temporal composition. O n e final example illustrates the difficulties of u s i n g biodiversity as a n indicator of farm sustainability. A crop rotation that involves cabbage, potatoes, broccoli, a n d cauliflower, m a y be less sustainable t h a n a crop rotation that alternates between potatoes a n d wheat. A l t h o u g h the first crop rotation seems to have a higher biodiversity, three out of four species are from the same genus of plant (cabbage, broccoli a n d cauliflower are all from the genus Brassica). T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  31 These crops all share m a n y of the same pests a n d these pest m a y a c c u m u l a t e i n the field one year to the next. T h e second rotation, although it only involves two species may have less of a n impact on soil structure a n d organic matter because wheat does not require the constant cultivation that the horticultural crops require a n d because wheat leaves a residue that returns organic matter to the soil. In order to tell w h i c h is more sustainable it is necessary to consider at least two additional factors. First, soil aggregate stability, or the ability of the soil to withstand compaction is very important. In the poorly drained, easily compacted soils at the m o u t h of the Fraser River, growing any combination of crops that requires regular cultivation will cause problems. If, on the other h a n d , the soil is well drained a n d coarse textured (like the sandy soils east of the Fraser River delta) then it m a y be possible to grow crops like potatoes more frequently. T h e second factor that m u s t be considered is pest outbreaks. Major pests like the potato tuber beetle (which is not itself a problem i n the Lower Fraser Valley of B r i t i s h Columbia) will accumulate over time if the same crop is planted i n a field year after year. If these pests are a problem, it is important to space the crops that are susceptible to t h e m so that the pests do not reach a n epidemic level (Kabaluk & V e r n o n , 1999, p. 1011). U m a e r u s suggests that i n the Netherlands it is necessary to plant potatoes only every three to five years to reduce the chance of nematode infestations (Umaerus, 1992 p. 241-249) Scholte argues infections of potato stem canker are reduced w h e n potatoes are j u s t one element of a larger rotation. C r o p rotation, however, does not seem to have a n effect on incidences of tuber scab (Scholte, 1992 p. 93-102). W h a t is required is a system that does not over-simplify data on biological diversity by a s s u m i n g that a n increase in the n u m b e r of crops planted i n a n area necessarily translates into a better environment. In order to develop this system it is necessary to u n d e r s t a n d the benefits that a biologically r i c h system offers, a n d then develop methods that analyse these benefits. First, diversity c a n improve the robustness or resilience of farm systems so that it is able to deal with pest infestations or variable weather patterns. O n e key to biodiversity is to have enough species present so that if a pest or a n extreme weather pattern affects one crop then the whole system will not fail. Diversity c a n also reduce the pollution c a u s e d by conventional farming. F o r example, by growing a diversity of crops, fewer pesticides are required because any particular pest will only affect a small portion of the total crop. Similarly, interspersing shallow a n d deep rooting species i n a crop 17  For example, agriculture is the world's largest source of water pollution (Gliessman, 1998; Schreier et al., 2000). 17  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  32 rotation will reduce the chance that excess nitrogen will leach below the rooting depth of the shallow species a n d pollute the water t a b l e . T h i r d , m a n y authors express the worry that: (a) habitat destruction contributes to species loss; a n d (b) on-farm specialization contributes to the extinction of traditional crops. F a r m s that have high diversity may preserve species by (1) promoting indigenous forms of crops, (2) providing/protecting habitat. Finally, a farmer with a large n u m b e r of crops is not as vulnerable to changes i n market prices as the farmer who specializes i n j u s t one crop. T h i s is a form of economic robustness. J u s t like ecological robustness, w h i c h allows ecosystems to survive weather a n d other environmental shocks, economic robustness allows a farmer to adapt to the c h a n g i n g d e m a n d s of the market without going b a n k r u p t . 18  New method for using biodiversity as an indicator of sustainable agriculture No single measure of biodiversity will provide a scientist or policy m a k e r with insight into all of these benefits at all scales. F o r example, a scientist concerned with the ability of a field to withstand pest outbreaks without additional chemicals will have a very different criterion t h a n the scientist interested i n species preservation. A s a result, ecologists divide biodiversity into the following three categories: Alpha biodiversity. A l p h a biodiversity is u s u a l l y m e a s u r e d by c o m p a r i n g the n u m b e r of species i n a n area with the a b u n d a n c e of those species a n d the total area. For example, a statistical f o r m u l a that compares a b u n d a n c e c o u l d be u s e d to measure a l p h a biodiversity. Alternatively, the biomass, the respiration rate, or the percentage cover for each species c o u l d be analysed for a n area (Spellerberg, 1991). Beta biodiversity. B e t a biodiversity is the ecologists' way of c o m p a r i n g biodiversity along a transect. U s u a l l y a path is walked t h r o u g h two different habitats a n d at r a n d o m intervals a sample is taken of the n u m b e r of species present. T h i s gives a n indication of the change i n species composition over a spatial range (Spellerberg, 1991). Gamma biodiversity. G a m m a biodiversity is like a l p h a diversity, but o n a larger scale. T h e ecologist defines different types of habitat a n d then examines the arrangement of these patches over a larger area (Spellerberg, 1991). To assess sustainable agriculture, this thesis u s e d data o n only those species of plants that farmers actively cultivate (thus the focus of this thesis is o n "agro" diversity). T h e n , this thesis built o n already existing ways of m e a s u r i n g alpha diversity, a n d developed two different methods of calculating "alpha-agro diversity." First, the per cent of the total arable l a n d base  A g a i n , it is i m p o r t a n t n o t to over-generalize, a s m a n y of these factors will be sitespecific. S i n c e the Lower F r a s e r V a l l e y receives so m u c h r a i n f a l l i n the winter, nitrogen will l e a c h below the root zone very q u i c k l y i n soils w i t h a low c a t i o n e x c h a n g e capacity. 1 8  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  33 occupied by the largest four crops (by area) was determined by year for horticultural crops at two different scales (local a n d provincial). Second, this research modified the Herfindahl index, a c o m m o n statistical index that measures the proportional area of a crop relative to the total l a n d area (Bradshaw a n d Smit, 1999), to statistically assess diversity. T h i s created a "relative specialization" score that was calculated at both the provincial level a n d for one specific farm community. T h e formula developed to determine the relative specialization score is: S(area of one crop - average area of all crops) / average area of all 2  crops In other words, first the average size of all fields was subtracted from average sized field for each crop. T h e difference between these n u m b e r s was squared a n d then divided by the average size of all fields. T h i s was done for all crops a n d the results of each crop were added together. T h e higher the score, the more concentrated (i.e. less a l p h a diversity) the crops i n the area studied are. Relative specialization scores were calculated for both provincial a n d field data for each year. Two hypothetical examples illustrate the use of this formula. In both cases there are four crops planted on a total of sixteen hectares. Table 3-1 shows a scenario where one crop dominates a n d the relative specialization score equals 27. In Table 3-2 the crops are more evenly distributed a n d the relative specialization score is 1.  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G . Fraser  34 T a b l e 3-1 A h y p o t h e t i c a l s i t u a t i o n w h e r e t h e c r o p s i n t h e f i e l d are h i g h l y specialized Crop  Field Size  Average  Relative Specialization  Potatoes  1 ha  4 ha  (l-4) /4 =  2.25  Corn  13 h a  4 ha  (13-4)2/4 =  20.2  Pasture  1 ha  4 ha  (1-4)2/4  =  2.25  Beans  lha  4 ha  (1-4)2/4  =  2.25  2  Relative spec.  27  T a b l e 3-2 A h y p o t h e t i c a l s i t u a t i o n w h e r e t h e c r o p s i n t h e f i e l d are diverse Crop  Field Size  Average  Relative Specialization  Potatoes  3 ha  4 ha  (3-4)2/4 =  0.25  Corn  3 ha  4 ha  (3-4)2/4 =  0.25  Pasture  5 ha  4 ha  (5-4)2/4 =  0.25  Beans  5 ha  4 ha  (5-4)2/4 =  0.25  Relative spec.  1  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  35 Because different crops have different requirements a n d cause different problems, it necessary to combine relative specialization scores with a n assessment of specific crops. F o r example, as was d i s c u s s e d above, potatoes are a n especially d e m a n d i n g crop on the soil a n d potato pests b u i l d u p in the soil if potatoes are planted on the same fields year after year. Therefore, it is important to assess how often potatoes are planted a n d if they are planted i n adjacent fields where pests c o u l d easily move from one field into another. If potatoes are planted regularly on the same fields, especially if these fields are compaction-prone, then this is a n indication that the farmer is u s i n g management practices that may be prone to pest outbreaks a n d require the use of potentially damaging chemicals. T h e frequency that legumes are planted is another good indicator of farm sustainability. A s will be discussed i n the section o n nutrient cycling, legumes fix atmospheric nitrogen, m a k i n g it available for plant growth. A l t h o u g h some legumes are harvested as crops, nitrogen fixation occurs i n root nodules a n d is stored below g r o u n d . Therefore, although different crops leave different a m o u n t s of nitrogen i n the soil, they all contribute to the nitrogen that is left i n the field for the next c r o p . Consequently, the n u m b e r of times legumes are u s e d i n a crop rotation is another important indicator for sustainable agriculture. It is important, however, not to over-generalize. Some legumes, s u c h as peas a n d beans, are c a s h crops that farmers plant a n d harvest i n the same year. These crops return very little organic matter to the soil, m a y require soildamaging management, a n d provide a n immediate c a s h return to farmers. Clover, however, is a legume that a farmer would plant as a forage crop or part of a grassland set-aside. Forage legumes do not require regular cultivation, return substantial a m o u n t s of organic matter to the soil, a n d do not a d d to a farmer's income. A l t h o u g h , peas, beans, a n d clover are all legumes, they play a different role i n soil conservation. Therefore, to use legumes as a n indicator of good management it is helpful to disaggregate legumes into forage a n d c a s h crops. 1 9  T h i r d , the n u m b e r of fields with perennial crops is also a good indicator. Perennial crops (like strawberries) grow year after year a n d do not need seeding every spring. A l t h o u g h most perennials do not provide a harvestable yield i n the year they are established, once they are mature they provide a return for a n u m b e r of years. Strawberries, for example, do not fruit i n the year that a farmer plants t h e m because farmers u s u a l l y clip the flowers to force the plant to develop a strong root structure a n d thick leaf mass. If properly tended, however, they will fruit i n the second year a n d s h o u l d keep fruiting for at least four years. Perennial crops are important for soil conservation because they provide y e a r - r o u n d cover that protects the soil from w i n d a n d rain erosion. T h e y are also less d e m a n d i n g o n the soil  Average Fixation of N by legumes (in kg per h a of N fixed): Alfalfa 217; Ladino clover 200; Sweet clover 133; Cowpeas 100; Vetch 90; Peas 72; Soybeans 65; Beans 45; Peanuts 44. 19  1  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G . Fraser  36 because, unlike a n n u a l crops where the field m u s t be ploughed every spring, perennials do not require as m u c h cultivation. T h e roots from perennial crops stabilize soil aggregate structure all y e a r - r o u n d a n d the action of the roots growing through the soil reduces compaction. A high proportion of fields with perennial crops indicates good farm management. A s with all of these indicators, however, we m u s t proceed with caution. Some perennial crops c a n have negative environmental implications. F o r example, i n the central a n d eastern part of the Fraser Valley, m a n y farmers have established large raspberry monocultures. These genetically u n i f o r m fields tend to be planted i n long straight lines with tilled soil between rows. T h i s creates a n environment susceptible to pest outbreaks a n d high pesticide costs a n d presents a n u m b e r of problems. First, because the spaces between the raspberry rows are tilled, there is little to protect the soil from w i n d a n d rain erosion. Second, the raspberries are the d o m i n a n t field crop i n the region s u r r o u n d i n g intensive dairy a n d poultry production. A s a result, farmers tend to use these fields to dispose of m a n u r e . However, the fruit that is harvested from a raspberry b u s h has very little nitrogen i n it a n d most of the nitrogen that the plants uptake is stored i n the cane a n d roots of the plant. Instead of removing s u r p l u s N , these crops j u s t trap it for a period. W h e n the plants are p r u n e d or lose their leaves, they decompose a n d release the nitrogen that they h a d stored. T h i r d , w h e n m a n y of the raspberry fields were established, farmers ploughed u n d e r old pasture-lands that were no longer needed to support cattle. T h e nitrogen that h a d a c c u m u l a t e d over the generations i n these fields then decomposed, a d d i n g to the nutrient overloading c a u s e d by intensive poultry a n d dairy farms. A s a result, while the frequency of perennial crops c a n be u s e d as a n indicator of sustainable farm management, it is vital to u n d e r s t a n d the context that they are grown in. F r o m the perspective of soil conservation, grasslands are probably the most important type of perennial crop. A l t h o u g h these crops offer no financial return to the farmer, t u r n i n g a field into a grassland for two or three years helps b u i l d u p organic matter, w h i c h buffers the soil against acidity, reduces any compaction that may have occurred w h e n the field was cultivated, a n d provides y e a r - r o u n d protection against w i n d a n d water erosion. G r a s s l a n d s also often include clover, w h i c h is a nitrogen fixing legume. T h e presence of grasslands, therefore, is very important for farm sustainability. Finally, grain crops are also a n important component of some sustainable horticultural crop rotations, a n d trends i n grain use are a good indicator of farm management i n the Lower Fraser Valley. T h i s is partly because only a portion of the grain plant is harvested, a n d grain leaves a crop residue that is rich i n organic matter. More importantly, however, the goal of good crop rotation is to use a diversity of crops, so that farmers do not plant crops that require intensive cultivation every year (which damages soil structure) a n d to avoid pest b u i l d - u p s . A l t h o u g h data are not readily available pre-1990s, grain acreages have declined i n the Lower Fraser Valley  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  37 in recent decades even though this region boasts very high yields (table 3-3). A s a result, i n this area, grain represents a different k i n d of crop that s h o u l d be incorporated into a good crop rotation. O n the prairies, where grain monocultures dominate, these crops would not be a n indicator of sustainable farming.  21  This decline is probably due to a combination of (1) economies of scale and (2) government programmes. These factors favour grain production in the prairies. T h e Ecologies of Scale 2 0  Evan D. G . Fraser  38  Table 3-3 Hectares of grain in Delta, B.C. between 1996 - 1999. Year 1996 1997 1998 1999  Total G r a i n (ha) 444.56 301.44 339.84 257.93  Total A l l C r o p s (ha) 2146.63 2285.82 2271.25 2136.59  % Grain 21 13 15 12  Source: based o n data from D r . B o b V e r n o n , Agriculture a n d Agrifood C a n a d a , Agassiz, B . C .  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  39 A s this discussion indicates, it is necessary to use a n u m b e r of different methods to assess whether or not farm diversity leads to farm sustainability. Statistical methods that assess what ecologists call alpha-diversity m u s t be augmented with a more detailed u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the role that different crops play i n a n agro-ecosystem. C o m b i n i n g the relative specialization score proposed here, with a field-by-field a n d year-by-year assessment of legumes, potatoes, perennial crops, grain a n d grasslands, provide a holistic a p p r o a c h that allows u s to use biodiversity as a n indicator of farm sustainability. E C O L O G I C A L C O N C E P T #2:  NUTRIENT CYCLING  Another aspect of sustainable agriculture that emerges with regularity in the literature is the concept of nutrient cycling. Ecological systems function because nutrients s u c h as nitrogen a n d p h o s p h o r u s cycle between living organisms i n the biosphere. A s these nutrients often limit plant growth, an indication of a balanced ecosystem is one where there are no major nutrient surpluses or deficits. Nitrogen, for example, is a n essential component of plant protein, a n d is often a limiting factor for plant growth (Purves et al., 1992, p. 1089). A l t h o u g h nitrogen is a b u n d a n t i n the environment, it m u s t be converted into biologically useful forms for plants to be able to uptake it. O n l y a small n u m b e r of bacteria, cyanobacteria, a n d actinomycetes c a n make this conversion (called nitrogen-fixation), a n d these organisms m u s t change atmospheric nitrogen (N2) into a m m o n i a ( N H 3 ) . A l l k n o w n nitrogen fixers are p r o k a r y o t e s but some live i n association with specific e u k a r y o t e s . Some of the most important of these belong to the bacterial genus Rhizobium, where they grow on the root nodules of plants i n the legume family (which includes peas, soybeans, beans, a n d alfalfa) (Purves et al., 1992 p. 1089). Similarly, p h o s p h o r u s , w h i c h most c o m m o n l y exists as phosphate, is another nutrient that often limits plant growth. A l t h o u g h phosphate is generally found i n marine deposits, it enters the terrestrial biosphere at a slow b u t steady rate through marine upwellings (Purves et al., 1992 p. 1089). Because of this, phosphate is a component of most fertilizers. If it is overapplied by farmers spreading m a n u r e or chemical fertilizer, phosphate m a y 21  22  23  Cyanobacteria: "A division of photosynthetic bacteria, formerly referred to as bluegreen algae; they lack sexual reproduction, and they use chlorophyll a in their photosynthesis." (Purves et al., 1992 p. 1089) Actinomycetes: Nitrogen-fixing "unicellular filamentous microorganisms that branch monopodially or more rarely dichotomously and form radiating colonies; mainly found in the soil, and cause of its characteristic odour" (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2001b) Prokaryotes: "Organisms whose genetic material is not contained within a nucleaus. The bacteria. Considered an earlier stage in the evolution of life than the eukaryotes" (Purves et al., 1992 p. 1089) Eukaryotes: "Organisms whose cells contain their genetic material inside a nucleau. Includes all life except the viruses and the kingdom Monera." (Purves et al., 1992 p. 1089) 2 1  2 2  2 3  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  40 enter lakes a n d cause serious environmental problems (Purves et a l . , 1992 p. 1089). Douglas suggests there are two generic types of nutrient cycling systems that govern these ecological processes (Douglas, 1983, p. 5). T h e first of these, a "balanced equilibrium," occurs when i n p u t s a n d outputs of a resource are equal. In this type of cycle, there is no significant change i n any nutrient over time. F o r example, plants absorb c a r b o n i n the atmosphere d u r i n g photosynthesis. Plants i n t u r n provide oxygen for animals to breath. W h e n a n i m a l s exhale, a n d w h e n plants decompose, c a r b o n is released into the atmosphere. Since the absorption a n d release of c a r b o n are matched, the quantity of atmospheric c a r b o n remains s t a b l e . Similarly, water is cycled t h r o u g h a process of evaporation, transpiration, a n d precipitation i n a c o n t i n u o u s loop. 24  25  The other type of system - a "dynamic equilibrium" - adjusts to a c h a n g i n g environment by m a t c h i n g inputs a n d outputs (Douglas, 1983, p. 11). Populations of prey a n d predators represent this sort of system. A n increase i n the n u m b e r of mice, for example, m a y lead to a n increase i n the n u m b e r of foxes. If the mice population then decreases for some reason (such as a lack of food c a u s e d by weather conditions) then the n u m b e r of foxes will also decrease. In this way, the fox population is dependent o n the n u m b e r of mice. A c c o r d i n g to Douglas, m o d e r n society, based a r o u n d densely populated u r b a n centres, h a s broken both k i n d s of cycle (Douglas, 1983, p. 11). Cities take resources from remote areas. A s a result, nutrients are not cycled i n a c o n t i n u o u s a n d stable way (breaking balanced e q u i l i b r i u m cycles). T h e concentration of resources i n u r b a n areas allows u r b a n populations to grow very large (breaking d y n a m i c e q u i l i b r i u m cycles). Cities expropriate the carrying capacity of remote areas to support concentrated u r b a n populations (Douglas, 1983, p. 11; White, 1994, p, l ) . Because cities rely on remote 2 6  This process is known as Eutrophication: "...the addition of nutrient materials to water. Especially in lakes, the subsequent flourishing of algae and microorganisms can result in oxygen depletion and the eventual stifling of life in the water." (Purves et al., 1992 p. G10). This occures becuase phosphate levels usually limit algae growth in undisturbed lakes. Agricultural runoff high in phosphates may, therefore, lead to dramatic algae growth. Human activity, which involves burning large amounts of stored carbon in the form of fossil fuel, seems to have upset this balance. Carrying Capacity. "The number (or weight) of organisms of a given species and quality (in terms of health) that can survive in a given ecosystem without causing its deterioration, through the least favourable environmental conditions that occur within a stated interval of time. For example, in wildlife management, it indicates the maximum number of organisms that can be supported in a given area of habitat at any given time" (Dunster 8s Dunster, 1996 p. 54). Currently there is a considerable debate regarding the earth's carrying capacity and how it should be calculated (Daly, 1997). Much of this debate centres on the role of the economy and the possibility that technological innovation will allow us to use resources more efficiently (Boserup, 1981; Sagoff, 1997; Simon, 1981). In general, however, it is agreed that the carrying capacity of a species for an area is not fixed, and can fluctuate over the short term depending on conditions (Douglas, 1983; Homer-Dixon, 1999, 2000). 2 4  2 5  2 6  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  41 resources to m a i n t a i n massive h u m a n populations, self-regulating cycles of nutrient flows are disrupted over a large area. T h i s creates three problems: (1) we are dependent on non-renewable energy supplies to ship the needed resources to u r b a n areas (Hough, 1995, p. 31). (2) There is a net loss of nutrients i n areas where we farm. (3) Because we a c c u m u l a t e d so m a n y materials i n o u r cities, we have difficulty disposing of waste (Gliessman, 1998, p. 24). Major agricultural problems found i n m a n y regions of the world, i n c l u d i n g the F r a s e r River Valley, exhibit these broken cycles. First, farms support geographically distant cities. Second, m o d e r n farmers c a n only achieve economies of scale a n d be economically efficient by specializing on a very narrow range of crops. Few m o d e r n farmers c a n afford the expensive a n d highly specialized equipment that would allow t h e m to undertake a n i m a l a n d plant agriculture efficiently. A s a result, the waste from livestock p r o d u c e d o n highly concentrated operations overwhelms the ability of local ecosystems to absorb m a n u r e . These excess nutrients enter the ecosystem, often t h r o u g h the g r o u n d water, a n d c a n become a serious problem. T h i s is true for livestock farms i n the Fraser River valley, where ground-water nitrate levels have risen i n recent decades (Schreier et a l . , 2000, electronic source). Horticultural production suffers from the opposite problem. C o n s t a n t cropping reduces organic matter levels i n the soil a n d u n d e r m i n e s n a t u r a l fertility o n our farms. These nutrients are replaced with c h e m i c a l fertilizers, w h i c h are cheaper to spread t h a n organic m a n u r e . A s a result, the b r o k e n nutrient cycles, w h i c h are a consequence of living i n cities, extend to the way we produce food. Berry s u m s u p this situation by suggesting that m o d e r n farming h a s taken a solution a n d divided it into two problems (Berry, 1977). Resources are d r a w n away from remote areas, farms lose their n a t u r a l fertility, a n d the impact of the city is felt over a m u c h larger area t h a n the space a city directly occupies (Piatt, Rowntree, & M u i c e , 1994, p. 11; White, 1994).  Using nutrient cycling as an indicator of sustainable agriculture A s a guiding concept for sustainable agriculture, nutrient cycling is similar to biodiversity. B o t h are intuitively simply ideas that are widely recognized as strong normative concepts that help explain how ecosystems function. Like biodiversity, nutrient cycling is not a n easy concept to apply to agricultural systems. Research done by K i n g illustrates the difficulty of u s i n g nutrient cycling as a n indicator of sustainable agriculture. A l t h o u g h a farmer who replaces chemical fertilizer with m a n u r e that comes from a local source will help to close the on-farm nutrient loop (as the livestock fed on locally-grown grain will not excrete more nutrients t h a n plants c a n uptake) there is no guarantee that these nutrients will be appropriately managed a n d not cause water pollution. In other words, although the m a n u r e from livestock fed only with locally grown feed s h o u l d not exceed a n area's capacity to handle waste, this does not m e a n that m a n u r e will be stored a n d applied so that it is available to local crops w h e n they need it or that it will not end u p The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  42 polluting groundwater (King, 1990, p. 92-93). F o r example, w h e n animals graze i n pasture, m a n u r e is not deposited uniformly across the entire field so even livestock fed exclusively with locally-grown grain c a n cause nutrient pollution. K i n g estimates that it would take ten years of pasture, with a n average of 2.5 cattle per h a to cover a whole field with m a n u r e (King, 1990, p. 92). T h i s not only leads to poor distribution, b u t creates a situation where nitrogen is lost very quickly from the system. Nitrogen becomes unavailable for plants by being leached below the root zone, or t h r o u g h a chemical process called de-nitrification. De-nitrification occurs w h e n nitrate is subjected to anaerobic conditions a n d reduces to oxygen a n d nitrogen gas that is lost to the atmosphere. T h e concentration of organic matter deposited in the m a n u r e provides a n ideal environment for microbial activity, w h i c h quickly uses u p all available oxygen, a n d creates the anaerobic conditions that lead to the loss of N (King, 1990, p. 92-93). To minimize this, it is necessary to collect a n d store a n i m a l waste so that it m a y be composted, a n d then spread evenly over fields. A s a result, closed nutrient cycles on farms are a necessary b u t not sufficient condition to ensure that excess nitrogen a n d p h o s p h o r u s do not become a problem. Similarly, the type of crop that m a n u r e is spread onto will also influence whether or not nutrients become a problem. F o r example, if a farmer spreads m a n u r e onto a crop that leaves a large a m o u n t of biomass b e h i n d after the product has been harvested, then excess nitrogen will still accumulate. T h i s is especially relevant for the Fraser River Valley. Raspberries are the d o m i n a n t field crop i n the parts of the region that focus o n poultry. However, raspberries do not take u p very m u c h nitrogen relative to grain crops, a n d most of the nitrogen that is taken from the soil is u s e d by the plant to grow cane or stems of the raspberry plant. These r e m a i n on-site after the berries have been harvested. A s a result, even t h o u g h m a n u r e from the Lower Fraser Valley is being u s e d on local fields, nitrogen loading is still a problem. Therefore, to use nutrient cycling as a n indicator of sustainable agriculture we c a n start by assessing the quantity of plant-available nitrogen or phosphate that enters a n d leaves farms or farming regions. We m u s t also evaluate specific management practices to u n d e r s t a n d if these excess nutrients will cause environmental problems. (Purves et a l . , 1992 p. 1089).  CONCLUSION T h e purpose of this chapter was to both explore the relationship between farming a n d the environment a n d to show how a researcher might identify a n d examine sustainable agriculture. Specifically we developed indicators of sustainable agriculture that will help u s assess the impact of social a n d economic forces on farming a n d the environment i n the Lower Fraser Valley. There is a c o n s e n s u s i n the literature that sustainable agriculture will emulate n a t u r a l ecosystems a n d reduce environmental problems. T h e two key concepts are nutrient cycling, w h i c h refers to how nutrients move through a n ecosystem, a n d biodiversity. U n d e r s t a n d i n g that: T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  43  •  nutrients s u c h as nitrogen a n d p h o s p h o r u s often limit plant growth, • u n d i s t u r b e d ecosystems u s u a l l y cycle nutrients efficiently, • if nitrogen a n d p h o s p h o r u s are too a b u n d a n t they cause serious environmental problems, • it is extremely energy-intensive to synthesize chemical nitrogen, we c a n conclude that any agro-ecosystem that h a s either a deficit or s u r p l u s of these nutrients has been poorly managed. Biodiversity is a more complex concept. A l t h o u g h m a n y high-level national a n d international policies extol the benefits of biodiversity, there are situations where a n increase i n the n u m b e r of species creates problems. A s a result, it is necessary to u n d e r s t a n d the n u m b e r of species i n a n area, what those species are, a n d how they are geographically a n d temporally arranged. Soil stability, pests, a n d past management all play a role i n determining whether or not increased biodiversity will a d d to or reduce environmental problems. It is necessary to define what aspect of sustainability is important a n d then select the most appropriate way of assessing biodiversity. F o r the purposes of this thesis, we devised a method of m e a s u r i n g biodiversity t h r o u g h u s i n g aggregated crops data. T h i s statistic is not a complete indication of sustainable agriculture a n d m u s t be c o m b i n e d with a n assessment of the relative a b u n d a n c e of legumes, grasslands, potatoes, a n d perennial crops. Together the statistical measure of crop diversity c o m b i n e d with a qualitative assessment of these specific crops provide a strong indicator of sustainable agriculture a n d will allow u s to test the role of global trade, government policy, a n d l a n d tenure on the l a n d s c a p e . 27  Landscape. "A mosaic of habitat types occupying a spatial scale intermediate between an organism's normal home-range size and its regional distribution." (Dunster & Dunster, 1996 p. 186) 2 7  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  44  C O N C L U S I O N TO PART I: THEORETICAL F R A M E W O R K The objective of part I of this thesis was to develop a theoretical framework a n d the tools with w h i c h to assess the impacts of social a n d economic factors on farming a n d the environment. To a c c o m p l i s h this task we introduced environmental economics a n d sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture allows u s to describe all ecosystems i n the same terms. Whether it is a n u n d i s t u r b e d rain forest or a highly managed farm, we c a n describe all ecosystems u s i n g biodiversity a n d nutrient cycling. T h i s allows u s to identify how areas change over time, compare regions, a n d u n d e r s t a n d the u n d e r l y i n g root causes of environmental problems. T o u n d e r s t a n d the reasons why farmers use poor management we need the tools that the environmental economics literature provides. E n v i r o n m e n t a l economics helps u s u n d e r s t a n d the system of economic incentives that sometimes lead farmers (and other resource managers) to follow management strategies that m a y be b a d for the environment. If the sustainable agriculture literature allows u s to see the environmental cause of problems, then environmental economics shows u s h u m a n reasons leading to the problem. Illustration 3 - 1 shows how these two literatures work together to help u s link social a n d economic factors s u c h as l a n d tenure, international trade, a n d government policy with the environment i n order to explain the cause of environmental problems in the Lower Fraser River Valley.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  45  F i g u r e 3-1 - J o i n i n g t h e e c o s y s t e m a p p r o a c h a n d e n v i r o n m e n t a l economics literature.  E c o s y s t e m # 1 (this m a y be a n u n d i s t u r b e d ecosystem) has: • H i g h biodiversity • Closed nutrient cycles  The socio-economic system creates incentives through markets, institutions, and government policies. These incentives can be problematic when there are market failures due to externalities and the existence of public goods.  E c o s y s t e m #2 (this m a y be a managed ecosystem like a farm) h a s : • Low biodiversity • B r o k e n nutrient cycles (i.e. nutrient surpluses or deficits)  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  46  PART II - POSSIBLE EXPLANATIONS Thus far, this thesis has demonstrated that agriculture causes serious environmental problems around the globe despite the fact that technological solutions are available. In light of this paradox, we hypothesized that social and economic constraints are to blame for this situation and argued that the Lower Fraser Valley in British Columbia is a relevant place to test this hypothesis (chapter one). Before we could test various competing theories about why farms cause environmental problems, we needed a framework that would (1) allow us to describe the environmental problems caused by farms in a systematic way, and (2) link social and economic factors like international trade, government policy, and land tenure with the environment. Chapters two and three established this framework by reviewing the sustainable agriculture literature and the environmental economics literature. It is now time to apply this framework to data from the Lower Fraser Valley. A range of possible explanations are explored in the next section. These explanations allow us to develop specific hypotheses that will then be tested in part three of this thesis.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  47  Chapter 4 POSSIBLE EXPLANATIONS INTRODUCTION The objective of this section is to explore the range of existing theories that explain why farms cause environmental problems. Briefly, this thesis explores four theories: 1. F a r m e r s themselves are the root of the problem because they either do not u n d e r s t a n d the environmental impact of their actions or are unwilling to farm i n more responsible fashion. 2. Insecure l a n d tenure raises farmers' discount rates a n d encourages farmers to adopt a short-term perspective that maximizes the production of private goods a n d ignores public goods (such as wildlife habitat). T h i s leads to negative environmental management. 3. Increased trade creates incentives for farms to specialize on a narrow range of crops a n d this leads to environmental problems. There is no agreement i n the literature on the effect of trade, however, a n d m a n y authors argue that increased trade increases the opportunity for farmers to engage i n sustainable agriculture. B o t h sides of this argument will be e x p l o r e d . 4. T h e nature of some farm commodities is s u c h that some farm products inherently create incentives for farmers to specialize i n a narrow range of crops a n d this leads to environmental problems. If the first theory is true, a n d farmers are themselves responsible for the environmental problems their farms create due to negligence or lack of u n d e r s t a n d i n g , then the hypothesis of this thesis is false. A s a result, this chapter both introduces this idea a n d applies data to test this explanation. The other three theories are only introduced here. Part three of this thesis applies data from the Lower Fraser Valley to test each one. 28  We explore these theories through two different types of reference material. First, we will draw u p o n the academic literature to see how the scholarly c o m m u n i t y perceives these ideas. Second, we will analyse comments made by people inside B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a ' s agriculture a n d food i n d u s t r y to u n d e r s t a n d the stakeholder perceptions of these issues. These comments came from hearings held by the B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a provincial government i n 1999-2000 on the state of the agri-food i n d u s t r y i n the province. T h e mandate of the standing committee that organized these hearings was to u n d e r s t a n d the different challenges that the agri-food i n d u s t r y i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a is facing, a n d to draft a provincial policy to <  A sub-theme that will also be explored is that improvements in transportation and storage have made it possible to provide urban consumers with fresh produce year round. This has resulted in increased competition for the processing industry that many farmers formerly counted on as their primary market. 2 8  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  48 address these challenges. In order to meet this goal, the standing committee identified key stakeholders in the agri-food industry that included farmers, processors, distributors, retailers, civil servants, politicians, academics and other professionals, as well as representatives of relevant non-governmental organizations (NGOs). After identifying the key stakeholders, the standing committee invited presentations from specific individuals who represented the diversity of issues at stake. The standing committee also held hearings across the province of British Columbia, and took out advertisements in local newspapers inviting presentations from the public. This thesis uses the official, verbatim Hansard Transcripts from these hearings to assess what influences the presenters said caused the farm crisis. Using the transcripts in this way has both strengths and weaknesses. First, respondents do not represent a random sample, are self-selecting, and may have made presentations to the committee that put their own interests in the best possible light. Consequently, it is questionable whether farmers were critical of their own activities. Nevertheless, this is still a valid method for understanding a variety of perceptions of agriculture in British Columbia. All players with a stake in the future of the province's agricultural economy were actively encouraged to make presentations. As there were numerous groups present with different points of view, it is clear that the standing committee heard from a diverse and well-represented cross-section of B.C.'s agricultural community. For example, senior executives of major retailing stores such as the Real Canadian Superstore as well as members of "anti-corporate" NGOs all presented to the committee. Also, the Standing Committee travelled the length and breadth of British Columbia. It would have also been virtually impossible for a doctoral candidate to do this. In light of the self-selecting nature of the farmers' representations, however, conclusions from the transcripts must be used with caution. They are an excellent source to understand perceptions, develop a broad understanding of the challenges that the industry is facing, and establish basic hypotheses. Even if we cannot assume that the presentations were selfcritical, they provide a place where we can start to understand why farming has a negative impact on the environment. Then we must move on to other evidence based on farmers' actions as well as their words. 29  T H E O R Y # 1 A R E N E G L E C T A N D IGNORANCE R E S P O N S I B L E ?  If the environmental problems that agriculture causes are a result of neglect or a general lack of awareness on the part of farmers, then the hypothesis of this thesis - that the social and economic system creates biases against sustainable farming - is clearly wrong. As a result, it is important to carefully assess data to see if the environmental problems caused by T h e s e t r a n s c r i p t s are available o n the W o r l d W i d e W e b at: http://www.legis.gov.bc.ca//CMT/CMT08/. ( H a n s a r d , 1999-2000) A p p e n d i x II c o n t a i n s a m o r e detailed d i s c u s s i o n o n the m e t h o d s u s e d to a n a l y s e the t r a n s c r i p t s . 2 9  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  49 agriculture are merely due to negligence, ignorance, or a lack of concern by farmers. In order to ascertain whether farmers cause environmental problems, this research posed two questions: (1) do any of the stakeholders (including farmers) blame farmers for using bad environmental management and accuse the farmers of being negligent? (2) do farmers' actions support the claim that they are not the source of the problem? Data from the  transcripts  To answer the first question, transcripts from the standing committee were analysed to see if any of the stakeholders blamed the farmers. No one did. Instead, the people who presented to the government committee suggested that issues ranging from global trade to governmental policy cause environmental problems. This is extremely important. There were clear differences of opinion on most subjects discussed. For example, some presenters were clearly critical of globalization, corporate power, and the effect of trade. Other presenters came from global corporations and spoke i n favour of trade. When it came to discussing farmers, however, there was a consensus that farmers are, i n general, conscientious stewards of the land. This point was summarized by the first report of the standing committee: In B.C., agricultural producers and processors have demonstrated a commitment to upholding environmental standards in their farm and production practices... .farmers are, in fact, the original primary stewards of the land and water.... [and] environmentalism is inherent to good farm practices, since farmers, more than any other group, have an unmediated understanding of their dependence on clean water, soil and air. (Select Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries, 2000, electronic source)  This report concludes that the provincial government should help promote sound environmental management on farms by replacing environmentally damaging subsidies, such as transportation subsidies, with tax incentives that promote best management practices. Unsurprisingly, farmers themselves argued that they support good management and strive to practice the best environmental stewardship they can. For example, farmers indicated that they understand that their farms provide extremely important wildlife habitat: There are a lot offarmers in this municipality who put in overwintering crops to protect their soil from erosion. A lot of those crops are also very enticing for migratory birds who make their home here over the winter. (W. Jeske, Municipal Councillor for Delta, B.C., Hansard, December 1 , 1999) st  We have lots of bear and deer on our property... I think farming and ranching tend to enhance the wildlife, [so] we try to leave as much  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  50  timber around for windbreaks and moisture-retaining strips and things like that... as far as I'm concerned. I'd rather just see them there— you know, enjoy them. (K. Mitchell, farmer, Hansard, October 25 , 1999). th  However, farmers were also concerned that they suffer a financial loss w h e n wildlife damages their property, a n d feel that all residents of B . C . s h o u l d help cover the cost of this damage since wildlife is a public good:  Another issue we had was that wildlife issues are becoming a problem in the area. There is some concern that farmers will not be compensated for crop losses or damages.... there really hasn't been too much done in terms of compensating individual farmers if they receive huge losses or noticeable losses. So it is something we would like government to address. (P. Davidson, Farmer and President of Smithers Farmers Institute, Hansard, October 13 , 1999) th  We feel that if corrective measures are to be imposed on agricultural lands, be it environmental regulations or labour standards, those costs must be passed on to the consumer or society in general ...[for example] an outright grant to ensure that a "works for society's benefit" becomes society's cost, not a ... land owner's cost. (L. Hunter, farmer, Kamloops-Okanagan Dairymen's Association, Hansard, October, 27 , 1999) th  C o m m e n t s made by farmers go beyond the role of wildlife habitat a n d suggest that good environmental management is a part of farming that government policy m u s t support:  ...we feel a forward-looking agriculture policy must address ... the environment. We want the policy to focus the government's resources and efforts in an environmental area ... [since ] it is natural for the B.C. agricultural producers to be stewards of the land. (K. Carlson, farmer, Hansard, November 3 , 1999). rd  Farmers'  behaviour  Since farmers were the largest a n d best represented group at the standing committee, it is not s u r p r i s i n g that this process revealed little criticism against farmers. A s a result, it is necessary to find data that allow u s to test whether farm management practices b a c k u p these claims. The C a n a d i a n C e n s u s supports the position that farmers are not negligent or ignorant. B a s e d o n responses i n 1991 a n d 1996, the n u m b e r of farms i n the Lower Fraser Valley u s i n g practices to reduce soil erosion (called conservation tillage) rose from 312 i n 1991 to 533 i n 1996. T h e n u m b e r of farms u s i n g winter cover crops to prevent soil erosion a n d nutrient runoff d u r i n g the wet winter m o n t h s also increased from 9 0 3 to 9 7 7 (though this The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  51 was a slight decline i n the proportion of farmers u s i n g cover crops). Finally, the n u m b e r of farmers u s i n g some form of crop rotation also rose (Statistics C a n a d a , 1991, 1996). Clearly, however, there is a huge room to improve. Table 4.1, w h i c h is d r a w n from c e n s u s data u s e d by Schreier et. al. show that only a small fraction of B . C . farmers use these sorts of soil conservation practices. O n the other h a n d , B . C . farmers have been at the forefront of North A m e r i c a n producers since the 1980s i n u s i n g environmentally s o u n d pest management practices. Almost all greenhouse a n d tree fruit growers, a n d a majority of vegetable growers have minimized c h e m i c a l pest control by u s i n g a variety of chemical a n d n o n - c h e m i c a l techniques referred to as "integrated pest management" (Select S t a n d i n g Committee on Agriculture a n d Fisheries, 2000, electronic source).  T h e Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G . Fraser  52  T a b l e 4-1 N u m b e r o f f a r m s i n t h e L o w e r F r a s e r V a l l e y r e p o r t i n g u s i n g different s o i l c o n s e r v a t i o n p r a c t i c e s i n 1 9 9 1 a n d 1 9 9 6 . 1991 # of farms Total n u m b e r of farms  9974  C r o p Rotation  726  Permanent G r a s s Cover Winter Cover C r o p s C o n t o u r Cultivation G r a s s e d Waterways Source:  903  % of farms  1996 # of farms  % of farms  11000  % change 1991 - 1 9 9 6 9  7.279  1395  12.68  48  0  4693  42.66  Na  9.054  977  8.882  8  0  162  1.473  Na  247  2.245  Na  1991 a n d 1996 C a n a d i a n C e n s u s , cited i n Schreier et. al. 2000.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  53 Another indication that farmers are neither ignorant nor unresponsive to opportunities to improve environmental management is that d e m a n d has exceeded funding for a n u m b e r of government programmes designed to provide incentives for good farm-management. F o r example, farmers took full advantage of a provincial cost-sharing programme to construct m a n u r e storage facilities. T h i s reduces the a m o u n t of nutrients leaching into g r o u n d water tables. T h e y have also supported the "grassland set aside programme" that pays farmers i n Delta to plant perennial grass fields to provide habitat for wildlife a n d enhance soil health (see chapter five for a complete d i s c u s s i o n on this programme). A similar programme pays farmers to plant winter cover crops i n the Delta that protect the soil from nutrient loss a n d erosion d u r i n g the winter rains.  Conclusion to "Negligence and Ignorance" When • • • •  taken together, data collected, including: the comments made by farmers; the c o n c l u s i o n reached by the standing committee; the widespread use of integrated pest management; the increase in conservation tillage a n d crop rotation; a n d  • the m a n u r e a n d grasslands programmes, all suggest that farmers are not ignorant of the environmental problems c a u s e d by agriculture a n d do not neglect the environment w h e n they have a n incentive to do otherwise. T h i s is not to say that farmers always make the best environmental decisions, that the comments made by farmers are u n b i a s e d , or that there is no role for farmer-education. Rather, the data presented here suggest that farmers are not the sole cause of the environmental problems a n d that other forces are at work. T h i s important point highlights the difficult task a researcher has i n u n d e r s t a n d i n g the role of the individual, as a rational a n d a u t o n o m o u s decision-maker, a n d how social a n d economic constraints influence specific behaviour. Scholars i n the field of "political ecology" have devoted considerable intellectual energy over recent decades to examining this question (see: H e n r i c h , 1997; V a y d a 8B Walters, 1999; W a r d , 1993). F o r example, H e n r i c h presents data from indigenous groups i n the Peruvian A m a z o n that suggest local communities are not "compelled by external forces...but instead are active enthusiastic participants seeking to engage the Western market i n order to acquire Western goods..." (1997, p. 319). In contrast, W a r d presents evidence that farmers i n the West are on a treadmill that "...can best be conceptualized as a set of structural conditions, w h i c h have been shaped by international political a n d economic processes..." (1993, p 349). T h e purpose of this thesis is not to judge these two positions. Instead, based o n the evidence already presented i n this chapter, we take the position that farmers, like any other members of society, are faced with a series of choices that are constrained by the social, economic a n d political c i r c u m s t a n c e s i n w h i c h they find themselves. It is these constraints that The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  54  become the subject of this thesis, and the remainder of this and the next chapter will explore theories that try to explain what these might be. THEORY #2:  LAND TENURE  As discussed in chapter one, there are a number of different tenure and land management arrangements in this area, each of which govern the length of time a farmer may work a piece of land. Most of the farmland in the municipality of Delta, at the mouth of the Fraser River, is part of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Since its inception, the ALR has been controversial because it curtails landowners' rights to develop their land. The ALR was seen by many who presented to the Standing Committee as a draconian measure that has hamstrung farmers' ability to make a living ever since: ...when we as a society created the agricultural land reserve, we basically said right then to anybody who owns farmland: "You are a farmer whether you want to be or not, whether you can make any money at it or not.".... If society is going to insist that certain lands be used only for agriculture, then society should carry some responsibility to ensure that the people who own that land can in fact make a living by farming it. (B. Goodacre, standing committee member, Hansard, September 19 , 1999). th  Farmers complain that the ALR has reduced the value of the land since it prohibits non-agricultural development. This is especially significant since land is the most valuable asset most farmers own. The value of the land will influence whether a farmer can obtain credit to invest in their business: 30  We're watching [non-ALR] land being bought up around us for $3,000 to $5,000 an acre, but we can't even borrow against our land to do improvements on our place — non-movable, fixed assets like a barn. The land is almost irrelevant. Because it is in the ALR, it is not developable. (P. Christensen, Farmer, Hansard, October th j 14  1999  During the standing committee hearings one farmer even went so far as to suggest that:  Strange, however, shows how high land values in the US during the 1980s led farmers to over-burden themselves with debt that ultimately caused great financial hardship. He argues that, because land tends to appreciate over time, it is attractive to investors who have no interest in its value as productive farmland. As a result, any investor may choose to acquire land as a hedge against inflation, as an investment that they expect to gain in value over time, or as a tax shelter. This additional demand for land pushed prices up even further, creating the illusion that real land values were rising rapidly. In the 1980s, in parts of the US, the high apparent return on farmland drew even more speculators, which for a time drove land values up even higher. Predictably, this bubble burst eventually, leaving farmers, who had mortgaged their farms to invest in additional land, with excessive mortgages (Strange, 1988). 3 0  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  55 ...there are two types offarmers. There are rich farmers outside the agricultural land reserve, and then there are poor farmers that are tied to [it].... The only asset a farmer ever has in his whole lifetime as a farmer is his land. When you take away his land, you've taken away his manoeuvrability with the financial institutions; you've taken away any way for him to manoeuvre and make capital fixed improvements or change commodities or whatever is necessary to keep agriculture viable.... (A. Clarke, Orchardist, Hansard, October 27 , 1999) th  T h e second major l a n d tenure arrangement i n the F r a s e r Valley is that the provincial government is a major agricultural landowner i n Delta. In 1968, the G o v e r n m e n t led by Premier W . A . C . Bennett expropriated 1641 h a in Delta. It was expected that this l a n d would be developed by i n d u s t r y to support the adjacent government-run coal port. However, the port never attracted the expected industrial development a n d this l a n d h a s remained farmed by tenant farmers ever since. In recent years some of the l a n d h a s been sold b a c k to farmers, though sales have stopped because all crown l a n d in this area is being claimed u n d e r the Tsawwasen first nations l a n d claim. B a s e d o n the 1996 C e n s u s of Agriculture, 42 per cent of the f a r m l a n d i n Delta was owner-operated, 36 per cent was private l a n d leased to farmers, a n d 23 per cent was provincial l a n d leased to farmers. A c c o r d i n g to the M u n i c i p a l i t y of Delta's report o n agriculture, 44 per cent of the rented l a n d was o n year-toyear leases, while 31 per cent is o n long-term leases of 10 or more years. T h e literature agrees with the stakeholders who express concern that these arrangements will affect how a farmer manages the land. Gills et. al. suggest that these sort of arrangements c a n have a major impact o n farm productivity as "...an individual proprietor who owns l a n d knows that increased effort or skill that leads to a rise i n output will also improve income..." (Gills, et. al. 1992 p. 494). Strange, s u m m a r i z i n g the literature on the effect of absentee l a n d l o r d i s m , cites M a c C a n n e l l : Everyone who has done careful research on farm size, residency of agricultural landowners and social conditions in the rural community finds the same relationship: as farm size and absentee ownership increase, social conditions in the local community deteriorate (MacCannell in Strange, 1988 p. 87) Panayotou considers that insecure or incomplete tenure might lead to market failure since the government h a s not provided the foundations for the capitalist market to operate (Panayotou, 1993, p. 2 & 27). He points out that all resource managers, w h i c h includes forestry companies, fishers, a n d miners as well as farmers, need properly defined property rights that guarantee t h e m secure a n d exclusive access to a resource. It is also important that resource managers are able to transfer their tenure to other users i n order to create incentives to conserve the resource for future generations. The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  56 Insecure l a n d tenure relates to the environment by increasing the d i s c o u n t rate that farmers use when deciding how to manage the land. F a r m e r s who need to pay a n n u a l rent on land, m u s t always plant c a s h crops, a n d will never establish grasslands that provide no c a s h return. Similarly, farmers who do not own their l a n d will not invest i n costly, b u t environmentally beneficial, l a n d improvements like laser levelling a n d subsoil drainage. T h u s , insecure l a n d tenure destroys incentives to engage i n soil conservation a n d creates incentives to maximize short-term profits at the expense of s u s t a i n a b i l i t y . E r v i n supports this argument by showing that erosion rates for owner-operated c r o p l a n d is m u c h lower t h a n rented c r o p l a n d (Ervin, 1982 p. 285-88). 31  A l t h o u g h Wilson agrees, he stresses that farmers do not need to own their l a n d to have secure l a n d tenure (Wilson, 1990 p. 76, 86). He argues that a shift h a s o c c u r r e d d u r i n g last century. In previous generations, l a n d ownership was a central goal for m a n y C a n a d i a n farmers. Today, however, investing i n equipment is often a better way to spend resources. W i l s o n cites the S a s k a t c h e w a n Wheat Pool, the National F a r m e r s U n i o n , a n d the New Democratic Party who all favour a system of "...public l a n d b a n k i n g with a n option for farmer purchase" where farmers would be able to work towards owning l a n d that they have been working on long-term leases (Wilson, 1990 p. 76, 86). S u c h a system would give farmers secure a n d long-term tenure (and the incentives to invest i n soil conservation) without requiring huge down payments for l a n d ownership. T h e key is to ensure that farmers c a n make a long-term commitment to a specific piece of l a n d . 3 2  This is sometimes called "mining the soil" where a farmer draws down the natural fertility of the soil by planting successive years of cash crops because they may not have access to that field in the future (Delta, 1992, p. 18). Schultz suggests another alternative that is beyond the scope of this thesis to explore in detail. He points out that farmland is less valuable in industrialized nations than it is in poorer parts of the world. According to Schultz, as an agricultural system becomes more technologically advanced the relative importance of the land diminishes, while the importance of technology and farmer know-how increases (Schultz, 1953). In North America and Europe, for example, land is no longer the limiting factor in economic progress in the farming industry. This is what he would call a "low food drain" society that is characterized by a high degree of technological advancement, and a low population to arable land ratio. In such "modern" societies (the U.S. and Canada, for example), only 12 per cent of national income is spent on food and only 20 per cent of this pays for land. According to Schultz' calculations, in the 1950s North American society only invested 2.5 per cent of its aggregate income in agricultural land (Schultz, 1953). By contrast, in a "high food drain society" (one that has little technology and a large population to land ratio), as much as 75 per cent of the nation's income can be spent on food. In many such situations the value of the agricultural land represents 1/3 of the value of food. Consequently, in this situation, 25 per cent of a nation's gross income is devoted to agricultural land. This represents a massive investment of resources and provides an extremely strong incentive to conserve that resource (Schultz, 1953). Given this situation, Schultz concludes that, agricultural land is less important now than it was in the past in North America. He suggests, therefore, that there are more incentives to conserve the soil in the non-industrialized world than in Canada, the US or Europe. 3 1  3 2  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  57 S i n c e the Lower F r a s e r V a l l e y h a s a n u m b e r of different l a n d tenure a r r a n g e m e n t s , we w o u l d expect to see different types of f a r m m a n a g e m e n t o n rented v e r s u s o w n e d l a n d . A s a result, we c a n e s t a b l i s h specific hypotheses a b o u t the effect of l a n d tenure to see w h a t i m p a c t it h a s o n the e n v i r o n m e n t . If i n s e c u r e l a n d tenure increases i m p l i c i t d i s c o u n t rates, t h e n we expect that l a n d farmed t h r o u g h s h o r t - t e r m a r r a n g e m e n t s w o u l d m a x i m i z e s h o r t - t e r m profitability at the expense of long-term s u s t a i n a b i l i t y . B a s e d o n the d i s c u s s i o n of the e n v i r o n m e n t a l i m p a c t of specific c r o p s (chapter three) we hypothesize t h a t rented l a n d w i l l have: • more a n n u a l species, i n c l u d i n g more potatoes; • less legumes; • less grain; a n d • less g r a s s l a n d s . If t h i s is the case t h e n there is a clear i n d i c a t i o n t h a t farmers face a h i g h d i s c o u n t rate a n d c o m p r o m i s e biodiversity b y p l a n t i n g only those species t h a t offer a n i m m e d i a t e financial r e t u r n . S u b s e q u e n t c h a p t e r s present d a t a to test t h i s h y p o t h e s i s . 33  T H E O R Y #3:  T H E IMPACT O F GLOBAL T R A D E  The next theory we w i l l tackle is the effect of global trade o n f a r m s u s t a i n a b i l i t y . There is no agreement o n the i m p a c t of globalization either i n the a c a d e m i c literature or i n the stakeholder c o m m e n t s . F o r example, some s c h o l a r s argue t h a t more a g r i c u l t u r a l trade a n d less government i n t e r v e n t i o n h a s the p o t e n t i a l to benefit the e n v i r o n m e n t a n d society (Anderson 8B Strutt, 1996; J o h n s o n , 1991). O t h e r s posit t h a t t h i s is a recipe for disaster (Altieri, 1990; B e r r y , 1987; B o m f o r d , 1 9 9 8 / 9 ; B . K n e e n , 1999; R i t c h i e , 1993, 1998; S h i v a , 1993). There is a need to develop specific a n d testable hypotheses a b o u t h o w trade w i l l affect the e n v i r o n m e n t a n d a p p l y e m p i r i c a l d a t a to this p r o b l e m . To a c c o m p l i s h this objective we w i l l : 1. Present two a r g u m e n t s that suggest trade leads to better e n v i r o n m e n t a l management. 2. Present a r g u m e n t s that suggest trade leads to worse e n v i r o n m e n t a l m a n a g e m e n t a n d t h a t government regulations are r e q u i r e d to encourage s u s t a i n a b l e a g r i c u l t u r e . 3. U s e these c o m p e t i n g theories to develop hypotheses. Pro-trade argument # 1: Increased trade promotes  biodiversity  Pierce (1993) suggests t h a t c e r t a i n government p r o g r a m m e s s u c h as p r o d u c t i o n s u b s i d i e s , price s u p p o r t s , i m p o r t - e x p o r t b a r r i e r s , a n d s u p p l y To recap the discussion in chapter three, while annual crops provide yearly cash return, they require constant cultivation (which leads to compaction and drainage problems) and decrease organic matter. Legumes are an important part of a sustainable crop rotation because they fix nitrogen, generally the most limiting soil nutrient. Grain leaves a crop residue after harvest that helps build organic matter. Grasslands, which provide no financial return to farmers, are a vital component of good management because they reduce compaction, build soil organic matter and prevent erosion. The Ecologies of Scale 3 3  Evan D . G . Fraser  58 management stand i n the way of trade, support farm income, a n d reduce biodiversity. A c c o r d i n g to Pierce, government regulations promote on-farm specialization because they influence farmers to plant crops supported by the government rather t h a n crops that are ecologically suited to their farms or d e m a n d e d by the market (Pierce, 1993, p. 386). These programmes, w h i c h are designed to promote r u r a l stability by guaranteeing a farmer's income, take considerable risk out of farming a n d encourage farmers to plant monocultures with a high economic return. In this way, taxpayers create incentives for poor environmental management on farms. A c c o r d i n g to Pierce, if these supports were lowered, farmers would find other ways of averting risk, for example, by planting a wider diversity of crops to ensure that they were protected against pest outbreaks, crop failure, a n d low market prices for particular commodities (Pierce, 1993, p. 385-7). Some of the stakeholders echoed this opinion, arguing that if governments provide direct financial support to farmers they create a false sense of security that stands i n the way of change. Unfettered, the market will send price signals to farmers a n d producers that they m u s t change their practices a n d develop the products that c o n s u m e r s d e m a n d . Government support obscures these signals, allowing producers to continue to make products that the market does not want. Following this logic, the best way to help farmers adapt a n d thrive i n today's market is to remove support so that farmers see the need to innovate:  There's such a high degree of regulation, farmers and producers may get this false sense of security that they have this blanket that keeps saying: "If you keep doing what you've always done, we're going to keep paying you an ever-increasing amount of money, and the taxpayer is going to bear it." (A. Campbell, vice-president of fresh operations for Thrifty Foods, Vancouver Island, Hansard, February 3 , 2000) rd  A c c o r d i n g to B r a d s h a w a n d Smit (1999), this point of view represents the predominant "neo-classical" position that a reduction i n over-all support for agriculture will lead to efficient resource allocation, reduced pollution, a n d m i n i m i z e d l a n d degradation (Bradshaw & Smit, 1999, p. 1-4). A n d e r s o n a n d Strutt (1996) b a c k this u p . T h e y argue that there is a strong correlation between government production subsidies a n d i n p u t use on farms. B a s e d on this observation, they conclude that reduced subsidies will lead to a drop i n agri-chemical inputs a n d a n increase i n environmental sustainability (Anderson & Strutt, 1996, p. 151-172). A n d e r s o n a n d Strutt also conclude that a complete removal of agricultural subsidies will result i n a reduction of grain production i n E u r o p e a n d North A m e r i c a a n d a commensurate increase in the developing world. Because farms i n the developed world are more input-dependent, the authors argue that this s h o u l d result i n a n overall improvement i n global environmental management (Anderson & Strutt, 1996, p. 151-172).  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  59 According to the same analysis, a reduction in livestock subsidies would also lead to a reorganization of the global livestock market, away from densely populated countries and into more sparsely populated regions where there is more land available for pasture (Anderson 8B Strutt, 1996, p. 160). This would create a number of results. First, more livestock would be fed on pasture. Second, there would be less demand for livestock feed that is typically input demanding and needs to be shipped long distances. Third, livestock would be reared less intensively and at lower densities. Consequently, each animal would be individually less valuable and less prone to disease because they would be raised in the open rather than in extremely expensive and densely packed barns. As a result, Anderson and Strutt conclude that veterinary costs would drop, and there would be less need to add antibiotics and hormones to feed (Anderson 8B Strutt, 1996, p. 161). Ervin (1997) reviews a number of studies that have tried to model the impact of reduced subsidies on the environment. Some studies do indeed show that a reduction in subsidy leads to a reduction of pesticide use in the United States. Other environmental benefits include the conversion of erosion-prone land to pasture and a reduction in water use for irrigation. Other studies, however, show exactly the opposite trend, and conclude that a reduction in US / European Union farm support would actually lead to increased food production, more input use and a greater reliance on irrigation (Ervin, 1997, p. 7-16). According to Ervin, New Zealand provides some interesting examples of these forces (Ervin, 1997, p. 27-28). Confirming Anderson and Strutt's hypothesis that fertilizer use will fall after the removal of subsidies, phosphate fertilizer, pesticide use, and the conversion of marginal lands into pastures did fall in the 1980s when agricultural support was reduced. This, however, was restricted to the sheep industry. For New Zealand's horticultural producers, input use increased and many farmers switched to poorer land management practices in response to a drop in income (Ervin, 1997, p. 28). In summary, authors who support trade argue that farmers will be more aware of ecological limits if they cannot rely on government programmes to protect them. Consequently, farmers should diversify their operations and this will have environmental benefits. 34  Arrow et. al. point out that although trade agreements such as NAFTA and the WTO include side agreements about the environment (NAFTA established the Montreal-based Council for Environmental Cooperation that is supposed to oversee the effects of trade on the environment in Canada, Mexico and the US), generally these concerns are tangential. There is an implicit assumption that economic growth will be good for the environment. Although at an early stage of economic development there will be some environmental degradation (as virgin stocks are utilized and pollution is created) this should stabilize and diminish after time as people become rich enough to demand better environmental services (Arrow et al., 1995). However, Jacobs and Panayotou both conclude that, in general, trade and economic growth are neither good nor bad for the environment in and of themselves (Jacobs, 1993; Panayotou, 1993). As Jacobs puts it, the invisible hand can bring prosperity but an invisible elbow can bring problems (Jacobs, 1993). Trade and economic growth can increase or 3 4  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  60 Pro-trade argument #2: services.  Trade increases demand for better environmental  A n o t h e r pro-trade theme that r u n s t h r o u g h some of the a c a d e m i c literature i s t h a t trade a n d e n v i r o n m e n t a l m a n a g e m e n t s h o u l d reinforce one a n o t h e r ( E r v i n , 1997). Trade is s u p p o s e d to lead to higher i n c o m e s that allow people the freedom to d e m a n d better e n v i r o n m e n t a l services. A n d e r s o n a n d S t r u t t , a m o n g s t the strongest p r o p o n e n t s of t h i s view, argue t h a t the single m o s t effective strategy for r a i s i n g e n v i r o n m e n t a l s t a n d a r d s i s to u s e trade to increase i n c o m e s (Anderson 8B S t r u t t , 1996). E c h o i n g t h i s point, Tweeden a n d A m p o n s a h argue that s m a l l farmers do n o t invest i n soil c o n s e r v a t i o n strategies b e c a u s e they are poor (Tweeden 8B A m p o n s a h , 1 9 9 8 ) . There are two inter-related c o m p o n e n t s to this a r g u m e n t . F i r s t , trade leads to higher f a r m i n c o m e s , w h i c h m a y m a k e it possible for a farmer to afford more costly m a n a g e m e n t practices that are good for the e n v i r o n m e n t (however, if i n c r e a s e d i n c o m e i s a result of a n e n v i r o n m e n t a l externality, t h e n i n c o m e w i l l n o t provide a n incentive for better management). T h i s i n c r e a s e s a farmer's ability to internalise e n v i r o n m e n t a l p r o b l e m s . S e c o n d , i n c r e a s e d c o n s u m e r i n c o m e creates the d e m a n d for food t h a t h a s been p r o d u c e d w i t h h i g h e n v i r o n m e n t a l s t a n d a r d s . T h i s d e m a n d r e w a r d s farmers for i n t e r n a l i s i n g e n v i r o n m e n t a l costs b e c a u s e e n v i r o n m e n t a l l y - b e n e f i c i a l p r o d u c e c o m m a n d s a p r e m i u m at the s u p e r m a r k e t . B r a d s h a w a n d S m i t review the literature o n w h a t h a p p e n s to the price of c o m m o d i t i e s (and, therefore, to farm-income) i n a free trade or de-regulated t r a d i n g environment. U n d e r systems of government protection, a s w a s e s t a b l i s h e d i n E u r o p e after W o r l d W a r II, governments c a n m a i n t a i n stable prices for farmers t h r o u g h i m p o s i n g i m p o r t a n d export b a r r i e r s ( B r a d s h a w 8B S m i t , 1999). B r a d s h a w a n d S m i t suggest t h a t once trade b a r r i e r s fall, prices become more volatile a n d capitalist m a r k e t s w i l l c a u s e s h o r t - t e r m b u s i n e s s cycles to increase b o t h i n a m p l i t u d e a n d i n frequency. B r a d s h a w a n d S m i t 35  decrease independent of specific environmental problems. For example, between 1973 and 1986 the US economy grew considerably, yet energy consumption remained flat (Sagoff, 1997, p. 48-61). In this case, increased economic growth did not translate into higher energy use and associated environmental problems. As a result, it is necessary to examine what conditions these forces create and how they translate into environmental management on the ground. Alternatively, others suggest that poor farmers will be unable to afford costly inputs like fertilizer and pesticides and will farm more ecologically in order to avoid serious pest outbreaks. For example, D'Sousa et. al. (1998) suggest that small farmers are more likely to invest in soil conservation because they are more directly dependent on the health of their fields to survive year to year (D'Souza, Ikerd, & Kemmet, 1998; Tweeden & Amponsah, 1998). Corky Evans, then Minister of Agriculture for British Columbia, has contributed to this debate by arguing that poor farmers in B.C. cannot afford expensive inputs so are forced to become more ecological: 3 5  ... we've got people on Vancouver Island, who ten years ago used to spray to get rid of the clover, because they thought that made lousy hay. Now they grow the clover because they can't afford fertilizer. They're too broke [to afford the inputs]... (Hon. C. Evans, Minister for Agriculture and Food, Hansard, June 15 1999) th  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . F r a s e r  61 conclude that this results i n income insecurity a n d reduces farmers' p l a n n i n g horizons. W h e n farmers are insecure, they use short-term agricultural management a n d u s e the environment as a sort of resource b a n k w h e n prices drop (Bradshaw & Smit, 1999). A s a result, these authors suggest that deregulating the trade of agricultural commodities c a n present a barrier to environmental stewardship. While m a n y authors agree that price volatility c a n reduce a farmer's income a n d p l a n n i n g horizon a n d t h u s h u r t environmental stewardship, m a n y disagree with B r a d s h a w a n d Smit about the cause of price volatility (Barichello, 2 0 0 1 , personal communication). F o r example, the "law of big numbers" stipulates that if a large a m o u n t of a commodity trades over a large geographic area then the market s h o u l d stay relatively stable. Conversely, if only a small a m o u n t of a product is traded, or if the geographic range of the market is restricted, then prices c o u l d swing widely. F o r example, if there is only a local market for corn, a n d there are no imports or exports, then either extreme weather or a large buyer or seller c o u l d have a serious effect o n the s u p p l y a n d d e m a n d for corn. However, if the c o r n market extends a r o u n d the world, a n extreme event like a drought i n one area s h o u l d only have a limited impact o n the traded world price. T h i s logic is especially important for primary commodities where d e m a n d is inelastic. J o h n s o n (1991) illustrates this point by arguing that governmental programmes lead to the overproduction of supported commodities, a n d that this depresses prices, costs taxpayers, a n d distorts trade (Johnson, 1991, p. 9). J o h n s o n concludes that the policies that Western governments have followed to support farm income create a dependence o n government money a n d promote overproduction that creates greater price swings o n the international market. T h i s leads to greater inefficiencies i n the system t h a n if the market was allowed to work unfettered (Johnson, 1991, p. 32-34). In this view, trade will lead to the most efficient production system a n d c o n s u m e r d e m a n d will create incentives for good environmental management. T h e stakeholders contributed to this debate a n d often referred to the fact that some c o n s u m e r s are very concerned about how their food is produced. F a r m e r s expressed the belief that although m a n y c o n s u m e r s d e m a n d the low-priced produce offered by the major grocery chains, there are new opportunities to market environmentally-beneficial products, t h u s capitalizing o n new niche markets that have developed over recent years: We're facing two simultaneous and increasing pressures right now worldwide and certainly here in British Columbia. One is for increased food production. The other is environmental protection. (M. Winston, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University Hansard, December 2 , 1999) nd  I think that for many years, if we look at British Columbia, there have been three or four large retail chains that have controlled the grocery dollar.... But I think, in a province and a country where we value freedom of choice, the consumer is the one that's going to The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  62  make the decision ultimately. On the one hand, people say that they don't like big-box stores, huge grocery stores or the loss leaders on milk, etc., because it hurts local economies. At the same time, people vote with their feet when they go and buy in those stores. (J. van Dongen, Committee Member and MLA for Abbotsford, Hansard, October 13 , 1999). th  People are very concerned about what they're consuming. That concern's going to continue; that's not going to disappear. So I think if we get on the leading edge - and we already are. . . . By nature, we already have the cleanest fruit, so we just have to make sure that we stay in that front. I think my main point is that although we're already the cleanest producers in North America, we are not capitalizing on that. (J. Cardoso, farmer, Hansard, November 3 , 1999). rd  To sell these p r e m i u m products, however, c o n s u m e r s m u s t be educated so that they are willing to spend extra o n locally p r o d u c e d food:  If we can't educate the consumer to see that there's a difference between a tomato produced here and one from Mexico or a chicken piece from here and one from Georgia, we're not going to make it. This is a race to the bottom, and we're going to lose (B. Warner, British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Hansard, June 15 , 1999) th  O n e i n d u s t r y group disagreed that niche markets will ever provide a n answer to B . C . ' s farm problems. Simply put, this presenter argues that B . C . produces s u c h a large volume of food d u r i n g the s u m m e r that it w o u l d be impossible to find new specialty markets for all this produce given our preference for y e a r - r o u n d fresh produce:  We produced four or five million pounds offruit a year, which we sold in a 90-day period. You don't sell that at farmers' markets. You distribute that all over North America, wherever you can. Farmers' markets [and other niche markets] are nice.... But realistically, they are a very small portion of the food distribution system in this province and in this country. (M. Driediger, B. C. Vegetable Marketing Association, Hansard, December 1 , 1999) st  Most stakeholders agreed that while c o n s u m e r d e m a n d a n d globalization are helping low-cost food retailers expand, there is a n increasing opportunity for local farmers to develop niche markets for environmentally conscious c o n s u m e r s . In s u m m a r y , some academic literature suggests trade will benefit the environment. T h i s is because, government support creates incentives for farmers to specialize o n those crops that fall u n d e r government programmes even if this specialization creates environmental problems.  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  63 Anti-trade arguments: Government regulation is needed to help farmers protect the environment C o n t r a r y to the arguments j u s t raised, m a n y stakeholders expressed serious concerns about the effect of global trade o n provincial agriculture:  I feel that, like a cancer, agribusiness corporations are spreading their unsustainable, real wealth-destroying agribusinesses around the world, displacing subsistence peoples and making a few people vulgarly rich while the majority see their life conditions worsen. (M. Cloud, Hansard, October 13 , 1999). th  Any community that is unable to provide its own food needs is phenomenally vulnerable to outside forces and disruptions in food supply. For example, the snowstorms of the winter of '97-98 shut down transportation into the Kootenays for a while. That is a fundamental threat to human existence. (A. Brynne, research and resources coordinator of the Christopher Spicer Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Life, Hansard, November 4 , 1999). th  Others suggested that global trade makes it impossible for t h e m to compete with agricultural regions like California, where farmers enjoy a 1 2 m o n t h growing season, or even W a s h i n g t o n State that h a s m u c h wider valleys that are naturally more suited to large-scale agriculture:  The Fraser Valley ... is four miles across at its narrow point, and I would argue that you cannot compete with valleys that are 40 miles across within a 300-mile haul in pretty much the same ecosystem if straight price alone is the issue. (Hon. C. Evans, Minister of Agriculture and Food, Hansard, January 26 , 2000). th  Stakeholders were also concerned that trade h a s led to a decline i n the processing industry, w h i c h has further eroded their ability to compete.  The processing sector is what we refer to as the canary in the mineshaft. It's a sector that depends on large volumes and low input costs, and it survives on the smallest of margins of any sector within the industry. As the processors leave, there goes the acreage that's needed to be produced to support it. Here in B. C. we have seen the loss of... 11 processing plants in the last ten years, five of those in the vegetable sector alone. The plants that you see before you have taken away 1,500 direct jobs with them.... (M. Driediger, B. C. Vegetable Marketing Commission, Hansard, December 1 , 1999) st  T h i s is especially important as local processors provide a n immediate market for producers. In addition, only a proportion of a n y fruit or vegetable crop is suitable for fresh sale. T h e remainder m a y be slightly blemished or bruised, a n d not marketable directly. T h e processing i n d u s t r y makes use of The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  64 these seconds a n d provides farmers with a return for a larger proportion of each crop. Consequently, the stakeholders worry that, because of environmental constraints, B . C . cannot produce y e a r - r o u n d crops at the same cost as California, a n d the food processing i n d u s t r y has relocated to more favourable regions:  One ... farmer said [to me]: "We had four canneries in this area years ago. We had fields of tomatoes and apple orchards, and now with the global economy, etc., we don't have any of that anymore." They've all closed down, because we've got, you know, the supermarkets. It's just more difficult for those types of businesses to stay in business, and they've basically shut down. (L. Kalina, Chair, Kamloops Food Policy Council, Hansard, October 26 , 1999) th  Our potato and vegetable processing industry this year, in 1999, is down at 6,500 acres. At the start of this decade it was well over 10,000. At one point, when the Free Trade Agreement was signed, it was around 15,000 acres. But since that agreement was signed, it's continued to decline. It has now stabilized for the past few years around the 6,000-acre to 7,000-acre mark and around $12 million in farm-gate value (M. Driediger, B.C. Vegetable Marketing Commission, Hansard, December 1 , 1999). st  A c c o r d i n g to the stakeholders, global trade has facilitated this process, as it h a s allowed large companies to p u r c h a s e commodities a r o u n d the world a n d ignore the contribution that local farms make to the environment a n d the economy:  The prices are well controlled there by individuals such as Safeway that say: "We're not going to pay you $22 for a case of long English cucumbers. We can get them from Ontario for 66 cents apiece...." What are we going to do? Are we going to keep them at a dollar or a dollar and a half when they can get them from Ontario for 66 cents? (N.Butler, Farmer, Hansard, October 27 , 1999) th  I don't know, but our market is shrinking all the time. We can't compete in B.C. anymore. We're in the meat business, and we've had no support over the last 15 years from the government. [The meat packaging industry] was bought and paid for and taken to Alberta, and the provincial government sat by and let it disappear. We're one of the only meat plants left, and there's a threat that we're going to close (V.Baird, B.C. Association of Cattle Feeders, Hansard, December 1 , 1999) st  It m u s t be noted, however, that representatives of the major retailers i n the province feel that they are supporting local produce:  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  65 J think that in the last three years our company has done more than we've done in the last 20 years in terms of trying to deal with local small producers. That has caused us a fair amount of challenges. I mean, it's not easy, because you're dealing with a whole range of people. We've been travelling around ... B.C. ... trying to deal with local producers to get more of their product into our Superstores and Extra Foods stores. (D. Ryzebolfrom Westfair Foods, the Real Canadian Superstore, Extra Foods, the Real Canadian Wholesale Club and Weston grocers, Hansard, February 3 , 2000). rd  Furthermore, even Canada's retailing giants worry that they will be unable to compete with their A m e r i c a n counterparts:  We're also competing now with other non-traditional food retailers. It used to be that we competed just with Thrifty's. We now compete with Esso; we now compete with Canadian Tire. Wal-Mart's announcement, a couple of years ago now, that they are getting into the food business is going to change the face of our industry fundamentally over the next little while. (D. Kinsey, Overwaitea Food Group, Hansard, February 1 , 2000) st  W h e n it comes to applying these criticisms about trade to the environment, some authors argue that increased agricultural trade has allowed farms to become very large a n d specialize on environmentally fragile monocultures (Kneen, 1999; Shiva, 1993). There are two reasons for this: First, environmental problems are externalities. Hence, since global trade increases the level of competition, firms that compete across a wide area m u s t cut all possible costs. O n e way this happens is by ignoring environmental problems. Second, trade allows farms to specialize o n specific products to achieve economies of scale. T h e m a i n reason for this is that trade allows regions to focus on p r o d u c i n g only those commodities that they are naturally suited to grow. T h i s rests on theory of comparative advantage that states:  Nations with different endowments of capital, labour, and natural resources will gain by specializing in those areas where their relative costs of production are low and importing in those areas where their relative costs are high. Further, the greater the difference in endowments between countries ... the greater these gains from trade are likely to be. (Gillis, Perkins, Roemer, & Snodgrass, 1992 p. 30) Scholars who use comparative advantage argue that farms s h o u l d specialize on those crops that they are naturally suited to grow. F o r example, if one farm c a n produce tomatoes better t h a n a second farm that produces c o r n more efficiently, then these farms s h o u l d specialize o n the crops that each suited to produce a n d trade with each other. Since the Lower Fraser Valley is u n s u i t e d to growing wheat on a large commercial scale (despite holding the C a n a d i a n record for the highest yield per ha), it is far more The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  66 efficient to p u r c h a s e o u r wheat from the prairies t h a n it is to produce grains locally. M c C a l l a a n d J o s l i n g point out that trade facilitates this process a n d allows the economies i n different regions to grow as "...countries shift production to reflect their comparative advantage" (McCalla 8B J o s l i n g , 1985 p. 100). There are three economic implications of this theory: (1) all countries c a n increase their income through trading, (2) the smaller the country (or region), the greater the potential gain from trade, a n d (3) a country will gain the most if it exports commodities that use resources that are a b u n d a n t a n d imports commodities that use resources that are scarce (Gillis et a l . , 1992 p. 414). F r o m a n environmental perspective, there are also a n u m b e r of implications. First, as d i s c u s s e d i n chapters two a n d three, n a t u r a l ecosystems flourish because they are diverse a n d combine organisms with a variety of different needs. T o ensure that nutrients neither accumulate a n d cause pollution, nor dwindle a n d cause shortages, it is necessary to integrate plant a n d a n i m a l agriculture i n the same region. Similarly, to ensure that pests a n d predators do not b u i l d u p to epidemic levels it is necessary to plant a diversity of species. F a r m e r s who only raise livestock confront the problem of disposing of a n i m a l waste. O n mixed a n i m a l a n d plant farms the farmer c a n use the m a n u r e to fertilize horticultural fields. F a r m e r s who have focused o n livestock do not have this opportunity a n d m a y over-fertilize the l a n d they have access to (Bomke, 1999, personal correspondence). A s a result, G l i e s s m a n points out that disposing of a n i m a l waste is part of the reason that agriculture is the world's biggest source of water pollution (Gliessman, 1998). International trade, w h i c h achieves economic gains t h r o u g h specialization, seems to promote a n un-ecological separation of farm 3 6  Following David Ricardo (1772-1823), according to Gillis et. al. the first of these implications is much more subtle than it first appears. To illustrate this they assume that two countries (which they call the US and Mexico) both only produce two products, vegetables and computers, and only use labour to produce these products. Table 1 shows the amount 3 6  Labour days to Mexico United States produce Vegetable (1 unit) 5 4 30 20 Computers (1 unit) Relative price (unit of 6 5 vegetables per computer) Table 1. Hypothetical production costs for two commodities in two countries. Despite the fact that the US can produce both commodities more cheaply it is still in each country's best interests to trade because if the US sells one computer to Mexico it can purchase six units of vegetables while the same computer in the US will only buy five units of vegetables. Similarly, Mexico has to produce thirty units of vegetables to buy one domestically produced computer. If it sells its vegetables to the US, however, it can buy computers more cheaply. As a result, incomes in each country are maximized if the US specialized in computers and Mexico in vegetables (Gillis et al., 1992 p. 413-5). T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  67 commodities. Therefore, there is a conflict between the theoretical foundations that international trade is built on, a n d the theories of sustainable agriculture we explored i n chapter three. The concern over the loss of the processing i n d u s t r y extends this debate further down the food production a n d distribution c h a i n . C o n n o r a n d Schiek analyse the spatial distribution of the processing i n d u s t r y a n d devise three categories for the North A m e r i c a n processing industry: d e m a n d , supply, a n d footloose industries. D e m a n d industries generally locate close to their customers because product delivery costs are a h i g h proportion of total costs. T h i s c o u l d be because products are perishable or easily damaged (Connor & Schiek, 1997,p. 174). S u p p l y oriented industries locate close to farm producers because their major costs are inputs that are expensive to transport (e.g., fresh seafood a n d sugar beets easily spoil before processing) (Connor 8B Schiek, 1997 p. 142). A c c o r d i n g to C o n n o r a n d Schiek (1997), food processors that use a wide variety of edible inputs, b u t need expensive packaging tend to be "footloose" i n that they will move to wherever they c a n establish themselves at the lowest cost (Connor 8B Schiek, 1997 p. 188-191). In C o n n o r a n d Schiek's analysis, these footloose industries include c a n n e d a n d frozen vegetables, w h i c h tend to locate where other similar industries are already located since the "cost of alternative locations are most affected by the costs of processing itself, not by material-inputs or product-distribution costs." (Connor 8B Schiek, 1997 p. 189) Processing industries that depend on high-quality produce will locate closer to producers while firms that sell fragile products that spoil quickly, will be located closer to the consumer. T h i s m a y have serious environmental implication because the processing i n d u s t r y often determines what markets exist for farmers. If farmers depend on selling crops to footloose processors, then they will need to keep costs low a n d specialize on only those crops the processor demands. Theoretically, this c o u l d result i n b a d environmental management. W i n s o n expresses concern about the economic power of the processing i n d u s t r y a n d points out that the food a n d beverage-processing i n d u s t r y i n C a n a d a is one of the most concentrated sectors in the country's economy (Winson, 1992, p. 112). Increasingly, large companies are able to use profits generated i n one field to subsidize their entrance into another field. They c a n out-spend their rivals, sustain losses for a long time, a n d destroy local competition (Winson, 1992 p . 1 1 5 ) . 37  For example, the coffee retailing war between Proctor and Gamble and General Foods during the early 1980s shows how easily large corporations can undercut small regional enterprises. In competing for market share, these two corporate giants used the profits from their other products to sustain a loss on coffee in the Pittsburgh area. This pushed the price of coffee so low that many small coffee grinders (who relied on the sale of coffee for 100 per cent of their income) went out of business. One Pittsburgh based firm went from 18 per cent of market share in that town to just 1 per cent as their market was eroded by the predatory tactics used by the two major companies. Similarly, another Syracusebased coffee company ran an 80 per cent loss at this time (Winson, 1992). 3 7  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  68 C o m p a n i e s that c a n grow large enough to control both food production a n d the production of inputs c a n reduce costs a n d dominate whole sectors of the i n d u s t r y from production to processing, distribution, a n d retail. T h i s is called "vertical integration." T h e food sector, like most industries, is comprised of a series of steps, i n c l u d i n g the producers a n d distributors of seeds, inputs, a n d farm equipment. T h e next step is the farmers themselves. After the farmers come the food a n d beverage processors, wholesalers, a n d retailers. T y i n g all these steps together is the transportation infrastructure, a n d t r u c k i n g companies. Increasingly, large North A m e r i c a n firms vertically integrate into m a n y of these steps. These firms c a n exert tremendous control over the cost of inputs a n d the price that a farmer receives for a crop a n d m a y force farmers to adopt poor environmental management i n order to reduce costs (Strange, 1988; W i n s o n , 1992). A c c o r d i n g to W i n s o n , the history of Canada's vegetable c a n n i n g industry illustrates this process (Winson, 1992,p. 101). In the 1930s, D o m i n i o n Syndicate was one of Canada's largest canneries. A shareholderreport from this time indicated that the company's second largest i n p u t was cans. T h e largest i n p u t was the vegetables that they p u t into the cans. D o m i n i o n Syndicate entered into a n agreement with the A m e r i c a n C a n C o m p a n y to p u r c h a s e cans exclusively from t h e m for 20 years. In r e t u r n , D o m i n i o n Syndicate received a 15 per cent reduction i n the price they paid for the cans. T h i s agreement was so significant that D o m i n i o n Syndicate was able to develop a near monopoly i n c a n n e d vegetables i n Ontario. T h i s allowed them to d e m a n d low prices from farmers, charge levies for shipping, a n d issue unfavourable contracts to producers. F a r m e r s tried to boycott, but D o m i n i o n Syndicate imported food from the U S , p u r c h a s e d f a r m l a n d close to their canneries, a n d deprived farmers of the largest market for their produce. In the end, farmers acquiesced a n d agreed to lower commodity prices. T h i s enabled D o m i n i o n Syndicate to reduce the price of the vegetables to j u s t 18 per cent of the final value of the c a n n e d goods, a n d one year reported that they paid more for the cans t h a n what went into t h e m (Winson, 1992, p. 101102). T h i s is relevant to B . C . , because the stakeholders perceived that the once vibrant food processing i n d u s t r y was dependent o n these footloose frozen a n d c a n n e d vegetables. Given the increase i n trade, a n d the economic power of processors, local factories have been able to re-locate to more favourable regions. T h i s has a n u m b e r of possible environmental consequences. F o r example, the loss of processing c o u l d reduce the market for commodities a n d h u r t farmers financially. T h i s c o u l d then result i n farmers not being able to afford good environmental management. Fewer processors c o u l d m e a n that there are fewer buyers for farm products. T h i s m a y force a farmer to specialize on only those crops where they c a n still find a market a n d c o u l d further reduce biodiversity. 38  Conversely, fewer processors could pay an unexpected environmental dividend. If farmers no longer have access to markets determined by the processors they may start to 3 8  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  69 In s u m m a r y , according to the critics of trade, since environmental costs are external a n d trade is based on comparative advantage, then increased trade will result i n a deterioration of farm environmental management, as witnessed through a decline i n diversity a n d a n increase i n nutrient deficits a n d surpluses.  Hypotheses for the effect of trade. B a s e d on these contradictions there is a real need to move beyond the academic literature a n d the stakeholders' anecdotal comments a n d empirically test the role of trade a n d government programmes on the environment. A l l of the theories presented here, whether they are for or against trade, are limited because they are based o n a "...short-run, static view..." of agriculture that arrives at conclusions u s i n g aggregate statistics (Ervin, 1997, p. 10). T h i s leads scholars a n d policy m a k e r s to make generalizations about regions a n d even entire countries, even though environmental conditions change on a m u c h smaller scale. E n v i r o n m e n t a l problems often are local i n impact, a n d are m e a s u r e d at a different magnitude t h a n international trade. While economists u s u a l l y measure trade at the national or provincial level, soil scientists use data that c a n vary meter by meter to measure soil quality, a n d fisheries biologists will test water quality in individual creeks to assess nutrient runoff a n d water pollution. The situation i n the Lower Fraser Valley highlights the need to u n d e r s t a n d local ecological conditions before trying to apply generalized theories of trade a n d government policy. A t the m o u t h of the F r a s e r River, the soils are generally m e d i u m textured silt-loams that are prone to compaction a n d have a high water table. Drainage here is poor, the soil is prone to salination, a n d the fields i n Delta compact easily. T h i s is especially important because this area is u s e d for intensive horticulture. Because of these ecological conditions, intensive horticulture damages soil structure, a n d contributes to erosion, salination, the loss of organic matter, a n d compaction. In the central part of the Lower Fraser Valley, the situation is reversed. There, the sandy soils are well drained a n d resistant to compaction. T h i s means that the soil does not have the n a t u r a l ability to absorb excess nutrients. M a n u r e from the intensive livestock p r o d u c t i o n drains quickly into the g r o u n d water a n d pollutes local d r i n k i n g water sources. F u r t h e r east, the soils again are poorly drained. Here m a n u r e collects of the surface a n d r u n s off into creeks, streams a n d drainage ditches. There is a need to bridge the gap between the macro-theories that make predictions about the environmental effect of trade a n d these local conditions. We will now use these theories on trade a n d government to establish hypotheses so that we c a n test their impact on the Lower F r a s e r Valley. There are two different production regimes i n the Lower F r a s e r Valley. First, the government protects dairy a n d poultry farms i n the Lower Fraser Valley. It  experiment with new crops, increasing biological diversity, and explore new niche markets such as for organic production. The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  70 allocates limited a m o u n t s of production quota, a n d provide guaranteed prices to farmers (for a full d i s c u s s i o n of this system, see chapter seven). Second, horticultural farms m u s t compete on m u c h more open terms with internationally p r o d u c e d commodities. Consequently, it is possible to use this region to test how these different regimes affect the environment. If the anti-trade (and pro-government regulation) theories are correct, then we s h o u l d see a decrease of diversity a n d other indicators of good management i n the parts of this region where farmers compete with international produce. G o o d management s h o u l d also be evident where government-protected poultry a n d dairy farms are concentrated. If the protrade (anti-government) theories are correct, any reduction i n government programmes will force farmers to become more m i n d f u l of the environment because they do not have government programmes to rely on. Consequently, we s h o u l d witness a n increase in diversity over time at the m o u t h of the Fraser River where farms compete with agricultural goods from a r o u n d the world. Testing these hypotheses will provide u s with a way of assessing the direct impact of new trade regimes on the local environment. T h e d i s c u s s i o n on the processing i n d u s t r y illustrated, however, that it is necessary to look further u p a n d down the supply c h a i n , i n order to see the effect of trade on the entire system. Consequently, we need to investigate the indirect or "second-order" effects of changing trade relationships. T h i s will require two additional investigations. First, we m u s t u n d e r s t a n d what has h a p p e n e d to the B . C . food a n d beverage processing industry, a n d whether this has led to a decline i n farm diversity as suggested above. Second, if data show that the stakeholders are correct, a n d the processing i n d u s t r y h a s indeed moved to regions where companies c a n p u r c h a s e food y e a r - r o u n d , we need to u n d e r s t a n d how this has affected farm-environmental management i n the areas that now supply these processors. T h e hypotheses established above will allow u s to test the impact of trade a n d government regulation on B . C . ' s environment. If these forces, however, have a radically different impact on the environment i n another region, then it is vital to assess those regions too.  T H E O R Y #5: T H E N A T U R E OF F A R M PRODUCTS The final theory that we will present i n this thesis is that some farm commodities are naturally suited to large-scale intensive i n d u s t r i a l production - or achieve economies of scale u s i n g production methods - that externalise environmental c o s t s . Other products are naturally suited to small-scale farms that are integrated into local ecological systems. 39  Industrialized farms intensively produce commodities i n a short a m o u n t of time. T h e activities that go into the production of these commodities tend  Following Kemp, industrialization is a term that has its historic origins in eighteenth century Europe where capital was accumulated, invested in the means of production, lowered unit costs of production, caused a greater division of labour, and increased capital substitution (Kemp, 1989; Kemp, 1993). 3 9  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  71 to be b r o k e n into a series of small steps that occur at regular periods a n d firms invest i n m a c h i n e s a n d specialized labour to aid i n particular tasks. Other farms, however, produce slow-maturing commodities that require a greater diversity of tasks to complete. F o r example, a farmer who produces vegetables typically only obtains one crop per year (though some crops c a n be planted throughout the s u m m e r season to lengthen the harvest period). Vegetable farmers m u s t also respond immediately to changes i n the weather, the market, a n d ecological conditions w h e n deciding to plant, harvest, apply sprays, irrigate, plough or till. These tasks do not suit standardization. A s a result, vegetable farmers cannot r u n their farms like a n assembly line. Allen a n d L e u k point out that small errors i n timing s u c h tasks as spraying or harvesting vegetables c a n result i n big losses to the farmer. T h i s m a k e s it costly to contract spraying out to workers who specialize i n this type of job (Allen & Luek, 2000, p. 13-15). J . S. Mill when writing about the Industrial Revolution commented on this aspect of agriculture: "...[agriculture] is not susceptible of so great a division of occupations, because its different operations cannot possibly be simultaneous. One man cannot always be ploughing, another sowing, and another reaping, (quoted in Allen & Luek, 2000, p. 13) Allen a n d L e u k suggest a model that helps show what types of farm commodities are naturally p r o d u c e d on H e n r y Ford-like i n d u s t r i a l farms. T h e y observe that w h e n the production cycle is long (i.e. it takes a long time to prepare a product for the market) b u t there are m a n y short stages within that longer production cycle a n d there are m a n y risks associated with the production of a commodity, there are few incentives to specialize. In this situation, firms will r e m a i n small a n d fragmented. If, on the other h a n d , the production cycle is short, there are few risks, a n d there are few tasks required, then firms grow large enough to specialize o n specific aspects of the production cycle. Allen a n d L e u k suggest that most livestock p r o d u c t i o n has become highly specialized a n d the firms that are involved have grown very large. In 1997, there were 230 cattle feedlot operators i n the U S that averaged 30,983 h e a d of cattle. T h i s represents more t h a n 50 per cent of A m e r i c a n cattle production. In contrast, however, cow-calf operations (which inseminates cows a n d keeps the calf u n t i l weaning) are very small a n d i n the U S only averaged 48 head per unit. Cow-calf operations, like horticultural farmers, generally have a one-year production cycle (insemination u n t i l weaning or planting u n t i l harvest) a n d require on-the-spot decision m a k i n g (for example, it is very costly to time w h e n cows give birth i n order to standardize this activity). A s a result, these types of operation do not naturally lend themselves to large-scale enterprise a n d have stayed small a n d fragmented. 40  To further develop this argument Allen and Leuk point out that the number of tasks that a farmer is involved with have diminished over the last century. During the origins of agriculture in the West, farmers would have collected, stored and selected their own seed. They would have also managed their own inputs, such as fertilizer and fuel (manure and fuel 4 0  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  72 T h i s h a s implications for the environment. Because of the nature of specific types of commodities, some parts of the farm i n d u s t r y will naturally favour highly specialized farms that are removed from ecological systems. Because of the nature of livestock production, it is possible to specialize o n j u s t p r o d u c i n g one type of a n i m a l production, t h u s externalising environmental costs by m i n i m i z i n g biodiversity a n d breaking nutrient cycles. Other commodities, like field crops i n the Lower M a i n l a n d , do not favour intensive specialization, a n d are most efficiently p r o d u c e d o n small- scale, diversified farms that utilize a great deal of labour. Unfortunately, it is difficult to generate specific hypotheses that are testable i n the Lower Fraser Valley to analyse the theory that specialization is a result of the nature of specific farm commodities. Since government programmes protect livestock farms i n the Fraser River Valley while horticultural farms m u s t compete with internationally-grown produce it is impossible to isolate the nature of the farm commodity independent from trade or government. A s a result, we will have to use this explanation as a way of further exploring a n d developing the hypotheses about international trade a n d government programmes as we apply data to test them.  wood). Finally, farmers would have processed, marketed and sold their own products. Today, the farmer is only responsible for the biological development of the product. All other tasks and processes have been taken over by highly specialized and economically efficient corporations (Allen 8s Luek, 2000).  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  73  C O N C L U S I O N TO PART II: POSSIBLE EXPLANATIONS The objective of this section was to review possible explanations for the persistence of on-farm environmental problems. T h e first explanation was that farmers are responsible for degrading the environment either because they are negligent or un-aware of the problem. To address this theory, comments made by farmers a n d other stakeholders were analysed to see if anyone b l a m e d farmers. No one suggested that farmers are responsible for the problems their farms produce. Instead, the stakeholders suggested a range of possible causes s u c h as global trade a n d government programmes. A c c o r d i n g to the C a n a d i a n census, farmers' actions b a c k this u p , a n d B . C . farmers use methods to reduce their environmental impact whenever possible. The second theory was that farmers m u s t have secure l a n d tenure before they will invest i n long-term management. F a r m e r s who rent their l a n d need to generate yearly c a s h returns to pay rent. A s a result, we hypothesize that rented fields will have less grasslands, grain legumes b u t more a n n u a l s s u c h as potatoes because grasslands a n d legumes do not provide a direct financial return. We will apply data from the Lower Fraser Valley to this theory i n the next section. The third theory introduced i n this chapter is that global trade has a n effect o n sustainable agriculture. There are serious disagreements i n the academic literature a n d i n the stakeholder comments about this topic. Briefly, some argue that increased trade leads to better management because (1) government subsidies favour large-scale monocultures a n d increased trade reduces these subsidies; (2) trade increases incomes that leads to increased d e m a n d for better environmental management. Others, however, argue that trade u n d e r m i n e s the opportunity for farmers to engage i n sustainable agriculture because it allows firms to exploit economies of scale that favour ecologically fragile monocultures. Anti-trade stakeholders a n d academic scholars also suggest that increased trade has allowed some firms to become very large a n d dominate the processing industry. T h i s constrains farmers and m a y lead to b a d management. To test the anti-trade /pro-government theories, we hypothesize that we will observe poor management on horticultural farms since these farms compete with international produce. G o o d management s h o u l d be evident where government-protected poultry a n d dairy farms are concentrated. To test the theory that increased trade a n d reduced government leads to better management we hypothesize that a reduction i n government programmes will force farmers to become more m i n d f u l of the environment. Consequently, we will witness a n increase i n diversity i n at the west of the Lower Fraser Valley where farms are integrated into the global trade of agricultural goods. The final theory we explored i n this chapter is that some farm products are naturally suited to production on large, i n d u s t r i a l farms that tend to create negative externalities. We cannot test this explanation by itself, so this theory will help a d d depth w h e n we analyse data to test the other hypotheses. The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  74  PART III - ANALYSIS Part I of this thesis established that environmental problems exist on farms despite the fact that we have adequate scientific understanding to address these problems. To understand why this paradox occurs, we developed a conceptual framework to link social and economic factors with indicators of sustainable agriculture. Specifically, this framework uses the ideas of market failure (externalities, discount rates and public goods) to understand social and economic incentives. The sustainable agriculture literature that focuses on nutrient cycling and biodiversity provides the biophysical indicators that show whether or not a farm system has become more or less sustainable. Part II of this thesis began the task of understanding why bad agriculture continues in the face of good science. First, we considered data that strongly illustrate that farmers are not to blame for the environmental problems their farms cause. Instead, insecure land tenure, government programmes, international trade, and the nature offarm commodities are all possible causes of bad environmental management. Part UI will now use data from the Lower Fraser Valley to test these arguments.  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  75  Chapter 5 T H E R O L E OF LAND TENURE: DATA FROM BRITISH COLUMBIA INTRODUCTION B a s e d on the literature reviewed i n the previous section, we hypothesize that u n l e s s farmers have secure long-term access to their l a n d they will not farm i n a sustainable fashion. Insecure l a n d tenure increases the d i s c o u n t rate a farmer faces, shortens her or his p l a n n i n g horizon, creates a n incentive to maximize short-term gain, a n d discourages long-term sustainability. A s a result, we expect farmers who work rented l a n d to plant fewer perennial crops, grasslands, a n d legumes since all of these crops represent a longerterm investment t h a n is reasonable for fields with a high d i s c o u n t rate. In this chapter, we will explore this explanation u s i n g data from the Lower Fraser Valley.  DATA FROM THE LOWER FRASER VALLEY B o m k e (1990) analysed the effect of absentee l a n d l o r d i s m at the m o u t h of the Fraser River. In his report, B o m k e suggests that although this area is one of Canada's most fertile r e g i o n s it has experienced a decline i n soil fertility over the 1970s a n d 1980s (Bomke & Temple, 1990). Poor drainage, easily compacted soil structure, a n d declining organic matter levels have c a u s e d this loss of fertility. Specifically, B o m k e blames short l a n d tenure (Bomke 85 Temple, 1990, p. 2). He points out that long-term improvements s u c h as drainage tiles, laser levelling a n d forage rotation crops are not possible u n d e r the short-term leases offered by the provincial government. To support these conclusions B o m k e shows how organic matter on five rented fields i n this area has declined since the government expropriated this l a n d (Figure 5-1). 41  By the mid-1990s the provincial government recognized the negative consequence of insecure tenure on soil conservation. A series of newspaper articles i n the V a n c o u v e r S u n i n 1995 reviews the history of the government's deliberations on this subject (Bellett, 1995a, 1995b, 1995c). In 1993, the provincial government u n d e r Mike H a r c o u r t promised to offer leases that would ensure farmers h a d a long-term stake i n soil conservation (Bellett, 1995b, p. B2). In 1995, the V a n c o u v e r S u n quoted then-minister of Agriculture D a v i d Zirnhelt, "We've h a d a commitment from the premier [to lengthen the terms of] these leases a n d h e l l deliver." (Bellett, 1995c) Specifically, the government promised to remove the clause that allowed leases to be cancelled within 90 days, a n d to offer ten a n d twenty years leases instead of the m u c h more c o m m o n 1-year leases. T h i s was because "...none of the farmers will invest any money into the property they are  In 1990 it held the Canadian record for the most amount of wheat grown in a single hectare (13.8 tonnes/ha). 4 1  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  76 renting. T h e y won't ditch it properly, make it level for drainage. T h e y won't practise good stewardship a n d given these leases there is no reason why they should." (Valerie Roddick, quoted i n Bellett, 1995b, p. B2) While this p l a n d i d move forward a n d some of the l a n d has even been sold b a c k to farmers, a large per cent is still farmed u n d e r short-term leases since a First Nations l a n d c l a i m has made the future ownership of all crown l a n d i n this area uncertain While Bomke's analysis does not provide a c o m p a r i s o n with owneroperated fields, it is possible to compare what crops are grown o n owneroperated fields versus leased fields i n the late 1990s. T h e data u s e d for this analysis came from work done by Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a . Since the mid-1990s, D r . B o b V e r n o n , from the Pacific Agricultural Research Centre at Agassiz B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , has recorded what crops are planted i n each of Delta's fields. These data have been entered onto a geo-reference database, a n d supports his work on integrated pest management. Two different sources provided l a n d tenure data. First, data on crown l a n d a n d the length of crown leases came from the provincial ministry responsible for administering crown land. Second, K l o h n Leonoff L t d . , a private consulting firm that authored a major report on agriculture i n Delta, provided data on leased private l a n d (Klohn Leonoff L t d . , 1992). B y c o m b i n i n g crop a n d l a n d tenure data it was possible to observe differences between rented a n d owned l a n d a n d test the hypothesis that rented l a n d will have more a n n u a l crops a n d potatoes b u t less legumes a n d grasslands t h a n owned land. Figure 5-2 a n d 5-3 a n d table 5-1 show how fields with different types of l a n d tenure have different types of crops planted o n them. Results are summarized: • •  rented fields have more a n n u a l crops t h a n owned fields (figure 52). very few fields managed u n d e r short-term leases h a d legumes planted on them between 1996 a n d 1999. Fields with long-term leases, however, d i d have l e g u m e s (figure 5-3). grasslands occurred most frequently o n fields with leases between 6 a n d 16 years, but less frequently on fields with 1-5 year leases a n d 16+ year leases (table 5-1). 42  •  As noted in chapter three, not all legumes provide the same degree of soil conservation benefits. Peas and beans offer direct financial return to farmers but leave little in the way of organic matter as a crop residue. Clover, which is planted in set-asides and pastures, does not provide the immediate cash return but leaves considerably more organic matter. However, it was difficult to separate the data in this way, and all legumes were placed into one category. Since cash crop legumes would be planted for short-term gain, this would distort the data, as aggregating all legumes would bias the results towards fields with short leases. As a result, it is likely that if only forage crops were included in this analysis, then the trend would be stronger than the one observed. 4 2  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  77  Figure 5-1 Soil organic matter on Ave fields from the expropriated land in Delta, B.C. between 1971 and 1990.  0)  • % Organic Matter Sample dates are above bars H % Organic Matter Sampled 1990  03 O)  Source:  B o m k e & Temple, 1990  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  78  Figure 5-2 Percentage of fields with different land tenure that had potatoes, other annuals, grain, or perennials between 1996 and 1999 in Delta B.C. 60  -T  50 "D 40 -  EI owned  Ci  w= 30 o 20 -  1] rented  10 0 -  V  type of crop Source: C r o p data from D r . B o b V e r n o n , Agriculture a n d A g r i - F o o d C a n a d a , Agassiz, B . C . D a t a on crown l a n d from B . C . Government. D a t a on private l a n d from K l o h n Leonoff L t d .  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  79 Figure 5-3 Percentage of fields owned by the government and rented to farmers where legumes were planted between 1996 and 1999 in Delta, B.C. divided by the length of lease for that field.  25 20 (A  2 15 9  10  1-5  6-10  11-15  16+  length of lease in years Source: C r o p data from D r . B o b V e r n o n , Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a , Agassiz, B . C . D a t a on crown land, B . C . government. D a t a o n private l a n d K l o h n Leonoff L t d .  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G . Fraser  80  Table 5-1 Percentage of fields with different lease lengths that had been planted to grasslands between 1996-1999. Length of Lease  1-5 years 6-10 11-16 16+  % of fields that h a d been planted to grassland between 1996 a n d 1999 22% 61% 54% 34%  Source: C r o p data from D r . B o b V e r n o n , Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a , Agassiz, B . C . D a t a o n crown l a n d , B . C . Government.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  81  DISCUSSION The first two results are consistent with the hypothesis. A n n u a l crops require c o n t i n u a l cultivation (which compacts the finely textured a n d poorly drained soils that m a r k this agricultural area), are harvested every year, a n d leave fields bare i n the winter a n d without a y e a r - r o u n d root m a s s that helps prevent erosion. Consequently, the fact that rented fields have more a n n u a l s is what we would expect, since farmers who rent fields will not have incentives to invest i n long-term management. Similarly, the fact that fields with longterm leases have more legumes t h a n fields with short-term leases is also consistent with the hypotheses. A s reviewed i n chapter two, legumes are a n important part of crop rotation because they fix atmospheric nitrogen, m a k i n g it available for future crops b u t do not provide m u c h financial r e t u r n to farmers. Again, this is what we expect, since farmers m u s t have long-term tenure to use the best possible agricultural management. The third result, however, is not consistent with the hypothesis. A c c o r d i n g to the literature, grasslands are a long-term investment that farmers c a n make i n the soil that does not provide immediate financial return. The data, w h i c h shows that farmers with short-term leases are j u s t as likely to plant grasslands as farmers with long-term leases, are very s u r p r i s i n g a n d flies i n the face of the theory that farmers m u s t own their l a n d before they will invest i n soil conservation. In order to explain this anomaly we m u s t see if other incentives might lead a farmer to plant grasslands, despite the fact that they do not have secure l a n d tenure. In 1993, a coalition of farmers a n d conservationists formed the Delta F a r m l a n d a n d Wildlife T r u s t (DFWT) to "...provide a forum for implementing creative solutions that ensure habitat is provided for wildlife without c a u s i n g excessive b u r d e n s on farmers within the Fraser delta" (Delta F a r m l a n d a n d Wildlife T r u s t , 2001 promotional brochure). O n e of these programmes pays farmers to establish grasslands to provide habitat for raptors a n d g r o u n d dwelling m a m m a l s . T h i s gives farmers a n "...opportunity to improve soil structure a n d organic matter, while simultaneously providing habitat for wildlife" (Delta F a r m l a n d a n d Wildlife T r u s t , 2000, fact sheet). F u n d e d by a n u m b e r of public a n d private sources, the D F W T pays farmers to establish a mix of native grasses a n d clover for one to five years. F a r m e r s are paid $150 per acre per year if they chose to cut the grass for hay or $300 per acre per year if they leave the grass i n the field. These grasslands have proven to be excellent habitat for a variety of species; i n particular, shrews, deer mice, a n d voles that are valuable prey for raptors. Waterfowl also use the set-asides d u r i n g their migration t h r o u g h the area. The D F W T h a s created a financial value for a public good that overrides the high-discount rate c a u s e d by insecure l a n d tenure. A c c o r d i n g to the d i s c u s s i o n on market failure i n chapter two, f a r m l a n d is u s u a l l y managed to produce private goods (because food is subtractable a n d excludable it is a private good). It is clear, however, that f a r m l a n d also provides a n u m b e r of public goods s u c h as r u r a l amenity value a n d wildlife habitat. B y establishing the grassland setaside programme, D F W T has created a direct The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  82 financial value for wildlife habitat to farmers. T h i s has the added benefit of e n h a n c i n g the quality of the l a n d for agriculture since the grassland helps b u i l d soil organic matter. T h i s programme, therefore, provides incentives for farmers to manage their fields for both public a n d private goods.  C O N C L U S I O N TO L A N D T E N U R E B a s e d on the analysis of crop data on fields with different l a n d tenure, we conclude that farmers who work u n d e r insecure l a n d tenure arrangements face a high discount rate a n d plant crops that provide only short-term return. F a r m e r s with secure tenure are better at e n s u r i n g long-term management a n d plant crops that help maximize soil conservation a n d public good s u c h as wildlife habitat. The only anomaly i n the data is that grasslands do not vary according to l a n d tenure. A special programme, u n i q u e to this area, explains this apparent contradiction. T h e grassland setaside programme pays farmers to plant grasslands on l a n d regardless of l a n d tenure. T h i s programme provides an example of how a public programme c a n create incentives for farmers to invest i n the public goods their l a n d provides. T h i s also creates incentives to use appropriate environmental management. B y paying farmers yearly to establish grasslands, the setaside programme has accomplished three things: (1) it provides a n immediate return on what would otherwise be a long-term investment that would normally require secure l a n d tenure to justify. (2) it h a s created a monetary value for public goods. (3) it provides a n opportunity for farmers to provide wildlife habitat at the same time as they improve soil quality.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  83  Chapter 6  T H E ROLE OFTRADE:  DATA F R O M BRITISH  COLUMBIA INTRODUCTION The purpose of this chapter is to test the impact of increased trade a n d reduced government support for agriculture on the environment. In chapter four, we reviewed theories that suggest increased trade a n d a reduction i n government support for farmers will result i n better environmental management on farms. A c c o r d i n g to this theory, if the government does not protect farmers, then farmers will use better environmental management to reduce their vulnerability to weather a n d market variation a n d ensure that incomes r e m a i n stable. We hypothesize that i n situations where trade has increased a n d government support has decreased, we will witness a n increase in o n - f a r m diversity a n d other indications of good environmental management in the F r a s e r Valley. A d i s c u s s i o n on the processing i n d u s t r y made it clear that, i n a global trade environment, it is not sufficient to j u s t focus on the local environment. According to this discussion, changes i n diversity m a y not necessarily be a result of farmers reducing risk, b u t of farmers responding to changes i n the processing industry. If this is the case, it will be necessary to expand our analysis to include the regions that B . C . trades with to see how trade has h a d a n effect on the environment there. First, we will test the hypothesis that increased trade a n d reduced government programmes lead to better farm management. T o a c c o m p l i s h this, we will demonstrate that international trade i n agricultural produce has increased a n d that reduced governmental support h a s facilitated this change. We will then examine data on farm diversity a n d nutrient cycling from the Lower F r a s e r Valley to assess the environmental impact of trade agreements on the local environment. The second objective of this chapter is to test whether any of the changes we observe i n farm management are a result of farmers m a n a g i n g risk or due to changes i n the processing industry. We will investigate this question i n three ways. First, this chapter will present data that show that B . C . ' s processing i n d u s t r y has declined. Second, we will analyse crop data to see what role the processing industry plays i n determining the diversity of crops that B . C . farmers plant. T h i r d , we will explore the nature of California's horticultural i n d u s t r y to show the impact of trade on one of B . C . ' s major horticultural competitors.  Changes in trade and trade agreements World trade i n agricultural products has risen quickly over recent decades a n d h a s increased by 500 per cent since 1970 to more t h a n $200 billion (US) each year (Ervin, 1997, p. 5-6). Since the late 1980s government support for farmers i n most industrialized countries has dropped. A l t h o u g h C a n a d a is no exception, a n d support has declined over the 1990s (figure 6-1), The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  84 the C a n a d i a n government has always funded farmers less t h a n the governments of other industrialized countries (table 6-1). At the beginning of the decade, government support represented 30 per cent of C a n a d i a n farm income. B y 1998, this was j u s t 15 per cent ( O E C D , 1999 p. 23). Statistics C a n a d a points out that farm support i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a is amongst the lowest of all the provinces a n d has dropped i n the last decade (figure 6-2; C a n a d a , 1999). The Organization for E c o n o m i c Cooperation a n d Development (OECD) tracks governmental agricultural programmes. A c c o r d i n g to O E C D statistics, both the E u r o p e a n U n i o n a n d the U . S . subsidize grain farmers at a m u c h higher rate t h a n the C a n a d i a n government (table 6-1, O E C D , 1999 p. 27). In 1998 the E u r o p e a n U n i o n paid farmers $60 (Cdn.) for each ton of wheat, $108 (Cdn.) per ton of barley, a n d $139 (Cdn.) per ton of malt barley (Canada, 1998b). Similarly, the U . S . Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a $320 million (Cdn.) subsidy budget a n d a $6 billion (Cdn.) "Loan Deficiency Payment Programme." T h i s money helps to set the prices producers receive yet does not have a n effect o n the price of exports a n d allows A m e r i c a n grain to enter the world market at below production costs (Canada, 1998b, p. 2-3).  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  85 Figure 6-1 Estimate of C a n a d i a n G o v e r n m e n t farm support i n millions of (1998) dollars between 1986 a n d 1998.  - • - Producter Support Estimate  c  •a  O o o o o o ©  ~»- General Services Total  1986-88  1991-93  1996-98  Year Source: Organization for E c o n o m i c Cooperation a n d Development,  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G . Fraser  1999.  86  Table 6-1 Estimate of total government support in 1998 U.S. dollars for farmers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe between 1996 and 1998. Country  Estimate of producer supports per farmer per year between 1996-1998 in U S Dollars.  Canada U n i t e d States European Union  $7-8,000 $15,000 $20-25,000  E s t i m a t e d of producer supports per hectare per year between 1996-1998 i n U S Dollars $44 $85 $801  Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 1999 p. 27.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  87  Figure 6-2 Government farm support payments in thousands of 1998 dollars, as reflected in farm cash receipts in British Columbia, 19851998. 90000 80000 70000 60000  c 3  50000  o  o  40000 30000 20000 10000 0 CO CO Ol  CO CO O)  CD CO  Nl  Source: C a n a d a , !<•  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  88 One of the causes for the decline i n governmental support is that m u l t i lateral agreements signed i n 1990s brought agriculture commodities u n d e r international trade laws for the first time (Ervin, 1997, p. 5-6). These agreements include the U r u g u a y R o u n d A m e n d m e n t to the G e n e r a l Agreement on Tariffs a n d Trade (GATT) that established the World Trade Organization (WTO), the U . S . / C a n a d a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a n d the North A m e r i c a n Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Reports written by the B . C . Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries a n d Food, a n d Agriculture a n d Agrifood C a n a d a suggest that u n t i l the mid-1980s there was little or no d i s c u s s i o n about bringing agriculture u n d e r international trade rules. (British C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d Food, 1995; Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a , 1998). A n early sign of this change came i n 1988 when the U . S . a n d C a n a d a signed the Free Trade Agreement that stipulated all border tariffs i n place at the time would be p h a s e d out by 1998. In 1994, the North A m e r i c a n Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into being. It stipulated that all border tariffs between C a n a d a , Mexico, a n d the U n i t e d States except those on dairy, poultry, a n d eggs would be eliminated by 1998 (British C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d Food, 1995, p. 1). These two treaties, however, are relatively insignificant w h e n c o m p a r e d with the changes made to the G A T T that were agreed to at the U r u g u a y R o u n d negotiations that created the World Trade Organization. T h e goal of the W T O is to bring agriculture u n d e r "normal" international trade rules that b a n subsidies a n d required the elimination of other trade-distorting practices (British C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d F o o d , 1995, p. 16). The WTO's agreement on agriculture, the related agreement on sanitary a n d phytosanitary standards, a n d the agreement on dispute settlement, influence the ways that governments support domestic producers (Agriculture a n d AgriFood C a n a d a , 1998b, p. iv) D u r i n g W T O negotiations, existing subsidy programmes were considered to fall into three "boxes." Programmes i n the yellow box are unacceptable u n d e r international trade rules. These include direct payment to farmers based on export performance, the sale of n o n commercial stocks at below the domestic price, a n d lower internal transportation charges on export shipments. G r e e n box programmes do not distort trade a n d are d i s c u s s e d i n A n n e x two of the W o r l d Trade Organization's Agreement on Agriculture. These include research, inspection, extension, training, marketing, a n d infrastructure development (Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a , 2000a; Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a , 2000). T h e E u r o p e a n U n i o n obtained a n exemption for certain subsidies, w h i c h are considered to fall into the "blue box." E a c h subsidy programme is dealt with individually, a n d the standard against w h i c h these programmes are c o m p a r e d is whether they influence production. If programmes create incentives to increase production a n d if government assistance exceeds 5 per cent of the total a n n u a l value of production, then the subsidy represents a "serious prejudice" to trading partners a n d m u s t be eliminated or the partners  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  89 compensated (British C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d Food, 1995, p. 3). T h e W T O agreement, however, allows certain safeguard measures i n the event of s u d d e n price swings a n d changes in production. In the event of a s u d d e n increase i n imports or a drop i n prices, countries m a y increase tariffs by 30 per cent if: (1) imports exceed a three-year average by 25 per cent a n d imports are 10 per cent of national c o n s u m p t i o n , or (2) imports exceed a three-year average by 10 per cent a n d imports are 10-30 per cent of c o n s u m p t i o n (British C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d F o o d , 1995, p. 12). In addition to placing programmes i n yellow, blue, or green boxes, the U r u g u a y R o u n d introduced four new elements to agricultural trade. First, it was the first trade treaty that i n c l u d e d agricultural products. Second, it created a new body, the World Trade Organization, to oversee a n d enforce the agreement. T h i r d , it established that countries that become members of the W T O c o u l d not select the rules that they wanted to adhere to a n d c o u l d not opt-out of specific rules for domestic reasons. T h e fourth significant change is that the W T O eliminated a n u m b e r of ways that governments c a n influence foreign competition within their country. Previously, governments h a d u s e d s u c h strategies as i n d u s t r y supports, technical regulations disguised as health or environmental concerns, a n d production subsidies to block imports a n d support local producers. F o r example, before the W T O , the C a n a d i a n government controlled dairy, poultry, a n d egg imports through quantitative restrictions at the border. U n d e r W T O rules, the only way a country c a n restrict imports is through tariffs. Consequently, quantitative restrictions imposed by the C a n a d i a n government, were converted to tariff-equivalents (British C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d Food, 1995, p. 4). Governments not only agreed to change subsidies, import restrictions, a n d technical requirements to a tariff system, they also agreed to reduce tariffs by a m i n i m u m of 15 per cent a n d a n average of 36 per cent over six years a n d allow " m i n i m u m import access" or a m i n i m u m a m o u n t of a foreign good that m u s t have access to domestic markets. F o r C a n a d i a n dairy, poultry a n d eggs this a m o u n t e d to a 15 per cent reduction i n tariffs over six years, or a 2.5 per cent a n n u a l reduction. Tariffs on fresh fruit a n d vegetables imported into B . C . have been reduced by a m i n i m u m of 15 per cent; however, some tariffs, like the tariff on fresh raspberries, was completely eliminated. Tariff reductions on processed fruit a n d vegetables are higher. In general, tariffs on processed vegetables were reduced by 36 per cent, while the tariffs o n processed m u s h r o o m s a n d frozen strawberries were reduced 15 per cent, a n d processed asparagus was reduced by 50 per cent (British C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d Food, 1995, p. 10). A s a result of these changes, B . C . ' s horticultural i n d u s t r y a n d its fruit a n d vegetable processing industry have experienced the largest impact of all agricultural sectors because competition i n this sector is fierce from highly-concentrated  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  90 California producers a n d low-cost M e x i c a n farmers (British C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d Food, 1995, p. 1 ) .  DATA FROM THE LOWER FRASER VALLEY Methods In order to assess the impact of these agreements on the environment, we u s e d crop data at a n u m b e r of scales to assess biodiversity a n d data on groundwater pollution a n d nutrient production to assess nutrient cycles. A t an aggregate scale, provincial-wide horticultural data show how m a n y hectares of each crop farmers planted over the 1990s. Since provincial horticultural production is concentrated i n the Lower Fraser Valley a n d relatively few horticultural crops are grown i n the prairie-like Peace-River region, w h i c h focuses on grain, the arid interior of B . C . , w h i c h raises cattle, or the fertile valleys that specialize in tree fruit a n d wine production, these data are relevant to this research. U s i n g the methods to calculate a l p h a diversity described i n chapter three it was possible to determine a yearly relative specialization score for horticultural farms. These data were also u s e d to determine the proportion of all horticultural l a n d devoted to the four mostplanted crops. The Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a database, u s e d to test the role of l a n d tenure i n chapter five, was u s e d i n this analysis to calculate the relative specialization of farmers' fields i n the municipality of Delta. A l t h o u g h these data do not cover as long a period as the provincial data, it is useful because it only includes farms at the m o u t h of the Fraser River, where the soil is prone to compaction. R values as well as F statistics were calculated u s i n g Microsoft E x c e l 2000's regression a n d A N O V A analyses u s i n g the following model. 2  Y(i)=U+CX +CT  2 E  Where: Y represents the relative specialization score Delta's field i n different years (i). u represents the population mean. cr sa represents the variance due to year. Q represents the residual or unexplained variance. Statistical tables are included i n appendix IV. 2  2  e  A n analysis by Schreier et. al. on the spatial a n d temporal variability of nutrient production a n d depletion i n the Lower Fraser Valley provided nutrient cycling data (Schreier et al., 2000). In addition to these biological indicators of sustainable agriculture, two other types of industrial data were u s e d to infer changes i n the environmental impact of farms i n the Lower Fraser Valley. First, the C a n a d i a n c e n s u s provided data on changes i n the use of soil conservation methods (generically called "conservation tillage") on horticultural farms i n the Lower F r a s e r Valley. The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  91 Second, i n d u s t r y data illustrate that organic food p r o d u c t i o n has expanded i n B.C.  Diversity data Figures 6-3, 6-4, a n d 6-5 show how the diversity of horticultural crops has changed over time (all tables a n d figures are i n c l u d e d at the end of the d i s c u s s i o n of the results). Results are summarized: • Figure 6-3 shows a decline i n the relative specialization of farms over the 1990s. • Figure 6-4 shows that the top four most planted horticultural crops have declined from approximately 60 per cent of the total l a n d devoted to horticultural to roughly 50 per cent (these crops, in order of area planted are potatoes, corn, shell peas, broccoli, see table 6-2). • Figure 6-5 shows that between 1996 a n d 1999, the specialization score declined i n the municipality of Delta. T h i s is only a weak statistical relationship (since F=0.33 this is below the level normally reported at for statistical significance). T h i s result is cautiously presented here since there was only a limited a m o u n t of data (only 1996-1999 crop years were available), a n d the trend towards increased diversity is echoed by provincial-wide aggregate data. These results illustrate that the trend towards increased diversity is both reflected at the aggregated provincial level (figure 6-3 a n d 6-4) b u t also at the micro farm level (though this is not statistically significant). A s a result, we conclude that this has helped create a more robust agricultural system on horticultural farms i n the Lower Fraser Valley.  Nutrient cycling data Tables 6-3 a n d 6-4, w h i c h come from calculations made by Schreier et.al. (2000) based o n C a n a d i a n c e n s u s divisions (see m a p i n chapter 1), show how the nitrogen a n d p h o s p h o r u s i n p u t s a n d outputs have become more balanced o n farms i n the west part of the Lower F r a s e r Valley. F a r m s i n the c e n s u s region of West Delta, for example went from a 3 0 k g / c r o p p e d h a N deficit i n 1991 to a 10 k g of s u r p l u s N . Conversely, c e n s u s regions where livestock is concentrated experienced m u c h higher nutrient surpluses (Nitrogen surpluses ranged between 100-200 k g / c r o p p e d h a a n d P surpluses between 50-100 k g / c r o p p e d h a for areas where livestock is concentrated). F r o m the perspective of nutrient cycling, we conclude that horticultural farms h a d better nutrient balances i n 1996 t h a n 1991 a n d that horticultural farms contribute less pollution t h a n livestock farms.  Census data B a s e d on responses in 1991 a n d 1996, the n u m b e r of farms i n the Lower F r a s e r Valley u s i n g practices to reduce soil erosion (called conservation tillage) rose from 312 in 1991 to 533 i n 1996 (reported i n data tables from The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  92 Schreier et. al. 2000). T h i s n u m b e r , however, includes hobby farms as well as commercial farms. To address this bias Schreier disaggregated c e n s u s data into two categories: large commercial farms a n d small h o b b y farms. T h e n u m b e r of large farms u s i n g winter cover crops to prevent soil erosion a n d nutrient runoff d u r i n g the wet winter m o n t h s also increased from 506 to 732 (Statistics C a n a d a , 1991, 1996). Finally, the n u m b e r of farmers u s i n g some form of crop rotation also rose 440 to 921 (see table 6.5). A p p e n d i x IV contains a full breakdown of this information by c e n s u s region.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  93  Organic food production  data  Because this is a very new industry, there is a lack of good data o n B . C . ' s organic farming industry. A c c o r d i n g to preliminary data compiled by the B . C . Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries a n d F o o d , retail sales of organic food i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a rose from approximately $90 million i n the m i d 1990s to $300 million i n 2 0 0 0 / 2 0 0 1 (quoted i n J a m i e s o n , 2001, p. 21). Agriculture a n d Agri-food C a n a d a suggests that the organic sector i n C a n a d a is small b u t growing rapidly a n d B . C . a n d Quebec lead the way as the only provinces with established organic food production standards (Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a , 2001a, electronic source). A c c o r d i n g to Statistics C a n a d a (2000), organic production i n B . C . has grown from virtually nothing ten years ago to having 135 registered vegetable producers with a n estimated 1340 acres i n 2000 (Parsons, 2000 p. 5-7). A s a result, J a m i e s o n concludes that the B . C . organic industry has grown rapidly over the past ten years as farmers have found new market opportunities (Jamieson, 2001, p. 21).  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  94  Figure 6-3 Relative specialization score for all horticultural crops in British Columbia between 1989 and 1999. F<0.01 (years with a higher score have a greater degree of on-farm specialization, i.e. less biodiversity). TD CD W  CD CD  R = 0.6623  i  CJ  c  £ro  2000000  xj C L c o o  1600000  o  1800000 1400000  5|  1200000  cu c  1000000  _ o cp c c o ro N ro ro o N  CD  ro o  CL  CD CL  CO  0 > ro  800000 600000 400000 200000 0 1989  1991  1993  1995  1997  1999  CD  or Source: calculation based on data from: B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d Food, 1999.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  95  Figure 6-4: Percent of total area of British Columbia's horticultural cropland occupied by largest four crops between 1992 and 1997. F<0.05.  Source: C a l c u l a t i o n based on data from: B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d Food, 1999 & Statistics C a n a d a , 1998.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  96  Table 6-2 Acres of top three crop horticultural crops in British Columbia 1992 - 1997. 1992 Potatoes 4985 Sweet C o r n 1671 G r e e n Peas 1530 Broccoli 980 Total top four 9166 total of A L L crops 15142 % of top four crops 60  1993 5800 1631 1427 1072 9930 15817 62  1994 1995 5355 5090 1525 1635 1518 1376 1522 1523 9920 9624 16310 16033 60 60  1996 4950 1752 727 1225 8654 15240 56  1997 4030 1457 779 774 7040 1336^ 52  Source: Calculation based o n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d Food, 1999 a n d Statistics C a n a d a , 1998  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  97  Figure 6-5 Relative specialization score for the municipality of Delta. F = 0.33 (years with a higher score have a higher diversity of crops). FT = 0.4413  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  Source: C a l c u l a t i o n based on data set provided by D r . B . V e r n o n , F o o d a n d Agriculture C a n a d a , Agassiz, B . C .  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  9 8  Table 6-3 Nitrogen (N) surplus / deficit from all farms in census areas in the west end of the Lower Fraser Valley for 1991 and 1996. Nitrogen S u r p l u s or deficit C e n s u s Region West R i c h m o n d East Richmond West Delta E a s t Delta  Balance K g N / cropped h a  1991  1996  - 75 +75 - 30 + 10  +1 +20 + 11 + 16  Source: Schreier et al., 2000, electronic source.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  99  Table 6-4 Phosphorus (P) surplus / deficit from all farms in census areas in the west end of the Lower Fraser Valley in 1991 and 1996. Phosphorus S u r p l u s / deficit C e n s u s Region West R i c h m o n d East Richmond West Delta E a s t Delta  Balance K g P / cropped h a  1991  1996  - 1 +70 +30 +20  + 12 +5 + 1 + 18  Source: Schreier et al., 2000, electronic source.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  100  Table 6-5 Soil conservation practices on large farms in the lower Fraser Valley in 1991 and 1996  TOTAL NUMBER O F FARMS TOTAL FARM AREA - HECTARES C r o p rotation (# of farms) Winter cover crops (# of farms) C o n t o u r cultivation (# of farms) Strip-cropping (# of farms) G r a s s e d waterways (# of farms) Source:  large farm totals  % Change  1991  1996  91-96  3493 96069 440 506 Na  3873 110937.4  10 13  921 732 86 64 88  52 44 na na na  Na Na  1991 a n d 1996 C a n a d i a n C e n s u s cited i n Schreier et. al. 2000.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  101  DISCUSSION A l t h o u g h there is a great deal of variation between farms, the result of all three data sources suggest that in some ways farm management has improved over recent years on horticultural farms at the west end of the Lower Fraser Valley. T h i s supports the theory that increased international competition, a n d a drop i n government support, contributes to better environmental management practices. C a n we conclude, however, that because increased trade seems to have led to better environmental management o n farms at the west end of the Fraser Valley, that this is because farmers are protecting themselves against changes i n the market or weather that c o u l d threaten their income? O r is this change a result of a more general reorganization of the agri-food industry? T h i s is a n important question, because if the change i n diversity is a result of risk-averting behaviour, we would expect that trade anywhere s h o u l d lead to a bettermanaged environment. Conversely, if this change is a reflection of the reorganization of the food processing industry d i s c u s s e d i n chapter four, then trade m a y have different implications for the environment of B . C . ' s trading partners. T o study this, we will examine changes i n the B . C . vegetable i n d u s t r y a n d focus on B . C . vegetable processors. T h i s will allow u s to determine how the processing industry influences farm diversity a n d will allow u s to answer the question: "has the change i n diversity been a result of changes i n processing opportunities?" T h e n we will evaluate the impact of trade on the environment i n California, one of B . C . ' s major trading partners for h o r t i c u l t u r a l commodities.  The processing  industry  D a t a suggest that the vegetable i n d u s t r y i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a has undergone significant change. Unlike the rest of C a n a d a (and most of the industrialized world), there are more farms i n B . C . t h a n i n the past. A c c o r d i n g to the 1971 census, there were 4 4 8 7 farms i n B . C . In 1996, there were 6671. A large proportion of this growth is accounted for by small farms; there were 2193 i n 1971 to 3309 i n 1996 (Penfold, 1998, p. 1-2). T h e vegetable processing industry is also i n transition, a n d has declined in B . C . since at least the late 1970s. T h e a n n u a l report filed by the Ministry of Agriculture a n d F o o d i n 1980 states that "...since the near collapse of the [horticultural] processing i n d u s t r y ... competition from U . S . growers has increased..." (British C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d Food, 1980, p. 22). Agriculture a n d Agri-food C a n a d a point out that following the implementation of the C a n a d a - U n i t e d States Free Trade Agreement (FTA) the processing i n d u s t r y underwent a severe period of rationalization that resulted i n fewer plants a n d products but increased p r o d u c t i o n (Agriculture a n d AgriFood Canada, 1998). 43  We cannot conclude that the trade agreements themselves are the sole cause of this transition, as this may be a result of the underlying economics of vegetable processing 4 3  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  102 T h e private consulting firm, Ference a n d Weicker (Ference a n d Weicker L t d . , 2000) a n d Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a with the Department of Foreign Affairs a n d Trade (Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a & Department of Foreign Affairs a n d International Trade, 1997), all d o c u m e n t a decline i n the n u m b e r of processors in B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a . T h e y estimate that between 1984 a n d 1995 the contribution that food a n d beverage processing made to provincial G D P declined by approximately 40 per cent. There was a 13 per cent drop i n the n u m b e r of businesses (including 1 person establishments) between 1988 a n d 1994, a n d the industry became concentrated with the largest 40 per cent of companies p r o d u c i n g 91 per cent of shipments (Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a & Department of Foreign Affairs a n d International Trade, 1997). These are not new problems i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a . In his first report, B . C . ' s first agricultural minister, J a m e s A n d e r s o n who was appointed i n 1891, pointed out that a lack of processing plants seriously u n d e r m i n e d local farmers' ability to develop a thriving industry (British C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d Food, 1996, p. 30). Anderson's comments resonate today j u s t as m u c h as they did 110 years ago. B y the 1920s a n d 1930s this problem h a d been at least partly alleviated. In 1921, the Broder C a n n i n g C o m p a n y established a factory i n Ladner at the m o u t h of the F r a s e r River. Approximately 2,000 acres of peas were grown i n this area each year to support this factory (British C o l u m b i a Department of Agriculture, 1966, p. 24). In the 1930s, C a n a d i a n C a n n i n g Ltd. also built a factory near S u m a s , east of the m o u t h of the Fraser River. Also i n the 1930s, Robert Broder added a corn processing plant i n New Westminster (this later became Royal City Foods), a n d i n 1936-7 C a n a d i a n C a n n i n g L t d . , added sweet c o r n to the farm products they processed (British C o l u m b i a Department of Agriculture, 1966). Today, all of these operations, a n d a n u m b e r of other processors (like the Nalley's Potato C h i p factory that shut its doors i n the mid-1990s), have closed. Ference a n d Weicker (2000) review industry data to illustrate that the B . C . food a n d beverage industry is simply not competitive with other regions i n C a n a d a . T h e y estimate that there are a r o u n d 300 food a n d beverage processors i n the province a n d that these companies shipped a n estimated $3.62 billion dollars worth of products i n 1996 (Ference a n d Weicker L t d , 2000). E x c l u d i n g those employed by fish processing, Ference a n d Weicker calculate this industry employs between 15,000 a n d 17,000 people. Despite this industry's important role i n the B . C . economy, B . C . processes considerably less food a n d beverages t h a n Alberta, w h i c h ships $6.8 billion worth of food a n d beverages every year. T h e gap between B . C . a n d Alberta has increased i n recent years a n d Alberta's b u s i n e s s h a s grown 7.4 per cent per a n n u m compared with B . C . ' s 3.7 per cent (Ference a n d Weicker L t d ,  that led to a reorganization of the industry independent of trade agreements. It is likely, however, that trade agreements have made this change easier by removing barriers between regions. The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G . Fraser  103 2000). Ference a n d Weicker also observe that the processing i n d u s t r y is smaller i n B . C . t h a n would be expected with the size of the province's population. B . C . has 12.7 per cent of Canada's population yet only 7.2 per cent of the total food a n d beverage processing i n the country (Ference a n d Weicker L t d , 2000). Finally, the Ference a n d Weicker report quantifies a n u m b e r of costs that are higher i n B . C . t h a n the rest of the country. B . C . has higher labour costs as a percent of food m a n u f a c t u r i n g shipments i n the processing i n d u s t r y t h a n the rest of C a n a d a . In Alberta, labour costs represented 5.7 per cent of the price of food shipments while i n B . C . labour represented 9.9 per cent. B . C . has the highest average wage for workers i n the food processing industry ( $ 1 5 . 2 4 / h o u r for B . C . workers, c o m p a r e d with $ 1 4 . 3 2 / h o u r for the rest of Canada). Productivity was also lower i n B . C . t h a n in the other provinces. In B . C . m a n u f a c t u r i n g shipments per production h o u r averaged $154.09 i n 1996. T h e C a n a d i a n average was $ 1 7 6 . 3 0 / p r o d u c t i o n h o u r at this time (Ference a n d Weicker L t d , 2000). T h i s h a s resulted i n B . C . having a large trade deficit when it comes to food products a n d is "...likely C a n a d a ' s largest net importer of food a n d beverage products from other provinces." (Ference a n d Weicker Ltd, 2 0 0 0 ) . 44  Processing and Diversity Now that we have established that there has been a significant decline in the processing industry, we m u s t see what role this decline has played i n determining farm diversity. In order to test the role that the processing i n d u s t r y h a s on diversity, relative specialization scores were calculated for processing crops (Figure 6-6). T h i s g r a p h shows a m u c h steeper decline i n specialization t h a n figure 6-3, w h i c h illustrates relative specialization for all horticultural crops. T h i s demonstrates that farmers who grew crops for processing rather t h a n for fresh sale diversified to a greater degree t h a n most horticultural farmers. Figure 6-7 echoes this point, showing that the value of processed crops has declined while the value of fresh crops h a s increased. Figure 6-8 shows that the total area of processed crops has dropped steadily while the total harvest of fresh crops has risen. Figure 6-9 shows that the three largest processed crops, shell peas, c o r n a n d potatoes, have also declined. A c c o r d i n g to this figure, 1997, w h i c h was the year with the highest relative specialization score for horticulture, was also the year with the lowest potato acreage. F r o m this it seems that the decline i n the processing i n d u s t r y is a major contributor to the increase i n farm diversity. A s processing plants have closed, farmers have tried to find new markets, a n d have tried new combinations of crops rather t h a n relying on the products that processors u s e d to d e m a n d .  It should be noted that some authors question why this should even be considered to be a problem; why should residents of a city accept a trade agreement with one region and not another. For example, why should residents of Vancouver accept a trade relationship with the Okanagan Valley and not with Washington State (Baxter, 1998). 4 4  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G . Fraser  104 Since this evidence suggests that the increase i n diversity is at least partly the result of changes i n the processing industry, we cannot simply conclude that trade has forced farmers to become better environmental managers. Instead, to u n d e r s t a n d the role of trade on the environment we m u s t expand our analysis a n d examine the environmental effect of trade on B . C . ' s trading partners. F o r horticulture, B . C . ' s most significant partner is California. Vegetable imports from California grew by approximately 35 per cent from $220 million (current dollars) C a n a d i a n i n 1991 to $ 347 million i n 2000 (Industry C a n a d a , 1999, on-line database). Table 6-6 illustrates the growth of B . C . ' s imports from California. A l t h o u g h this c o u l d be the result of a changing exchange rates, this trend highlights a critical fact: more important t h a n the increase in trade, o u r dependence on California as o u r primary source of fresh a n d processed vegetables has also increased. D a t a from Statistics C a n a d a shows that although B . C . has never been a net exporter of vegetables to this region, its trade deficit has grown by approximately 20 per cent since 1991, a n d California alone accounts for 50 per cent of the B . C . vegetable trade deficit. (Industry C a n a d a , 1999, on-line database). A s a result, if we want to accurately assess the environmental impact of trade o n farms we m u s t study the h o r t i c u l t u r a l i n d u s t r y of California. T h e remainder of the chapter is devoted to this task. First, we shall review California's position i n the North A m e r i c a n horticultural industry. Second, we will investigate how this has h a d a n effect on California's environment.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  105  Figure 6-6 Relative specialization score for processed vegetable crops in B.C. between 1990 and 1999. F<0.05 (years with high value indicate less biodiversity and greater specialization). R = 0.8978 2  Year  Source: C a l c u l a t i o n based o n data from: B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d Food, 1999.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  106  Figure 6-7 Sales from total field crops, processed field crop, and fresh field crops from B.C.'s lower mainland.  Mainland, field veg production total sales c  •a  • Mainland field crops, fresh sales  O o o C3  •*- Mainland, field crops (processed sales) Year Source: B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d Food, 2000. Available at: http://ww.fbminet.ca/bc/stats/HORT_STA.htm  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  107  Figure 6-8 % of the total harvested area for fresh or processed vegetables in British Columbia.  0)  +•>  U)  •%of total field crop harvested for fresh  Q)  Z  ra .c ~o c ro  % of total field crop harvested for processed  "ro +->  o  ^  <^  K  #  NT-  Years Source: Calculated from British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, 1999.  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  108 Figure 6-9 Area (in acres) of the three largest processed vegetables B.C.  in  -•- total corn - A - total shelled peas total potatoes  O  v.  O <  Year Source: Calculated from British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, 1999.  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  109  Table 6-6 Value (in millions of current Canadian dollars) of B.C.'s vegetable imports from California between 1991 and 2001. Year Imports (million current $)  1991 220  1992 225  1993 259  1994 261  1995 276  1996 277  Source: Industry C a n a d a , 1999, on line.  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  1997 316  1998 348  1999 327  2000 347. ,  110  CALIFORNIA: T H E CENTRE FOR N O R T H A M E R I C A ' S HORTICULTURAL INDUSTRY Today, California is the u n d i s p u t e d leader i n North A m e r i c a n horticulture. A c c o r d i n g to M c C l u r g , although California h a s j u s t 8 per cent of U . S . irrigated c r o p l a n d (California has roughly three million irrigated acres), it produces 50 per cent of the A m e r i c a n fruits, n u t s a n d vegetable harvest (McClurg, 2000, p. 95). C o n n o r a n d Schiek point out that California is the centre of food processing for most of North A m e r i c a . F o r example, this state dominates the North A m e r i c a n tomato, tomato paste, a n d tomato sauce industry, w h i c h is the second largest processed vegetable i n d u s t r y on the continent after frozen potatoes. California's share of the A m e r i c a n c a n n e d vegetable market is 45-50 per cent. It also has the second largest frozen fruit i n d u s t r y (Connor & Schiek, 1997, p. 157-161). T h i s state is the leader i n what C o n n o r a n d Schiek call demand-oriented processing, or industries that locate close to c o n s u m e r s because the final product is fragile (e.g., potato chips) as well as supply-oriented industries like lettuce, where the major cost is obtaining raw product (Connor 8B Schiek, 1997, p. 146-175). Stoll analyses why California has become the "industrial garden for the continent." He argues that although California has a n excellent climate, it was o n the periphery of the North A m e r i c a n market i n the late 1800s w h e n this area was first developed for agriculture (Stoll, 1998, p. 62). A c c o r d i n g to Stoll, the earliest farmers who settled on these fertile valleys focused on developing export markets a r o u n d North A m e r i c a . Between the 1880s, w h e n fields were first cultivated, a n d 1927, California fruit producers were able to corner 67 per cent of the U . S . c a n n e d fruit market (Stoll, 1998, p. 4). Between the 1880s a n d 1900, California farmers specialized i n grain production. Wheat is durable, transports easily, a n d grew well for the first generation of farmers (McClurg, 2000, p. 96; Stoll, 1998, p. 29). B y 1900, however, wheat yields were i n decline a n d the soil c o u l d no longer produce grains efficiently. Preliminary experiments with irrigation demonstrated that, with the proper infrastructure, this area was well suited to fruit a n d vegetable production. B a n k s a n d credit u n i o n s facilitated the switch from grain farms to orchards a n d horticultural farms by offering favourable loans of u p to $400 per acre for farmers interested i n developing orchards at a time w h e n credit was unavailable to grain farmers (Stoll, 1998, p. 33-4). L a n d developers realized this potential, bought u p large areas of under-utilized grain-land, a n d established the irrigation infrastructure. Stoll details a n u m b e r of these l a n d developments (Stoll, 1998, p. 3335). F o r example, the developer William C h a p m a n established a n agricultural colony near Fresno, a n d hired a corps of engineers a n d w o r k m e n to divide former grain land.into 32, 20-acre vineyards. He arranged a system of canals and ditches to carry groundwater a n d even planted grape vines between 1875 and 1877. These plots were marketed to u r b a n residents from the Northeastern U . S . who were disgruntled with city life. The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  Ill A second ambitious project was sponsored by a group of G e r m a n investors who h a d 450 miles of ditches a n d 25 miles of feeder canals d u g before they began selling parcels of l a n d to potential farmers. Similarly, the "76-Company," a private l a n d development firm, built a 30-mile irrigation c a n a l that brought water to 100,000 acres of soon-to-be planted o r c h a r d a n d vegetable garden i n Fresno a n d Tulare C o u n t y . In all, by the early 1900s there were approximately 500 miles of waterways that made horticultural production possible on approximately 200,000 acres of l a n d (Stoll, 1998, p. 33-35). Two important themes r u n through the development of California's agriculture. First, one of the reasons for these massive investments was the realization that the only way of increasing farm-income was through increasing yield. U n t i l this point, A m e r i c a n farmers were still developing new l a n d that h a d never been intensively cultivated. California was one of the last agricultural frontiers, so once this area h a d come u n d e r the plough, the only way farmers c o u l d increase income was through l a n d improvements that increased the revenue per hectare. T h e second theme is that California never h a d what some might consider traditional farms that p r o d u c e d commodities for personal or local c o n s u m p t i o n . F r o m its earliest development, California farmers were traders who sold their goods all across the U . S . A c c o r d i n g to Stoll, the period between 1900 a n d 1920 was critical to establishing California as the premier fruit a n d vegetable exporter on the continent (Stoll, 1998, p. 56). At this time, farm economists came to the u n d e r s t a n d i n g that distributing fruit is more profitable t h a n p r o d u c i n g it. F r o m this point, farmers took huge risks sending u n i n s u r e d shipments of fruit across the continent for sale i n the rich markets of New York or Chicago. F a r m e r s , however, were at the mercy of processors based i n the E a s t . It was virtually impossible for individual California growers to m a i n t a i n a supply c h a i n that e n s u r e d that food would be sold before it spoiled a n d that the farmer would receive profits from any sale. T h i s provided the incentive for California farmers to organize a n d develop the technological a n d institutional infrastructure they needed to export their products a n d dominate this i n d u s t r y (Friedland, 1994, p. 174-175; Stoll, 1998, 57). A s a result, starting with the formation of the first California farmers' u n i o n i n the late 1800s, farmers began to consolidate the sale of California produce. First they established u n i f o r m grades that defined quality, they then invested i n s t a n d a r d boxes for all California produce a n d engaged i n deliberate a n d orderly marketing a n d promotion. T h i s h a d a dramatic effect on California's position within North A m e r i c a a n d the c a n n i n g a n d freezing i n d u s t r y began shifting towards California. Developments after World W a r II facilitated this process. Friedland (1994) outlines how increased c o n s u m e r d e m a n d for fresh produce, better storage a n d refrigeration technology, a n d global trade facilitated a n integrated network of agri-food companies that deliver fresh food to economically privileged c o n s u m e r s (Friedland, 1994, p. 210). Friedland argues that a "cool system," originated out of California because California lettuce producers The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  112 were able to develop methods to produce lettuce year r o u n d (Friedland, 1994, p. 212). T o a c c o m p l i s h this, farmers needed to be sufficiently organized that they c o u l d shift lettuce production t h r o u g h a variety of sites i n California (and later i n Arizona) to guarantee y e a r - r o u n d production to distributors a n d retailers. T h e secret was to organize farmers over a large geographic area to work together a n d time their harvests so that California lettuce was always available. T h e second logistical task that farmers h a d to overcome was to develop the network of refrigerator trucks, climate controlled storage facilities, a n d retail outlets to move fragile a n d perishable produce to m a r k e t . Technological advances s u c h as v a c u u m p a c k i n g lettuce helped develop this system (Latham, 1992, p. 5-10). According to Friedland, however, the real a c c o m p l i s h m e n t was not devising new technology, b u t organizing the h u m a n a n d p h y s i c a l infrastructure to move dozens of very valuable b u t highly perishable commodities, each with specific temperature a n d h u m i d i t y requirements, a r o u n d the continent every day. O n c e the organization was established for lettuce, year r o u n d tomato p r o d u c t i o n was soon developed a n d today u r b a n North A m e r i c a n residents enjoy unparalleled fresh produce yearr o u n d (Friedland, 1994, p. 212-213). 4 5  Governmental policy has also played a significant, though sometime unwitting, role i n determining California's dominance. F r i e d l a n d , B a r t o n a n d T h o m a s (1981) show how a massive re-organization of California's tomato i n d u s t r y was (a) a n u n i n t e n d e d consequence of a change i n A m e r i c a labour law, a n d (b) helped establish California's position of dominance i n the North A m e r i c a n tomato i n d u s t r y (Friedland, B a r t o n , 8& T h o m a s , 1981 p. 37-42). U n t i l the m i d - 1 9 6 0 s tomato production was very labour-intensive. T h e labour supply i n California was essentially u n l i m i t e d because farmers c o u l d hire very low-paid M e x i c a n workers to harvest this crop. In 1962, there were 4,000 tomato producers a n d 50,000 workers (Friedland et a l . , 1981, p. 38). T h i s system supported small farmers who intercropped a variety of species. A s a result, w h e n the University of California a n n o u n c e d i n 1961 that they h a d perfected a tomato-harvesting machine, a n d h a d bred a new variety of tomato that would withstand being h a n d l e d by these m a c h i n e s , few farmers h a d the incentive to spend the $25,000 for this highly specialized equipment. After this harvester h a d been on the market for three years> 96.2 per cent of California tomato harvest was still h a n d p i c k e d . A r o u n d the same time, i n the early 1960s, however, the U . S . federal government a n n o u n c e d that it would c r a c k down on migrant labour. F a r m e r s i n 46  The approach has spread to elements within the B.C. hothouse industry that now have partners in California and Mexico to cover months when B.C.'s produce cannot meet demand. This point underscores an often hidden influence that shapes American agriculture. The U.S. government funds agriculture through the land grant university system. Although in the past this system has been seen as perpetuating large-scale industry agriculture, emerging "societal concerns about resource use, environmental impact, [and] food safety prompted U.S. landgrant universities to reevaluate priorities and led to some new initiatives in sustainable agriculture. (Francis et al., 1995) T h e Ecologies of Scale 4 5  4 6  E v a n D. G . Fraser  113 California realized that they would be facing serious labour shortages a n d worried that they would lose market share to M e x i c a n producers. In the wake of the federal labour announcement, there was a massive consolidation of tomato producers. B y 1969, 99 per cent of the harvest was done u s i n g m a c h i n e s , by 1973 there were j u s t 597 commercial tomato growers still i n operation, a n d i n 1972 this i n d u s t r y only employed 18,000 people (Friedland et al., 1981, p. 38-41). T h e location of tomato farms shifted, a n d this set off a m i n o r l a n d r u s h that drove u p l a n d values a r o u n d the already large-well established producers. Irrigation, processing a n d transport facilities also moved to take advantage of this new i n d u s t r y concentration, a n d the government's decision to upgrade a small country road on the west side of the S a n J o a q u i n Valley to Interstate Highway #5 made Fresno C o u n t y the major tomato p r o d u c i n g region in the country (Friedland et al., 1981, p. 40-41). While it is undeniable that California has m a n y n a t u r a l advantages, this d i s c u s s i o n highlights that it would be a mistake to reduce all of California's successes to climate a n d soil conditions. Instead, the history of California shows how policy decisions, organization within the industry, technology a n d n a t u r a l advantages all c o m b i n e d to establish this region as the pre-eminent vegetable exporting area on the continent.  The impact on California's  environment  Preliminary data show that agriculture has contributed to two significant problems for the environment i n California: (1) water a n d (2) specialization. California has serious environmental problems with water pollution a n d exploitation. First, intensive agriculture has contributed to very serious water problems a n d decades of agri-chemical use have led to serious ground-water contamination (McClurg, 2000, p. 137). Y o u n g a n d K a r k o s k i cite the U . S . E n v i r o n m e n t a l Protection Agency (USEPA) that 37 per cent of surface water i n the U S is unfit for either wildlife or fish habitat or h u m a n c o n s u m p t i o n a n d that agriculture is responsible for polluting 70 per cent of the nation's tainted waterways. A l t h o u g h these are national statistics, Y o u r n a n d K a r k o s k i point out that this problem centres on California a n d other regions where there is a high density of agriculture (Young & K a r k o s k i , 2000, p. 151-152). H u n t et. al. (1999) point out that 89 per cent of California's riparian woodlands, w h i c h were intact 100 years ago, have been lost to agricultural uses, a n d that 80 per cent of the coastal wetlands has been drained for u r b a n or agricultural use. In the Pajaro River watershed, where H u n t et. al. d i d their work, 5.7 million kg of synthetic organic pesticides were applied i n 1994, a n d that over 90 per cent of m u s s e l s sampled i n one study contained toxic levels of organic chemicals (Hunt et al., 1999 p. 75-6). Similarly, Loague et. al. (1998) argue that agricultural run-off constitutes a major environmental problem throughout California (and elsewhere), as pesticides a n d nutrients leach into g r o u n d water where ever there is intensive agriculture (Loague, Lloyd, Nguyen, Davis, & A b r a m s , 1998, p. 109).  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  114 J u s t as significantly, poor water management has led to the depletion of u n d e r g r o u n d aquifers. Because of California's arid climate, fruit a n d vegetable farmers m u s t irrigate d u r i n g the dry winter m o n t h s . T h e irrigation systems established by the early l a n d developers generally made use of surface water, trapping a n d storing rainfall a n d directing the flow of streams a n d rivers into fields. In the 1920s, irrigation i n the state exploded with the invention of the deep-well turbine p u m p that brought g r o u n d w a t e r within farmers' reach (McClurg, 2000, p. 105). T h i s has led to groundwater overdrafts, where more water is removed from the water table t h a n is replaced every year by rainfall. Estimates from the late 1980s suggest that there is a n average decline of between approximately 15 c m to l m i n California's water table each year (Soule & Piper, 1992, p. 26). 47  More recently, the state experienced a 1.6 million acre-feet g r o u n d water overdraft i n 1998 (Kuminoff, S u m n e r , B u c k , 8B G o l d m a n , 2000 p. 40). G r o u n d water overdrafts have been so c o m m o n throughout California's agricultural history that m a n y areas have experience significant s u b s i d e n c e . In the S a n J o a q u i n valley, for example, 5,200 square miles have s u n k between one a n d thirty feet since the origins of groundwater irrigation (McClurg, 2000, p. 105). Groundwater overdrafts a n d water pollution, however, are a n inevitable price of California's success. A c c o r d i n g to M c C l u r g , irrigation not only allows farmers to develop agriculture i n a n arid climate, b u t it also allows t h e m the ability to carefully control water use. T h a n k s to the winter drought a n d irrigation, farmers i n California never have to worry about floods or moisture shortfalls. T h i s m a r k s California farmers as perhaps u n i q u e i n the history of agriculture. T h r o u g h o u t history, farmers have been powerless to influence how m u c h water their crops receive. In B . C . , for example, fields often are waterlogged i n the spring due to late rains, w h i c h prohibits ploughing. Fields m a y become compacted i n the fall if a late harvest coincides with early winter rain. Because the California farmer precisely controls the water fields receive, producers do not have to be concerned with any of these issues (McClurg, 2000, p. 9 5 ) . However, the massive problems of g r o u n d water overdraft m a k e s this is a n u n s u s t a i n a b l e form of agriculture. 48  49  50  T h e second major environmental problem is that farms i n California have specialized i n a very small n u m b e r of crops. A s highlighted i n chapter two, specialization translates into high i n p u t use, b r o k e n nutrient cycles, a n d water pollution. Highly mechanized a n d specialized farms are also not Groundwater: "The water that moves down into the soil and underlying geological strata from the upper soil layers following rainfall. Groundwater is stored in aquifers, and the boundary between aquifers and overlying unsaturated soils is the water table. Ground water may move underground by streams and seepage." (Dunster & Dunster, 1996, p. 154) Acre-foot: "A unit of measurement describing water or sediment volumes; equal to a volume that would cover an area of one acre to a depth of one foot. A volume of 43,560 cubic feet or 1,233 cubic meters." (Dunster 8s Dunster, 1996, p. 5) Subsidence: "...the collapse or sinking of the ground's surface due to subsurface changes in structure." (Dunster 8s Dunster, 1996, p. 305) Unless, of course, wells run dry. The Ecologies of Scale 4 7  4 8  4 9  5 0  E v a n D . G . Fraser  115 compatible with sustainable crop rotations that include the use of fallow or grasslands. Specialization was one consequence of the consolidation i n the tomato industry. In order to pay off debt a c c r u e d to b u y the harvesters, farmers need to plant a m i n i m u m n u m b e r of hectares of tomatoes each year. Consequently, the move towards highly specialized m a c h i n e r y led to a consolidation of the i n d u s t r y that reinforced a n un-ecological specialization o n farms. T h e processing i n d u s t r y has exacerbated this. T o guarantee their customers a regular a n d consistent supply, large processors u s u a l l y sign long-term contracts with farmers. Increasingly, these contracts stipulate the way a farmer produces the crop a n d how it is harvested (Winson, 1992, p. 139-141). In California, this has resulted i n processors stating that they will only p u r c h a s e tomatoes from farmers with m a c h i n e harvesters. A s a result, the system that has evolved i n California makes sustainable agriculture a practical impossibility. Another part of California's agricultural i n d u s t r y that has become extremely specialized is dairy production. A c c o r d i n g to B u t l e r a n d Wolf (2000), dairy i n California began to take off i n the late 1970s (Butler & Wolf, 2000, p. 141-143). In 1970, California accounted for 8 per cent of total U . S . milk production. B y the early 1990s, California h a d overtaken W i s c o n s i n as the chief milk p r o d u c i n g state, a n d i n 1998 California p r o d u c e d 18 per cent of U . S . m i l k (Butler & Wolf, 2000, p. 141). D u r i n g this time 89 per cent of U . S . milk producers vanished, a n d herds i n California grew from a n average of 39 cows i n 1959, to 173 i n 1978, a n d 530 i n 1999 (Butler & Wolf, 2000, p. 145). B y contrast, B . C . dairy herds, w h i c h are large by C a n a d i a n standards, are approximately 70 c o w s / f a r m (Agriculture a n d A g r i - F o o d C a n a d a , 1996, p. 22). T h i s creates massive waste disposal problems a n d is a major contributor to groundwater pollution (the dairy i n d u s t r y is explored i n more detail i n the next chapter). 51  C r o p specialization is a legacy of California's origins as a n agricultural export zone. Since the goal of farming i n this state was never self-sufficiency, a n d there was never any expectation that local farms would meet the diverse d e m a n d s of the local market, farmers in California have always specialized i n a very limited range of crops. T h i s is one reason that they have been so efficient at out-competing rivals. F r o m the beginning of agriculture i n this region, farmers have specialized i n only those crops i n w h i c h they have a n a t u r a l advantage. To a c c o m p l i s h this, however, they use u n s u s t a i n a b l e water management to reduce the risks of crop failure (Friedland et al., 1981, p. 37-42; G o o d m a n 8B Redcliffe, 1991, p. 202-203; Stoll, 1998). A speech  In all likelihood this number is a considerable under-estimate of the real size of B.C. dairy operations, and this includes all farms, including small hobby farms with one or two cows. According to Barichello [Barichello, 2 0 0 0 ; personal communication], B.C. most commercial herds in the province are close to 100 cows. 5 1  T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  116 given i n the 1890s by a n early proponent of crop specialization demonstrates how deeply ingrained crop specialization i s : 52  A man who devotes ... 20 acres to 20 different varieties of fruits will never be in a position to secure as much for his product as the grower who devotes his energy to a few products. (G. Roeding, California farmer, circa late 1890s, speaking to the State Agricultural Society, quoted in Stoll, 1998, p. 62.) T h i s quote indicates to Stoll that social a n d environmental concerns were subordinate to the forces of profitability at a very early stage i n California's agricultural development (Stoll, 1998, p 62). T h e link between profitability a n d specialization was so strong that farmers lobbied W a s h i n g t o n in the 1890s to increase farm supports d u r i n g cyclical economic d o w n t u r n rather t h a n diversify their operations i n order to protect themselves from market fluctuations (Stoll, 1998, p. 62). It is ironic then, that although California h a s m a n y obvious n a t u r a l benefits, the key reason that it was able to develop its pre-eminent position i n North A m e r i c a n agriculture is due to externalising environmental problems. Without the control of irrigation water, a n d without the degree of farm specialization, it is unlikely that California farm groups would have been so successful. A s alluded to by Calvert, i n a congressional testimony to a Subcommittee on Water a n d Power, i n the long-term the u n s u s t a i n a b l e use of g r o u n d water sources, a n d environmental problems associated with excessive specialization m a y u n d e r m i n e the future of the industry:  California has come to another crossroads in water resource management. For years, water policy was made in isolation in many different agencies and on many different levels. Often, our direction changed in a knee-jerk reaction to events, leaving us with conflicting priorities and contradictory goals.... California is the 6th largest economy in the world, and the nation's leading producer in both industry and agriculture. Resource shortages in an economy this large will have a ripple effect throughout the west. (Calvert, 2001, electronic source)  This same logic was applied to British Columbia at the same time. B.C.'s first Minister of Agriculture, James Anderson, argued in his first report on agriculture in British Columbia (1891) that: 5 2  As regarding the unsuitability of crops, there is no doubt in my mind that if the farmers could confine themselves principally to dairying, fruit culture and root crops in the lower country, leaving cereals to those of the upper country, it would result much more favourable to the interests of all. (quoted in British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, 1996 p. 9)  Demeritt also points out that an electric railway linked Vancouver with Chilliwack in 1910. This allowed farmers well up into the valley (where land values are lower) to concentrate on dairy and sell into the big Vancouver market (Demeritt, 1997). The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  117 Clearly, California's environment has suffered serious degradation due to agriculture. Nevertheless we must ask, do these data tell us anything about how open trade will affect sustainability or environmental damage? Might these issues be merely a result of a lack of environmental regulations? While a lack of governmental regulation may well be part of the story, preliminary evidence shows that the US has laws that protect the nation's lakes and rivers. For example, the Clean Water Act (CWA) is a very strong piece of legislation aimed at preventing water pollution. The CWA itself emerged from two separate bills. In 1972, the US government passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. This was amended in 1977. Together the original regulations and the amendments are referred to as the Clean Water Act. The CWA gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to set effluent standards for all contaminants of surface waters (Carrel, 1999. on line). According to the Sierra Club, the CWA has three goals: -1. Enhanced protection from public health threats posed by water pollution. 2. More effective control of polluted runoff (from agriculture, urban streets, public lands, etc.) 3. Promotion of water quality on a watershed basis. (Sierra Club, 2002, on line). Theoretically, this should be enough to ensure that agricultural runoff does not pollute surface water. However, many feel that the bill has not been successful in reducing agricultural pollution. For example, in 2000 the National Wildlife Foundation published a report that graded how well each state enforced the Clean Water Act (National Wildlife Foundation, 2000. on line). According to the National Wildlife Foundation, no state received an "A" and California, along with 20 others, received an "F." (CNN, 2000. on line, for the full report see: http://www.nwf.org/watersheds/paralysis/pp2_report.pdf). Also in reaction to the perceived failures of the Clean Water Act, in 2000, a new bill was introduced into the US senate to protect fish habitat from water contamination. The proposed legislation was needed because the Clean Water Act had failed to ensure adequate conservation of fresh water (American Sportfishing Association quoted by CNN, 2000, on line). Since the Clean Water Act has not prevented water pollution or ensured that agricultural practices do not destroy fish habitat, we can conclude that there are more forces at work than just a lack of governmental regulation. Instead, to understand why agriculture causes poor environmental management we must look at the influence that macro-economic forces like international trade have in favouring types of farms that may cause environmental problems regardless of government regulation.  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  118 S U M M A R Y A N D CONCLUSION TO T H E E F F E C T O F T R A D E  The purpose of this chapter was to analyse and test the effect of trade on the environment. Based on the discussion in chapter four we hypothesized that if pro-trade theorists are correct, then an increase in trade will lead farmers to adopt risk-averting behaviour and become better environmental managers. Data from British Columbia, which show an increase in trade and an increase in good environmental management on farms, supports this hypothesis. In order to understand whether this conclusion could be applied to all situations where trade has increased, we examined data on B.C.'s processing industry. The processing industry is important because processors provide a market for the majority of horticultural harvest that are not sold as fresh produce. Since increases in farm diversity are directly associated with changes in the processing industry, it was necessary to investigate how trade has impacted on B.C.'s most important horticultural trading partner, California. A review of California agriculture revealed that California has a natural advantage over most other farming regions in North America when it comes to climate. This natural advantage alone, however, does not account for its dominant position in world horticultural markets. Instead, careful marketing, the development of an extremely complicated transportation and storage infrastructure, and cooperation between producers are all vital components of California's successes. The system of highly specialized, irrigated farms that fuels California's industry, however, is based on two fundamentally unecological characteristics. First, agriculture in California has regularly exploited groundwater aquifers, which has resulted in a serious drop in the water table and major subsidence problems. Second, by specializing on highly mechanized farms, California producers have created a series of other negative environmental problems. Despite the fact that the agriculture is unsustainable, climate, producer organization, irrigation, transportation, storage, and government policy have all combined to allow California to seize the opportunities presented by increased global trade, and become the premier agricultural region on the continent. This is a reinforcing cycle. Thanks to ecological factors and unsustainable practices, California was able to develop a certain critical mass of production. This became a magnet for processors, which relocated to this area throughout the twentieth century. The growth of Los Angeles, a huge and wealthy urban population was another draw for processors, and other components of the agri-food industry. The dominance of the industry reinforced California's position as a major horticultural hub and further entrenched unsustainable water use and crop specialization. This attracted more processors, and led to more intensive, un-ecological farms. Consequently, integrated crop-livestock agriculture, with high biodiversity and closed nutrient cycles, is unsupportable because much of California's efficiency is built around specialization. Processors offer large mechanized producers long-term contracts, and small farmers lose their markets and are bought out by large farmers. The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  119 In B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , the opposite has occurred. B . C . is a less favoured agricultural area compared with California. A s a result, the agriculture industry, based on a marginal climate a n d geared to provide food for the local population, suddenly faced serious competition with a massive, wellorganized, export-oriented competitor as trade barriers dropped. Vegetable freezing a n d c a n n i n g factories, w h i c h C o n n o r a n d Schiek (1997) call "footloose" immediately either closed, unable to compete with the highly competitive, y e a r - r o u n d produce out of California, or relocated to the U . S . L a n d based horticultural farmers i n the west-end of the Lower Fraser Valley have lost their markets a n d been forced to find alternatives. T h i s began the reverse process to what we witness in California. These farms have become de-centralized, more diverse, a n d better environmental managers as the i n d u s t r y a n d government programmes, w h i c h u s e d to support them, have vanished. Accordingly, these farmers have explored new markets a n d found that some c o n s u m e r s will spend a p r e m i u m for local, organically grown produce. T h i s has s p u r r e d B . C . to be one of only two provinces to develop organic standards. T h i s depiction, however, cannot be generalized across B . C . ' s agricultural industry. Other types of farms (cattle, dairy, a n d poultry) have become increasingly centralized, a n d other regions within B . C . have adapted to different circumstances. T h e effect of trade, therefore, has been very different o n these two ends of the international agri-industrial food c h a i n . In B . C . , trade has led to a reorganization of the industry a n d the loss of market share for local producers. In response, data indicate that farmers i n the Lower F r a s e r Valley have started taking the first steps towards better environmental management, w h i c h includes finding new niche markets i n organic agriculture. In California, trade has reinforced the industry's already powerful position. T h i s h a s supported ecologically-damaging methods of farming.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  120  CHAPTER 7 T H E ROLE OF GOVERNMENT PROGRAMMES:  DATA  FROM T H E FRASER RIVER VALLEY. INTRODUCTION In chapter four, we presented the theory that government protection m u s t balance trade's negative influence to ensure good farm management. A s a result, we hypothesize that, if this theory is correct, we will observe better environmental management (i.e. high biodiversity a n d closed nutrient cycles) on farms that are protected by the government. In chapter six, data show that government support i n B . C . has dropped over recent years. Despite these changes one part of B . C . ' s agricultural system h a s remained protected by the government. Dairy, egg, a n d poultry industries are all coordinated t h r o u g h a "supply management system" that allocates production quota to farmers, prevents foreign competition, a n d sets the prices that farmers receive. T h e purpose of this chapter is to test the impact that government protection h a s on the environment by studying the impact of these industries. First, this chapter will review the marketing board system that governs trade in these commodities, how this system was developed, a n d how it h a s changed i n response to international trading agreements. Second, data from the Lower F r a s e r Valley on the environmental impact of dairy a n d poultry farms will be reviewed. T h i r d , we will examine herd size a n d density i n other parts of North A m e r i c a with different governmental regimes. F o u r t h , the historical development of B . C . ' s dairy i n d u s t r y illustrates how a n u m b e r of factors, w h i c h include government protection, explain the impact these farms have o n the environment.  B. C. 's marketing board system A c c o r d i n g to Wilson, C a n a d a has a long history of protecting farmers. In 1935, the federal government passed the "Natural Products Marketing Act" that allowed farmers to b a n d together a n d bargain for better prices. T h i s established the B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a Marketing B o a r d that h a d the mandate to regulate the sale of certain commodities (British C o l u m b i a Marketing B o a r d s , 2000). In 1935, Ottawa established the C a n a d i a n Wheat B o a r d that controls the sale of prairie grain to this day (Wilson, 1990, p. 31). In 1966, the federal government responded to chaotic dairy prices a n d established the C a n a d i a n Dairy C o m m i s s i o n through the C a n a d i a n Dairy C o m m i s s i o n Act. T h e goal of this act is to provide:  ...efficient producers of milk and cream with the opportunity of obtaining fair return for their labour and investment capital; and provide consumers of dairy products with a continuous and adequate supply of dairy products of high quality (quoted in, Barichello & Romain, 1996, p. 164)  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  121 Since then, the C a n a d i a n dairy sector has been administered u n d e r a supply management system. In December 1970, a national dairy p l a n was established, a n d by 1974, all the provinces h a d become part of this p l a n (Barichello 8s R o m a i n , 1996, p. 165). T h i s act, a n d the ones that created a similar framework for eggs a n d poultry, established a marketing board system of p r o d u c t i o n quotas, administered prices, a n d import controls. In essence, marketing boards operate a legal monopoly that determines the conditions of sale into the domestic market (Wilson, 1990, p. 168). T h e goal of the b o a r d is to predict domestic d e m a n d a n d allocate quota to producers to meet this d e m a n d . Ideally, this will prevent price swings a n d provide a stable b u s i n e s s environment for both farmers a n d consumers. T h e marketing boards establish a price for the commodities that is high enough to cover production costs plus a profit. T h e boards also control imports. Predictably, this system has changed i n recent years. F o r example, the C a n a d i a n Government u s e d to charge a levy against farmers who p r o d u c e d more t h a n their quota. U n d e r W T O rules, this levy became illegal (Barichello 8B R o m a i n , 1996, p. 166). In addition, farmers u s e d to receive a $6.03 per hectolitre (hi) subsidy for i n d u s t r i a l milk p r o d u c t i o n . In A u g u s t of 1993 this was reduced to $5.42 per h i , though the c o n s u m e r made u p the shortfall t h r o u g h a price-hike at the supermarket (the loss of this subsidy was not directly related to the WTO). T h e federal budget i n 1995 reduced this a further 30 per cent, a n d i n 1996, this subsidy began to be p h a s e d out entirely. A t this time, new tariffs were imposed on dairy imports (Agriculture and A g r i - F o o d C a n a d a , 1996, p. 45). U n t i l the mid-1990s, marketing boards limited foreign competition through quantitative import restrictions. U n d e r the World Trade Organization, this was changed to a system of tariffs (British C o l u m b i a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries a n d F o o d , 1995, p. 4). Despite these changes, none of the trade agreements signed since 1988 have h a d a significant impact on the shape of the C a n a d i a n dairy i n d u s t r y a n d this system still controls foreign competition (Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a , 1996, p. 151). A l t h o u g h dairy is Canada's second largest agricultural industry, less that 1 per cent of Canada's total international agrifood trade is from these products (Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a , 1996, p. 19 8B 27). Agriculture a n d Agri-food C a n a d a , suggest, however, that this will change a n d the trade deals signed so far lay the foundation for a future reorganization within the industry (Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a , 1996, p. 16). 53  DATA FROM THE LOWER FRASER VALLEY There are two key characteristics of the livestock i n d u s t r y i n the Lower Fraser Valley relevant to this study. First, as described earlier i n this thesis,  Industrial milk refers to milk used to produce cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products. Fluid milk refers to the milk consumers drink such as 1 per cent or skim. Farms used to obtain different quotas for industrial and fluid milk though in B.C. they are now pooled together. 5 3  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  122 horticultural farms are geographically separate from livestock operations. Horticulture is concentrated at the m o u t h of the F r a s e r River. Poultry a n d dairy operations are densely clustered u p the valley where they are s u r r o u n d e d by r a s p b e r r i e s . Second, livestock p r o d u c t i o n has grown more intensive over time a n d is now concentrated on m u c h larger farms t h a n i n the past. Figure 7-1 shows that, in terms of income, large livestock farms dominate B . C . , while small horticultural farms are the n o r m . Aggregate, Canada-wide statistics support this position. In C a n a d a i n 1995, farms h a d a n average net operating income of $23,977 before depreciation (Agriculture a n d A g r i - F o o d C a n a d a , 1995). In 1995 poultry a n d egg farmers earned well above the national farm average a n d took home $50,523 before depreciation. F r u i t a n d vegetable farms earned below the average a n d h a d incomes of $21,342. Dairy farmers were also well above average with a n average income of $48,558 (Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a , 1995). Not only are these livestock operations earning more t h a n their horticultural counterparts, they also have been growing larger over time, while horticultural farms i n the Lower Fraser Valley have s h r u n k a n d become more n u m e r o u s . Barichello, a n d R o m a i n point out that the n u m b e r of dairy farms has declined i n all provinces since 1975 a n d h e r d size h a s increased. In B . C . for example, the average herd size was j u s t u n d e r 50 cows per farm w h e n the C a n a d i a n Dairy C o m m i s s i o n was established. B y the m i d 1990s there was a n average of approximately 70 cows per farm i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a . A c c o r d i n g the 1986, 1991, a n d 1996 C a n a d i a n censuses, the n u m b e r of cattle i n West Delta, the heart of the horticulture region, dropped from approximately 2500 cows to j u s t 800. C h i c k e n s , w h i c h were never very n u m e r o u s i n Delta area, dropped to less t h a n 1000 birds. T o the east, Abbotsford is now home to 18,000 dairy cattle a n d 600,000 chickens. Adjacent c e n s u s regions are no different. E a s t Chilliwack h a d roughly 21,000 cattle a n d 800,000 chickens, a n d West Chilliwack supports 8,500 cattle a n d 54  55  5 6  As noted earlier in this thesis, there are three environmental problems with raspberries. (1) although raspberries are a perennial species, they are grown in large monocultures, with tilled alleys between the rows. This can damage soil structure. (2) they have replaced old pasture lands. The organic matter that had accumulated in these pastures has now been ploughed under, creating a pulse of nitrogen pollution. (3) Very little nitrogen is contained in the actual berry. Therefore, this crop does not remove nitrogen in the poultry and dairy manure that is spread on these fields. This was up slightly from $23,561 in 1995 (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 1999) and $19,052 in 1992 (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 1992). These figures gloss over the fact that the income for small farms declined throughout this period while large "commercial farm" income increased (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 1999). As noted in the last chapter, the figure of 70 cows per farm probably represents a considerable underestimate. Barichello (personal communication) suggests that if only commercial farms are included the average dairy herd would be closer to 100 cows per farm. For example, Bomke, Kennedy and Tait suggest that there are approximately 800 dairy farms and a total of 80,000 cows in B.C., yielding an average of 100 cows per farm (Bomke, Kennedy, & Tait, 1999, p. 69) The Ecologies of Scale 5 4  5 5  5 6  E v a n D . G . Fraser  123 630,000 chickens. As a result, more manure is produced on less land in the East of the Lower Fraser Valley. This manure interacts with local soil conditions and creates a number of water pollution problems. Many dairy farms, such as those in Chilliwack, are on relatively deep silt loam soils. In this situation, seasonally shallow water tables and flooding may result in surface runoff and drain nutrients and pathogens (such as E. coh) into surface water such as streams and ditches. Alternatively, some of the livestock farms in the Lower Fraser Valley sit on the Abbotsford Aquifer, the largest and most extensively-used unconfined groundwater aquifer in the valley (Environment Canada, 2000, electronic source). The Abbotsford Aquifer also straddles the U.S.-Canada border and provides water to over 100,000 people in the Abbotsford region and in north central Whatcom County of Washington State, USA. Because this water flows southward from Canada to the USA, some communities in Washington State worry that nitrate levels on the Canadian side are polluting American drinking water (Environment Canada, 2000, electronic source). Environment Canada has observed nitrate contamination in this aquifer since the 1950s, though they only began intensively studying the problem in 1992. Since 1992, nitrate levels have regularly exceeded the 10 mg/L Guideline for Canadian Drinking Water Quality and, of 1,526 groundwater samples collected from monitoring wells between 1992 and 2000, 70 per cent exceeded this guideline (Environment Canada, 2000, electronic source). According to an Environment Canada website, individual tests returned values ranging from a low of 0.025 mg/L to a high of 91.9 mg/L, with average values ranging well above Canada's suggested safe levels fhttp: / /ecoinfo.org/env ind/region/nitrate/nitrate.htm). Work done by Zebarth et. al. (1998), suggest that intensive agriculture has contributed to groundwater pollution since nitrogen surpluses in this region are due to intensive livestock production. According to Zebarth et. al, in 1971 there was 134 excess kg of N per cropped hectare over the Abbotsford Aquifer (Zebarth et al., 1998, p 99-112). By 1981, this had risen to 185 kg/ha, and by 1991 it was 245 kg/ha (Zebarth et al., 1998 p. 99-112). To systematically assess the environmental impact of this information Schreier et. al. analyze livestock densities through livestock equivalent units per ha (LEU/ha). One livestock equivalent unit is equal to the average waste produced by: • 1 cow. • 4 sows. 57  58  Nitrate p o l l u t i o n c o n t r i b u t e s to "blue baby" s y n d r o m e , where the b l o o d is u n a b l e to c a r r y oxygen. T h e r e is also some c o n c e r n that h i g h rates of nitrates i n g r o u n d water c a n i n c r e a s e the r i s k of s o m e types of cancer. Nitrate is also a major n u t r i e n t for a q u a t i c vegetation a n d c a n r e s u l t i n excessive growth of algae, fungi a n d other a q u a t i c p l a n t s . T h i s c a n destroy v a l u a b l e fish h a b i t a t ( E n v i r o n m e n t C a n a d a , 2000, electronic source). S u r p l u s Nitrogen refers to the a m o u n t of p l a n t - a v a i l a b l e nitrogen i n excess of crop r e q u i r e m e n t per hectare. 5 7  5 8  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  124 • 125 laying hens. • 300 pullet per turkey broilers. • 1000 c h i c k e n broilers. • 1 horse. • 4 sheep. A c c o r d i n g to their work, Delta has about 0.5 L E U s / h a , while Abbotsford, a n d E a s t a n d West Chilliwack have roughly six times this concentration, or about 3 L E U s / h a (Schreier et al., 2000, electronic source). Schreier et.al. conclude that this has resulted i n nitrogen excesses between l O O k g / h a a n d 200 k g / h a in most of this region (table 7-1).  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  125  Figure 7-1 Distribution of B.C. dairy, cattle, poultry and fruit farms by income class.  • $10,000-24,999 E 25,000-49,999 • 50,000-99,999 E 100,000249,999 250,000499,999 Dairy  Cattle  Poultry & E g g  Fruit and Vegetable  Income class ($ Cdn./year)  Source: Canada, 1995  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  • 500,000+  126  Table 7-1 Kg of surplus nutrients in the Lower Fraser Valley.  Region S o u t h Langley West M a t s q u i South Matsqui North M a t s q u i West Chilliwack Abbotsford  Surplus N K g 1996 >100 >100 >100 >100 >100 >100  Surplus P K g 1996 >50 >50 >100 >50 >50 >50  Source: Schreier et al., 2000.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  127  DISCUSSION B a s e d o n these data, a picture emerges of (relatively) h i g h - p a i d poultry a n d dairy farms protected by the government. These farms have grown so large a n d concentrated that they cause serious water pollution. In contrast, data presented i n the last chapter suggests that lower-income h o r t i c u l t u r a l farmers at the m o u t h of the Fraser River m u s t compete with the wellorganized Californian producing, processing, a n d transportation i n d u s t r y a n d have made the first steps towards reducing their impact on the environment. C a n we conclude that supply management has c a u s e d these problems a n d blame government protection for environmental problems i n general? In order to answer this question we need to see if the trend towards larger units h a s h a p p e n e d i n regions that do not have the same degree of governmental protection. If this is the case, we will need a n alternative explanation for these data. T o answer this, we will (1) look at changes i n h e r d size a n d concentration for B . C . before the C a n a d i a n Dairy C o m m i s s i o n was established; (2) examine herd size in the two leading U . S . milk p r o d u c i n g states, California a n d Wisconsin; a n d (3) apply the final theory presented i n chapter four, that the nature of certain farm commodities creates incentives for some farms to become very large.  Trends in herd size: British  Columbia  T h e pattern of farms i n the Lower Fraser Valley u n t i l WWII was of mixed livestock-horticultural farms, where a farmer would plant a variety of grain a n d vegetable crops i n rotation with enough pasture to support a small n u m b e r of dairy cows. B y the late 1940s, this system h a d begun to break down. B y investing i n specialized equipment that reduces the cost of p r o d u c i n g a small n u m b e r of crops, C a n a d i a n farms grew larger a n d more efficient after WWII (Wilson, 1990; W i n s o n , 1992). T h i s meant that either farmers concentrated i n livestock production or horticulture as each require expensive a n d specialized equipment. T h e huge investment for b a r n s to raise animals, a n d for m a c h i n e r y to harvest field crops, made it difficult for a farmer to raise both k i n d s of commodities a n d still be cost-effective. Rather, farmers who c o u l d afford this equipment were able to achieve economies of scale, reduce costs, a n d p u t their competitors out of business. One of signs of this transition was the concentration of the dairy industry, w h i c h Demeritt considers to be the "...single most telling barometer of the c h a n g i n g pressures on agriculture i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a ..." (Demeritt, 1997). T h e development of the transportation infrastructure facilitated this transition. First, a n electric railway linked V a n c o u v e r with Chilliwack i n 1910. T h i s allowed farmers well u p into the valley (where l a n d values are lower) to concentrate on dairy a n d sell into the big V a n c o u v e r market (Demeritt, 1997). Second, the t r a n s - C a n a d a highway, completed i n the 1960s, linked the wealthy V a n c o u v e r market to even remoter r u r a l areas. C o m b i n e d with better storage facilities a n d refrigeration, the highway allowed dairy farmers i n areas where l a n d values were lower to ship produce into the The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  128 V a n c o u v e r market. T h i s increased the pressure o n farmers to specialize i n only horticulture or livestock t h u s allowing them to capitalize o n economies of scale. In addition to the supply management system, other government policies also promoted this process. D u r i n g the 1950s, the government imposed higher sanitary regulations o n dairy that made it especially difficult for small mixed farmers to keep their herds of cattle. In 1956, the "Milk Industry Act," made milk tanks mandatory for all dairy farms, a n d introduced dairy inspectors to oversee these standards. Smaller farmers who c o u l d not afford the capital investment sold their herds. A s the i n d u s t r y adapted to these changes, the n u m b e r of farms with dairy cows decreased while h e r d sizes increased. In 1966, the year the C a n a d i a n federal government created the C a n a d i a n Dairy C o m m i s s i o n to help coordinate provincial marketing boards, the B . C . Department of Agriculture noted that the dairy i n d u s t r y was (a) becoming more concentrated a n d (b) shifting u p the Fraser river to the east of Vancouver. T h i s report highlights a similar transition i n the poultry i n d u s t r y (Table 7-2, B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a Department of Agriculture, 1966). At the start of the twentieth century, poultry production h a d been spread a r o u n d V a n c o u v e r , B u r n a b y a n d New Westminster (two s u b u r b s immediately adjacent to Vancouver). B y 1966, it h a d shifted east to M a t s q u i , Langley, a n d Surrey. Consequently, the trend towards larger a n d more intensive livestock farms started long before the marketing boards were established.  Trends in herd size: United States In the U . S . , the degree of government protection of dairy a n d poultry is m u c h less t h a n i n C a n a d a , though there are a n u m b e r of federal programmes that support farm income for dairy producers (Butler & Wolf, 2000, p. 146). Since the 1970s, there h a s been a massive consolidation of milk production, a n d dairy farms with 1000-2000 cows are c o m m o n i n some parts of the U . S . (Knutson 8B Loyns, 1996, p. 3). California went from p r o d u c i n g 8 per cent of A m e r i c a n milk to 18 per cent between 1970 a n d 1998. A c c o m p a n y i n g this increase i n production, herd size grew i n this state from 39 c o w s / f a r m i n 1959 to 530 c o w s / f a r m i n 1999 (Butler 8B Wolf, 2000, p. 141 8B 145). A c c o r d i n g to Butler a n d Wolf (2000), this increase was a result of a n u m b e r of u n i q u e circumstances, i n c l u d i n g government policy. T h e y conclude however, that the effect of state a n d federal agricultural policies, "... have been greatly exaggerated" (Butler 8B Wolf, 2000, p. 159). A c c o r d i n g to these authors, favourable climate, a huge local population that creates d e m a n d for dairy products, a transportation infrastructure that allows grain to be cheaply shipped for feed, a n d technological advances have created the conditions where farms have been able to grow very large (Butler 8B Wolf, 2000, p. 160). U n t i l the m i d 1990s, w h e n California producers over-took it, W i s c o n s i n dominated U . S . milk production. Unlike California, however, herd size is m u c h more modest. A c c o r d i n g to J a c k s o n - S m i t h a n d B a r h a m (2000), m e d i u m - s i z e d , diversified, family-labour farms have long defined this region T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  129 and, until recently, Wisconsin only had a "handful of large dairy farms that rely heavily on hired labour" (Jackson-Smith 8& Barham, 2000, p. 115). Today, Wisconsin's average dairy herd is only 59 cows per farm, which is below the U.S. national average (78 cows per farm) and less than B.C. (roughly 70 cows per farm) (Jackson-Smith 6s Barham, 2000, p. 116; Butler 8& Wolf, 2000, p. 145; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 1996, p. 221). Aggregate statistics, however, mask a trend throughout the 1990s in Wisconsin towards larger farms (table 7-3). Typical of the rest of North America, Wisconsin dairy farmers have experienced considerable changes in herd size, cropping patterns, the division of labour and technology. Although there was an 8 per cent decrease in the total number of diary farms, and farms with less than thirty cows declined by close to 40 per cent, there was a 9 per cent increase in the number of farms with over two hundred cows. As a result, it seems that no matter what the governmental regime, herd size across North America has expanded. While this is most dramatic in California, even Wisconsin, which has an agricultural economy built on small and medium family-farms, is no exception. The growth and concentration of B.C.'s industry cannot be seen as merely a cause of governmental protection, and must be seen in terms of broader trends that impact this industry.  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  130  Table 7-2 Cow density on B.C. farms between 1941 and 1964. Year 1941 1951 1961 1962 1964  # of cows i n British Columbia 62602 51819 62402 57000 58000  # of farms Cows / farm with cows 6105 6526 6047  10.25 7.94 10.32  —  --  2000  29.00  Source: B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a Department of Agriculture, 1966, p. 16.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  131  Table 7-3 Changes in the size and production of the U.S. and Wisconsin dairy industry, 1993-1998. Changes Farms by h e r d size <30 cows 30-49 50-99 100-199 200+ Total Farms  1998 total  19931998  Net Change  Percent change  USA 35690  Wisconsin 43000  USA -22940  Wisconsin -2000  USA -39.1  Wisconsin -31.7  25155 34277 13748 7560 116430  7300 8900 1950 550 23000  -9655 -7833 -882 +590 -40720  -2990 -1900 -340 +230 -7000  -27.7 -18.6 -6 +8.5 -25.9  -29.1 -17.6 -14.8 +71.9 -23.3  Source: M i l k Cows a n d Production: F i n a l Estimates, 1994-1997, U S D A / N A S S Statistical Bulletin #952, 1999; also p u b l i s h e d figures for 1998 from http: / / u s d a . m a n n l i b . C o r n e l l . e d u / reports / n a s s r / dairy / p m p - b b / quoted i n J a c k s o n - S m i t h 8s B a r h a m , 2000, p. 117.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  132  Alternative  explanation  We need a n alternative explanation to explain the growth of dairy a n d poultry operations. To find this explanation we will return to the final theory suggested i n chapter four of this thesis. T h i s d i s c u s s i o n cited scholars who suggest some farm commodities are naturally suited to large economies of scale i n factory-like operations that are removed from environmental considerations. These farms tend to produce environmental problems. O t h e r farm commodities are naturally suited to farms that integrate into local ecological systems. These products favour more environmentally sensitive management practices. T h i s argument, p u t forward by Allen a n d L e u k (2000), suggests that if m a n u f a c t u r i n g a specific product requires a n u m b e r of short a n d easily stardardized steps, then that p r o d u c t will be efficiently p r o d u c e d on large factory-like farms. If a farm p r o d u c t takes a long time to produce, a n d the tasks that go into its production require careful a n d exact timing, then farms will r e m a i n small. Allen a n d L e u k suggest that cattle feedlots a n d cow-calf operations provide a n example of these two types of farm. T o raise beef cattle on a feedlot, the farmer only has to provide regular veterinary care a n d food. B y staggering the age of cattle, a n i m a l s are regularly coming ready for slaughter a n d provide a constant source of income. In this situation, there are fewer economic risks associated with farming a n d it is possible to hire labour that specializes i n particular tasks. A s a result, feedlots across North A m e r i c a enjoy economies of scale, have attracted capital investment, grown very large, a n d create serious environmental problems. Cow-calf operations illustrate the opposite process. A cow-calf r a n c h raises a calf from birth u n t i l it is weaned a n d sold to a feedlot. T h e p r o d u c t i o n cycle, therefore, is approximately 1 year, a n d it is very difficult to standardize the timing of w h e n cows give birth. To this day, cow-calf operations r e m a i n quite small (see chapter four for a more detailed d i s c u s s i o n on this). A s a result, industrialized farms specialize i n commodities that they manufacture quickly a n d c a n m a i n t a i n c o n t i n u o u s production. T h e activities that go into the production of these commodities tend to be broken into a series of small steps o c c u r r i n g at regular periods. Non-industrialized farms require on-the-spot decision-making, a n d have a relatively high degree of risk. W h e n we apply this model to the types of agriculture i n the Lower Fraser Valley, it is clear that broiler c h i c k e n farms exemplify the i n d u s t r i a l farm model. Typically, farmers obtain chicks w h e n they are a few days old, a n d keep t h e m for a designated n u m b e r of days (usually approximately 40 days). D u r i n g this period, the farmer only needs to feed the chickens regularly, remove dead animals, a n d ensure that the climate i n the b a r n is constant. C o m p u t e r s control the climate, a n d most c h i c k e n producers have two or three b a r n s , each at different stages of production, to ensure that c h i c k s are always m a t u r i n g a n d being picked u p for slaughter. Because of this regularity, it is easy for a c h i c k e n farmer to divide tasks a n d train individual workers to specialize i n one job or another. Because it is possible to divide labour i n this way, c h i c k e n farms have m a n y similarities with Henry The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  133 Ford's assembly line. Dairy farms also have m a n y similarities with this model. B y investing i n b a r n s a n d m i l k i n g machines, farmers c a n control the jobs that they m u s t do to produce milk. Regardless of governmental programmes, these products are naturally suited to large-scale intensive production. Horticultural farms, however, produce slow-maturing commodities that require a greater diversity of tasks to complete. Horticultural farmers i n B . C . only obtain one crop per year (though some crops c a n be planted throughout the s u m m e r season to lengthen the harvest period). Vegetable farmers m u s t also respond immediately to changes i n the weather, the market, a n d ecological conditions when deciding to, plant, harvest, apply sprays, irrigate, plough or till. F o r example, some sprays, s u c h as those that prevent weed seeds from germinating, m u s t be applied immediately before a rain so that they w a s h into the soil. T o use these sprays effectively, the farmers m u s t constantly watch the weather i n order to apply this chemical no more t h a n a few h o u r s before a rainfall. Glyphosate herbicides s u c h as "roundup" enter the plant t h r o u g h the leaves. A s a result, if r o u n d u p is applied before a rain, the chemical will w a s h off the plant. R o u n d u p is also ineffective d u r i n g very hot weather, since the stomata of the leaves close i n high temperatures to conserve moisture a n d the chemical does not enter the plant. T h e jobs required to bring a horticultural crop to harvest i n the Lower F r a s e r Valley do not suit standardization. A s a result, vegetable farmers cannot r u n their farms like a n assembly line since they m u s t respond to m u c h more variable climate conditions t h a n their southern counterparts. S m a l l errors i n timing s u c h tasks as spraying or harvesting c a n result i n big losses to the farmer. T h i s makes it costly to contract spraying out to workers who specialize i n this type of job (Allen 85 L u e k , 2 0 0 0 ) . Given these observations, one reason that dairy a n d poultry farms have become concentrated is due to the nature of the products they produce. T h i s is not to say that government programmes do not play a role. Indeed, the marketing b o a r d system means that there are limitations on the quota that is available at any given time a n d is expensive to obtain. Rather, a n u m b e r of factors, w h i c h include the nature of the products as well as government programmes a n d technological innovation account for the changes i n B . C . ' s livestock industry.  SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION T h i s chapter began with the hypothesis that government protection creates a false sense of security that leads farmers to specialize on n o n ecological types of agriculture. T o test this hypothesis, d a t a from B . C . showed that despite the overall reduction i n government support since 1988 poultry, eggs, a n d dairy farmers are still protected u n d e r a supply management system that allocates production quota, fixes prices, a n d limits international competition. Since this system was established, livestock farms have become larger a n d geographically concentrated i n the central a n d eastern e n d of the Lower Fraser Valley. There, these farms contribute to serious groundwater The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  134 pollution. In order to see whether we c o u l d infer that government protection c a u s e d these environmental problems, we examined data o n herd size a n d density i n B . C . from the decades leading u p to w h e n the supply management system was established. These data illustrate that the trend toward larger farms started before this government policy. A n evaluation of the historic context for agriculture i n the province suggests that a combination of factors, w h i c h includes government programmes a n d technology have contributed to increasing livestock concentrations. D a t a from W i s c o n s i n a n d California, the two leading U . S . milk p r o d u c i n g states, also show a similar concentration i n the industry. T h i s led u s to investigate whether the nature of poultry a n d dairy commodities allow large, intensive farms to produce these commodities. A c c o r d i n g to the literature, i n d u s t r i a l farms will favour products that c a n be m a n u f a c t u r e d i n a short a m o u n t of time, with simple routine steps. Products with longer production cycles a n d steps that m u s t be carefully timed will be most efficiently p r o d u c e d on small farms. Since poultry a n d dairy farms produce a c o n t i n u o u s product a n d require regular steps, it is possible that the growth of these farms c a n be at least partially explained by the nature of these products. These data suggest the following progression. T h e nature of livestock is s u c h that it is suited to intensive production. Technological advances, specifically better storage a n d transport, a n d cheap energy, provided the capacity to implement this intensive production. Government programmes, i n this case the sanitary measures requiring more advanced storage facilities a n d marketing boards, provide the incentives for farmers to make this capital investment. T h e consequence is that livestock farms have grown larger a n d create environmental problems. These problems are environmental externalities a n d do not translate into increased costs for either the c o n s u m e r or the farmer. It is impossible to isolate the supply management system within this broader system of incentives. Instead, we conclude that a n u m b e r of factors have led to the situation today where livestock farms cause nitrate pollution i n communities' water supplies.  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  135 C O N C L U S I O N TO PART III: ANALYSIS T h i s section h a s attempted to move b e y o n d the existing literature o n a g r i c u l t u r e to test the i m p a c t that s o c i a l a n d e c o n o m i c factors have o n the e n v i r o n m e n t . To s u m m a r i z e , four different theoretical e x p l a n a t i o n s were tested u s i n g d a t a f r o m the Lower F r a s e r V a l l e y : (1) i n s e c u r e l a n d tenure leads to poor e n v i r o n m e n t a l m a n a g e m e n t . (2) i n t e r n a t i o n a l trade leads to poor m a n a g e m e n t . (3) government protection leads to poor m a n a g e m e n t . (4) poor m a n a g e m e n t is a r e s u l t of the n a t u r e of specific f a r m p r o d u c t s . F r o m the s t u d y o n l a n d tenure, key findings suggest that farmers m u s t o w n their l a n d to invest i n long-term m a n a g e m e n t a n d p u b l i c goods. However, s p e c i a l p r o g r a m m e s c a n create f i n a n c i a l incentives to promote p u b l i c goods t h a t override the negative effect of i n s e c u r e l a n d tenure. F r o m the s t u d y o n i n t e r n a t i o n a l trade, the key f i n d i n g is that i n t e r n a t i o n a l trade h a s not itself led to worse m a n a g e m e n t . However, intense c o m p e t i t i o n f r o m u n s u s t a i n a b l e h o r t i c u l t u r a l p r o d u c e r s i n C a l i f o r n i a h a s led to a reorganization of the p r o c e s s i n g i n d u s t r y . T h i s h a s left B . C . farmers v u l n e r a b l e a n d w i t h o u t their t r a d i t i o n a l m a r k e t s . Some have t u r n e d to more ecological practices a n d f o u n d a n e w source of i n c o m e i n organic p r o d u c t i o n . The s t u d y o n government protection i l l u s t r a t e d t h a t government p r o g r a m m e s , i n c o m b i n a t i o n w i t h the n a t u r e of f a r m c o m m o d i t i e s a n d technological a d v a n c e s , have created c o n d i t i o n s t h a t favour a n u n - e c o l o g i c a l scale of livestock f a r m i n g . O v e r a l l , the a n a l y s i s suggests t h a t poor e n v i r o n m e n t a l m a n a g e m e n t o n f a r m s i s not a r e s u l t of a n y one of these, b u t emerges d u e to a c o m b i n a t i o n of factors. The role of f i n a n c i a l a n d e c o n o m i c r i s k , however, r u n s t h r o u g h o u t a l l of these r e s u l t s . S e c u r e l a n d tenure r e d u c e s the r i s k t h a t a farmer w i l l not benefit f r o m long-term m a n a g e m e n t . G o v e r n m e n t s u b s i d i e s reduce the r i s k of c r o p failure a n d f a r m i n c o m e variability. F a r m i n p u t s like irrigation pesticides a n d fertilizer reduce r i s k because they allow farmers to c o n t r o l e n v i r o n m e n t a l v a r i a b l e s . If a farmer invests i n i r r i g a t i o n , s p r e a d s fertilizer, or moves livestock f r o m p a s t u r e s to a b a r n , they exert c o n t r o l over variables that h a d p r e v i o u s l y been out of their j u r i s d i c t i o n . Storage a n d t r a n s p o r t a t i o n technologies reduce the r i s k that c o m m o d i t i e s w i l l spoil o n their w a y to the consumer. R e d u c i n g these r i s k s h a s b o t h positive a n d negative aspects. O n the positive side, the more variables a farmer c a n c o n t r o l , the more stable their e n v i r o n m e n t . If a farmer h a s irrigation, she or he does not have to worry a b o u t d r o u g h t s . F a r m e r s w i t h long-term l a n d tenure w i l l not w o r r y that their l a n d w i l l be p u t to some other u s e or leased to a different farmer. If a farmer h a s a l o n g - t e r m contract w i t h a processor, or a g u a r a n t e e d i n c o m e f r o m the government, t h e n i n c o m e s s h o u l d r e m a i n stable. In a l l of these s i t u a t i o n s , a r e d u c t i o n i n r i s k m e a n s that farmers w i l l not worry a b o u t year-to-year m a r k e t or e n v i r o n m e n t a l c h a n g e s a n d w i l l have the o p p o r t u n i t y to m a k e the longt e r m p l a n s needed for s u s t a i n a b l e f a r m i n g . There seems to be a point, however, w h e n technology, the n a t u r e of f a r m c o m m o d i t i e s , i n d u s t r y o r g a n i z a t i o n , a n d policy reduce r i s k s so m u c h The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . F r a s e r  136 that farmers have incentives to ignore ecological limits a n d specialize i n highly profitable b u t ecologically fragile or u n s u s t a i n a b l e practices. F o r example, government policy a n d the technology u s e d i n milk production allow the farmer to control a huge n u m b e r of variables a n d be protected from changes in the market. T h i s has contributed to a consolidation of milk herds across North A m e r i c a over the century. T h e low risks a n d high financial reward associated with livestock provide incentives for farmers to increase their herds beyond a level that is ecologically acceptable. In California, a combination of a huge local market that creates a c o n t i n u o u s a n d enormous d e m a n d for farm products a n d irrigation technology that eliminates the threat of drought a n d y e a r - r o u n d growing c o n d i t i o n s , have reduced the risks associated with horticulture farming. Low risks a n d high returns allow vegetable farms to grow very large, very specialized a n d create serious environmental problems. In B . C . , the opposite has occurred. F o r horticulture, the risks associated with farming have increased: farm income has dropped, government protection has dwindled, a n d traditional markets have vanished. F a r m e r s are vulnerable. In order to reduce this vulnerability, some farmers have switched to more ecological-based farming practices, t h u s lowering the chance that environmental conditions will destroy their crops. Horticultural farmers i n B . C . have also discovered that there are new market opportunities for organic production. T h e cases of B . C . ' s a n d California's vegetable industries show that increasing a n d decreasing risks c a n also be reinforcing. D u e to n a t u r a l advantages there have always been less risks associated with vegetable farming i n California t h a n i n B . C . Deep-well irrigation technology, developed early i n the twentieth century, increased farmers control of the environment a n d further reduced the risks i n California. T h u s , agriculture i n California is a better investment t h a n B . C . with its shorter growing season, smaller market, a n d variable rainfall. California producers were able to capitalize on this, a n d North America's processing i n d u s t r y has shifted from the Northeast, where it was historically based out of Chicago a n d New York, to the Southwest, where it now resides i n California. T h i s h a s further reduced risks for farmers i n this state who now have the majority of the continent's processors a n d retailers. T h i s illustrates how low risks attracted investment a n d led to even lower risks. In B . C . , the traditional processing i n d u s t r y has almost entirely left the province, thereby increasing the risks associated with horticulture. It is clear then, that risk-averting behaviour i n California has led to major environmental problems while h o r t i c u l t u r a l farmers in B . C . , have adopted better environmental management i n response to the increased levels of financial a n d environmental risks that they face. 59  5 9  Until wells run dry and groundwater sources are fully exploited. T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . Fraser  137  PART I V -  CONCLUSIONS  This thesis has tried to answer the question: "why does poor environmental management continue on farms in light of the fact that there are good scientific and technological solutions?" To answer this, research was divided into three sections. Part I established a theoretical framework based on the sustainable agriculture and environmental economics literature to approach this problem. Part II established hypotheses about land tenure, international trade, and government protection of agriculture. Part IH then tested these hypotheses using data from the Lower Fraser Valley. This found that a combination offactors increase and decrease the risks offarming and this has created a system that favours a non-ecological approach to farming in some cases and a more ecological approach in others.  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  138  CONCLUSION S U M M A R Y OF R E S E A R C H It is now time to summarize this work, a n d develop the themes that have r u n t h r o u g h this thesis. We began with the basic question: since the science of farming is well understood, why do farmers still use environmentally poor management practices? F o r example, calculating the a m o u n t of nitrogen fertilizer required by a crop is relatively simple, yet across North A m e r i c a nitrogen i n regularly over-applied a n d c a u s e s serious g r o u n d water pollution. In order to answer this question, we focused o u r attention on the Lower F r a s e r Valley, a productive agricultural area adjacent to V a n c o u v e r C a n a d a . T h i s ecologically sensitive region is undergoing serious changes that reflect m a n y of the issues that frame agriculture a r o u n d the world. A s a result, it provides a n interesting laboratory where we c a n test the influence of global trade, governmental policy, a n d l a n d tenure. To a p p r o a c h this topic, this thesis was divided into three m a i n sections: conceptual framework, possible explanations, a n d analysis.  Part I - conceptual  framework  To systematically investigate the forces that shape farming, it is necessary to develop a conceptual framework. Two bodies of literature came into play. First, the literature on sustainable agriculture helped develop a n "ecosystem approach" to farming. T h i s literature suggests that farms s h o u l d be viewed as ecosystems that are governed by nutrient cycles a n d contain biodiversity. T h i s a p p r o a c h helps highlight the u n d e r l y i n g cause of environmental problems. B y viewing farms as highly m a n a g e d ecosystems we can observe that farms have low-biodiversity. In agricultural systems, nutrients, w h i c h are u s u a l l y cycled between a n i m a l a n d plant species over a relatively small geographic area, are not cycled at all. Rather they are extracted from one area a n d pool as waste where the p r o d u c t is c o n s u m e d . B y monitoring a farm's biodiversity a n d nutrient flows, it is then possible to suggest if that farm has become more or less biologically sustainable over a period of time. The second body of literature u s e d to analyse the forces that shape m o d e r n agriculture comes from the school of "environmental economics." Three important points come out of this literature. First, it suggests that the private markets do not necessarily value environmental or social problems. Often the environmental costs of m a n u f a c t u r i n g are external to the price that a c o n s u m e r pays. A s a result, farmers may be able to produce commodities cheaper by u s i n g practices that pollutes the environment. Second, insecure l a n d tenure, low income, or a n u n c e r t a i n future, m a y induce a farmer to take a short-term view of farming a n d adopt a short p l a n n i n g horizon. In economic terms, u n l e s s farmers have confidence that they will be farming on a particular piece of l a n d for a long time, they will heavily "discount" the future The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  139 a n d maximize short-term profit at the expense of long term sustainability. T h i r d , environmental economics show that a resource c a n provide different types of goods. F o r example, farmland c a n produce both food a n d wildlife habitat. F o o d is a private good because a farmer c a n control its distribution a n d sell it for a profit. Wildlife habitat, u n l e s s a farmer c a n sell h u n t i n g or wildlife viewing privileges, is a public good because a farmer cannot control who benefits from it a n d cannot derive a profit. F a r m l a n d , therefore, tends to be managed to produce only the private good. T h e public good, although it is environmentally beneficial, is not sufficiently valued by farmers. These two bodies of literature together provide the intellectual tools to systematically evaluate the problems of farming i n the Lower Fraser Valley. The ecosystem a p p r o a c h helps u s u n d e r s t a n d environmental problems i n terms of their root ecological causes. It also provides indicators to evaluate whether a farm or agricultural region is becoming more or less sustainable over time. E n v i r o n m e n t a l economics helps u s u n d e r s t a n d these same problems i n terms of economic incentives to b a d management. T h i s literature helps highlight w h e n our socio-economic systems constrain farmers or make environmentally b a d management rational. Together these two schools provide u s with the tools to link social a n d economic factors with environmental problems.  Part U - possible  explanations  The first task was to demonstrate that farmers are not to blame for the environmental problems c a u s e d by their farms. T h i s was done i n three ways: first, comments made by farmers indicate a concern for the environment a n d a n u n d e r s t a n d i n g of sustainable agriculture. Second, none of the key stakeholder groups i n B . C . agriculture suggest that farmers are themselves responsible for the environmental problems that agriculture creates. T h i r d , farmers' actions, as recorded by the C a n a d i a n c e n s u s indicate that farmers now use more soil conservation practices t h a n i n the past. B a s e d on this appraisal, this thesis has examined what social a n d economic forces influence or constrain farmers so that they use poor management. Stakeholder comments, a n d the academic literature provide four possible explanations that might account for c o n t i n u e d poor management on farms i n the Lower Fraser Valley. First, there is a general agreement that u n l e s s farmers have secure l a n d tenure they will discount the future excessively, externalise environmental costs, a n d maximize short-term profit at the expense of long-term sustainability. The second possible explanation is that global trade creates incentives for b a d management a n d the third is that government protection favours b a d management. Some academic authors suggest that trade will lead to massive specialization on farms a n d promote ecologically fragile monocultures. Others point to data that show government subsidies lead farmers to specialize i n only those crops that government policies support. O n e school of thought argues that increased trade will increase biodiversity. T h e other school suggests the opposite. The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  140 In order to tease apart the contradictions i n the literature we applied d a t a from the Lower Fraser Valley. To test the role of l a n d tenure, we compare crop history on owner-operated fields with rented fields with different lengths of leases. In this analysis, we discovered that rented fields have more erosion a n d compaction-promoting a n n u a l crops while owned fields have more perennials that help prevent soil erosion. T h i s is consistent with what we would expect from the literature on l a n d tenure. We also, however, discovered that grasslands, one of the most important components of a sustainable crop rotation, do not vary with the l a n d tenure. Because grasslands offer no direct financial gain to farmers, we would only expect grasslands to be planted by farmers who own their land. A programme r u n by a local farm a n d environmental organization to promote wildlife habitat by paying farmers to establish grasslands explains this anomaly. T h e "grass l a n d set-aside programme" creates a n economic value for this public good a n d provides farmers with the opportunity to let the l a n d (whether it is rented or owned) recover fertility. D a t a from the Fraser Valley illustrate the impact of global trade a n d governmental policies a n d reflects the confusion i n the literature. Relatively rich dairy a n d poultry farmers i n the eastern part of the valley enjoy governmental protection because their commodities are managed t h r o u g h a complex system of marketing a n d import quotas. T h i s system regulates both the a m o u n t of a product that a farmer c a n sell a n d the price they receive. Less prosperous horticultural farmers i n the west of this region m u s t compete with products from all over the world a n d receive little i n the way of governmental support. Evidence suggests that these h o r t i c u l t u r a l farmers are becoming more environmentally sustainable. C e n s u s d a t a illustrate that they have increased their use of soil conservation measures a n d aggregate measures of crop diversity show increased diversification over recent years. G l o b a l trade drives m a n y of these changes. Because B . C . farmers have difficulty competing with low-priced produce from elsewhere i n the world, the processing a n d retail i n d u s t r y have moved from B . C . to regions where they c a n obtain y e a r - r o u n d low-priced commodities. T h i s has begun a negative cycle because, once the infrastructure that supports the agri-food i n d u s t r y starts to d i m i n i s h , it becomes even more difficult for r e m a i n i n g firms to stay i n business. T h e price of production rises, a n d the infrastructure further diminishes. T h i s has reduced the market for a n u m b e r of key crops that farmers u s e d to depend on. A s a result, the acreage of these key crops has declined a n d farmers have diversified, expanding into non-traditional markets i n c l u d i n g organic produce. T h e changes that have rocked the agri-food i n d u s t r y have h a d p u s h a n d p u l l forces. T h e p u s h factors are low incomes that m e a n that farmers sometimes c a n no longer afford high-cost inputs a n d m u s t rely on more "natural" methods s u c h as growing clover to fix atmospheric nitrogen instead of spreading c h e m i c a l fertilizer. T h e p u l l factors are the development of the organic food a n d other niche markets that offer a p r e m i u m for food p r o d u c e d with environmentally-responsible practices. In order for a farmer to take The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  141 advantage of these new niche markets, they m u s t be certified as organic growers. In order to qualify for this certification, any field where organic vegetables are p r o d u c e d m u s t have been free of chemical inputs for three years. T h e grassland set-aside programme provides a n opportunity for farmers who only have a short-term lease to take l a n d out of production for this period a n d earn enough c a s h to cover basic costs. T h i s allows the field to qualify for organic production a n d b u i l d u p organic matter. W h e n it comes to the crops protected by marketing boards, the opposite h a s occurred. These livestock farms have grown larger a n d more concentrated i n the eastern half of the Lower Fraser Valley. However, livestock farms across North A m e r i c a have grown larger a n d more concentrated because these farm commodities are naturally suited to largescale production that ignores environmental costs. While government controlled marketing boards have played a role, it would be wrong to blame t h e m entirely. Instead a combination of factors, ranging from technological change, to the nature of the farm commodity a n d government policy has created a system that favours certain types of farm. F o r poultry a n d dairy i n the Fraser Valley, these forces have supported large operations that impose environmental costs on others.  OVERARCHING CONCLUSIONS Three overarching conclusions that c a n be d r a w n from this research:  Conclusion # 1: Interaction between influences The first c o n c l u s i o n is that it is impossible to investigate large-scale forces like the role of government programmes or global trade i n isolation. These forces interact i n sometimes s u r p r i s i n g ways to create incentives that can lead to b a d management. T h e s u m of these interactions creates the system i n w h i c h individual resource managers operate. T h i s system creates incentives that promote some types of management a n d discourage others. If environmental a n d social costs are external to the market any system based on the capitalist market will fail to encourage good environmental management no matter how conscientious the individual. For example, amongst the highest paid farmers i n the Lower Fraser Valley are those dairy a n d poultry farmers who operate i n the supply management quota system. Their gross incomes are more or less guaranteed t h r o u g h a government programme, but this is without regard for environmental constraints. Similarly, the California horticulture empire has created a system that is based on u n s u s t a i n a b l e practices. A s this region grew i n power over the last century, it has attracted a huge a m o u n t of the processing infrastructure to support it. T h i s has reinforced external environmental costs. A s a result, it is impossible to consider government programmes or global trade separately. Instead, they m u s t be analysed at the same time. T h i s creates a great deal of complexity a n d m a k e s it impossible to neatly test the statistical relevance of each factor. However, a n analysis that The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  142 combines all these threads together will have a greater chance of observing u n d e r l y i n g trends more accurately.  Conclusion #2: Local context T h e second conclusion is that w h e n we analyze environmental problems it is necessary to u n d e r s t a n d local conditions a n d not to generalize the possible ecological consequences of forces like global trade based on aggregate data. O n e reason that there are so m a n y theoretical discrepancies about the anticipated impact of trade on the environment is that the theories devised by social scientists a n d economists are insensitive to small-scale environmental variation. Except for a few truly global environmental problems (like ozone depletion a n d climate change), m a n y environmental problems are inherently local. T h e loss of biodiversity, water pollution, habitat loss, a n d soil erosion all h a p p e n i n small areas. T h e fact that these problems are c o m m o n to m a n y regions a r o u n d the planet creates the impression that they are global problems. However, each manifestation of these problems is local a n d is the result of local circumstances a n d actors. Consequently, one of the great challenges b e h i n d u n d e r s t a n d i n g the impact of global forces like trade is to establish c a u s a l relationships between p h e n o m e n a that operate on very different scales.  Conclusion #3: Optimum levels of risk. F i n a n c i a l a n d economic risk is a theme that emerges from all the analyses. F o r example: 1. Insecure l a n d tenure creates a risk that a farmer will not benefit from long-term management. 2. Government subsidies change the risk of crop failure a n d farm income variability. 3. F a r m i n p u t s reduce risk because they allow farmers to control environmental variables. 4. Storage a n d transportation technologies reduce the risk that commodities will spoil on their way to market, a n d extend the distance that food c a n travel between field a n d consumer. These risks have positive a n d negative impacts o n environmental management. T h e more variables a farmer c a n control, the more stable their environment. California farmers, for example, are able to control the water their plants receive through irrigation. F a r m e r s with guaranteed contracts expect stable incomes. In all of these situations, a reduction i n risk means that farmers will not worry about market or environmental fluctuations a n d be able make the long-term plans needed for sustainable farming. In some instances, however, technology, the nature of farm commodities, i n d u s t r y organization, a n d policy reduce risks so m u c h that farmers have incentive to ignore ecological limits a n d specialize i n highly profitable b u t ecologically fragile or u n s u s t a i n a b l e practices. A s a result, this research has uncovered preliminary evidence that suggests that risk plays a significant role i n determining good farm The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  143 management. If farmers are able to rely o n government protection or a d o m i n a n t position i n the market, then they will be able to maximize profitability by u s i n g ecologically damaging management, without concern that they will lose their income. Conversely, if farmers do not have secure l a n d tenure, they will be at risk of losing their l a n d a n d will not receive the benefits of good farm management. In short, for ecologically sustainable farming to take place, farmers m u s t have a stable economic environment so they c a n p l a n into the future, but m u s t not be so protected against environmental variability that they ignore ecological limits. Finally, if the risks associated with farming create incentives to engage in u n s u s t a i n a b l e farm management practices, then more sustainable practices will come about only if governments impose environmental regulations. T h i s c a n be done i n a n u m b e r of ways. Programmes like the grassland set-aside c a n encourage farmers to invest i n public goods. Similarly, pollution c o u l d be taxed so farmers pay a penalty if they allow m a n u r e to enter the water-table. Regulations c a n also be imposed to mandate farmers to use good management practices. In the context of competitive world trade, however, any of these measures m a y p u t C a n a d i a n horticultural farmers at a n even greater economic disadvantage relative to producers i n California. F o r poultry a n d dairy farmers, however, who have guaranteed income t h r o u g h the marketing board system, it m a y be feasible to impose stricter environmental management regulations without p u s h i n g farmers into b a n k r u p t c y .  FINAL R E M A R K S T h i s research began with the assertion that we u n d e r s t a n d how to farm well enough to do it without c a u s i n g grievous environmental problems. T h i s was a conviction that I personally held w h e n I first came to the University of B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a to e m b a r k o n this project. I came to this o p i n i o n t h a n k s to working along side m y grandfather o n his fruit a n d vegetable farm i n S o u t h e r n Ontario. D u r i n g the four years that I have worked o n this thesis this conviction has grown. T o m y experience o n m y grandfather's farm, I c a n now boast that I have studied "the literature" o n sustainable agriculture, k n o w more technical terms, a n d have a better knowledge of environmental a n d economic systems. M y u n d e r l y i n g beliefs, however, have not changed. F a r m e r s are o n the front line of o u r battle to m a i n t a i n a fertile a n d safe environment. Hourly, they m a k e decisions that have a n impact o n the soil's ability to produce food and to provide a host of other environmental services. Despite the fact that farmers play a n u n d e n i a b l y vital role i n m a n a g i n g one of o u r planet's most precious resources, they are extremely constrained. There is a rarely visible, but omni-present economic system that s u r r o u n d s farmers, influencing every action they take. Sometimes this influence leads to a positive direction, other times it leads i n a negative direction. Let u s hope that we c a n shape these influence for the positive i n the future. The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  144 I arrived at the hypothesis of this thesis i n 1994, d u r i n g the last s u m m e r that I spent any length of time at the farm. D u r i n g that s u m m e r m y grandmother, who is a highly successful stockbroker, h a d done (to p u t it mildly) very well for herself. D u r i n g that s u m m e r , m y grandfather's neighbours who h a d cherry trees were a b a n d o n i n g their harvest because the price of cherries was lower t h a n the cost of p i c k i n g them. M y grandfather, who h a d d u g u p his cherry trees years before, was not h u r t by this particular d o w n t u r n . Yet, as a m a n of a s t o u n d i n g ingenuity a n d formidable energy, his life as a farmer was spent trying to stay one step a h e a d of the market. Despite his skills a n d passion as a farmer, my grandmother's skills i n the stock market certainly helped keep the farm r u n n i n g . O n e afternoon i n particular I remember chatting with m y grandparents over dinner, having spent a long a n d hot day weeding strawberry plants. A t some point i n the conversation it dawned on the three of u s that my grandmother h a d made more that afternoon on c o m m i s s i o n on investments t h a n I was to earn i n the entire s u m m e r . 60  T h i s i n n o w a y i m p l i e s a n y d i s r e s p e c t for m y G r a n d m o t h e r w h o m I love dearly a n d respect h i g h l y . T h a n k s to h e r s u c c e s s e s t h a t s u m m e r (and ever since), m y u n i v e r s i t y t u i t i o n f u n d also d i d r a t h e r w e l l (which i s a good t h i n g b e c a u s e I h a v e s t a y e d i n u n i v e r s i t y longer t h a n m o s t people expected). 6 0  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  145  APPENDIXES A P P E N D I X I: T H E VARIETIES O F A G R I C U L T U R A L E X P E R I E N C E S In this entire thesis we have been d i s c u s s i n g agriculture as if it is one large u n i f o r m system, stretching a r o u n d the world, a n d interacting with all producers a n d c o n s u m e r s in the same way. T h i s is not the case. There are at least two major distinctions that, i n broad terms, define different agricultural regions: (1) temperate a n d tropical farming, a n d (2) agriculture i n the developed or industrialized world a n d agriculture i n the developing world. The first distinction is geo-climatic, while the second is economic a n d social. The purpose of this section is not to exhaustively survey all the climatic a n d economic differences between these regions; in reality there are m a n y other meaningful divisions between types of agriculture s u c h as irrigated vs. rainfed, or subsistence vs. commercial. Rather, the goal is to highlight some of the key influences on sustainable agriculture a r o u n d the world so that this thesis c a n be read with a slightly broader perspective. L a m p r e c h t outlines a n u m b e r of the key climatic differences between tropical a n d temperate zones. T h e most obvious of these is the fact that while temperate regions c a n only grow crops d u r i n g the s u m m e r m o n t h s , tropical zones have a twelve m o n t h growing season. In the tropics, daily temperature fluctuations are greater t h a n yearly or monthly fluctuations a n d the length of day a n d night (the light periodicity) does not change m u c h . T h e only regular climatic cycle i n the tropics is the wet a n d dry season (Lamprecht, 1989). A n o t h e r significant biological difference between tropical a n d temperate regions is the condition of the soil. In general, tropical soils are m u c h older t h a n temperate soils, a n d the year r o u n d biological activity a n d high temperature m e a n that these soils are very weathered. A s a result there is a deep leaching of nutrients i n most tropical lowlands, a n d no matter what the parent material, tropical soils do not have the ability to regain base cations. Furthermore, organic matter never has the opportunity to accumulate i n tropical soils because the decomposition rate is so fast (high tropical temperatures a n d moist conditions provide ideal conditions for biological activity that breaks down organic matter). A s a result, tropical ecosystems are extremely diverse a n d efficient at recycling nutrients. F u r t h e r m o r e , the majority of the biomass i n a tropical forest lies above the g r o u n d i n living plant material. In the boreal forest, by contrast, the majority of the ecosystem's biomass is found on or below the g r o u n d i n the form of decomposing litter a n d debris. Because of this, L a m p r e c h t argues that tropical soils are m a i n t a i n e d by the vegetation that grows on them as opposed to temperate ecosystems where the soil maintains the plant life that grows on it (Lamprecht, 1989). Conversely, in the north, the soils are m u c h less weathered a n d have a higher cation exchange capacity (a measure of a soil's ability to absorb nutrients i n the form of cations). T h i s is due to cooler The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  146 temperatures that allow organic matter to accumulate. Organic matter not only provides a source of organic nutrients, it also increases the soil's cation exchange capacity, m a k i n g it m u c h easier for temperate soils to be regenerated if they become infertile. Temperate ecosystems, therefore, tend to have less complex vegetative structure a n d are less efficient at recycling nutrients (Lamprecht, 1989). Tropical ecosystems tend to be higher i n biodiversity a n d are inherently more fragile t h a n temperate ones. T h i s provides a n u m b e r of substantial obstacles to sustainable agriculture. First, once the initial vegetation layer is removed soils erode quickly a n d have verylittle ability to regenerate. Second, the majority of the world's genetic diversity exists i n tropical areas. T h e destruction of these ecosystems is especially devastating for biodiversity. The challenges of tropical agriculture are c o m p o u n d e d by the economic situation that m a n y tropical farmers find themselves i n . B y a n d large the developing world exists i n tropical regions. In general, therefore, tropical regions also have a high population growth rate, a large proportion of people who directly depend on agriculture for employment, a n d high rates of poverty. Consequently, agriculture i n these regions is more subsistence oriented, is less capital-intensive, a n d is m u c h more labour-intensive t h a n the agriculture found i n E u r o p e , the U S , or C a n a d a . T h i s set of conditions m e a n that sustainable agriculture faces different hurdles i n the developing world t h a n it does i n the rich north. F o r example, J a c k s o n argues that one way of m a k i n g farming more sustainable i n the North is t h r o u g h increasing the n u m b e r of people working the land. Essentially he suggests that if there were more farmers, the need to spray a n d use heavy farm m a c h i n e r y would be d i m i n i s h e d (Lamprecht, 1989). In the developing world, however, soil erosion is often b l a m e d on the size of the agrarian population. L a m p r e c h t cites L a n l y (1985) who sees population growth as a major problem with agriculture i n the developing world (Lamprecht, 1989). Writing in 1989 L a m p r e c h t points out that i n 90 tropical countries 500 million people (out of a total of 1.2 billion) support themselves from slash a n d b u r n , shifting cultivation agriculture. Since populations i n these areas are growing by 1.25 per cent each year, fallow periods are reduced below sustainable levels, marginal l a n d is cleared for cultivation a n d serious problems of soil erosion o c c u r (Lamprecht, 1989). A c c o r d i n g to Lamprecht's research, each farming family i n the developing world needs on average between one a n d three hectares each year. Typically, at the beginning of each dry season l a n d is cleared, a n d at the end of the dry season the l a n d is b u r n e d to release the nutrients i n the plant matter. T h e plants (usually rice or maize) are sewn at the beginning of the rainy season, a n d i n areas where there is a second, shorter, rainy season farmers m a y be able to obtain a second crop on a different piece of land. After one or two years on a field, pest outbreaks increase, soil nutrients decrease a n d there is a 50 per cent reduction i n yields even on high-quality tropical soils. After four years a farm family u s u a l l y a b a n d o n s the l a n d a n d moves onto a new site. L a m p r e c h t shows that there are four u s u a l outcomes for this The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  147 u s e d agricultural land: (1) ecological succession takes place a n d the l a n d m a y develop to a second growth climax forest; (2) cultivation m a y have lasted so long that nutrient depletion is irreversible. In this case succession is arrested, a n d a climax c o m m u n i t y of h a r d grasses occurs preventing the development of woody plants. L a m p r e c h t indicates that there are approximately 2 billion hectares of this u n u s a b l e secondary s a v a n n a h worldwide; (3) at the end of the agricultural cycle grasses are sewn a n d the l a n d is converted into pasture. L a m p r e c h t argues that i n some cases large l a n d owners have been k n o w n to use shifting farming families to clear the l a n d for t h e m i n order to expand grazing land; or (4) a b a n d o n e d l a n d is transformed into some sort of plantation. It is important to note that shifting cultivation h a s been a viable way of life for millions of people for at least 2,000 years. S u s t a i n e d yield is possible in this system so long as fallow periods are kept quite long (1-5 years of agriculture a n d 10-25 years of fallow). Lamprecht, however, argues that for this to work there c a n only be a m a x i m u m r u r a l population density of 5-7 people per k m a n d no population increase. In recent decades, however, this has b r o k e n down because large areas of l a n d have been removed for plantations or a n i m a l h u s b a n d r y a n d there have been high population growth rates. Consequently, the n u m b e r of people depending o n the available arable l a n d has increased, fallow periods have decreased, a n d marginal l a n d has been brought into use (Lamprecht, 1989). T h i s contrasts dramatically with agriculture i n the developed world. In North A m e r i c a a n d E u r o p e farm populations have been dropping since the Industrial Revolution w h e n the d e m a n d for labour i n the new industrial sector drove u r b a n wages beyond what was possible for agriculture. W i n s o n (1992), for example, shows that since the m i d 20th century the farm population i n C a n a d a has fallen by 67 per cent (Winson, 1992). E c h o i n g this, W i l s o n (1990) shows that while 80 per cent of C a n a d a ' s population was agrarian at Confederation, it h a d fallen to approximately 50 per cent by 1921, a n d h a d declined to 20 per cent by the late 1980s (86). Strange (1989) points out that r e d u c i n g the n u m b e r of farmers (and their dependants) h a s been a clear objective of economic policy since the Industrial Revolution, as people who could not earn a living from agriculture were free to work i n i n d u s t r y (47). Consequently, there were significant labour shortages i n agriculture as children from r u r a l families were enticed off the farm i n search of better jobs, higher salaries, a n d a n u r b a n lifestyle. A s a result, those who were left o n the farm h a d to make their labour stretch m u c h further. T h i s transition was at once made possible by, a n d created a social a n d economic niche for, laboursaving technologies. Tractors, combine harvesters, a n d the widespread use of pesticides all allow a s h r i n k i n g agrarian population to meet the d e m a n d s of urban consumers. 2  B r a y points out that mechanization also sped u p the E u r o p e a n settlement of the A m e r i c a n mid-West. W h e n this area was developed l a n d was very cheap. T h e easiest way for farmers to improve their income at this time was to increase the acreage they were cultivating (Bray, 1986). Because T h e Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  148 l a b o u r w a s l i m i t e d (and therefore expensive) the easiest w a y to do this w a s t h r o u g h i n v e s t i n g i n l a b o u r - s a v i n g technologies. A s a result, the h i s t o r y of a g r i c u l t u r e i n the West since the I n d u s t r i a l R e v o l u t i o n h a s been a h i s t o r y of s u b s t i t u t i n g c a p i t a l , i n the f o r m of technology or i n p u t s , for l a b o u r (Bray, 1986). The l a b o u r - i n t e n s i v e a g r i c u l t u r e of the s o u t h a n d the capital-intensive a g r i c u l t u r e of the n o r t h present different obstacles for s u s t a i n a b l e a g r i c u l t u r e . F o r e x a m p l e , Scott points out that r u r a l u n e m p l o y m e n t w i l l increase if l a b o u r s a v i n g technologies are u s e d i n areas where there is h i g h r u r a l densities a n d few other e c o n o m i c o p p o r t u n i t i e s (Scott, 1985). B a r k e r , et. a l . stress t h a t if f a r m w o r k e r s are p u t out of w o r k by l a b o u r s a v i n g technologies they m a y be forced to over-utilize c o m m u n a l r e s o u r c e s or cultivate m a r g i n a l l a n d t h a t is u n s u i t a b l e for c u l t i v a t i o n (Barker, Herdt, 8B Rose, 1985). T h i s c a n t h e n lead to i n c r e a s e d deforestation a n d the associated p r o b l e m s of soil e r o s i o n , water s i l t a t i o n , a n d the loss of h a b i t a t a n d biodiversity. O n the other h a n d , i n the developed w o r l d , l a b o u r s a v i n g technology h a s allowed i n d u s t r y a n d c o m m e r c e to f l o u r i s h . It is a matter, however, of t a i l o r i n g the u s e of this technology so t h a t it does not create other e n v i r o n m e n t a l p r o b l e m s . B o m k e , et. a l . , argue that this debate centres a r o u n d h o w e c o n o m i s t s define efficiency (Bomke, Wojcik, 8& K u t k o w s k a , 1991). In N o r t h A m e r i c a f a r m efficiency is m e a s u r e d i n terms of cost per u n i t of o u t p u t . A c c o r d i n g to Strange, by this definition g r a i n f a r m s w i t h a n n u a l sales between $ 4 0 , 0 0 0 a n d $ 1 3 0 , 0 0 0 have the m a x i m u m efficiency (1988). W i t h less t h a n $ 4 0 , 0 0 0 i n a n n u a l sales, f a r m s tend to have u n d e r u t i l i z e d l a b o u r a n d e q u i p m e n t that p u s h the cost per u n i t higher. Over $ 1 3 0 , 0 0 0 i n a n n u a l sales a n d the m a n a g e m e n t a n d a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of a f a r m becomes so c o m p l i c a t e d a n d other v a r i a b l e s s u c h as weather a n d l a b o u r i s s u e s , start to create p r o b l e m s (Strange, 1988). To t r u l y u n d e r s t a n d if a n a g r i c u l t u r a l s y s t e m is efficient, however, B o m k e et. a l . say t h a t it is n e c e s s a r y to evaluate the social, political a n d e c o n o m i c context. F o r example, if o u t p u t / p e r s o n h o u r s i n agriculture is low (which is the economic definition of a n inefficient farm), one m u s t look at the whole e c o n o m y to see if agriculture is d r a w i n g w o r k e r s away from i n d u s t r y (perhaps b e c a u s e f a r m l a b o u r is subsidized). If there is no d e m a n d for l a b o u r i n i n d u s t r y , t h e n low l a b o u r productivity is not really inefficient a n d m a y be p r o v i d i n g m u c h - n e e d e d r u r a l e m p l o y m e n t (Bomke et a l . , 1991). In s u m m a r y , therefore, while i n the developing w o r l d there m a y be too m u c h l a b o u r for the available arable l a n d , i n the r i c h n o r t h there m a y be too little a g r i c u l t u r a l l a b o u r . A s it h a p p e n s , the majority of the r u r a l poor i n developing economies are i n ecologically fragile t r o p i c a l regions. T h i s s h o u l d lead to a different series of policies t h a n w o u l d be p u t i n place for a g r i c u l t u r e i n the developed w o r l d . In the ecologically more r o b u s t N o r t h , the m a i n p r o b l e m s m a y stem f r o m not e n o u g h l a b o u r that h a s r e s u l t e d i n a dependence o n m e c h a n i z a t i o n . If this t u r n s out to be a p r o b l e m , t h e n there w i l l need to be different s o l u t i o n s p r o p o s e d . In c o n c l u s i o n B r a y c o n t e n d s that there is a r e l a t i o n s h i p between the e n v i r o n m e n t , the available l a n d base, a n d The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D. G . F r a s e r  149 the cost of labour that will determine what opportunities there are for sustainable agriculture (Bray, 1986).  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  150  A P P E N D I X II: M E T H O D O L O G Y U S E TO ANALYZE TRANSCRIPTS A n axial coding process was u s e d to a d d key words to the transcripts. These key words became the basis for the analysis. T h i s i n c l u d e d the following six stages: Key Words - A n initial list of eight key words or concepts was developed that reflected the different forces that might influence agriculture i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a . T h i s initial list of influences included: international trade, government programmes, cost of inputs, a n d the price of commodities. T h e transcripts were then all read carefully keeping i n m i n d the question: "what are the forces that shape the farm crisis?" Whenever a quote i n the transcripts was found that helped to answer this question the quote was coded with one of the key words. If the quote d i d not relate to any of the key words a new key word was added to the list that generically represented the quote. In this way, the text itself informed the development of the categories rather t h a n having the data forced into pre-determined categories. B y the e n d of the process, there were approximately 20 key words. O u t of the 2,000 pages of transcripts, over 400 quotes were coded. Comments - A s the transcripts were being coded a c o m m e n t was written for each key word. E a c h comment describes, i n point form, the content of the quotes. F o r example, the key word "retail" was u s e d to code any quote relating to the influence that retailers have o n the farm crisis: Key word: retail C o m m e n t : retail amalgamation major effect - most retailers do not differentiate between local a n d North A m e r i c a n Produce - for perishable commodities there are fewer p u r c h a s e r s a n d more producers; scales i n favour of buyer - niche markets will not ever deal with the 4 million p o u n d s of fruit and vegetables. B . C . produces every year; B . C . needs access to major c h a i n s individual retail stores u s e d to b u y their own produce, now big c h a i n s do not allow this - 3 - 4 c h a i n s control the B . C . grocery dollar, a n d h u r t local economies by offering milk as a lost leader - small local produce is competitive in season, however, short season. Identifying the speaker - T h e speaker of each quote was also identified as either a business person (though not representing a major retail chain), a civil servant, a member of the standing committee, a farmer, a politician (though not a member of the standing committee), a representative from a Non-governmental Organization (NGO) or private citizen, or a representative of a major retailer. Combining key words with speakers - Quotations a n d comments were then sorted by key word a n d by speaker. T h e quotes made by each speaker for each key word were then briefly s u m m a r i z e d i n a sentence or two. F o r example, Speaker: F a r m e r Keyword: Trade # of Quotes: 17 S u m m a r y : Trade is seen as a negative factor for B C producers. F a r m e r s in B . C . are supported less a n d have s u c h a low volume of sales that it is The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  151 impossible to t h i n k that they c a n compete with A m e r i c a n producers. F a r m s u b s i d y levels are also m u c h lower i n C a n a d a (and BC) t h a n other countries. Analysis using flowcharts - A flow chart or m i n d m a p was created for each type of speaker that depicts the organization of thoughts a n d ideas. These flow charts represent each type of speaker's notions o n the origins of the farm crisis. In this way, it is easy to observe where speakers agree a n d where they disagree a n d how they organized the various influences. Figures one a n d two provide examples of these flow charts. T h i s method roughly followed the process suggested by G r o u n d e d Theory "...a qualitative method designed to a i d i n the systematic collection a n d analysis of data a n d the construction of a theoretical model" (Glaser 8B S t r a u s s , 1967). G r o u n d e d theory is a n established methodology for analysing large a m o u n t s of text a n d i n order "... to develop a well integrated set of concepts that provide a thorough theoretical explanation of social p h e n o m e n a u n d e r study"(Corbin 8& Strauss, 1990).  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  152  Retail Retail concentration has reduced opportunities for local processors and producers.  Processors  Trade  Processing has declined in most sectors in B.C. This has hurt local producers, but opened up opportunities for small-scale processing that producer can access.  We are part of a global system that brings both good and bad. First, we cannot compete for all products. Second, there is increased prosperity in general.  Price and Income Global forces such as trade, retail, and changes in the processing industry have eroded farm income through low commodity prices. The price at the grocery store has not matched this.  Marketing and Education Must explore possibilities of new markets  Environment Strategies As a result, the following strategies are proposed.  Taxes While taxes should be put in place that favour good environmental practices any additional taxes may hurt B.C.'s ability to compete with food from other areas.  Farmers must receive some benefit when they protect the environment  Consumers Government While some favour more or less government, generally the role of government is to help manage transition while not creating false security in industries that must change to meet new realities.  Consumers are caught between a desire to support local producers and the inexpensive convenience of the supermarket  Flow Chart or mind-map to illustrate the perspective of the members of the select standing committee based on their comments during public hearing on the state of the agricultural industry in British Columbia.  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  153  Trade Increased has  Competition  trade  brought  Competition  both  opportunities  become  and  tougher  W al-Mart  problems  market.  enters This  supporting  Big  will o n l y  There  as  large  the  of the and  makes  producers very  Retailing  been  between  industry.  producers able  outlets  and  have to  is  polarized  processing  retail  processors  hard.  Retail  a  consolidation  Local  local  Business has been  niche  big-box  and  small  boutiques  not  adapt.  / G Processing The  The  processing  industry  the by  retail  meet  enough  customer  other  big b o x  stores are to  situation  changing  where  stay  Price  from  Wal-Mart super  creating  rationalize  demands.  perceive  competition  U S , especially  and  a s l o n g a s it i s flexible  retailers  that major  is  supported  lobalization  large  try  farm  as  must  their activities  Income  support local income  a  they  and  B . C . retailers by  much  directing  sales  within p r o v i n c e  to  to  as  possible.  competitive.  Environment There Local Marketing Consumers and  and  are  better  asking tougher  However,  educated  of the  is a b i t o f a  can stay  business, and  the  industries are  super-store.  meet  contradiction  are  here.  flexible  their n e e d s  a reflection  do  not know  retailing  situation  effects  B . C . that  products  impossible to  in  make to  produce.  (which  of  how  They  much  local p r o d u c e they  today's  constraints some  customer demand).  How  in  processing/production  the  are  environmental  will b u y l o c a l s o  long as they  questions.  m a n y just w a n t  convenience There  Retailers  Educations  Produce  the  buy.  farm  crisis Retailers  are  larger and  finding  offer  better price d u e grow This  from  makes  p r e s s u r e to  to c o n s u m e r d e m a n d s , a n d  they  to  Wal-Mart. who  round.  a g e n c i e s are create  grow  a  pressure  it d i f f i c u l t to s u p p o r t l o c a l f a r m e r s  Government farmers  under  services, convenience, and  tight c o m p e t i t i o n , e s p e c i a l l y from  cannot produce year because  themselves  more  seen as standing  in t h e  a false security that m e a n s  or p r o c e s s o r s d o not i n n o v a t e  to m e e t  way  that  changing  demands.  Flow Chart or mind-map to illustrate the perspective of the representatives from major grocery retailing chains based on their comments during public hearing on the state of the agricultural industry in British Columbia  The Ecologies of Scale Evan D. G. Fraser  154  A P P E N D I X III: 1 9 9 1 C E N S U S D A T A  6 1  #OF FARMS  ha  Conservation tillage No tillage Crop rotation (# of farms) (# of farms) (# of farms)  Winter cover crops (# of farms)  374  3786  4  North Langley  557  6136  Central Langley  477  3841  LANGLEY  1408  East Richmond  125  West Richmond  South Langley  8  13  18  10  11  27  29  14  8  20  15  13763  28  27  60  62  1881  4  3  6  3  112  4136  5  7  7  5  RICHMOND  237  6017  9  10  13  8  East Delta  97  4253  3  6  20  20  West Delta  91  3274  6  3  22  26  DELTA  188  7527  9  9  42  46  South Surrey  142  1331  6  3  10  6  North Surrey  556  6897  18  8  28  27  SURREY  698  8229  24  11  38  33  South Matsqui  425  3981  10  6  14  51  West Matsqui  400  4191  10  8  31  37  North Matsqui  283  4807  12  12  23  43  MATSQUI  1108  12979  32  26  68  131  West Chilliwack  266  3598  14  16  15  39  East Chilliwack  489  8391  21  53  68  63  CHILLIWACK  755  11988  35  69  83  102  AGASSIZ  108  3449  4  21  20  22  ABBOTSFORD  298  7689  15  30  49  72  MISSION  135  1196  2  2  6  7  MAPLE RIDGE  244  1992  6  11  10  10  PITT MEADOWS  180  5618  1  4  9  5  NICOMEN  183  5378  3  13  18  23  112  7  1  6  0  BURNABY  38  Conservation tillage refers to a number of different agronomic practices that reduce the amount of mechanical disruption to the soil. No tillage refers to seeding crops without tilling the soil. Crop rotation refers to planting different crops in the same field on successive years. Winter cover crops are crops planted during winter months to protect the soil from water erosion. Permanent grass cover is when farmers plant perennial grass crops Contour cultivation is when crops are planted along a hillside rather than up or down a hill, thus reducing the potential for erosion. Grass waterways refer to when the banks of rivers, streams and ditches are planted with grass instead of being bare soil. Strip Cropping Strip cropping is a technique in which alternate strips of different crops are planted in the same field. 6 1  The Ecologies of Scale  Evan D. G . Fraser  155  1 9 9 6 CENSUS D A T A  Items  Crop Total # Tillage rotation Permanent of (# of (# of grass cover farms Total Ha farms) farms) (# of farms)  Agassiz  133  6 2  Winter cover crops (# of farms)  StripContour cropping Grass cultivation (# of waterways (# of farms) farms) (# of farms)  4,111  5  30  98  28  1  4  9  East Chilliwack 603  15,988  13  107  329  84  5  12  9  West Chilliwack 323  3,345  5  50  170  51  2  4  15  Chilliwack  926  19,333  18  157  499  135  7  16  24  East Delta  105  4,463  2  46  35  20  3  2  3  West Delta  82  3,073  1  33  27  19  2  1  1  Delta  187  7,536  3  79  62  39  5  3  4  North Langley  562  5,602  1  31  230  18  5  4  5  Other Langley  547  4,322  3  24  267  26  5  4  19  South Langley  477  3,463  0  26  213  11  5  3  10  Langley  1,586  13,386  4  81  710  55  15  11  34  Mission  163  1,164  1  9  63  7  2  3  3  Maple Ridge  331  1,943  5  26  128  10  7  2  7  South Matsqui  420  3,875  2  42  128  45  16  0  2  West Matsqui  455  4,693  1  46  219  43  4  4  14  Other Matsqui  248  4,583  12  44  116  44  8  1  8  Matsqui  1,123  13,151  15  132  463  132  28  5  24  Abbotsford  329  7,596  12  102  143  91  5  5  13  Nicomen  198  5,212  5  22  125  14  2  1  5  Pitt Meadows  179  3,087  3  15  62  9  1  7  2  East Richmond  130  1,968  1  18  23  0  1  2  1  West Richmond  119  1,152  5  19  19  9  2  3  0  Richmond  249  3,120  6  37  42  9  3  5  1  North Surrey  542  7,147  15  87  187  31  12  8  12  South Surrey  203  1,573  5  16  72  6  2  3  5  Surrey  745  8,721  20  103  259  37  14  11  17  Burnaby, part  35  140  3  13  4  4  0  0  0  Conservation tillage refers to a number of different agronomic practices that reduce the amount of mechanical disruption to the soil. No tillage refers to seeding crops without tilling the soil. Crop rotation refers to planting different crops in the same field on successive years. Winter cover crops are crops planted during winter months to protect the soil from water erosion. Permanent grass cover is when farmers plant perennial grass crops Contour cultivation is when crops are planted along a hillside rather than up or down a hill, thus reducing the potential for erosion. Grass waterways refer to when the banks of rivers, streams and ditches are planted with grass instead of being bare soil. Strip Cropping Strip cropping is a technique in which alternate strips of different crops are planted in the same field. 6 2  The Ecologies of Scale  Evan D. G . Fraser  156  A P P E N D I X V : STATISTICS T A B L E S S u m m a r y output for Figure 6-3: Relative specialization score for all horticultural crops i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a between 1989 a n d 1999.  Multiple R R Square Adjusted R Square Correlation Coef. Standard Error Observations  0.8138 0.66227 0.614023 -0.8137 195105.1 9  ANOVA Regression Residual Total  Df 1 7 8  SS 5.23E+11 2.66E+11 7.89E+11  MS 5.23E+11 3.81E+10  Significance F 13.7266 0.007605  S u m m a r y output for Figure 6-4: Percent of total area of B r i t i s h Columbia's horticultural c r o p l a n d occupied by largest four crops between 1992 a n d 1997.  Regression Statistics Multiple R R Square Adjusted R 2 Correlation Coef. Standard Error Observations  0.85504 0.73109 0.6638 -0.85504 2.104 6  ANOVA Regression Residual Total  df 1 4 5  SS 4.183 17.722 65.90  MS 48.183 4.4306  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  F 10.875  Significance F 0.02999643  157 S u m m a r y output for Figure 6-5: Relative specialization score for the municipality of Delta (years with a higher score have a higher diversity of crops).  Regression Statistics Multiple R 0.664273 R Square 0.441259 Adjusted R Square 0.161889 Correlation Coef. -0.66427 Standard Error 1.281035 Observations 4 ANOVA Regression Residual Total  df 1 2 3  SS 2.592 3.2821 5.8741  MS F Significance F 2.592 1.579477 0.335726646 1.64105  S u m m a r y output for Figure 6-6: Relative specialization score for processed vegetable crops i n B . C . between 1990 a n d 1999 (years with high value indicate less biodiversity a n d greater specialization).  Regression Statistics Multiple R R Square Adjusted R Square Correlation Coef. Standard Error Observations  0.955285 0.91257 0.90008 -0.9475 314258 9  ANOVA Regression Residual Total  Df 1 7 8  SS 7.22E+12 6.91E+11 7.91E+12  MS 7.22E+12 9.88E+10  The Ecologies of Scale E v a n D . G . Fraser  F 73.06386  Significance F 5.95777E-05  158 APPENDIX V I : W O R K S CITED Agriculture a n d Agri-Food C a n a d a . (1992). An Economic Overview of Farms Incomes by Farm Type, 1992. 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