Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain


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Coffee is a popular beverage and an important commodity. Tens of millions of small producers in developing countries make their living growing coffee. Over 2. Coffee is a major export commodity: it was the top agricultural export for twelve countries in , [3] the world's seventh-largest legal agricultural export by value in , [4] and "the second most valuable commodity exported by developing countries," from to circa Further, green unroasted coffee is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world, [8] and is traded in futures contracts on many exchanges, including the New York Board of Trade , New York Mercantile Exchange , New York Intercontinental Exchange , and the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange.

The world's largest transfer point for coffee is the port of Hamburg , Germany. In Brazil was the world leader in production of green coffee, followed by Vietnam , Indonesia , Colombia and Ethiopia. Robusta coffee beans are grown in western and central Africa, throughout southeast Asia, and to some extent in Brazil. Beans from different countries or regions can usually be distinguished by differences in flavor, aroma, body , and acidity.

In the year in the US, coffee consumption was In , it was the number-one hot beverage of choice among convenience store customers, generating about 78 percent of sales within the hot dispensed beverages category. The expansion of Brazilian coffee plantations and Vietnam 's entry into the market in when the United States trade embargo against it was lifted added supply pressures to growers. The market awarded the more affordable Vietnamese coffee suppliers with trade and caused less efficient coffee bean farmers in many countries such as Brazil , Nicaragua, and Ethiopia not to be able to live off of their products, which at many times were priced below the cost of production, forcing many to quit the coffee bean production and move into slums in the cities.

Mai, Specialty coffee, however, is frequently not purchased on commodities exchanges—for example, Starbucks purchases nearly all its coffee through multi-year, private contracts that often pay double the commodity price. In , however, the coffee prices rose with the above-mentioned ICO Composite Index monthly averages between Many coffee bean farmers can now live off their products, but not all of the extra-surplus trickles down to them, because rising petroleum prices make the transportation, roasting and packaging of the coffee beans more expensive.

Prices have risen from to and sharply in the second half of on fears of a bad harvest in key coffee-producing countries, with the ICO indicator price reaching in March A number of classifications are used to label coffee produced under certain environmental or labor standards. For instance, "Bird-Friendly" [18] or " shade-grown coffee " is said to be produced in regions where natural shade canopy trees is used to shelter coffee plants during parts of the growing season.

Fair trade coffee is produced by small coffee producers who belong to cooperatives; guaranteeing for these cooperatives a minimum price, though with historically low prices, current fair-trade minimums are lower than the market price of only a few years ago. Fairtrade America is the primary organization currently overseeing Fair Trade coffee practices in the United States, while the Fairtrade Foundation does so in the United Kingdom. The coffee industry currently has a commodity chain that involves producers, middlemen exporters, importers, roasters, and retailers before reaching the consumer.

Under either arrangement, large producers can sell at prices set by the New York Coffee Exchange. Green coffee is then purchased by importers from exporters or large plantation owners. They have capital resources to obtain quality coffee from around the world, capital normal roasters do not have. Roasters' heavy reliance on importers gives the importers great influence over the types of coffee that are sold to consumers. In the United States, there are around 1, roasters.

Roasters have the highest profit margin in the commodity chain. Twelve billion pounds of coffee is consumed around the globe annually, and the United States alone has over million coffee drinkers. Coffee is also bought and sold by investors and price speculators as a tradable commodity. According to the World Fair Trade Organization and the other three major Fair Trade organizations Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, Network of European Worldshops and European Fair Trade Association , the definition of fair trade is "a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade".

The stated goal is to offer better trading conditions to marginalized producers and workers. Fair trade organizations, along with the backing of consumers, campaign for change in the rules and practice of conventional international trade. However, not all coffee producers are happy with the methods or results. Fair Trade organizations promote a trade environment in which the coffee importer has a direct relationship with the coffee producer, excluding the middlemen.

Coffee importers provide credit to certified farmers to help them stay out of debt with coffee traders so they can develop long-lasting trade relationships. Fairtrade certification is not free; there is an application fee, initial certification fee, membership dues, annual audit fees and more.

Certification can cost thousands of Euros for a single plantation. As a result, there are plenty of small, independent farms that are not Fairtrade certified even though they meet or exceed the Fairtrade standards. Originally, coffee farming was done in the shade of trees, which provided natural habitat for many animals and insects, roughly approximating the biodiversity of a natural forest.

They also typically cultivated bananas and fruit trees as shade for the coffee trees, [28] which provided additional income and food security. However, in the s and s, during the Green Revolution , the US Agency for International Development and other groups gave eighty million dollars to plantations in Latin America for advancements to go along with the general shift to technified agriculture.

Sun cultivation involves cutting down trees, and high inputs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Environmental problems, such as deforestation , pesticide pollution , habitat destruction , soil and water degradation , are the effects of most modern coffee farms, and the biodiversity on the coffee farm and in the surrounding areas suffer. As a result, there has been a return to both traditional and new methods of growing shade-tolerant varieties.

Shade-grown coffee can often earn a premium as a more environmentally sustainable alternative to mainstream sun-grown coffee. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. You may improve this section , discuss the issue on the talk page , or create a new article , as appropriate.

January Learn how and when to remove this template message. This article relies extensively on quotations that were previously collated by an advocacy or lobbying group. Please improve this article or discuss the issue on the talk page. December Main article: Fair trade coffee. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. He notes that tribal imperia have minimal inequality, but more importantly In the manufacture of consent for its policies and practices abroad, the power have exhibited an ability to remain more or less stable, in the same ecological elite of the American Empire—the dominant corporate, military, and political environments for centuries, and in some cases millennia.

This is something that sectors—depends heavily on the arts of propaganda and public diplomacy. To no state, ancient or contemporary, has been able to achieve. Nonetheless, choose no growth as a goal. Not surprisingly given his expansion of global domination. Still, his ideas on scale designs as through armed means. America had no global propaganda system. However, the Association for cal warfare. In response, US diplomat and the information agent. The ADST is functionally and structurally elites built a global communications apparatus.

Nelson A. Rockefeller pushed the Roosevelt administration to embrace and by supplying a ready and ideologically-consistent history for diplomats to a larger role in the struggle against the Nazis, especially in checking their grow- base their present and future work upon. His expertise is international communications. He is also frank in depicting the agency as a steps towards the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Moreover, the Smith-Mundt Act, which established ideological operations as a permanent he fails in an explicit objective of his study: to substantiate his claim that, because part of US foreign policy.

Book: Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain

Largely based upon a particular reading of tarian Edward R. Murrow on board. He oversaw propaganda operations during such tense a view of the world emerged in which communications sciences were seen as a moments as Operation Mongoose, the covert program to sabotage the Castro vital weapon in political warfare. The goal of the public and private mix ties and struggled with many challenges. The agency successfully exploited the of information was to shape cultural attitudes and present the United States, triumphs of the Apollo space program to project the image of a strong America its products and services, as an attractive alternative to communism, as well as abroad.

The always-present specter of nuclear ous cultural engagement. The scandalous Nixon administration and the and exchange programs. The US responded to the Soviet threat with modernization Reagan. As in its budget and a more aggressive outlook. In put- shifted from anti-communist activities to pushing liberalization of trade policy. Terrorist organizations, such as al Qaeda, present a problem for state process of globalization and state strategy to shape that process. It was a prominent preacher of the gospels of deregulation and Dizard leaves out much of the story.

Because of these omissions, he fails to trade liberalization. The agency also pushed for the expansion of NATO, help- locate US propaganda operations within the structure of geopolitics and global ing to transform that Cold War military structure into a transnational security capitalism. The image of America a way of life. However, Dizard leaves unexplored the consequences of the fall of the Soviet Union. In unwieldy in its organization. And so, instead of theory helping to orga- the movement of capital.

Snippets of Michel Foucault, Henri Lefebvre, and David Harvey are introduced Andrew Austin and invoked from time to time even when they fail to shed light on the point the Department of Social Change and Development author is making. Apart from the fact that, austina uwgb. How do the overlapping jurisdictions of States creates unique challenges for the residents of the region. The answers are nowhere to be found in the book. Nancy E. Ethnography, after all, is supposed to help us learn for decades now?

For example, the author how the inhabitants of El Paso view theirs. But never mind. He moves adroitly from one tale to another, seeming to enjoy the word play.

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But John M. Commodity Chain.

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Examples relations of production and trade. The result is an excellent of non-local interests dominating the local look suspiciously like local elites book that argues forcefully for a return to regulated markets on social justice taking advantage of opportunities that are not available to lower-class residents and ecological grounds.

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Declining commodity prices led to the collective actions of chap. In laying the sible—and desirable. It is here that the main thesis of the book emerges: driven and buyer-driven chains. To summarize succinctly, due to the overproduction, as well as the interests of the U. As a result, there production with new, high-yield varieties ironically at the initiative of periph- are exacerbated cycles in world prices. Thus, as Stephen Bunker has argued more generally, the rules of the ICA which encouraged high levels of production to obtain quotas in characteristics of the commodity matter tremendously for the political economy the next year.

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In the end, however, Talbot explains how the U. These giant trad- Starbucks.

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Not least is that these are small repertoire of tricks. Talbot doubts that they will alter the structure of world trade. In addition, the price premium to which the TNCs have an edge. He argues for the importance of a Polanyian double country locations at bargain prices with little change in the retail price of a pound movement toward re-regulating the market. They need to engage in production controls and agree on a fair ers into feeble attempts to pressure their states to re-regulate the market.

Taking price range in a commodity with fairly stable world demand. As they gained control of the whole results in social mobilization. In fact, he takes a surprisingly benevolent view towards the tropical states and their marketing boards and export control agen- cies. See Wilma A. He realizes it is more compli- in particular. It is superior to many of the books available on globalization since cated than this but maintains that state agencies cushioned growers from price it actually shows the relationship between commodity characteristics, market swings.

It would be eminently useful in classes on world-systems, globaliza- A further criticism I have is that more could be said about questions of tion, and development at the graduate and advanced undergraduate level. And method.


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Indeed, Talbot makes excellent and consistent the deep structures of inequality inherent in global production and trade. Gellert states, e. Other compari- Institute of Asian Cultures sons are temporal e. Moreover, I wonder if Talbot in his more recent work will return to the questions of hegemonic cycles and transition raised in the opening theoretical chapter. In other words, how might the further decline of U. Finally, a timeline of key events and tipping points and a chart or two condensing the information on corporate ownership and mergers would have helped the reader to keep track of the complexities.

All in all, Grounds for Agreement makes an outstanding contribution to his- torical world-systems analysis in general and the politics of commodity chains.

Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain
Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain
Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain
Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain
Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain
Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain
Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain
Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain
Grounds for Agreement: The Political Economy of the Coffee Commodity Chain

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