Local Politics and Global Food Systems: The Political Ecology of North Florida's Water Resources

Authors: Michael Waylen*, University of Florida
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Global Change, Environment
Keywords: First-World Political Ecology, Global Food Systems, Geographic Imaginary
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: President's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


My paper explores the politics of scale by investigating the role of transnational agribusiness firms in fomenting resource conflicts and environmental degradation. Using the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) as a case study, this paper investigates conflicts over water resources in Northcentral Florida and triangulates sources of consumptive water-use by employing a political ecology approach. My research argues local level conflicts are simultaneously “local” and “global”. Transnational agribusinesses that operate at a global level shape the political economy of rural areas through institutional mechanisms. Mechanisms such as “best management practices” that govern contained animal feeding operations and “Right to Farm” laws are utilized by transnational agribusiness firms to avoid environmental regulation and oversight. Researchers and environmental agencies agree human activity involving consumptive water-use is a contributing factor in the decline of potentiometric surface measurements and a source of pollution in the Floridan Aquifer, however, this literature overlooks the role of a globalized system of industrial protein production as a substantial source of water consumption, pollution, and local conflict. While the specifics of local level conflicts vary geographically, they are connected through a politics of scale involving global food systems and the power of transnational firms.

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