مصرف بیشتر گوشت گاو: ساختار بازار و رفتار شرکت در صنعت بسته بندی گوشت گاو در حوضه اقیانوس آرام
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|19641||2000||20 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : World Development, Volume 28, Issue 3, March 2000, Pages 531–550
New GATT/WTO regulations have enhanced the power of competitive strategies implemented by the transnational corporations which now dominate the production and distribution of packaged beef in the Pacific Basin. The political actions that have facilitated these economic changes are illustrative of a wider globalization project sponsored by the US and transnational capital. Here I explain the replacement of “national beef sectors” in Australia, New Zealand and the United States with a new industry structure focused on exports to East Asia that features key attributes of the emergent third (global) food regime (after McMichael, 1995).
The cattle grazing regions of the European settler lands in the Pacific Basin—the Americas, Australia and New Zealand—hold a special place in the social imaginary, symbolizing freedom and machismo adventure. These pop culture images (now often American) serve to reinforce the place of beef in the diet of the affluent world (see Fiddes, 1991). But the world beef industry could also be illustrated with images drawn from colonial conquest, the brutal imposition of new social and economic social relations and the devastation of the physical environment Friedmann, 1991, Friedmann, 1995, Rifkin, 1992 and Ufkes, 1995. Today, industry advocates and government officials from key export industries (Australia and the United States) frame recent market restructuring with a historically innocent definition of comparative advantage, claiming that “efficient” beefpackers in Australia and the Americas are best placed to harness natural endowments to satisfy growing demand for beef in East Asia.1 Such assertions of comparative advantage come amidst the recent intensification of bilateral and multilateral political campaigns to increase access to East Asian markets for US and Australian food producers. This paper disputes simple claims of “natural” advantage by situating the Pacific Basin beefpacking industry within long-term structural changes in the Australian and US industries and as part of an emerging international food regime, “...the political organization of food production and distribution on a world scale [which] connects producers and consumers across the world in a stable trading arrangement” (McMichael, 1996, p. 58). This paper sets out to explain the conversion of national beef industries within the Pacific Basin into a geographically coherent industry. In so doing, the paper aims to contribute to the understanding of an emerging third food regime by analyzing corporate strategies and how they structure industrial and consumer markets. The behavior of beefpacking firms and national state actors illustrates crucial aspects of the globalization project associated with successive food regimes (McMichael, 1996). While this paper argues that a global beefpacking industry in the Pacific Basin has emerged, national markets for beef persist. These markets reflect the cultural variation of consumer preferences, the complex of related structural factors such as dominant methods for wholesaling, distribution and retailing, and the political decisions that bring national markets into being—including the roles assigned to local production and imported product (for example treating beef as a luxury import, but still preserving the highest status to culturally specific local production such as Waygu beef in Japan). Although the notion that markets are only brought into being through a large number of political actions is readily accepted in social science, such a claim still clashes with much mainstream neoclassical literature. As a way of encountering this and the market fetishism of much neoliberal ideology this paper argues for understanding markets as social constructs—not as some “natural” entity which exists prior to the model or investigation (see Mirowski, 1994, McCloskey, 1989 and McCloskey, 1994). The US and Australian governments have exerted considerable negotiating power on behalf of the beefpacking industry to “open” markets in East Asia. Ironically such actions simply redirect “managed trade”—a derisory term often applied by US trade negotiators to describe the role of East Asian national governments. For their part the governments of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have protected small indigenous beef industries and subsidized the importation of feed to maintain these culturally important and politically powerful industries. At the same time large Japanese keiretsu with trading houses, domestic distribution businesses and diverse agribusiness holdings throughout the Pacific Basin (e.g., Mitsubishi, Nippon Meats) have become significant importers of Australian and US-grown beef Bolling, 1991, Morison, 1993 and Francis, 1997. These businesses also exert significant influence on the decision–making processes of the Japanese state, ultimately effecting the structure of the whole Pacific Basin industry. Meanwhile US corporations such as IBP, ConAgra and Cargill have extracted a wide range of tax concessions and other benefits from the state and federal governments of Australia, Argentina, Brazil and the United States, influencing business plans and the space economy of the industry. Firm strategy has a long-term effect on industry structure and has the most immediate influence on labor conditions within the industry and the manner in which beef is consumed. In a further disruption of mainstream neoclassical economics analytical categories I adopt methodologies from industrial organization theory and related industrial geography literature to analyze firm-level behavior in this period of globalization. My purpose is to reveal how ideological and political factors cannot be readily separated from the actions of firms as economic agents. A further justification for concentrating on firms as economic agents is the need to better understand how the relentless pursuit of scale economies is one of the most significant forces shaping the structure of the industry. Indeed it is this attribute that compels firms to find new markets or increase demand for beef products in existing markets. The realization of increasing returns to scale also helps explain the periodic crises of overcapacity (idle plant), the constant striving for technological innovations (improving efficiency) and the repressive approaches to worker unionization efforts (“labor management”). On a day-to-day basis it is these issues that affect workers, farmers and consumers most directly and ensure that a handful of firms enjoy high levels of market power. Indeed it is this structural attribute that beefpacking shares with other manufacturing industries and why consumers are urged to eat more beef.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The internationalization of agriculture has the effect of integrating several national markets from the point of view of product type, production process and the role of labor. In short, a form of convergence of crucial characteristics takes place across national borders, pressuring local cultures through their connection to the global economy. Rather than act as sites of resistance contemporary nation-states are more often agents of global capital facilitating local harmonization with global market demands. The Pacific beefpacking industry is a vivid example of how the new global food regime embodies the myth of economic efficiency, arguably the most successful firm—IBP—contributed to the demise of the second food regime (as an exemplar of efficiency), its current strategies reveal how overriding social controls within and between national borders are key to continued success. Frequently industrial restructuring is explained as an inevitable outcome of shifting economic structures (Lipietz, 1987). The demise of national capitalisms has undermined the legal administrative apparatus for maintaining both farm incomes and workers wages and conditions. In the case of the Pacific Basin beef markets this has affected net exporters and importers. In Australia senior management of beefpacking firms identify the competitive threat as the United States, Argentina and Uruguay. Europe is excluded from their calculations because of the Andriessen Agreement. While it is hazardous to assume this agreement will stay in place (Japan imports a growing amount of French beef, see Morison, 1991) perpetrating the myth of competition with the United States obscures the real corporate agenda. Australia's feedlot industry is still very small when compared to the United States. Because domestic Australian markets are still based on pasture fed cattle the expansion of the feedlot industry will only occur while corporate judgments of the relative costs of location favor Australia over the United States. Given the oversupply of beef cattle in both countries, and the greater depth of experience and industry knowledge in the United States as well greater compatibility between the United States and its export markets it is unlikely that Australia's industry will expand rapidly in the short to medium term. Consequently the point of pressure in reducing costs is focused on the prices paid for beasts to be processed (farmers' income) and the labor employed in the packing plants. Continued restructuring of the industry for increased productivity (returns to scale) perpetuates the problem of excess capacity which corporations then attempt to turn to strategic advantage by reducing wages and conditions. By repeatedly increasing the size and capacity of new plant and thus “carrying” idle plant they have an effective illustration of underemployed labor always at hand. Unionized workers who seek to keep their jobs are confronted with having to negotiate away their conditions or risk being made redundant along with the old plant. This pattern of restructuring resembles the United States in the 1980s very closely. Australia does not, however, have a pool of low-wage migrant labor that can be readily replenished as does the United States, so achieving a level of competitiveness similar to the US industry appears unobtainable even with drastic reductions in existing work conditions. The alternative to the market-inspired notion of national capital competition is to understand Australia's role in the beef complex more clearly. Australia has been a very large-scale exporter of low-grade beef to the United States and North America more generally since the 1970s. The United States and Australia often switch places as the biggest exporters of beef in the world (Australia regularly exports around 80% of annual production, see Barry et al., 1993). Somewhat paradoxically the US also often occupies the position of single biggest importer of beef (Barry et al., 1993), signifying that it is the largest single beef consumer market. Such a pattern (intraindustry trade) is consistent with an industry structure that is committed to scale economies as a means of capital accumulation (see Krugman, 1990). More compelling yet is the realization that an increasing share of beef trade within the Pacific Basin is intrafirm trade. Extremely large corporations dominating the industry have developed global supply networks to maintain long-term market positions. Short-term changes in the league tables of biggest national exporter or importer can be explained by changes in the herd size and climate factors, they say little about the competitiveness of a nationally defined industry per se. The relentless pressure of finding lower priced inputs and more effective production technologies not only increases plant size but herd sizes as well. Farmers must raise more beef to maintain income (as unit prices drop) and plants need more beef to operate at a profitable level. This is already having profound environmental effects (Australia in particular is constrained in the number of feedlots the environment can withstand, see Lawrence & Vanclay, 1994) and shapes relations between nation states as exporters negotiate access to markets. Beef consumption is promoted throughout the Pacific Basin, in Australia and the United States patriotic and “natural” associations are made to overcome health-based consumer resistance. In East Asia imported beef is marketed as a symbol of freshness, wilderness and adventure. As the price of imported beef has fallen consumers are more able to afford higher quality imports, again further disadvantaging low-grade bulk producers. Behind these images the US government has been effective at gaining East Asian market liberalization for beef in part because of the significant trade deficit that it maintains with East Asian economies and the unchallenged position it holds as both the major architect of the international system of trade (GATT/WTO) and the single biggest consumer market in the world economy. While Australia has also entered these bilateral negotiations it exerts far less political and economic power. Moreover, as explained above, because the majority of the Australian beefpacking industry is foreign-owned, only an indirect benefit to cattle growers is likely to flow from successful trade negotiations, whereas any improvement in trade positions immediately benefits the transnational beefpackers. Trade liberalization of East Asian beef markets has further enhanced the niche market status of local producers while increasing the beef consumption of the population substantially. The political power of domestic beef producers in East Asia is waning and as the international conflict over “open trade” intensifies there is less motivation for the state to sustain market protections. Reduced protection in East Asia not only illustrates the intensity of trade conflicts endured on behalf of transnational capital but also the increasing difficulty Japan and the East Asian NIEs have in maintaining their own developmentalist national projects. The impact on the national diet and cultural integrity loom as issues while consumers are constantly coaxed into higher beef consumption. Beefpacking firms can only maintain viability by collectively increasing beef consumption; these firms manipulation of the environment, farming and working communities and international trade relationships suggest images deeply at odds with “nature.”