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Case Studies:


Food Systems - Global and Local

Ecology of marketing and social life

Paying the Price


In every corner of the world, small and medium-sized producers are being squeezed by
middlemen, and are struggling to survive.

At the turn of the century, US farmers received 44% of every dollar spent on food. By the 1990s, farmers share of the market dropped to only 21%. In many cases this is insufficient to cover the cost of production. Marketing now takes a full 79%

A smaller slice of the pie

  • Supermarkets and middlemen are threatening the livelihood and security of small and medium-sized farmers everywhere, taking an ever-greater proportion of the prices paid by consumers.

  • Farming at a loss is becoming increasingly common. In May 2000, English milk producers were paid about 25% less for their milk than it cost them to produce it!

  • Suicide among farmers in both North and South is increasing. It is now the leading cause of death among farmers in the US, occurring at a rate three times higher than in the general population.

Creating urban poverty: The globalisation of agriculture and food leads to the marginalisation of small and medium-sized farms in the South. More and more rural people are being pushed off the land into cities where the vast majority end up in slums.



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