The Digital Ag Revolution: Implications for Labor, Sustainability, and Growth
November 19, 2021
Anne Visser and Martin Kenney, UC Davis
Zoom Link: https://ucdavis.zoom.us/j/97597469808?pwd=ZFF5b3lpRUllRElpR0dibFFRZkxYdz09
Agriculture and the food system in the US is being drawn into the platform economy and is being transformed by digital technologies and automation. Such changes were initially concentrated in agricultural equipment and inputs but now are transforming distribution, retail and consumption in the agrifood system. These new digital technologies offer remarkable opportunities to make agriculture more sustainable and contribute to the amelioration of inequality at the local, regional, and global level. And yet, digital innovations and, in particular, the adoption of platforms risk creating further distortions and exacerbating concerning trends related to inequality in agriculture and rural labor markets. Through a review of findings across 4 ongoing studies we highlight the implications that increased automation, digitization, and platformization have in relation to on-farm operations, on farm work procedures and processes and the demand for on-farm labor and the job structure across the industry. We argue that these trends carry consequential implications for workers, labor markets, and the industry as a whole related to issues of equity and socioeconomic inequalities.