In agriculture, agribusiness is a generic term for the various businesses involved in crop production, including farming and contract farming, seed supply, agrichemicals, farm machinery, wholesale and distribution, processing, marketing, and retail sales.
The term has two distinctly different connotations depending on context.
Within the agriculture industry, agribusiness is widely used simply as a convenient portmanteau of agriculture and business, referring to the range of activities and disciplines encompassed by modern food production. There are academic degrees in and departments of agribusiness, agribusiness trade associations, agribusiness publications, and so forth, worldwide. Here, the term is only descriptive, and is synonymous in the broadest sense with food industry. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), for example, operates a section devoted to Agribusiness Development , which seeks to promote food industry growth in the third world.
- Corporate farming
Among critics of large-scale, industrialized, vertically integrated food production, the term agribusiness is used negatively, synonymous with corporate farming. As such, it is often contrasted with smaller family-owned farms.
Examples of agribusinesses include seed and agrichemical producers like Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta; AB Agri (part of Associated British Foods) animal feeds, biofuels, and micro-ingredients, ADM, grain transport and processing; John Deere, farm machinery producer; Ocean Spray, farmer's cooperative; and Purina Farms, agritourism farm.
As concern over Global warming intensifies, biofuels derived from crops are gaining increased public and scientific attention, driven by factors such as oil price spikes, the need for increased energy security, concern over greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, and support from government subsidies. In Europe and in the US, increased research and production of biofuels has been mandated by law.
Studies and reports
To promote exports of food products, many government agencies publish on the web economic studies and reports categorized by product and country. Among these agencies include four of the largest exporters of food products, such as the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Austrade, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE). The Federation of International Trade Associations publishes studies and reports by FAS and AAFC, as well as other non-governmental organizations on its website.
Notes and references
- The Globalization of Agribusiness and Developing World Food Systems by John Wilkinson, Monthly Review
- Cornell Food and Brand Lab
- "Bacon as a Weapon of Mass Destruction" - video by Democracy Now!
- Agribusiness at the University of British Columbia
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