From Multifunctionality and Sustainability of Agriculture to the Social Responsibility of the Agri-food System
With regard to the agri-food system, we investigate the relationship between the concepts of multifunctionality and sustainability of agriculture and the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The latter provides a theoretical link between the views on agriculture’s multifunctionality and sustainability, and between their welfare economic and capital-theoretic foundations. It encompasses a wider range of societal concerns and actors involved. Those are environmental and socio-economic impacts of food production, processing and trade, the double role of citizens as consumers and tax payers, agri-food chain governance and the role of market power that allows downstream companies in this value chain to absorb tax money and resource rents. All these issues must be taken into account when assessing the agri-food system from a sustainable development perspective. In sum, this underlines the need of developing a broader perspective that involves concern about the social responsibilities and performance of all actors along this value chain. Building on this background, we propose the concept of CSR to complement those of multifunctionality and sustainability in order to contribute to a more enlightened debate on agricultural and food policy and its contribution to sustainable development.
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