Globalization and Louisiana: Selected Perspectives on a Complex Issue

Mark Schafer  |  6/4/2018 9:19:11 PM

Mark Schafer

This issue of Louisiana Agriculture focuses on globalization and its connection to the state, industries and people of Louisiana. Consistent with the LSU AgCenter’s mission to provide research-based educational information that serves the people of Louisiana and improves their lives and well-being, the articles in this issue provide a deeper understanding of how global processes influence our lives and well-being in multiple ways. Globalization entails much more than trade in food and fiber, but agricultural industries played a key role in the emergence of a global economy and continue to shape its transformation. For that reason, land-grant universities and agricultural research stations continue to have strong international and global programs that both understand and adapt to changing global systems and structures with powerful influences on society.

Maps like Figure 1, a hypothetical division of the world into five groups of nations, each with one-fifth of the world’s population in 2014, can encourage a more global perspective. Deep-purple represents one nation, China, and blue includes only India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The other colors represent many nations with large and small populations added together to match China.

This special issue of Louisiana Agriculture includes articles that represent only a fraction of all possible perspectives on globalization and its implications. We do not claim to be comprehensive, but we hope to provide our readers with some insights to share and discuss with others.

Definitions of globalization have evolved with new perspectives. For many, the dimensions of globalization are economic, political and cultural. Economic perspectives explore the implications of increasing global economic integration, interconnectedness and interdependence.Often, economic perspectives ask how global processes shape economic inequality and opportunity within nations. Political perspectives explore the role of governments, military alliances, trade agreements and nongovernment organizations in the global system. Cultural perspectives explore how increased and changing flows of people, ideas, technologies, goods and services shape our ideals, beliefs and values. All these more social perspectives have been re-evaluated in light of ecological perspectives aimed at increasing understanding of human interactions with other species and the environment.

Global Networks, Experienced Students, International Exchange

As the world changes, the LSU AgCenter adjusts to better understand and take advantage of new opportunities and to gain the most value for our clients. John Russin, former vice chancellor for the AgCenter and now director of the Global Network, describes the process of retooling the former Office of International Programs into this new program. A driving motivation behind the change is to seek connections that add more value for AgCenter clientele, including opportunities for international public-private partnerships.

Robert “Bobby” Soileau, director of the Agricultural Leadership Development Program, reflects on the importance of international experiences in developing Louisiana’s agricultural leaders.He shares a few selected insights and images that he and some program participants gained from their travel experiences and interactions around the world.

LSU AgCenter clientele include the students trained in the College of Agriculture who will become leaders in agricultural industries in Louisiana, nationally and globally. Leslie Blanchard, Rocio Lopez and Ivana Tregenza describe the College of Agriculture’s efforts to provide students opportunities to gain valuable international experience, as well as opportunities for visiting students and scholars to both interact with our students and both learn about and contribute to agricultural research in Louisiana.

Susan Karimiha and David Picha describe the vigorous scholar and fellow programs in international agriculture. These programs foster scholarly collaboration and cultural understanding between AgCenter personnel, visiting international scholars, officials and private sector partners from numerous countries around the world. Visiting scholars typically stay for a year or less, but the collaborations often lead to longer-term, mutually beneficial research projects and exchanges.

Aquaculture, Rice, Sugar, Forestry

Greg Lutz and Chris Green’s article examines the global aquaculture industry, the role of the United States, and some implications for Louisiana. For example, Lutz and Green note that the use of Gulf of Mexico menhaden, a small forage fish, for fish oil and fish meal in global aquaculture has potential environmental consequences because these fish are also critical to the natural ecosystem.

Michael Deliberto, Huizhen Niu and Brian Hilbun focus on the global rice industry, arguably the most important food in the world today. Their article details the position of the United States and Louisiana in the global rice trade and concludes with a discussion of policy issues affecting Louisiana rice producers that govern trade with China, Mexico and Cuba that LSU AgCenter researchers continue to monitor as they develop.

Michael Deliberto and Mark Schafer in their article explain the role of global and local temporary foreign labor markets. They discuss incentives that have led to a global temporary labor force and then describe trends in temporary labor in the United States and Louisiana, with a specific focus on Louisiana’s sugar industry.

Richard P. Vlosky, Eric Hansen and Rajat Panwar examine the global nature of forestry and the forest product industry. The authors describe changes in the industry as a result of both increased global trade and increased global environmental awareness and marketing. They discuss implications of global trends for Louisiana.

Trade Infrastructure, the Environment

Lynn Kennedy’s article explores the key role Louisiana’s ports in the world system of agricultural trade and explains why increased investment in port infrastructure may be required to ensure that Louisiana and the United States can maintain a competitive advantage in agricultural exports moving forward.

Naveen Adusumilli in his article defines three key components of sustainable agricultural systems: meeting present needs, preserving capacity for the future, and preserving natural systems. The article discusses some key ideas in more detail — increasing productivity, the importance of trade, and minimizing environmental impacts — drawing examples that are particularly relevant to Louisiana, the United States and various other parts of the world. He explains the LSU AgCenter’s critical role in promoting new ways of thinking and new practices to achieve sustainable systems and profitable enterprises.

Mark Schafer is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness.

This article appears in the spring 2018 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.

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Louisiana agriculture reaches around the world. Illustration by Ana Iverson

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Figure 1. Map of five world regions with the same population as China, in deep-purple, in 2014.

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