By Roger E. Meiners
This publication pulls again the wrappings that cloak U.S. agriculture and explains how and why politics has affected the conventional stewardship function performed by way of agriculture.
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In The Cambridge Economic Histoy of the United States. Vol. 11, The Long Nineteenth Centuy, ed. Stanley L. Engerman and Robert E. Gallman. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 285-328. Avery, Alex, and Dennis Avery. 2003. High Yield Conservation: More Food and Environmental Quality through Intensive Agriculture. This volume. Bunkers, E. , and Willard W. Cochrane. 1957. On the Income Elasticity of Food Services. Review of Economics and Statistics 30: 210-17. Caselli, Francesco, and Wilbur John Coleman 11.
Standards would provide information to buyers, much as Underwriters Laboratories and other quality assurance organizations do. Members would have to abide by quality standards or be subject to sanction, including boycotts by buyers who help enforce the quality standards. Similarly, buyers who refuse to abide by quality and safety standards would be subject to boycott by sellers’ organizations. Without boycotts, enforcement of standards would be very difficult. Antitrust law makes the use of boycotts almost impossible.
Elinor Ostrom elaborates that point in Governing the Commons. She shows that common resources may be subject to exploitation by multiple “appropriators” who have arrangements to contribute to maintaining the valuable resource and to exclude others from using the resource to prevent overexploitation (1990, 31). Ostrom provides case studies of collective management arrangements, some of which worked, some of which failed. As she explains, and as Anderson and Leal (1995) have explained, state intrusion into collective solutions often results in a new set of institutional arrangements, some of which are economically and environmentally destructive.