2020 Spring/Summer Award Recipients

Below are project details for our 2020 Spring/Summer Award Recipients.

Melanie Sommerville, Shirley Brooks, Tariro Kamuti, Lindokuhle Khumalo

Location: Norway (Sommerville); South Africa (Brooks, Kamuti); Norway (Khumalo)
Academic field: Human geography (Sommerville); Geography (Brooks, Kamuti); Social anthropology (Khumalo)
Award category: PhD Team

Guidance Memo

  • Title: “Game On! Understanding the Emerging Game Meat Value Chain in South Africa.”
  • Keywords: South Africa. Game industry. Large-scale farming of wild animals for human consumption.
  • What We Learned From It:
    • Expansion and intensification of game meat production in South Africa is gathering momentum. This is primarily due to efforts by the South African game industry which views expansion and formalization of the game meat value chain to be a good way forward as it faces many challenges and is at a crossroad in 2020. Among the most significant challenges are the collapse in game prices and the economic shut-downs associated with COVID-19.
    • Reasons for the changes that have led to the challenges experienced by the game sector and to an increase in game populations that needs to be dealt with are related to the following issues: Game breeding practices, farm conversions and new investment patterns, hunting norms, ecotourism, biodiversity loss, processed game products, and the emergence of community game farms through land reform.
    • An expanded game meat value chain raises serious concerns for socio-economic development and racial transformation, environmental sustainability, human health and animal welfare. And there are key gaps in the regulatory framework for game meat production. The Guidance Memo highlights these concerns and gaps. It provides six recommendations for front-line persons and policy makers who want to ensure that expansions in game meat production occur in an inclusive, sustainable, safe, and ethical manner.

Links

Some of the Things We Really Liked when We Read the Application

  • It brings an emerging, little-known issue to the radar screen of those tackling large-scale animal agriculture.
  • This application gives one a rare opportunity to see up-close and to understand the complexities of how the process of farming animal species on a large scale gets started, how it moves along from one phase to the next, what the enabling factors are. It illustrates the fact that even though certain developments are not “Breaking News”, but more “Watch This Space”, they deserve one’s attention nevertheless.
  • The applicant aims to provide practical advice and recommendations. And disseminating the Guidance Memo to communities interested in this issue is actually written into the applicant’s planned timeline.
  • It is a collaboration of academics from different countries / continents, and various levels on the academic career ladder (from PhD student, post-doc researcher, to senior scholar).

Wlodzimierz Gogloza, Radoslaw Pastuszko

Location: Poland
Academic field: Law
Award category: PhD Team

Guidance Memo

  • Title: “The impact of European Union Common Agricultural Policy on the intensification of animal farming in Bulgaria, Romania, and the countries that have signed association agreements with the EU”
  • Keywords: European Union. Bulgaria. Romania. Policy. Government subsidies. Animal welfare.
  • What We Learned From It:
    • Animal farming has intensified in Bulgaria and Romania (both are middle-income countries) in recent years. Many more animals are now reared in large farms that use intensive production practices, while the number of small farms have dwindled.
    • The Guidance Memo charts the significant shift toward intensification, and explains why its key driver is the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). CAP payments and subsidies and their unequal distribution to recipients have triggered deep structural changes in the animal agriculture sector in the EU, chief of which is the livestock industry taking advantage of the favorable climate and generous handouts to intensify production.
    • At the same time EU animal welfare regulations are not robustly enforced and not comprehensive enough to protect all farm animals. Consumers in the EU, however, are strongly in favor of better treatment of farm animals.

Links

Some of the Things We Really Liked when We Read the Application

  • Interrogating an element that plays a key role in driving the intensification of animal agriculture in an entire region of the world is of great interest to Tiny Beam Fund (which encourages the use of a holistic, systems approach and the pursuit of root causes in understanding problems). It is even more intriguing and significant when that element is embedded in the core of a region’s political system.
  • It has a very clear objective, namely, to provide evidence that “the ongoing intensification of animal farming in Europe results to a very large degree from the EU CAP”.
  • It aims to provide practical, realistic suggestions “on how to reduce the negative effects that the EU agricultural policies have on farmed animal welfare, by adopting the ‘best practices’ developed within the current CAP framework”.

Serena Stein

Location: United States and Brazil
Academic field: Anthropology
Award category: PhD Candidate
Topics to be Addressed during the Award Period

  1. The focus is on understanding four different groups of stakeholders involved with the issue of intensive beef production in Brazil. These four groups are increasingly in conflict and polarized. Moreover, it is unclear whether the claims made by each group can be substantiated, adding to the conflict and confusion. The four groups are: (i) Those in favor of industrial production of cattle. (ii) Those in favor of extensive pasture-based systems of raising cattle. (iii) Those advocating reduction in beef consumption. (iv) Those experimenting with crop-livestock intensive grazing systems under regenerative agriculture principles.
  2. The work to be done and the resulting Guidance Memo will be framed in terms of a “reality check” on the various conflicting and competing claims being made about the industrial model and alternative systems of beef production. It will look at different dimensions of these claims: Economic (e.g. cost effectiveness), environmental (e.g. GHG reduction, biodiversity conservation), political (e.g. governmental policies), social (e.g. conscientization projects) dimensions and alternatives.
  3. The goal and aim of the work is:
    • To collect the various claims by delineating the four groups, reviewing publications, interviewing 2-3 stakeholders in each group (probing “the respective groups’ positions, rationales, experiences, and actions”), then scrutinizing and interpreting the collected information objectively.
    • To explain tradeoffs and “illustrate how maximizing particular objectives can undermine others, even within the same group”.
    • To give clear recommendations and guidance on “how to reduce the harm to climate and environment caused by raising cattle in Brazil in ways that are locally-situated, practical, that accord with reality”.
    • To provide realistic approaches and “explore in-depth how simplified solutions face constraints in practice”.
    • To encourage new collaborations, pointing to “areas where front-line persons can initiate projects in partnerships with government scientists, nutritionists, media specialists, and various agencies in Brazil” because “delays and challenges are also caused by government’s lack of skilled personnel to implement policies, and not solely a lack of financial support or political will.”

Some of the Things We Really Liked when We Read the Application

  • The applicant does not “take sides”, but instead view ALL sides objectively, and put all their claims through an impartial “evidence mill” and a “reality check” process to see which assertions come through intact and which ones fall apart. This kind of judicious, independent review is a very important goal of the Burning Questions Initiative.
  • Although nonpartisan, the applicant does indicate clearly the practical implications of various positions (without advocating strongly for specific ones), how these positions hold up in real-life and what trade-offs proponents of them have to make when the rubber meets the road. And one of the applicant’s key goals is to clarify disagreements and identify tension spots among the four groups of actors so that the present polarization among them can be diffused.
  • An unusually broad mix and range of topics are addressed.