Thomas A. Lyson

Thomas A. Lyson was Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Development Sociology at Cornell University until his death in 2006. He was the author of Civic Agriculture: Reconnecting Farm, Food, and Community.

  • Food and the Mid-Level Farm

    Food and the Mid-Level Farm

    Renewing an Agriculture of the Middle

    Thomas A. Lyson, G. W. Stevenson, and Rick Welsh

    Practitioners and scholars from a range of disciplines discuss how midsize farms can better connect with consumers, organize collectively to develop markets for their products, and promote public policies that address agriculture-of-the-middle issues.

    Agriculture in the United States today increasingly operates in two separate spheres: large, corporate-connected commodity production and distribution systems and small-scale farms that market directly to consumers. As a result, midsize family-operated farms find it increasingly difficult to find and reach markets for their products. They are too big to use the direct marketing techniques of small farms but too small to take advantage of corporate marketing and distribution systems. This crisis of the midsize farm results in a rural America with weakened municipal tax bases, job loss, and population flight. Food and the Mid-Level Farm discusses strategies for reviving an “agriculture of the middle” and creating a food system that works for midsize farms and ranches. Activists, practitioners, and scholars from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, political science, and economics, consider ways midsize farms can regain vitality by scaling up aspects of small farms' operations to connect with consumers, organizing together to develop markets for their products, developing food supply chains that preserve farmer identity and are based on fair business agreements, and promoting public policies (at international, federal, state, and community levels) that address agriculture-of-the-middle issues. Food and the Mid-Level Farm makes it clear that the demise of midsize farms and ranches is not a foregone conclusion and that the renewal of an agriculture of the middle will benefit all participants in the food system—from growers to consumers.

    • Hardcover $62.00
    • Paperback $34.00

Contributor

  • The Localization Reader

    The Localization Reader

    Adapting to the Coming Downshift

    Raymond De Young and Thomas Princen

    Readings that point the way to a peaceful, democratic, and ecologically resilient transition to an era of localization, limits, and societal opportunities.

    Energy supplies are tightening. Persistent pollutants are accumulating. Food security is declining. There is no going back to the days of reckless consumption, but there is a possibility—already being realized in communities across North America and around the world—of localizing, of living well as we learn to live well within immutable constraints. This book maps the transition to a more localized world.

    Society is shifting from the centrifugal forces of globalization (cheap and abundant raw materials and energy, intensive commercialization, concentrated economic and political power) to the centripetal forces of localization: distributed authority and leadership, sustainable use of nearby natural resources, community self-reliance and cohesion (with crucial regional, national, and international dimensions).

    This collection, offering classic texts by such writers as Wendell Berry, M. King Hubbert, and Ernst F. Schumacher, as well as new work by authors including Karen Litfin and David Hess, shows how localization—a process of affirmative social change—can enable psychologically meaningful and fulfilling lives while promoting ecological and social sustainability. Topics range from energy dynamics to philosophies of limits, from the governance of place-based communities to the discovery of positive personal engagement. Together they point the way to a transition that can be peaceful, democratic, just, and environmentally resilient.

    • Hardcover $54.00
    • Paperback $35.00