Enacting just food futures through the state
evidence from Brazil
Keywords:Brazil, food and agriculture, institutional procurement, (agrarian) political economy, the state
The state is an important, if sometimes overlooked, terrain of struggle for food activists. To explore the ways and extent to which just food futures can be enacted through the state, we present the experience of Brazil. We argue that activists should seek to advance food policies that have broad social appeal to weather political changes in administrations. Our argument is informed by an extensive review of scholarship on the state, corporate influence, and the possibility of promoting progressive agri-food change through the state, as well as the contradictions of doing so. Drawing on (agrarian) political economy we analyse institutional procurement as exemplifying the state’s role not only in ‘stabilizing’ and ‘growing’ the economy but also in enacting ‘redistribution’. Through our research in Brazil, we compare how the Food Acquisition Program (PAA) and the National School Meal Program (PNAE) have been impacted by the far-right’s rise to power since 2016. When mobilizing the power of institutions to change food systems by leveraging the purchasing power of the state, beyond institutionalization, food policies must be participatory and framed as collective gains for society more broadly, rather than for specific social groups. This would keep such policies from becoming the target of competing administrations, as evidenced by the Brazil case.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Ricardo Barbosa Jr, Estevan Coca
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