Productivism, Financialisation, and the “Good Farmer”: Constructing a Rational, Governable Farming Sector
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This chapter addresses the concept of productivity in the context of structural adjustment policies implemented by the Australian Government in recent decades. I suggest this focus reduces the value of farming, and of farmers, to the capacity to be productive. As in the normalisation of competition as a process of creating winners and losers, I show that structural adjustment normalises farmer exits as an essential step in maximising industry efficiency and productivity. I then develop this idea further by arguing that these reductionist policy constructions externalise the social and environmental consequences of the neoliberalisation of Australian agricultural and rural industries. Drawing on policy discourses around agriculture, specifically, structural adjustment and the construction of farmers’ identity, I explore the construction of farming as a reducible, calculable function which the state is able to act upon to meet its objective of maximising productive resource use.
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