Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 March 2015
This paper aims to explain why South Australian agricultural land use is focused on continually increasing productivity, when the majority of produce is exported, at the long-term expense of agriculturally-based communities and the environment. A historical analysis of literature relevant to the agricultural development of South Australia is used chronologically to report aspects of the industry that continue to cause concerns in the present day. The historically dominant capitalist socio-economic system and ‘anthropocentric’ world views of farmers, politicians, and key stakeholders have resulted in detrimental social, environmental and political outcomes. Although recognition of the environmental impacts of agricultural land use has increased dramatically since the 1980s, conventional productivist, export oriented farming still dominates the South Australian landscape. A combination of market oriented initiatives and concerned producers are, however, contributing to increasing the recognition of the environmental and social outcomes of agricultural practice and it is argued here that South Australia has the opportunity to value multifunctional land use more explicitly via innovative policy.