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Project for an international symposium

THE FUTURE ON FARMING WORK

« Complex realities of work in agriculture: what changes for what attractiveness? »

UE Maringa (Parana, Brazil), November 2016

Preparatory Note - June 2015

Explanatory statement

According to the World Bank, agriculture is the largest employer in the world: it concerned 30 % of
the working population in 2010. Although in relative reduction (38% in 2000), the number of farm
workers is increasing because of population growth, and there are now more than a billion people
working in agriculture.

Work - capital, family work - paid work relationships, and more widely, forms of work organization
(Taylorism and subcontracting but also mutual aid and co-operation), are become crystallized around
standard models of “farming systems” combining productive ambitions, a degree of
mechanization/automation and forms of labor organization:
 « High tech » models of work productivity where the farmer and highly skilled employees
analyze and interpret information systems that are increasingly more accurate on plant and
animal productions
 Models giving priority to agro-ecology as practiced in family-run farms, sometimes with a
paid workforce and mutual aid, aimed at local food distribution channels;
 Very large-scale agribusiness models, the planning of crop rotations and technical operations
being delegated to farming work companies and agronomic engineers
 Models of subsistence community agriculture with the sale of surpluses.

These models only represent the extremes, as most farms more or less borrow from each other, but
they help thoughts about diversity.

The changes in farming systems, associated with increasingly serious environmental and food safety
challenges, and associated with the dynamics of sectors subject to demands for quality and
competitiveness, are questioning farming work and its organization. But farming work also retains a
strong social and territorial dimension: it gives everyone a place and a status; it feeds, protects and
stabilizes a rural population and strengthens a solidarity largely founded on local cultural
relationships with nature and with the “mesnage des animaux et des champs “ (the care of fields and
animals”). The economic, social and environmental functions of farming work coexist; they are
complementary but they are also experiencing difficulties.

The project for the “work in agriculture” international symposium

To capitalize our knowledge on changes in farming work, to give an account of the diversity and
dynamics of closely combined forms of organization, to reflect on the future of work by integrating
the dynamics of territories and sectors, to consider the environmental pressures exerted on the
farming sector: these are the aims of our proposal to organize an international symposium in
Maringa (Parana, Brazil) in November 2016.
This conference aims at bringing together and consolidating a wide community of researchers,
academics and advisors working in the various facets of what makes “work in farming”. The main
theme will be the cross-cutting issue of the attractiveness of professions in agriculture in today’s
world, exploring:

- employment, remuneration for work and the various statuses of “workers” in agriculture
- the conditions for carrying out a farming activity (the form of work organization, working
rhythms and pressures, health at work, professional career paths)
- accessibility (installation, education and life-long training in the various occupations,
evolution of skills…)
- the professional identities under debate within the farming world and the image of farming
occupations outside (with respect to the city, society, the vicinity and one’s own family)

Preparations for the symposium

We propose to organize this conference according to 8 theme workshops, for which an appeal for
papers (oral, poster) would be worked out and launched in October-November 2015, subject to
confirmation by the scientific council (presently being set up). These workshops will be
complemented by invited conferences, prospective round tables on changes in work, as well as by a
sequence for players and Brazilian issues open to audiences from other regions of the world. The 8
workshops would relate to:

- national policies regarding employment in agriculture


- the dynamics of farming employment in relation to changes in the sector and territories
- the individual statuses of farm workers: women, employees…
- the diverse forms of work organization and their links with the major developments of
farming models
- the innovations (technological, social, market) and farming work
- health at work
- changes in professional identities and in the occupational image,
- education, lifelong training and “work” counselling

Support

The conference benefits from the support of the State University of Maringa (Paraná, Brazil), of the
EMATER Paraná (Brazil), and of the INRA, the CIRAD and the Livestock Institute (France). This initial
list will be extended during the months to come. The search for financing will target, in addition to
institutions, private sector partners who are active in changes in work.

Contacts

JC Damasceno, S. Schiavi, M. Eligio Gonçalves (UEM) ; JC Santos Filho (EMATER)

B. Dedieu and N. Hostiou (INRA), G. Servière (Institut de l’Elevage), JF Tourrand (CIRAD, UFRGS Brazil)

Anticipated dates

8 – 11 November 2016