Agriculture's future power struggle: Land grabbing, resource control and competition

A recent report threatens that U.S and U.K dominance in the farming industry is in danger of losing global influence.

An extensive new report released by the Oxford Farming Conference conducts an in-depth analysis of where true global power lies in food production, and has found future roles will be altered in relation to resource availability.

The commissioned report adopted the name: 'Agriculture: Tomorrow's Power'.

Carried out by SAC (The Scottish Agricultural Centre), the report finds that the U.K is a relatively small player in a market currently dominated by United States, European Union, China and Russia. However, the dominance of the U.S and E.U is under pressure by an increasing lack of natural resources -- including water reserves, agricultural land and fertilizer.

The report painted a bleak future for the current dominant market players; suggesting that control over resources has the potential to become a major political battle in the future.

High prices for fertilisers, fuel and livestock feed are likely to increase, and there is serious concern over possible future lack of water resources.

(Source: Flickr)

The emerging powers of China, Russia and Brazil in the industry are predicted to become heavyweights, although they may not have enough arable land in relation to their own population size.

The report's findings on the current global power index in agriculture are:

  1. United States
  2. EU27
  3. China
  4. Russia
  5. UK
  6. Brazil
  7. Japan
  8. Australasia
  9. Brazil

Being a competitive player within food production now relies on becoming more productive. As an example, the U.S 'Super' dairy farms are able to produce enough to cope with increasing demand -- British versions wouldn't stand a chance when it comes to sheer volume production.

Production power currently lies within North America and Europe. However, the report suggests there is going to be radical shifts in the production market by 2020. Increased competition with emerging markets including China, India and Brazil are likely to affect 'land grabbing', resource control and exports.

These countries currently enjoy higher energy reserves such as water allotment and natural resources. In comparison, it is unlikely that the intensive farming practices of the European Union and Britain will be sustainable in the long-term, especially considering an increasing population rate and longer life expectancy across the globe.

The report also reviews the emergence of a small number of transnational corporations (TNCs). These corporations, although few in number, control a large proportion of agricultural trade. Only four companies account for an estimated 75-90 per cent of grain exports.

“The emergence of these corporate players in the food sector has created a major orientation in the focus of power even further away from farmers,” the report suggests.

Export capabilities of the EU-27 are predicted to lessen, unless policy changes are implemented to increase growth in farming. The report suggests that if dominance over the market is to be sustained, then in the face of tightening supplies, more research and development is required to help production -- and trade rules must be modernized to cope.

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