The livestock transition, peri-urban agricultural land use and urbanization in China

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MacLachlan, Ian
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Rapid urbanization in China is embedded in a modernization process with profound implications for every aspect of its social development. Rising real incomes in urban areas have triggered a sea change in Chinese meat consumption with impacts on human health and obesity via the nutritional transition, on animal welfare and disease as China develops its livestock-handling and slaughter infrastructure, and on the environmental impact of growing numbers of food animals on the landscape. The urban transformation of both coastal China and the western interior is clearly polynuclear, creating a complex urban fringe with a lengthy interface between urban and agricultural land uses. There is enormous potential for residential-agricultural land use conflict in the dynamic rural-urban fringe within the administrative boundaries of expanding cities. Expanding cities encounter a growing peri-urban zone of large-scale intensive livestock feeding operations that are drawn to fast-growing urban markets. This exploratory paper is based on secondary source materials. The FAOSTAT database published by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations was used to provide global context. The National Household Survey of the National Bureau of Statistics of China as published in the China Statistical Yearbook is used to describe the growth of meat consumption in rural and urban areas. Meat production and livestock counts are broken out by province, SAR and shi to illustrate the rural-urban and coastal-interior dichotomies in a regionalized development process divided sharply by the Aihui-Tengchong Line. The principal achievement of this paper is the description of the magnitude and relative suddenness of China’s livestock transition as it is manifest in different regions. To show the significance of the livestock transition as a component of China’s urban transformation, the paper will conclude with an evaluation of the role of public policy on animal agriculture, the influence of the “dragon head” agribusiness companies over the livestock value-chain and the influence of the urbanization process on meat consumption and livestock production.
Urbanization in China , Livestock transition , Nutritional transition , Meat consumption , Polynuclear urban morphology , Intensive livestock feeding operations , Conference paper