chapter  2
27 Pages

Calories, tractors and ‘technical agriculture’

Manufacturing agrarian cooperation within the OEEC (1947–1954)
WithWilliam Biebuyck

The creation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 1957 is generally seen as marking the beginnings of a distinctly European regime of agricultural governance. The following chapter, while not disputing the broader sociopolitical importance of the CAP and its development, does, nonetheless, seek to disrupt many of the conventional historiographical and chronological assumptions that have been attached to this policy, notably around its formative years. Upon ‘decentring’ the CAP creation myth, this chapter makes visible a largely forgotten genealogy of European governance; a history wherein the genesis of postwar cooperation in food and agricultural matters is more accurately located in the labours of numerous international organizations and NGOs that, immediately following the end of hostilities, began the task of coordinating food aid and rehabilitating farm structures across a hungry and demoralized postwar Europe. Perhaps most important among these actors was the OEEC’s ‘Food and Agricultural Committee’ (FAC). This technical committee would provide the political visibility, expert knowledges, and programmatic concreteness that would make possible an emergent space of transnational agrarian cooperation in postwar Europe. As this chapter will explore, the focus of the FAC’s expertise and programs was concentrated on the immediate problems of improving agricultural statistics, mapping postwar hunger, and promoting ‘scientific’ agrarian practices and pedagogies. This chapter argues that the cumulative effect of such efforts presented the first substantial step towards pacifying and transnationalizing the politics of food, farms, and rural economy in postwar Europe. This chapter concludes with a discussion on how this postwar moment can be situated within the broader genealogical landscape of ‘victual power’ across modern European history.