Appel à communication |

From Peasant Innovation to a model of Milk specialization under the Green Revolution: Twentieth Century Europe

Santiago de Compostela, December 15th 2017

MàJ : 21/02/2017

GDRI Agriculture, Approvisionnement, Alimentation

Deadline: 30 June 2017. Abstract submissions to histagra@usc.es

Organized by Lourenzo Fernández Prieto and Daniel Lanero (HISTAGRA Research Group – Universidade de Santiago de Compostela)


At the end of Second World War cattle breeding went through a deep crisis in Western Europe, caused both by war destructions and contractions in international trade that severely affected feedstuff importations. Likewise, the presence of animal products (meat, milk, eggs…) in the diet of European population was far away from prewar levels.
Cattle breeding and beef consumption began to recover at the beginning of the 50’s, coinciding with the ongoing replacement of draught animals by tractors as superior force in the European farms.


In this framework the beginning of a new model of agrarian innovation, truly different from that one prevailing during the first three decades of twenty century, took place. Its main objective was to guarantee the food supply of a growing urban population. This could partly explain the emphasis on milk specialization.


The Green Revolution forced the farms to incorporate technological innovations on a large scale: purchase of selected breed specimens with high production capacities (milk); artificial insemination; mechanical milking circuits; ensilage, etc.


It’s impossible to understand the milk specialization process of Atlantic cattle breeding without taking into account the great changes in the households required by the Green Revolution cattle breeding model: increases in the area of plots and reduction of the total number of them; an ever growing number

of stabled animals, etc. Nor without an increasing dependence on inputs from out of the farm: motorization (tractors, mechanical ensilage…); feedstuffs; refrigeration tanks; new farm buildings, like bigger stables or milking rooms; antibiotics for the fight against animal diseases, etc.


In this context agro - industry emerged as the actor which led the milk specialization process and monopolized the mediation between breeders and their markets. Public policies (rural electrification, new roads and motorways, agricultural extension services) turned into subsidiary actions of agro – industrial interests, usually represented by multinational companies.


According to the industrial rationality of intensive cattle breeding, breeders were transformed into salaried employees. Technical training policies set aside for them, were designed, in fact, to transform them in efficient actors for the running of a complex productive system.
On the other hand, scientists and technicians - as key agents for the implementation of development and modernization policies - swung in their action between mediation and imposition.


Researchers interested in presenting a paper at this conference should send an abstract and a title before 30 June 2017 to HISTAGRA (histagra@usc.es)

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Dernière modification :
18/04/2018