SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

Changes in European agricultural policy and institutions over the past two decades have been characterised as a transition from a productivist to a post-productivist framework. This account of policy change has been accused of being overly structuralist and deterministic. This article makes the case for taking a commodity-specific approach to analysing European agricultural policy reform to contribute to understanding the specificities and contingencies of agricultural productivism, the interplay between external and internal pressures which help drive the reform process and the implications of the material properties of foods in understanding regulatory change. Drawing on original interview material and other secondary sources, the article examines the recent reform of the European Union sugar regime – widely regarded as the last bastion of the highly regulated and protectionist Common Agricultural Policy. It argues that the case of sugar sheds new light on the processes through which the productivist order is being dismantled, highlighting the importance of world trade and international development concerns in shaping agricultural policy change in the EU.