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  The term agribusiness was coined by economists Davis and Goldberg (1957, 3) at the Harvard Business School who defined it as

the sum total of all operations involved in the manufacture and distribution of farm supplies; production operations on the farm; storage; processing and distribution of farm commodities and items made from them.The term emphasizes the increasingly systemic character of food production in which the activities of farming are integrated into a much larger industrial complex, including the manufacture and marketing of technological inputs and of processed food products, under highly concentrated forms of corporate ownership and management. Agribusiness has since become used in much looser and more ideologically loaded ways as a shorthand, on the left, for the domination of capitalist corporations in the agro-food industry and, on the right, for the role of transnational companies in the modernization of food production capacities and practices (Wallace, 1985). In this looser sense it has become a synonym for the industrialization of the agro-food system.

The classic model of agribusiness centres on the vertical integration of all stages in the food production process, in which the manufacture and marketing of technological farm inputs, farming and food processing are controlled by a single agro-food corporation. This model was based largely on the US experience, where corporations like Cargill and Tenneco gained control of particular commodity chains through a combination of direct investment, subsidiary companies and contracting relationships. Numerous studies in the 1970s drew attention to its significance for commodities like fresh fruit and vegetables; broiler chickens and sugarcane (e.g. Friedland et al., 1981). But it should be noted that a rival term \'la complexe agro-alimentaire\', coined contemporaneously in the French research literature, proposed a much more diffuse model of the industrial development of the agro-food complex (e.g. Allaire and Boyer, 1995).

The \'US school\' of agribusiness research had considerable influence over the development of agricultural geography in the English-speaking world, particularly in the 1980s. But it has increasingly attracted criticism both because of a disenchantment with its theoretical debt to systems theory, and because vertical integration proved too empirically specific to support the larger claims of agribusiness as a general model of food production today (Whatmore, 1995). (SW)

References Allaire, G. and Boyer, R., eds, 1995: La grande transformation. Paris: Institute Nationale de Recherche Agronomique (INRA). Barkin, D. 1982: The impact of agribusiness on rural development. Current perspectives in social theory 3: 1-25. Davis, J. and Goldberg, R. 1957: A concept of agribusiness. Boston: Harvard Business School. Friedland, W., Barton, A. and Thomas, R. 1981: Manufacturing green gold. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wallace, I. 1985: Towards a geography of agribusiness. Progress in Human Geography, 9: 491-514. Whatmore, S. 1995: From farming to agribusiness: the global agro-food system. In R.J. Johns ton, P.J. Taylor and M.J. Watts, eds, Geographies of global change. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 36-49 .



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