WINTER 1985 Women and Agriculture
ARTICLES 5 Women and Agriculture
Cornelia B. Flora
13 The Role of Farm Women in American History:
Areas for Additional Research Joan M. Jensen
19 A Commentary on Research on American Farmwomen
Peggy J. Ross
31 Women's Work in the U.S.: Variations by Region
40 Values and Goals of Florida Farm Women: Do They
Help the Family Farm Survive?
Christina H. Gladwin
48 Research in Progress: Case Studies of Family
Adaptation to Changing Resources and Environments
M, Suzanne Sontag and Margaret W. Bubolz
52 Science and Farm Women's Work: The Agrarian
Origins of Home Economics Extension Jane Knowles
56 Extension Systems and Modern Farmers in Developing Countries Celia Jean Weidemann
60 The Underside of Development: Agricultural Development and Women in Zambia Anita Spring and Art Hansen
BOOK REVIEWS 68 Farming Systems in the Nigerian Savanna by
David W. Norman, Emmy B. Simmons and Henry M. Hays
Mildred A. Konan
70 Women and Nutrition in Third World Countries by
Sahni Hamilton, Barry Popkin, and Deborah Spicer Meredith Smith
71 Strong Farm Women. Movie Review of Places in the
Heart, Country and The River Cornelia B. Flora
DEPARTMENTS 1 FROM THE EDITOR
73 BOOKS RECEIVED
74 IN THE FIELD
Editor Assistant Editor Managing Editor
Richard Haynes Jan Elliott Vyvyan Wensley
Guest Editor Editorial Assistants
Cornelia Flora Sidney Jones Rodney White
Lawrence Busch Frederick Buttel J. Baird Callicott
Sociology Rural Sociology Philosoophy
University of Kentucky Cornell University University of Wisconsin
Stanley Curtis Cornelia Flora
Animal Science Sociology Don Hadwiger
University of Illinois Kansas State University Political Science
lowa State University
Richard Hare Richard Kirkendall
Philosophy History H.O. Kunkel
University of Florida Iowa State University Dean, College of Agriculture
Texas A&M University
R.S. Loomis Russell Nye
Agronomy & Range Science American Studies John Perkins
University of California University of South Florida Biology & History of Science
Davis Evergreen State College
Leo Polopolus Entomology Bill Stout
Agricultural Economics North Carolina State University Agricultural Engineering
University of Florida Texas A&M University
Theodore E. Downing Biology
Anthropology University of Michigan
University of Arizona
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
HUMANITIES AND AGRICULTURE STAFF
AFRICAN STUDIES: R. Hunt Davis, Jr., Della FLORIDA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE: INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS: James Jces. HMcMillan. William Summerhill, Clifton Taylor. Popenoe.
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION EDUCATION: Robert FOOD SCIENCE & HUMAN NUTRITION: Robert LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES: Maria nne Schink Hessels. Bates, James Dinning.
PHILOSOPHY: Thomas Auxter, Rtobert Baum, Rcer AGRONOMY: Ken Buhr, David Knauft, Frank FOOD & RSOURCE ECONOMICS: Roy Carriker, Paden. Gardner. Evan Drummond, Robert Emerson, Christina Gladwin, Peter Hildebrand, Clyde Kiker, Max Langham, POLITICAL SCIENCE: Walter Rosenbaum. Stee ANIMAL SCIENCES: Timothy Olson. Gary Lynne, W.W. McPherson. Sanderson.
ANTHROPOLOGY: Paul Doughty, Brian Dutoit, Art HISTORY: Fred Blakey, Merlin Cox, Ralph Peek, SOIL SCIENCES: Gera!d Kidder. Hansen, Paul Magnarella, Anita Spring. George Pozzetta, Sam Proctor.
VETERINARY MEDICINE: Wyland Cripe.
ENGLISH: Rosalie Baum, Carl Bredahl. HORTICULTURE: Michael Lazin.
ENTOMOLOGY AND NEMATOLOGY: John R. Strayer.
From the Editor
Starting with the current issue, Volume I,, One of the journal's Editorial Advisors, CorNumber 1, Agriculture and Human Values is nelia Flora, has joined the editor in co-editing
adopting a new format and publishing policy, the current special issue on Women and AgWith support from the W.K. Kellogg riculture. She has played a major role in selFoundation for a second year of publication ecting contributors and editing manuscripts. and distribution, we are expanding the size, She has also contributed the lead article as and changing the format to include a greater well as a film review. And she has co-authored proportion of substantive articles to the major portion of what follows, though she
pedagogical materials. During its second is not responsible for the laudatory remarks
year we shall refer to our publication as a made by the editor about her excellent lead "journal/newsletter". We continue to invite article. In her lead article she develops an histhe submission of manuscripts on a broad torical and international context for underrange of topics relating to the main theme of standing the linkages between the seasonal the journal. Papers should be addressed to a labor demands of agricultural production and general academic readership, while the organization of different modes of producmaintaining high standards of scholarship. It tion that attempt to satisfy those demands. Her will be our policy to acknowledge manuscripts article makes clear not only how traditional sexupon receipt and attempt to provide reviewer ual divisions of labor have given women an oftevaluations within three months from date of en unrecognized and immensely significant role receipt if the paper is thought to have in agriculture, but also how both planned and
publication potential. Although the final unplanned changes in the structure of
decision to accept a paper for publication rests agriculture have shifted power away from in the hands of the editor, assessments by women without diminishing the significance referees within the author's discipline and of their role. The inadequately recognized from related disciplines, as well as from the significance of what farm women do in terms Editorial Advisors, will be paramount. It shall of their productive work on and off the farm is also be our policy to pass on suggestions from the theme that unifies the various studies in the reviewers about how manuscripts of merit this volume. The studies cross spatial, may be improved for resubmission. We temporal, and disciplinary boundaries. The
continue to invite reviews of relevant books, papers by Jensen, Ross, Sachs, Gladwin, short discussion papers, and letters to the Sontag and Bubolz, and Knowles focus on editor, as well as announcements, post-colonial U.S. farm women and on
We shall continue to issue calls for papers on research about the significance of their roles. special topics and announce deadlines for As Flora's article shows, however, even
their receipt, though we reserve the right to though technology has reduced some of "the depart from announced publication schedules, lumpiness of labor use in modern agriculture" In the previous number we invited papers for and, in the U.S., contributed to thereduction of the Spring, 1985 issue on the special theme many of the natural risks of production, inter"Ethnic Groups and Agriculture in the U.S." national linkages in the market have and for the Fall, 1985 special issue on "Values increased the economic risks of farming. The and Ethics in the Agricultural Curriculum: role of national agriculture and home Past, Present, and Future." The tentative economics extension policies in fostering these
deadlines for summer and fall issues are, international linkages is suggested by
respectively, July 15 and August 15. -Read- Knowles's paper, and directly applied by ers are invited to suggest topics for special Weidemann to third world countries. The theme issues in the future, or to submit paper by Knowles describing the emergence of
manuscripts that are sequent to those already the Home Economics Extension Service sets
publihed.the stage for Weidemann's critique of its
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
uncritical and often ethnocentric transference contradictions of self versus family for farm to Third World countries. The paper by Spring women have yet to emerge in many rural areas and Hansen, then, consider the types of of this country. They are likely to become more
regressive changes that rural African women salient if family ownership becomes less and experience under misconceived development less a reality in the agricultural
projects. production process.
In the past, as Jensen argues, women have Ross's 0 extensive review of the research on
been given the charge of guarding and trans. women s participation in farming, mitting the values of farming as a way of life, particularly regarding labor and managethrough their work in churches, schools, and ment, demonstrates the diversity of women's farm organizations. Women's activities as activities within the context of varying
reproducers of this value system have been a farming systems and production processes. major key in keeping alive the agrarian Her paPer also points to the difficulty of
tradition in the United States, a tradition measuring women's on-farm activity and
which has defended farming as a way of life generalizing from it, But she succeeds in and which has helped put into practice policies identifying many of the inputs women provide that have made farming profitable as a way of that contribute to'the continuance of family making a living for at least some farmers. farms and agricultural production. These
Jensen's brief overview of the historical include, in particular, on-farm labor and data and lacunae on farm women draws management and off-farm work that provides
attention to the important role that farm important capital.
women have played as value articulators in Sachs's article looks at the importance of
the translation of farm values into public womenve participation in maintaining the
policy. She also argues for the need to develop family farm as the mythical backbone of a fuller understanding of women's past roles American democracy. The family farm and the mechanisms through which they represents free enterprise at its primitive best,
fulfilled them. For example, scholars have with the independence of the productive unit
given increased attention to the role of insured. There are no bosses in the family
womerips support networks in the past, and farm context, except, of course, men who are in
these networks, Jensen suggests, should be charge of women. Women's labor, Sachs
seen as farm support networks as well. Thus shows, is the key to the survival of the family
farm women may be seen as having both a farm. Sachs also argues that historically
community and a family orientation, and the women played a crucial role in other forms of
values they introduced through their farm agricultural production, especially in the
organizations might be viewed as antithetical South and the West. They had a crucial role in to the corporate individualism of the farm. An providing land, though they seldom had alternative perspective would be to view the control over it, and they furnished labor both move to community outside the family as unpaid family laborers and as hired hands.
through activity in church and school simply This is particularly true in the case of southern as a widening of the "we-they" notion that plantation agriculture when it shifted to
characterizes farm family solidarity. To tenant agriculture, and in the West, where
choose between these views, much more mechanization of farm work ironically led to a
research is needed about the content and greater use of women in the fields as hired
practice of women's farm organizations and hands. This is partly due to the cyclical nature
their implications for the structure of of this type of farm work, and to the seasonal
agriculture and the emergent values availability of women, who have been
represented, considered housewives other times of the year.
Jensen's article introduces a motif that is Sachs's overview of the major U.S. replicated in all the research that deals with agricultural types and of their different farm women: hard work. Hard work is highly implications for women's participation draws
valued by farm women and it is applied in all attention to the universality of the importance of their activities in their work on the farm of women's productive work on the farm. In in production, in raising their children, in contrast to the glorification of their keeping their homes together, and in their reproductive work, there is almost a universal
community woA. As an altruistic lack of knowledge about and recognition of
commitment, it stands in implicit conflict with their productive work. a concern for the legal rights of farm women Gladwin's important study of Florida farm
instead of a concern for the family farm. The women strongly suggests that women them.
From the Editor
selves value what they do, but that they value sacrifice, there is, indeed, a question whether it in terms of their belief about the value of these values will survive as larger structural farming as a way of life. The women that changes alter the possibilities of maintaining
Gladwin studied see themselves making the family farm enterprise.
contributions through a variety of activities The research in progress reported by Sontag primarily, if not exlusively, to family well- and Bubolz exemplifies the importance of being rather than to individual self-realization attending 'to the role of men, women, and or self-advan cement. Those who were children in the family in the task of
interviewed view their activities as difficult maintaining the family farm under the and their contributions to the family conditions that prevail in the small, part-time
enterprise as requiring hard work and farming sector. Their case study shows that
sacrifice, and it is precisely these features of farming ventures that fall within this evertheir work that make it worthwhile. These increasing category in the U.S. are highly
women d emonstrate a strong commitment to dependent on the intrahousehold aspects of
the family enterprise, in the values farm development, as well as on the developthey perpetuate, in the policies they demand, ment of sustainable, integrated farming and in the hard work they do on and off the systems, and that the role of women and farm in order to maintain that farm as a viable children in such systems continues to be enterprise. crucial..
Belief in the value of hard work is a common Knowles, in her paper, points out the feature of the women interviewed,, for these important function that the reproductive role women seem to share the belief that it is hard of the farm woman served in the Country Li.fe work that makes the difference between success Commission's recommendation for creating a and failure, and that it is hard work that gives Home Economics Extension Service. Since the merit to those who do succeed. These women Commission was concerned with maintaining
maintain that those who work hard and a strong rural population, their focus on the
sacrifice will make it, and imply, thereby, that value of women as producers was minimal. those who don't make it deserve little The Commission was motivated by a general
sympathy. Such an attitude assumes that the concern with the decline of rural values, and
reason why some farmers fail is that they do thus, Home Economics Extension, when it not work hard, or were not good managers, or evolved historically, served to emphasize the engaged in too much consumption activity reproductive values and give them higher
rather than savings activity. This hard work visibility through the introduction of ideology that many farm women share may "scientific" technology into the home-making
account for some of the 'lack of solidarity that process, just as Catharine Beecher's books on has emerged in the current' farmn crisis: domestic economy for the daughters of the somehow it is your fault if you fail as a farm urban middle class made their reproductive family to maintain your farm. work more visible.
The women interviewed by Gladwin also Through the growth and development of
stress the importance of the entire family Home Economics Extension, modernization
working together toward a single goal, while was used to support agrarianism. Women as they attempt a variety of collective survival value reproducers needed to be happy in their strategies. In addition to hard work and role as reproducers and home-makers in the
creativity, the women also express a countryside if the countryside was to maintain
continuing commitment to the time-honored itself as it had existed at the beginning of the
belief that it is the role and duty of the farm American nation. wife to reduce consumption so that money can To focus on women's reproductive roles, in
be saved for investment. Consequently, their terms both of their home-making skills and in productive and reproductive activities are terms of the values they shared with their
oriented to the task of building the farm. A children and the skills they transferred, made corollary belief is that farmers with selfish sense in the political and technological wives do not succeed. The belief that women context of that time. Home Economics should be altruistic workers providing labor Extension in its early years helped to bring the and capital to the family for its better- great technological advances in the
ment is very strong among the women mechanization of women's home-making interviewed, and they do, thereby, seek to work into rural areas. However, it did ignore
maintain their class as a petite bourgeoisie. women's farm work and thus undervalued While they are the articulators of the family their productive role. As a result, as farm values of hard work, familiness, and self- Weidemann points out, the transfer of Home
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
Economics Extension overseas in the approach in the creation and delivery of
development era of the last three and a half knowledge could enable it, Weidemann
decades meant that what might have made argues, to readjust quickly in its response to
cultural sense at one,;historical I time and place specific settings. To make this adjustment, often makes little sense in other points of time however, Home Economics Extension, in and space. providing a women-oriented extension service,
Weidemann describes the cultural based must take into account both the productive
nature of Home Economics that is a and reproductive roles of women, and serve
consequence of its particular development in to help women better integrate them in their
the United States. A male agricultural -activities.
extension service, when transferred overseas, Spring and Hansen also point out the
has cultural and value underpinnings that has problems of transferring colonial mindsets to
made the content of training and technical developing country settings. They claim, as
expertise inappropriate or ineffective under did Weidemann, that these mindsets can be
conditions in developing countries. To an even particularly detrimental to women. Land, for greater extent Home Economics Extension, example, is a crucial factor of production. The
which was aimed primarily at women, has had colonial bias in assigning private ownership
problems in developing countries in of land deprived women of access to it.
responding to the actual activities of women in These authors also argue that not only is rural settings. Home Economics, both this a problem of justice, i.e., women are
domestically and overseas, has traditionally deprived of the basic means they needed to
ignored farm women's production work produce what they always have produced in
because it has had an implicit commitment to society, but it also has dire societal
certain cultural norms about the proper role of consequences. They maintain that similar women. Its development in the United States assumptions about women's production roles
occurred at a time when there was a strong exist both in the U.S. and abroad, that is, that
subscription to the belief that men should take women produce primarily for home use and care of women in terms of providing the means only sell the surplus, while men produce for the necessary for supporting the household. market. However, women have always been
According to these norms, women should be highly integrated into the market economy in
encouraged to stay at home in order to inspire many parts of Africa, and thus both their role men to go out and do the work necessary for in the market economy and home use
the household support. These norms may have production make it important to take women's
served some function during a time in the agricultural activities into account, if
United States when the sex ratio was heavily development programs are to succeed in
male-biased. In developing countries, maintaining or improving aggregate food
however, where sex ratios in rural areas are production. These authors also argue that
often skewed toward females, male temporary policies which help small holders thereby help
migration is therule rather than the exception, women, and vice versa. Similar to
and women' have traditionally been the Weidemann's call for programs that recognize
producers of food. To be effective in these women's multiple roles, they argue that
contexts, Home Economics Extension must policies should address both the production
meet women's production needs as well. and the reproductive work of farm women.
Home Economics Extension, Weidemann The books and movies reviewed in this issue
argues, has the ability to be more flexible than attempt to show the importance of women in most of the other institutions that North the food chain, both in terms of production and
Americans transfer overseas. Because the symbolically. They demonstrate an
tools of Home Economics have a direct increasing symbolic awareness of farm
cultural origin, and because Home Economics women worldwide, both in their roles as
is a holistic science, its utilization of a systems producers and as consumers.
Cornelia B. Flora
Richard P. Haynes
Women and Agriculture
Cornelia B. Flora
CORNELIA BUTLER FLORA is Professor of Sociology,
Anthropology, and Social Work at Kansas State
University. She has published extensively in the
areas of women and development and farming
systems research. She currently Program Leader
of the Kansas State University Farming Systems
Agriculture is an enterprise that often engages even highly ind ustrialized, capital intensive resources from all family members. These agriculture.
resources include land, labor, and capital. Mann and Dickinson have identified a
Agriculture is unique in the way it combines major characteristic that distinguishes the factors of production and, thus, unique in agricultural production from industrial the kind of commitment demanded from production: the disjuncture between
family members when they are the sources of production time and labor time .2 In
these factors. The role of women in agriculture agricultural production, the rhythm of biologi- just as the role of men in agriculture can cal processes determines the time it takes to go best be understood through analysis of the from sowing to harvest for crops, or from
relationships of each household member to insemination to birth to market for animals.
land through ownership or use right; to labor Thus labor time, when labor is actually through provision of labor at key times and for applied to the production of crops and livekey elements in the production cycle; and to stock, is less than production time, which capital, in terms of both the mobilization of includes the growth process. Further, labor inputs and the allocation of the surplus time is organized differently in agriculture
produced. It is also important to consider how than in other types of production, in that farm family members relate to each other and to operations take place sequentially rather than
other production units in providing or simultaneoUSly.3 This sequential process has
exchanging these factors of production over a biological base, since with any given crop it
time. is impossible to reap at the same time one
Unlike other types of production, agriculture sows. Thus, all the factors of production must involves rhythms and risks which influence be mobilized with special attention to the
these relationships. This is particularly limiting aspects of sequential and irregular
helpful in understanding family-based production cycles, as well as with an eye to the
farming, where the unit of production the risks involved due to dependence on nature,
agricultural enterprise is coterminous with which limits predictability through variations the unit of reproduction the farm household. in rainfall, temperature, and pests.' These considerations also prove helpful when In the United States and Canada, family
examining other ways of organizing labor has been particularly important in the
agricultural production, including plantation northern and central parts of the country. The agriculture, hacienda-type agriculture, and availability of slaves in the South and migrant
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
labor in parts of the West were two systems for inputs, also was shared and produced within labor provision that attempted to overcome the family or tribal unit. And labor, although
the discontinuities between production time highly differentiated by age and sex, was and labor time. In other parts of the country, organized in multiple stock, crop, and craft particularly the north and the central regions, activity. In such situations, the intrafamilial the family farm, with the crucial but hidden division of resources involved multiple work of women and children, filled in during enterprises and multiple production units.
times of peak labor demand. Further, before Some crops were his, some were hers, some large mechanization and the relative were theirs, and others may have belonged to
enterprise specialization that accompanied it, the larger community. Intricate exchange family labor was crucial not only in producing relationships and hierarchies emerged, and for market but also in producing for women and children were often the resources
subsistence, allowing for cash savings -on which male hierarchies were based.5
through provision of food and agricultural The formations and strategies that
inputs such as draught power. Such activities developed in different areas were highly also provided a separate income for women, diversified. Nevertheless, certain regularities
the proverbial egg and milk money. can be distinguished in peasant agriculture.
Technology has to a degree overcome some of Everyone worked in agricultural production, the lumpiness of labor use in modern young and old, men and women, boys and
agriculture, in such enterprises as dairying, girls. But there was substantial division of hog raising and poultry production. Yet even labor by sex and by age. What men did in one in these enterprises, family labor is a crucial culture, women might do in another. Men and element for survival for small and middle- women's work was highly complementary
sized producers. There is a definite payoff to that is to say, each depended on the work of the the family in terms of solidarity and other in order to complete their agricultural
commitment to the family and its enterprise. endeavors. For example, men might clear the There is a cost in terms of the individual land and plow, while women selected the seed sacrificing their interests for the sake of the and planted. Women and children would weed, group. In the North American context, and all would participate in the harvest, with
technology and government programs have the men reaping and the women threshing and
attempted to reduce the natural risks of winnowing. If one's husband was derelict in
production. The current farm crisis, however, his agricultural activities, other men suggests that the economic risks of asset (brothers, uncles or cousins) might be counted
devaluation, high real interest rates, a strong on to fill in.
U.S. dollar reducing the competitiveness of Men's activities, particularly those related
U.S. farm products on the world market, and a to livestock production, often contributed more reduced effective world demand due to a debt directly to status than did women's activities, crisis in the Third World have more impact on yet women's agricultural and reproductive the welfare of farm families and are more work, which were highly intertwined, were not
difficult to overcome than risk due to nature. devalued. Separate male and female cultures gave parallel systems of status, as well as
separate enterprises, which allowed for
Some crops were his, some were hers, some reduction of risk and rationalization of
were theirs, and others ma have belonged to resource use over the agricultural cycle.
y The linkage of peasant agricultural systems
the larger community. Intricate relationships to larger economic systems disrupt d the
and hierarchies emerged, and women and sexual complementarity of labor. Access to the
children were often the resources on which factors of production by sex, which previously
male hierarchies were based. allowed both men and women to control or use
land, labor, and capital, was altered, giving
men dominance over all the resources, when
In most situations of precapitalist the control was not entirely removed from the
agriculture, family and communal native peoples.
organization, labor, and capital worked The manner of linkage to larger economic
together to reduce the risk inherent in systems varied. In some settings, the linkage
agricultural production. Land was rotated or was through the trade of agricultural products shared through use right rather than formal to other areas. For example, in much of Central individual ownership. Capital, in the form of Africa, precolonial agricultural production contributed to a highly developed land- and
Flora: Women and Agriculture
sea-based trading system. Colonial to mines and plantations by the wages offered
penetration established linkages to export raw and pushed by the need for cash to pay the materials to the "mother" country. The raw newly instituted cash taxes imposed by the
materials were of two basic kinds mineral colonial powers. Examples of such and agricultural. In both cases, linkages did motivational tax structures were present in not mean simply that traditional mineral or both Africa and Latin America. In Guatemala, agricultural crops were traded by the vagrancy laws requiring forced labor or cash
indigenous population. Often colonial powers payment of fines were instituted to get Indian imposed new forms of production on mining men to work in the banana plantations.6 The
and agriculture. Those new forms influenced British protectorate of Bechuanaland (now the traditional peasant farming systems by Botswana) introduced a poll tax at the turn of
disrupting first the relationship of the family the twentieth century, to be paid in cash, to labor and then to land. These new linkages requiring that young men seek work in neighand the demands they made on the family boring countries, either as farm or mine labor.
production system placed ever-greater This institutionalized expatriate male labor,
burdens on female producers, while at the and left women even more firmly in charge of
same time women had less access to the agricultural production, although older men
resources necessary to successfully carry out kept control of cattle, the principal form of their responsibilities. wealth in a society where most land is still
Most of the credit and extension services established by colonial powers and later by national governments assumed that men were the primary agricultural producers.
In both Africa and Latin America, mineral These two kinds of linkages of farm
extraction was a major motivating force for households to larger markets, through the sale colonial penetration. Myths of rich mines and or expropriation of labor for both mineral and vast wealth spurred the search for minerals, a plantation agricultural production, used search that often was successful in locating primarily male labor and upset the traditional underground lodes. Extraction of those complementarity of agricultural production.
deposits required labor lots of it. Most of the male migration was temporary,
In addition to the export of minerals, with the men returning from time to time with
agricultural products were exported early. their cash wages. In such situations, the
New crops were introduced to increase the provision of cash afforded greater status than
wealth of the colonial power. Many of these the provision of food. Incipient sex inequality crops were raised under the conditions of was increased. Women's ability to produce
plantation agriculture. Sugar was the first food was severely modified by 1) the lack of plantation crop, forming a firm point in the available male laborto perform the traditional Triangular Trade route for Caribbean sugar male tasks, 2) the fact that males often
cane. Bananas are a later plantation crop, retained decision-making power over the
.which shares many similarities with sugar in utilization of capital, making investment in its demand for labor, although that demand is food production extremely difficult, and 3) the much less seasonal. While sugar competed for lack of resources and technology aimed at the the best, most central lands, banana special conditions of female farmers. Most of
plantations often were located in marginal, the credit and extension services established sometimes malarial, lowland areas. by colonial powers and later by national
Local labor, slave and free, was sought for governments assumed that men were the both the mines and the plantations. For sugar primary agricultural producers.8 and bananas (but not for cotton), males were Plantation agriculture was particularly
recruited as labor. By using only adult men, detrimental for women through its disruption the costs of reproducing the labor force were of the family as an agricultural production borne by the sending populations, the unit. Plantation agriculture recruited
subsistence agriculture sector. Women were exclusively males, and often for longer periods
left by default to provide for the reproductive than did mining work. Indeed, sugar- and necessaries of the labor force, including the banana-based plantation agriculture in"Latin production of food through subsistence America utilized primarily males, often
agriculture. The more mobile men were pulled African slave labor, in contrast to the North
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
Hacienda agriculture involved appropriation of the land by the colonial power, who
Plantation agriculture was particularly detri- then deeded it to those who had provided the mental for women through its disruption of the crown with enough wealth or conquest to
family as an agricultural production unit, justify their new landed status. The
indigenous people on the land were part of the
package in the encomienda system that
paralleled the land granted by the crown. The
American plantation system, which was peasants, now bound to the land by complex
cotton based and which recruited kidnapped systems of legal and debt peonage, provided males and females from different parts of labor and received the use of a parcel of land
Africa in order to reproduce its own labor force, for their own subsistence production, In plantation areas, the tradition of following after the feudal land and labor
permanent female-headed (de lure) households relationships in Europe in the sixteenth emerged much earlier than in other parts of century. Hacienda agriculture was much more the world, where with more temporary male self-contained than plantation agriculture, migration, temporary female-headed with little market orientation. Both male and
households (de facto) wqre more common. In female labor was used, often extremely cruelly.
the African and Latin American circum- However, the labor and land relationships
stances of high male participation in meant that the complementarity of male and
plantation agriculture, women often had to female agricultural labor, both for the leave agriculture entirely, and took on roles as hacienda and in the subsistence plots, was not traders and craftspersons, since they lacked challenged. Women were crucial in production
access to land and capital, as well as the for both the hacendado and the family.9
crucal ompemetarymal laor.In all these systems of agricultural
Other production systems utilized family production, peasant, female subsistence,
labor to produce crops that provided the hacienda, and family farm, there was a
economic link to the colonial powers. In some flexibility that allowed for the family to areas, such as Costa Rica and Colombia in reproduce itself in times of economic crisis. In Latin America and Ghana in Africa, small all these situations, the family had access to
producers kept control of their land, but the land, whether owned or not, to produce the changed its use from food crops for home or food necessary when wage work was not to be local consumption to cash crops for export. A had or when international markets declined.
market-based, family-farm agriculture was created. Land relationships became
formalized under the liberal reform The ragmnsi l h ikdarclua
movements of the late nineteenth and early earngm tsialthlnkdgictul
twentieth century, family use rights to land production systems were exploitative and disadwere changed to male property rights. Men vantaged women, butdidprovidefora variety of were generally firmly in control of cash crop family. survival strategies, as access to subproduction and the income it generated, in sis tence production remained for all but a
part because the colonial buying agents who
helped introduce the crops held the male- minority of the plantation workers.
dominant assumptions based on the Victorian
ideal of womanhood. It never occurred to them The arrangements in all the linked agriculthat women were farmers, engaging in both tural production systems were exploitative family-based and individual agricultural and disadvantaged women, but did provide for
production enterprises. Men were the a variety of family survival strategies, as
recipients of the skill and inputs necessary to access to subsistance production remained for produce coffee and cacao, the two export crops all but a minority of the plantation workers.
for which there are few, if any, economies of At the same time that raw materials were scale (and for which there are several dis- being exported to the colonial powers, which, economies of scale, because of the relatively even after political independence retained intensive care required by these tree crops). economic hegemony in their previous Those crops, newly introduced in many areas, colonies, manufactured goods were exported became male-owned crops, although family from the central, industrialized countries to
labor, as well as seasonal wage labor, was their former colonies and new client states.
necessary to produce them. Men and women, The markets were never large, as skewed
boys and girls, all were active in harvesting income distribution reduced the purchasing activities. power of the vast majority of the populations.
Flora: Women and Agriculture
But the traditional elite and the small but employment envisioned was urban
growing middle-class groups imported employment for males.
consumer goods, from perfume to tooth '- The strategy that developed from this
paste and shoes, as well as capital goods from reasoning is often referred to as import the industrialized nations. When the world substitution industrialization. This means economic situation was sound and the export that a nation will produce domestically items crops were selling well, they could import lots that it previously imported. To carry out such a of consumer goods. When the economic strategy requires a reorganization of capital,
situation was bad, -and prices for their export land, and labor relations, under the aegis of a products were low, the elites simply cut back strong state. Import substitution strategies on consumption. The agricultural workers in involved collaboration between both private such times devoted more of their labor -to and public sectors to carry out this
subsistence crops, if only in exhange for reorganization.
services rendered, a share of the crop, or a cash In order to substitute national products for rent (the least common way for peasant imported products, factories had to be built.
producers to gain access to land in the first This required capital equipment, which had to half of the 20th century). Thus, the depression be acquired in the international market, using of the 1930s, while definitely felt in the foreign exchange generally U.S. dollars.
developing countries of the world, had a This required loans, either to private
muffled impact compared to that in the industrial groups or to governments, which
industrialized countries. A large part of the would then subsidize the factories. But even if economy was not linked to international the factories were successful in replacing
markets and could maintains itself. And sub- foreign goods (and the state ensured that they sistence agriculture was an ever-present would be, by enacting strong tariff barriers to
alternative, even in areas of highly concen- manufactured products), the loans could not trated land ownership. Women's access to the be repaid through profits from domestic sales.
factors of production and their share in them, Those sales were in local currency, while not great, increased in times of crisis and unacceptable in the international market was crucial for family survival among peasant place. In order to repay the loans, foreign and semi-proletarianized workers workers exchange must be generated and the only that had small plots for agricultural sources were the traditional export sectors
production worked for wages at irregular minerals and agriculture. Agriculture, in
interval's in response to the agricultural cycle particular, became the source of investment in export crops. capital in much of Latin America and Asia,
although in oil-rich countries, petroleum
exports could be the dominant source of
Women's access to the factors of production and foreign exchange. their share in them, while not great, increased in Reorganization of the urban-based economy times of crisis and was crucial for family sur- thus required reorganization of the ruraluiba amng pasat an sei-prletrianzed based economy. Land, capital, and labor in viva amng easnt nd smi-ro etaianzed agriculture had to become more productive. workers ... The old ways of production, particularly the
extensive hacienda system that encompassed
After the second World War, the nationalism much of the flat arable land, had to shift to
that led to political independence began to intensive production systems. But such a shift address issues of economic independence as also required capital investment, as well as well. In Africa and parts of Asia, the two different labor relations. At first the movements tended to coincide, while in Latin traditional rural elites were hesitant to America, political independence movements change, seeing no reason to risk their secure
preceded economic independence by as much economic and social position by entering the
as 200 years. The move for economic world market. Their strategy, which had
independence sought first to attack the major 'served them for hundreds of years, was that of symbols of dependency the importation of low capital and management investment, manufactured consumer goods. Why, it was with multiple enterprises reducing risk.
reasoned, should we not produce these articles, Further, through relative self-sufficiency, risk
in our own country? We would not then be was limited to environmental factors.
sending scarce foreign exchange abroad and Thus modernizing elites, particularly in
we would be creating alternatives to much of Latin America, instituted a tactic to
agricultural employment at home. The force the traditional agricultural landlords to
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
land in outlying areas, often isolated and
Thus modernizing elites, particularly in much of hostile with little infrastructure and fragile Latin America, instituted a tactic to force the soils. Women in the peasant agricultural
traditional agricultural landlords to become systems in the colonization areas often lost the
more efficient. It was called land reform, and its female support groups that they had in their goal was increased agricultural efficiency, traditional villages. Because of the lack of
rahrthan increased agricultural equity. community organization, women often joined
r~t herwith the nmen in field work, which had previously been for men alone. In addition,
women had their traditional work to do, both
become more efficient. It was called land agricultural and household. And because the
reform, and its goal was increased agricultural agricultural system was radically different, efficiency,rather than increased agricultural these peasant women were unable to use the equity.'0 Either use the land to produce what it skills they had acquired from their mothers in is capable of, the new land reforms read, or seed selection, soil preparation, and food your land will be given to those who will use it preservation. When such knowledge was made to produce to capacity, paid for at the rate available through government and which it is evaluated, by your own declaration, international colonization programs, it was
for tax, purposes. Naturally, such low made available to the men.
compensation was unacceptable, and radical The shift to export agriculture meant that
changes in land use began to occur among land was used more intensively than ever
landowners with extensive property holdings. before. No longer could small plots be ceded to
Land reform gained a veneer of equity peasant families for their own subsistence
because that same historical period that of production. The risk-reducing strategy if the the 1960s was a period of heightened hacienda involved mixed crop and livestock
peasant organization and protest. In Latin systems with a relatively small gap between America, the success of the Cuban revolution total production time and total labor time, if in 1959 underlined the dangers of ignoring peasant plots were also counted as part of the inequality. In particular, the United States production system. Export crops tended to be saw its interests threatened by peasant unrest planted in monoculture, requiring large labor and potential revolution, so the forces of inputs at key junctures, with a lot of time when international development were put behind production required no labor skill at all. It was
the land reform effort. difficult to shift the year-round hacienda labor
At the end of two decades of land reform, force into a seasonal agricultural labor force,
agricultural land in most Latin American although it did occur with one of the new
countries remains as concentrated as it was in export crops, cotton. Instead, peasants 1960.1" Few peasants now own land. The land previously involved in their own production reform decades did not reduce the push factor systems and in hacienda production migrated causing migration to urban areas. Those years to urban areas. Large farms increased their were periods of high rural urban migration, as capital intensivity and their need for peasants left sharecropping situations for foreign exchange by mechanizin -g. Often potential employment in urban industries. But government policy reinforced this trend by despite heavy investment, relatively few jobs subsidizing the agricultural inputs for export were created, and the biggest increase in agriculture, while ignoring the capital
urban employment was in the informal sector, requirements for food production. In many the sector of the economy where formal, countries in both Africa and Latin America,
contractual employee-employer relations do total agricultural production rose at the same not exist, where few statistics enumerate labor time food production fell and food imports force activity, and where relatively little increased. While there was worldwide capital is expended per hour of labor time, inflation and a strong world economy, no one Informal sector employment was dominated was particularly troubled by these developby women, often female heads of household, ments, although they heralded another major
whose access to the factors of production were shift in women's role in agriculture.
further decreased by formalized land The advent of capital intensive export
relationships, which, when land was titled to agriculture created a rural labor force totally peasants, was titled in the name of the man dependent on sale of its labor. Because many only. Further, the land that was deeded to peasants lost their use right to land, as a peasants was not thL- productive, centrally strategy of major landowners to make sure located land they coveted, but newly opened peasants had no claim on the land in case land
Flora: Women and Agriculture
reform was really taken seriously, a relatively for the rural proletariat and peasants, as it large rural labor force was available, forcing increased for women in the upper rural classes, wages down, except for peak harvest periods. who tended to be removed entirely from Women and men increasingly sold their labor agricultural production. In other areas, it left
for the same tasks, including the harvesting of women in charge of subsistence production,
coffee (a traditional source of temporary rural with less access to land, labor, and capital.
employment for women in peasant families) With continued economic expansion,
and cotton and for weeding and other families were able to maintain themselves,
cultivation tasks in row crops. Women again often with the increasing wage work of women
had to do the same agricultural work as men, in agriculture or through their growing particithis time for a wage, and still be responsible for pation in the informal sector. However, the their household tasks. Marital instability world economic crisis of the 1980s
increased in this group of disenfranchised demonstrated how vulnerable that system
hacienda residents. Some of them squatted on was and how the radical reorganization of unused land, but increasingly were driven off agriculture had decreased its flexibility, in by government forces, in part because of the part by further deterioration of the growing pressures for exports during the complementarity of men's and women's work
1970s. in agriculture.
The economic depression of the 1980s was
worldwide, the worst crisis since the 1930s. But
The year 1973 was a landmark for developing while in the 1930s an economic cutback meant
countries, as events were set in motion that that the elites and the middle class cutback on greatly affected the structure of agriculture consumption of imported goods, now decreased consumption also meant fewer jobs. Urban
around the world and the role of women in that industrial workers lost their jobs, hit by the structure. double whammy of decreased local markets
and inefficient, protected enterprises that were
not able to compete in an increasingly difficult
world market. Total demand decreased, and
The year 1973 was a landmark for develop- loans became impossible to roll over. Export
ing countries, as events were set in motion that crops, already affected by increasing world greatly affected the structure of agriculture production, earned less and less. And the around the world and the role of women subsistence fallback, whereby peasant
within that structure. It was the year of the families withdrew to small plot subsistence world oil crisis, with drastically increasing oil production to sustain themselves during a prices that dramatically shifted the terms of crisis, had been eliminated by the trade for most developing countries. In oil- transformation of agriculture. Around the purchasing countries with import substitution world, developing countries had favored industries highly dependent on petroleum export agriculture over food production and
imports to run their factories, even more maintained a cheap food policy through
pressure was put on the export sector. More imports. So even the remaining peasant
land went i4to export crops, even as the prices farmers and family farmers had little dropped due to overproduction and inelastic incentive to grow food. Those programs aimed
demand. For the oil-producing countries, it at food production often did not address the
meant increased indebtedness, with much of major policy issues, and even fewer addressed
the borrowed money used to import food, as the their efforts to the women who by default often
subsistence agriculture sector, already were left raising the subsistence crops.
relegated to women and virtually ignored, The debt crisis in developing countries is
became even less viable. Suddenly there were compounded by stagnant economies; decline lots of petrodollars to recycle, and in value and quantity of exports; decrease in
international banks competed to lend money. imports, particularly food that provided
It need hardly be stated that males control subsidized maintenance for urban femaleexport crops. However, class distinctions in headed households disrupted by temporary the rural sector increased, with different roles and permanent male migration; increase in in agriculture for women in the different and unemployment; increase in public deficits; emerging classes. Deere and Leon de Leal12, increasing balance of payment deficiencies;
among others, show how in Latin America the and increasing inflation. Contradictions
sexual division of labor in agriculture declined abound, particularly for women. To solve the
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
long-term problem of production disincentives, food costs must rise. An increase in
food costs hits most heavily at the poor, and An increase in food costs hits most heavily at women and the children in the households the poor, and women and the children in the
they head are most likely to be poor in households they head are most likely to be poor
developing countries, as in the United States. in developing countries, as in the United States.
Thus, although the economic crisis itself may not be worse than that of the 1930s, its impact
is much more severe, since the fallback tend to minimize the gap between production
survival strategies have been eliminated, time and labor time. Household, handicraft,
In developing countries, the role of women in off-farm labor, as well as a variety of animal
agriculture continues to be vital, but hidden. and crop enterprises, including gardening and
While affected negatively by planned egg and milk production, contribute to
change13, it is the unplanned change that most providing necessary labor when peak labor
directly breaks down the complementary roles times in crop or animal production occur.
in agricultural production and increases.the Further, women's multiple enterprises help
disparity between the landless peasants and rural families reduce the risk that linkage to
the major landowners. Women are key international markets, including credit,
producers in the often-female-headed landless inputs and sales, entails. When women are
peasant families, but marginal to production, excluded from agriculture, however unintenexcept through wage labor, in the extensive tionally, the farm family's ability to overcome
land holdings oriented to export agriculture, the built-in difficulties of agriculture as a form
The complexity of women's contribution to the of production are limited.
variety of production enterprises related to food production, both crop and animal, as well
as the replacement of those enterprises by References
capital intensive agricultural enterprises and 1. Contribution 85-227-J from the Kansas Agricultural
imports (when available) need to be examined. 2. Mann, S.A. rnd J.M. Dickinson. "Obstacles to the development of a capitalist agriculture." Journal of
Peasant Studies 5 (1978):466-81.
Planned programs must keep fully in mind the 3. Brewster, John M. '"The machine process in agriculproductive activities of female farmers, their ture and industry." Journal of Farm Economics 32
differential access to land, labor, and capital, 4. Pfeffer, Max. "Social origins ofthreesystemsoffarm
and the fact that theirproductive activities must production in the United States." Rural Sociology 4S
almost always be combined with their repro- 5. Paige, Karen Ericksen and Jeffery M. Paige. The
ductive, or household-based activities. Politics of Reproductive Ritual. Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1981.
6. Brown, Andrea. "Land of the few: Rural land ownership in Guatemala" In Revolution in CentralAmerica,
Planned programs must keep fully in mind the Stanford Central America Action Network (eds.)
productive activities of female farmers, their Boulder: Westview Press (1983):232-47.
differential access to land, labor, and capital, 7. Campbell, Alex. The Guide to Botswana. Gaborone:
and the fact that their productive activities Winchester Press, 1980, p. 230.
must almost always be combined with their 8. Staudt, Kathleen. Women and participation in rural
development: A framework for project design and
reproductive, or household-based activities, policy oriented research. Ithaca, New York: Cornell
which include cooking and other forms of food University Center for International Studies, 1979.
processing, gathering fuel, and carrying 9. Carrion, Lucia. La mujeren la hacienda lechera ecuawater. As high debt and international doriana. Quito: CEPLAES, 1983.
such as the International Monetary 10. Barsky, Osvaldo and Gustavo Cosse. Tecnologia N
cambio social: Las haciendas lecheras del Ecuador.
Fund, combine to limit the potential of Quito: FLASCO, 1981.
developing countries to import food and 11. deJanvryAlain. TheAgrarian Question and Reformmaintain cheap food policies, recognition of ism in Latin America. Baltimore: The John Hopkins
the key role of women in food production and Press, 1982.
the disadvantaged conditions under which 12. Deere, Carmen Diana and Magdalena Leon de Leal.
Women in agriculture: Peasant production and rural
they do it must be part of the national calculus. wage employment in Colombia and Andean Peru.
Because of their work for the household and Geneva: International Labor Organization, 1982.
the multiple activities they carry out in 13. Nash, June. "Implications of technological change for
agricultural production, particularly small household level and rural development." Michigan
State University Women in Development Working
farm production, women as agriculturalists Paper #37, October, 1983.
The Role of Farm Women in American History:
Areas for Additional Research
Joan M. Jensen
JOAN JENSON is Professor of History and Chairman
of the Department of History at New Mexico State
University. She has done research on and published
histories of farm women and women garment workers. Her most recent books are LOOSENING THE
BONDS: MID-ATLANTIC FARMING WOMEN 17501850, Yale University Press, and CALIFORNIA
WOMEN: A HISTORY, Boyd and Fraser.
Recent changes in women's property and than have traditionally been recognized. For
credit rights and the intensification of example, historians have only recently begun,
women's political activism may affect farm to uncover some of the patterns of women's
women more than urban women in the next community activity.
two decades. Family farms have traditionally The oldest and most persistent form of
demanded from women both hard work and community activity has been the development
the subordination of their interests to the of and participation in women's support
interests of the family farm as a unit. The role networks, networks that women have created that women have played in American for giving assistance and understanding to
agriculture is still not adequately understood other women. This culture of women, whose or appreciated, nor is their role in the develop- major theme is support, has persisted, even ment of some major U.S. institutions. Since when damaged by the cleavages of race and
women on the land will take an increasingly class. It has been the basis for a type of
important role in shaping the future of farm feminism on the farm whose role in allowing policy as the country goes through the women to survive, and at times flourish under
economic transition of the next two decades, severe pressure, has not been given adequate
and they will play this role with greater self- attention by scholars. One reason, of course, is consciousness and visibility, they will demand that it is difficult for scholars to document, greater attention from policy makers to their although it is a thread that can be traced present lives and from scholars to their past through oral histories, family histories, lives. letters, and diaries. This fabric of support was
Historians still have an incomplete and important both to the women it helped and to
fragmentary knowledge of the work roles that the society they served.2
women have played, of the support networks The role that women have played in the
that they developed, of their contributions to more formal community organizations is the development of religious, educational, and easier to document. For example, their economic institutions, and of their degree of involvement in religious and educational political activity. The growing body of institutions played a major role in the developinformation that we have suggests that these ment of these institutions at the rural level, as
roles were more varied and more important women used or created them to extend the
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
The oldest and most persistent form of community activity has been the development of and participation in women's support networks, networks that women have created for giving assistance and understanding to other women.
range and effectiveness of their support economic conflicts, they none-the-less formed
network. the backbone of American public education.
From the late eighteenth century in the U.S. We know, in fact, that quality education could women have been moving more firmly into and did take place even in racially segregated
their established religions. The ministry of rural schools, but we still have inadequate women began with the Quaker farm women information about what went on in these onewho criss-crossed the forests of the early room school houses, which 'formed the colonies, often travelling thousands of miles to backbone of American public education.4 bring spiritual comfort. Although women Historians are also finding that rural
have moved into almost every denomination women took a more politically active role than
as ministers today, during most of the nine- traditional history has indicated. Quaker farm teenth and twentieth centuries women played women, for example, were active in calling the a less obvious leadership role, even though in first public meeting of women in the U.S. to the nineteenth century they became the discuss their political needs. This 1848 Seneca
majority in church membership. It is clear that Falls meeting was attended primarily by rural they handled most of the welfare functions of women. When Lucretia Mott went home to the church and were instrumental in moving Philadelphia from Seneca Falls to urge urban the churches in the direction of a greater women to call their own state conference, she concern for the welfare of their communities. got no response. When she talked to Chester They often managed the maintenance of County farm women, however, they
churches as well. Although there is no doubt immediately took up the idea and organized about the physical and spiritual importance of the first statewide conference in W~est Chester, the rural church for women, and of the degree appropriately in the new Horticultural Hall. to which this institution was used by women to Women also formed anti-slavery and support each other, we still know far too little temperance associations, and later in the about these institutions themselves.3 nineteenth century, farm women flooded into
Women also moved into and began to create the Grange, one of the first national organizarural educational institutions in the early tions to admit women. Farm women lobbied nineteenth century. They took over an hard for oleomargarine laws in the 1880s, and
increasing amount of the educational joined the Farmer's Alliances and the Populist
functions of the rural church and stood at the Party, moving it to become the first political foundation of the rural school. At exactly the party to support women's suffrage. period in American History when rural women After Congress created the Cooperative
needed these institutions the most, men were Extension Service in 1914, rural women also losing interest in both religion and education. rallied to form farm organizations. In New
As family farms moved more toward Mexico, for example, women were eager
commercial production, increasing the work organizers of the earliest Farm Bureaus. each family member performed, education Others formed separate rural women's clubs
moved out of the home. Daughters could and extension clubs. By the 1930s, rural
perform this educational work more women were far better organized in New
competently and efficiently outside the farm Mexico than were urban women, and I expect house, and evidence suggests that they were that the same conditions existed in many only too happy to leave. Quaker women were other states. Farm Bureau women in Las among the first to go. Deep into the twentieth Cruces, for example, organized a room where century women spread public education with rural women could rest when they came to their commitment to its importance and their town to shop. When Federal programs reached willingness to work for low wages. Our New Mexico in the 1930s, much needed and
knowledge of this poorly paid community welcomed in the rural areas, farm women
work is entirely inadequate, but we know that worked together to raise matching funds for women struggled to establish a good school paving farm roads and to organize community system in many parts of the country. Although canneries to help feed their families and the these schools, like other rural institutions, poorer members of their communities. Fabiola were scarred and weakened by racial and Cabeza de Baca, who had moved from
Jensen: The Role of Farm Women
teaching in rural schools prior to World War I do and did almost every type of work whenever to agricultural extension work, helped necessary. Not all women did all kinds of
organize Hispanic women in northern New work, but the variety is impressive.6
Mexico. They responded enthusiastically.' "If Women on tractors and plows are part of a we have an excuse to leave work for one day a long history of work. Thomas Jefferson month, we ought to take advantage of it even advocated a family farm and praised the male if it is only to get away from work," urged one as yeoman, as the farmer upon whom the woman. For these women, organizing was a economy and politics of the new nation would
rest "from the daily' routine of house and be based. Yet on his farm, according to his outdoor work." As another extension farm diary of 1795, farm workers were black
homemaker later recalled, "I just picked up my women who worked as plowers, sicklers, baby and went."5 gatherers, binders, and cooks in his Virginia
grain fields. When he gave the work cycle of
the female workers on his farm, he said girls
They were accustomed to organizing their own until 10 should serve as nurses, from 10 to 16
complex families and work, and used many of spin, and at 16 "go into the ground or learn
these same skills which they had been develop- trades." It was this kind of work that ing since childhood in organizing publicly. Sojourner Truth was referring to when she
later objected at the Akron women's rights
conference to a man who said that women
should not have political rights because they
I suspect that hard work was one of the were so helpless. He said men even had to help
reasons that farm women organized so much women over mudpuddles. No one ever helped
and so well. They were accustomed to me over a mud puddle, Sojourner Truth
organizing their own complex families and retorted, "And ain't I a woman?" She made the
work, and used many of these same skills point for all farm women.7
which they had been developing from The -work was hard for all women, and they
childhood in organizing publicly. Although it could perform typically men's work when is commonly known that "women's work is necessary even though men seldom recipronever done," the true dimensions of women's cated. Women still had to bear and care for work has not been adequately realized, dependent children, elders, and the ill, process
Historians, for example, are still debating the most of the food used in the household for amount of outdoor work farm women have family and hired help, and care for smaller
done in the course of American history. While barnyard animals, especially poultry. Poultry some historians have maintained that white was not a small item. In Delaware County, women did not do outdoor work, anyone who Pennsylvania, as early as 1848, for example, has been on a farm, even today, knows that farm families raised 80,000 hens, produced only a few farm women do not work outdoors 24,000 chicks, and over six million eggs a year.
as well as in. Ranch women in New Mexico have traditionally rode in roundups, branded, and "pulled" (birthed) calves. Hispanic women
have harvested chile. Homesteaders worked in While it is true that men and women have the fields alongside their husbands. Who often said that women do not do certain types
gathered all of those potatoes Americans have
found to be their staff of life? In the San Luis of farm work, in fact, women do and did almost
Valley, women drive potato trucks in the every type of work whenever necessary.
harvest Before there were harvesters, they loaded potatoes in sacks from the fields. Before
sacks, into bushel baskets. Women picked Women usually milked cows and processed
hops in New York and the state of massive quantities of butter in most areas of
Washington, gathered cantelopes in the the country before 1860. The Middle-Atlantic
Mesilla Valley of New Mexico and lettuce in states alone produced almost 180 million the Imperial Valley of California. Black and pounds of butter in 1860. In addition, women white women both picked cotton in the valleys processed textiles until factories took over this of the south. Without the outdoor labor of job in the early nineteenth century, sewed women at harvest time, few harvests could massive amounts of clothing and linens down' take place. While it is true that men and through much of the twentieth century, women have often said that women do not managed and maintained household space, do certain types of farm work, in fact, women 'including large and growing amounts of all
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
types of farm and household equipment. For had management and control of women's half
most of history, rural women also had to carry of the property during their lives, and, in some much of the household water and wood for the states, remained in control even in death. In fires. I am reminded of the comment of the New Mexico, for example, women could not
grateful New Mexico farmwoman who finally dispose of their half of the community
got running water in her farmhouse in the property by will until 1973 when the state
1930s. She estimated that it saved at least 260 Equal Rights Amendment was passed.10 miles of walking done yearly to bring water Farm women are likely to make increasing
from the well to her kitchen. Of nearly 30,000 policy demands in the next decades. For young New Mexico farms in 1945, only 28 percent had women, these will take the form of recognition running water.8 of their desire to participate as full partners
Even fewer had electricity. The major and as sole practitioners in agricultural
technology of New Mexico farm women in the ventures. Although women make up a third of
1930s was not one of the electric irons, many Colleges of Agriculture today, they are
washing machines, or vacuum cleaners that still not always taken seriously by the
we hear so much about in urban areas, or even predominantly male faculties and -adminisa treadle sewing machine. It was the pressure trations of those colleges. Agriculture women cooker, the symbol of farm women's will continue to demand an equal place in
technology in the 1920s and 1930s. The education that will include more women
gardens and canning of thousands of rural faculty and administrators, support for
women brought poor farm families through research interests, and consideration of their
the worst Depression and drought in ideas about local and national agricultural
American history with relatively little policy.
starvation. Some rural Americans did die a Women already engaged in agriculture,
ranch woman from Hatch, New Mexico, most as members of a family farm, will want
remembered living in Oklahoma during the legal protection and recognition of their
Depression where a neighbor's baby died contributions to the productivity of the farm.
because she had only oatmeal to feed it. She They will want credit reform so that they can was so busy, this woman remembered sadly, obtain credit for themselves for partnerships
that she did not walk the mile over to see how as well as for full ventures. They will want her neighbor was doing. "Most any of us could greater assistance in obtaining off farm job have helped somewhat," she said, "so when training and jobs; help with child care; more
you live through an experience and you know flexibility by cooperative extension personnel that a little baby has starved to' death, then in planning family transitions to new crops you're for welfare." She saw the government and structures. Corporate structures are now doing women's work, something they needed being used to deny some farm women a role in
help with. There was not time to do it all. Like decision making. Women want protection for education, welfare had to be done by their investment of time and resources.
specialists, because farm people could not take
-care of everybody
The family remained the social institution
within which women performed both their If farm women were in bondage, as the majority service and production work. If women went to of black women were before the 1860s, it was work for wages, as increasing numbers of farm within the family. daughters did after 1800, it was often on
another family farm. If farm women were in
bondage, as the majority of black women were
before the 1860s, it was within the family. And Widows and older women will want changes in earlier, the thousands of women indentured to laws so that they will not have to pay work for others to pay their passage to the New inheritance tax on farm businesses in which World, worked within families. Women's labor they have invested their life's work. Some took form within the family and remained states have already changed their laws to
there longest. protect their interests; many have not. Most of
And yet woman had only limited control in these policy demands relate to the desire of that family. For most of American history, women to enter or remain in agriculture, but
males legally owned the land and any wages women as a whole will ask for a larger part in
women earned working on the land. In the determining the overall agricultural policy of
western community-property states, men still the government.
Jensen: The Role of Farm Women
1978/79). For one rural black school see Maya
Scholars have an obligation to assist in this Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (New
reformulating of policy. They need to work York: Bantam Books, 1971).
with farm women to help them articulate their 5. Joan M. Jensen, Loosening the Bonds op. cit.; and
needs, to provide historical information to With These Hands: Women Working on the Land. Old
assist in' developing viable policies, and 6.Westbury: Feminist Press, 1981.
6The literature is growing steadily. See Jensen,
generally to use the wisdom of their disciplines With These Hands, op. cit. and Carolyn E. Sachs, The
in aiding the transition to a new agricultural In visible Farmer: Women In Agricultural Production
system. Mainly, scholars will be called upon to (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Allanheld, 1983). The
document the essential role that women have best recent guide to the literature is in Susan Bentley
and Carolyn Sachs, "Farm Women in the United
played in the agricultural development of the States: An Updated literature review and Annotated
United States in the past and to point out the Bibliography," A.E. & R.S.1, Dept. of Agricultural
critical role they will play in the development Economics and Rural Sociology, Pennsylvania State
of future agricultural policy. University, College Park, PA, May, 1984.
7. Sojourner Truth, "The Narrative of Sojourner Truth,
1978," in Wendy Martin, The American Sisterhood:
Notes Writings of the Feminist Movement from Colonial
Times to the Present (New York: Harper and row,
Notes 1972), p. 103.
1. This paper is a revised version of the Keynote address 8. Joan M. Jensen, "Women and Industrialization: The delivered at the American Farm Women in Hihtorical Case of Buttermaking in Nineteenth Century MidPerspective Conference, New Mexico State Univer- Atlantic America," Signs (forthcoming); and Jensen,
sity, Las Cruces, New Mexico, Feb. 3, 1984. "'I've Worked, I'm Not Afraid of Work': Farm Women
2. Jessie Bernard, The Female World. New York: The in New Mexico, 1921.1940," in Joan M. Jensen and
Free Press, 1981, pp. 322-342. For fictionalized ac- Darlis A. Miller, eds.; New Mexico Women: Intercounts of this support structure see Susan Keating cultural Perspectives (Albuqurque: University of
Glaspell, "A Jury of Her Peers," in Lee Edwards and New Mexico Press, in press).
Arlyn Diamonds, eds., American Voices, 'American 9. Joan M. Jensen, Canning Comes to New Mexico:
Women (New York: Avon, 1973) and Donna E. Women and the Agricultural Extension Service, 1914.
Smythe, Quilt, Trumansburg, N.Y.: Crossing Press, 1919," New Mexico Historical Review, 57 (Oct. 1982),
1982. 361-386; and "Farm Women in New Mexico, 19003. For Quaker women see Joan M. Jensen, Loosening 1940," in -Robert Kern, ed., Labor in New Mexico:
the Bonds: Mid-Atlantic Farm Women, 1750-1850 New Strikes, Unions, and Social History Since 1881
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press (in press). (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press,
4. New Mexican Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, for example, 1983); "'I've Worked, I'm Not Afraid of Work,"' in Jenremembered being paid in eggs for her rural school sen and Miller, New Mexico Women: Intercultural Perteaching in New Mexico before World War 1, We Fed spectives; and Joan M. Jensen, "Recovering Her
Them Cactus (Albuquerque: University of New Mex- Story: Learning the History of Farm Women," Paper
ico Press, 1979), while Agnes Smedley, who wrote presented at the National Extension Homemakers
- Daughter of Earth (Old Westbury: Feminist Press, Conference, Laramie, Wyoming, August 31, 1983.
1973), remembered teaching for little more. See also 10. Joan M. Jensen, "The Campaign for Women's CoinJensen, Loosening the Bonds, op.cit.; and "Women munity Property Rights in New Mexico, 1940-1960," in
Teachers, Class, and Ethnicity: New Mexico, 1900- Jensen and Miller, New Mexico Women: Intercultural
1950," Southwest Economy and Society, 4 (Winter Perspectives, op. cit.
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
Published quarterly, this journal provides a forum for the discussion and analysis of ethical issues
associated with business enterprises and the professions EDITORS
Robert J. Baum, Norman E. Bowie, Deborah G. .ohnson EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD
Kurt Baier, Bernard Barber, Elizabeth Beardsley, Daniel Callahan, Richard De George, Samuel Florman, Kirk Hanson, R. M. Hare, Esther Hopkins, John Ladd, Edwin Layton Jr., Elliott Lehman, Alasdair Maclntyre, Anthony Mazzocchi, Lisa Newton, Warren D.Niederhauser, Clarence Walton, Richard Wasserstrom, Robert N. Wilson
PAPERS PUBLISHED INCLUDE
Ethical Responsibilities of Engineers in Large Organizations: Richard T. De George The Pinto Case University of Kansas
Commentary Hart T. Mankin, Vice President, Columbia Gas System
Privacy, Polygraphs and Work George G. Brenkert, University of Tennessee
Commentary David Linowes, formerly Chairman, U.S. Privacy Protection Commission What is Hamlet to McDonnell-Douglas or Peter A. French
McDonnell-Douglas to Hamlet: DC-JO Trinity University
Commentary Homer Sewell, formerly Director, Boeing Corporation
Lawgivingfor Professional Life Lisa H. Newton, Fairfield University
Commentary Donald E. Wilson, Vice President, Michael Baker Company
Licensing Professions: Preliminary Considerations Bernard Gert, Dartmouth College Commentary Donald Weinert, P.E., Exec. Director, National Society of Prof. Engineers Engineers Who Kill: Professional Ethics and the Paramountcy of Kenneth Kipnis Public Safety University of Hawaii
Commentary James F. Fairman, Esq., Partner, Fairman, Frisk, Monaco
The Sealed-Beam Case: Engineering in the Public and George P. E. Meese
Private Interest Michigan Technological University
Commentary Robert Knoll, Consumer's Union
EthicalIssues in Plant Relocation John P. Kavanagh, University of Delaware
Commentary Elmer W. Johnson, Senior Partner, Kirkland & Ellis
The Ideological Use of Professional Codes John Kultgen, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia Commentary Robin Alexander-Smith, Chief Counsel, Ethics, American Bar Association Conflict of Interest Michael Davis, Illinois State University
Commentary William Snead, Attorney at Law, Superior Oil Company
NEWS AND NOTES
Announcements of conferences, workshops and other opportunities for persons interested in ethical issues in business and the professions.
Subscriptions: $1 5to individuals. $30to intitutionsforfour issues pcr year. Foreign postage and handing (incl. Canada) add $2.stu per year. Address: Business and Professional Ethics Journal. Subscription Office. Science od Technology Studies Division, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Troy. New York 12181
A Commentary on Research on American Farmwomen
Peggy J. Ross
PEGGY ROSS is a Rural Sociologist in the Economic
Development Division, Economic Research Service, USDA. She is currently Project Leader for
Research on Income Distribution Problems of Nonmetropolitan People. In the past she has done research on social well-being; U.S. farm women; and
rural education and has had papers published on
those subjects. She has also served the U.S. Department of Agriculture as Technical Representative to
the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), who
conducted the 1981 National Survey of Farm
Despite widespread national interest in the workers, if counted at all (Huffman, 1976). A
changing social and economic roles of women second factor is the prevailing view of the
in the United States, relatively little is known farmwoman as a fundamental maternal and about contemporary farmwomen and their domestic being nurturer, mother, wife,
participation in agricultural production. helpmate, homemaker (Bernard, 1968; Haney,
Although it is commonly recognized that 1982). This has resulted in the tendency for
historically farmwomen have participated in researchers and pohcymakers to see farmvarious aspects of farm operation and women primarily from the traditional
management, the nature and magnitude of viewpoint, as occupants of home and hearth
their involvement remains largely roles, and thus, to keep women on the fringe of
undocumented. (Boulding, 1979; Haney, 1982; agricultural public policy (Paarlberg, 1980).
Hill, 1981a; Huffman, 1976). Another contributor to the paucity of
The knowledge gap, as Boulding labeled it, knowledge about farmwomen's economic roles
stems from several inter-related sources. One in agriculture is the lack of broad-based social contributing factor is the sparsity and science research on farmwomen, per se.
inadequacy of national data on the character- Almost all of the sociological studies of the istics and behavior of farm people generally, 1950s and 1960s approach the topic of farmand farmwomen in particular. The Census of women "as they related to men and family life
Agriculture did not report numbers or basic as wives and mothers and restrict the
characteristics of farm operators by sex until analysis to the spheres which included these 1978 (see Kalbacher, 1982). Furthermore, functions" (Joyce and Leadley, 1977: 19).
national statistics only partially account for This article has two purposes: to review the
farm work done by farm wives and other major sociological research on U.S. farmfamily members, because such workers have women during this century, and to examine
,been traditionally counted as unpaid family two alternative theoretical perspectives which
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
attempt to account for variations in farm- The interest in women's labor on the farm
women's productive behavior. These carried over into the 1970s and 1980s with
perspectives undergird much of the research. attention to classifications of farmwomen's One explanation, which served as the roles (Boulding, 1979; Buttel and Gillespie,
rationale (at least implicitly) for most post 1984; Lodwick and Fassinger, 1979; Pearson, World War II studies on farmwomen, links 1979). Other studies concentrated on farmdifferences in productive activities among women's off-farm work (Bokemeier, 1980;
farmwomen to variations in their individual 1983; Sweet, 1972), and the interrelated labor
and family characteristics, particularly their roles of men and women (Buttel and Gillespie, stage in the family cycle. The second 1984; Coughenour and Swanson, 1983).
explanation, exemplified by some of the
current research on the structure of agri- Review of Literature
culture, suggests that variations in This review centers primarily on studies,
farmwomen's productive behavior stems from beginning with the 1950s, that have addressed
economic and political conditions affecting issues of decisionmaking and the division of agricultural production systems. A labor in farm families. Although little
comparison of these two explanatory sociological research on farmwomen occurred
perspectives is preceded by an examination of before 1950, a few earlier studies do deserve the social science research literature on farm- special recognition. women.
Overview In the 1920s, four investigations of time use
Studies of farmwomen in the United States by rural homemakers, in Idaho, Oregon, are few in number and cover a relatively short Minnesota and South Dakota, resulted from time since World War II. Except for a few passages of the Purnell Act of 1925, which
pieces of research, information about U.S. financed research in rural areas. These studies
farmwomen and their lives in the early 1900s revealed that farmwomen worked longer has appeared, mainly in journalistic and hours inside and outside the home than their
historical sources books, journals, urban counterparts. On the average,
magazines, and newsletters.2 Although farmwomen spent more than 50 hours per
seldom recognized, an invaluable source of week working in the home and more than 10
information about the farmwomen of the early hours per week in other farm labor (Crawford, 1900s is a series of USDApublications dealing 1927; Wilson, 1927; Wasson, 1930; Studley, with the social, labor, domestic, educational, 1931). These studies were important because and economic needs of wives of 55,000 crop cor- they were the first to focus on the behavior of respondents (U.S. Department of Agriculture, rural women, including farmwomen. 1915a; 1915b; 1915c; 1915d). These publica- During the hard times of the 1930s, research
tions contain extracts of letters received in attention shifted from rural women's roles as response to an inquiry about ways the U.S. homemakers to economic problems. In
Department of Agriculture might better serve Mothers of the South, Margaret Hagood (1939) farmwomen. reported on the social and economic plight of
Southern white tenant farmwomen. Her work
The impetus for sociological research on documented the strains experienced by tenant
farmwomen's roles came from two sources documend the t ri y tenant
during the 1950s. One was the development of farmwomen as they tried to fulfill the roles of family sociology, a sub-discipline that mother, homemaker and farm laborers. It also
famiy sciolgya su-diciplne hat revealed that women yielded responsibility
spawned interest in the study of the division of rmanagemet of th e eirohusbands.
labo inconuga unts, ncldin th faily for management of the farm to their husbands. labor in conjugal units, including the family Most important, however, Hagood explicitly farm (e.g., Blood, 1958; Blood and Wolfe, 1960; recognized the influences of structural forces Smith, 1969; Straus, 1958; 1960). The other (ind the state of grcturan the
soure ws anempasi witin he Etenion (including the state of agriculture and the source was an emphasis within the Extension economic injustices of tenancy) on depressed Service on farm and home development and a
consequent interest in farmwomen's roles in living conditions, low incomes, and farm work, decisionmaking and information inadequate diets and housing conditions for
processing within the family (e.g., Burchinal tenant farm families (1939:6). and Bauder, 1965; Wilkening, 1958; Another of the early studies is Beers' (1937)
Sand Bra, 1965; Wilkening 958; widely cited analysis of changes in the
Wilkening and Bharadwaj, 1967; Wilkening structure of the New York farm family. His
and Guerrero, 1969; Wilkening and Morrison, research indicated a lessening of patriarchal 1963). dominance, greater specialization in division
Ross: A Commentary on Research
of labor (particularly among sexual lines), and a tendency toward democratic decisionmaking. Beers found that many decisions, Routine household decisions were handled by especially about borrowing money, were made women, but major decisions affecting the
jointly by husbands and wives. On the other family, such as large purchases, children's
hand, Beers observed that men on larger
farms tended to take sole responsibility for well-being, and family recreation, were often
financial decisions. He foresaw that an made jointly.
increased scale of agriculture would lead to greater specialization within the family, with
men assuming responsibility for the farm and Burchinal and Bauder's (1965) work with
women for the home. This study was a rural and urban families in Iowa and Blood
conceptual forerunner of many mid-century and Wolfe's 1960 study of city and farm
studies that would deal with sexual division of families in Michigan both found egalitarian labor and patterns of decisionmaking within patterns of decisionmaking among families the American family, including the farm regardless of farm or urban residence.
family. Burchinal and Bauder (1965) did not, however,
Decisionmaking Studies consider decisions about the farming
Wilkening (1958)applied the concepts of operation.
The participation of women in farm
status and role to examine joint decision- decisions varies with the kinds of decisions
making among husbands and wives on 600
Wiscnsi fams.Vieing ome's artci- involved. Wilkening and Bharadwaj (1967)
Wisconsin farms. Viewing women's partici- contended that joint decisionmaking in
pation in farm management decisions as a Wisconsin families was more prevalent for
function of her social status, he tested the major farm resources decisions involving hypothesis that farmwomen's involvement in considerable outlay of family funds i.e.,
joint decisionmaking could be explained by purchase of land or automobiles than for
differences in two indicators of the women's farm operation decisions involving day-to-day social status: education and joint decision- operation of the farm. This same study also making and a positive relationship between found that women's involvment in major
social participation and decisionmaking only decisions about farm operations was among women at relatively high income unrelated to their involvement in family and
levels. He concluded that sexual roles in home decisions.
decisionmaking are shaped more by In a more recent report, Wilkening (1981)
individual perception about the needs of farm
and households than by cultural definitions of decisionmaking patterns for 1962 and 1978 husbands' and wives' roles. samples of Wisconsin farm families. The
He concluded that sexual roles in decision percentage of farmwomen who shared
responsibility for major farm decisions
making are shaped more by individual per- equally with their husbands decreased
ception about the needs of farm and house- slightly between 1962 and 1978. In the later holds than by cultural definitions of hus- sample, women were more involved in farm
bands' and wives' roles. business decisions if they kept the farm books.
Routine household decisions were handled by
Subsequent studies also failed to find clear- women, but major decisions affecting the
cut patterns of differentiation of authority in family, such as large purchases, children's farm families. Using data from a statewide well-being, and family recreation, were
study of 500 Wisconsin families, Smith (1969) often made jointly.
found egalitarian patterns of decisionmaking Other research has examined the relation
between the sexes, although spouses assumed between women's involvement in decisions leadership in decisions related to their- and the economic size of the farm operation.
respective responsibilities: husbands usually Sawyer (1973) reported that women at lower made decisions about farm operations, and income levels were more apt to participate in
wives made decisions about domestic matters farm management and adoption decisions. On including food, housework, and entertain- the other hand, Wilkening (1958) found a
ment. Responsibilities for decisions about curvilinear relationship between women's
farm resources, furnishing and maintaining involvement in farm decisions and farm
the home, and socialization of the children income; middle-income farm families in tended to be shared. Wisconsin were more prone to joint decision21
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
making than low or high income farm families and identified six dimensions of tasks
families. Straus (1960) speculated that the labeled field work, barn chores, money matters curvilinear relationship appeared because domestic tasks, household maintenance, and
fewer managerial decisions were made by the children's socialization. Money matters lower income families, and the kinds of included both farm business records and
decisions required of higher income families family expenses, but the researchers classified lay beyond the technological ability of the it as a household-family activity. The families,
farm wife. they found, exhibited a division of labor not
Labor Studies only between farm and family dimensions but
Studies of farmwomen's labor have tended between family dimensioins as well.
Studies o famwomn'slabo hae tededIn a comparison of city and farm families in to focus on one of several aspects of women's IcigasBlood (1958) foun that
wor: frm ork huseoldactvitesMichigan, Blood (1958) found that work: farm work, household activities farmwomen do more work than city women.
(including child rearing), and off-farm work. Farmwves do only tan city omen. Some studies (e.g., Straus, 1958; 1960) have not "Farm wives not only take over from their recognized the traditional home and family- husbands a substantial share of household
related activities as economically productive tasks and from commercial enterprises a large labor. But Fassinger and Schwarzweller proportion of consumer goods production, but
(1980) argued that women contribute to the they also help their husbands with the farm
economics of the farm unit through farm labor work. By contrast, most urban wives feel that such as field work and farm chores, through they cannot help their husbands at all or at
suchas ieldwor an far chresthrughbest can give them emotional support and housework and child care, incurred as hidden
factors of production, and through off-farm encouragement" (1958:172).
emplqyment. A similar stance was taken by
Colman (1981) and Elbert (1981), who By contrast, most urban wives feel that the)
suggested that farm and farm family are
separate but highly integrated systems, and cannot help their husbands at all or at best can labor within the family arena such as give them emotional support and encourage
"reproduction, supervision and feeding of ment. future farms" can appropriately be construed
as farm activities (Colman, 1981:935). The
following review of studies dealing with farm- Regarding household work, studies have women's work is generally organized around consistently demonstrated that responsibility
the three areas of work mentioned above, for the traditional women's activities in the
A number of studies have considered the home, including child rearing, rests with the
amounts and kinds of work women do on the farmwomen. In both the 1962 and 1978
farm. Wilkening's (1981) research with Wisconsin studies, Wilkening (1981) reported
Wisconsin farmwomen in 1978 revealed that that household chores in farm work were done
12 percent worked 30 hours or more a week almost solely by women. Women's particidoing farm chores, 48 percent worked at least pation in farmwork, Wilkening observed, had sometimes in the fields, and 6percent worked increased much more than men's
in the fields 60 or more days a year. In a study participation in household work. measuring the productive value of women's Fassinger and Schwarzweller's findings in
work, Huffman (1976) estimated that the value Michigan supported those in Wisconsin. of farm work was comparable to returns from Women primarily did the household work
non-farm work. regardless of farm size. Furthermore, level of
Fassinger and Schwarzweller (1980) participation in household tasks was
discovered that the number of hours of farm associated with higher levels of participation
work by Michigan farmwomen increased with in farm work, but not affected by off-farm
farm size. Nonetheless, women on the hobby, employment.
small and large farms all contributed about Straus (1958) related farm success to
the same proportion (25 percent) of total Columbia River Basin wives' involvement in
person-hours of farm work. two traditional homemaking activities care
The multidimensionality of women's labor of a vegetable garden and canning. High
has been frequently assumed, but Wilkening success wives, he observed, had a greater
and Bharadwaj (1967) were among the first tendency to maintain a vegetable garden and
empirically delineate and define multiple preserve food than low success wives. In his
dimensions. They factor analyzed 15 farms view, however, these activities were not
and household tasks performed by Wisconsin economically beneficial for the family unit.
Ross: A Commentary on Research
High success wives, he observed, had a greater tendency to maintain a vegetable garden and preserve food than low success wives. In his view, however, these activities were not economically beneficial for the family unit.
Sweet (1972) was one of the first to document aspects of women's work and decisionmaking.
the increasing number of rural farmwomen Wilkening and Ahrens (1980) reported that
employed in off-farm jobs. He found that off- stage in family cycle was negatively related to farm employment was greater among women farm record keeping responsibilities. They
who were in the South, better educated, or also found that women in the early stages of
married to men with non-farm jobs. the family cycle were more involved in farm
Nearly 40 percent of women in the Michigan work than women who had older children
survey held off-farm jobs, regardless of farm (particularly sons) to whom responsibility for
size (Fassinger and Schwarzweller, 1980). On work could possibly be transferred.
the larger farms, however, women who worked Jones and Rosenfeld (1981) analyzed the
at off-farm jobs tended to be the sole source of relationships between selected individual and off-farm income, farm characteristics and U.S. farmwomen's
A 1980 studyof nearly 14,000farmwomenin performance of farm tasks included higher
a 29-county area of Mississippi and Tennessee education, having fewer children age 6 and found that nearly 40 percent held off-farm under at home, single marital status, off-farm
jobs, mainly in the manufacturing and service employment of husband and of self. In sectors. About 5 percent worked both off and addition, size and nature of the farm operation on the farm. Women's economic contributions and its regional location had significant
from off-farm work maintained solvency in effects on task involvement. Together,
many households, refuting the notion that however, the combined set of individual and
women work out of the home by choice rather farm characteristics accounted for less than 20
than necessity (Salant, 1983). percent of variations in task performance.
In looking at the labor force participation of When Fassinger and Schwarzweller (1980)
farm, non-farm and metropolitan Kentucky examined the effects of stage in family cycle
women, Bokemeir et al. (1980) found that 38 and participation in farming activities, they
percent of farm women were employed in found that women without dependent children
either full- or part-time jobs. Farmwomen on at home were more involved in farm tasks on the smallest farms were less likely to enter the hobby farms and to a lesser degree on small labor force than women in the middle-size farms. Stage in family cycle was not related to
farms, reflecting possibly that on the very level of farm labor for women living on larger
small farms women's farm labor may be worth farms.
more than their off-farm labor. The presence of Buttel and Gillespie (1984) found that hours children under 18 years old in the family was of on-farm work for New York farmwomen related to working outside the home for non- was only modestly associated with stage in life farm women, but not for farmwomen. The cycle variables, and that the presence or
researchers suggested that child care absence of children of various ages in the
arrangements may be more readily available family had little or no effect on off-farm work.
for farmwomen than for women living in off- Education has been identified as a factor
farm locations. In an additional analysis of related to both farm tasks and off-farm their Kentucky data, the authors concluded employment. In the 1978 Wisconsin studies,
that marital status and stage in family cycle education of husband and wife was associated are less important determinants of off-farm with record keeping and seeking information
employment than marketable skills and via mass media (Wilkening and Ahrens, 1980).
education (Bokemeir et al., 1983). Education has also been related to off-farm
Different findings regarding stage in family employment (Sweet, 1972; Bokemeier et al.;
cycle and off-farm work were reported in the 1980; 1983).
Michigan study (Fassinger and Schwarz- Moving away from the personal attitudes of
weller, 1980). Farmwomen living on hobby the individual, a few studies have shown that
and small farms were more apt to be employed farm characteristics are associated with labor off-farm if they had dependent children at activities. In the 1978 Wisconsin study (again),
home. dairy farmwomen were more likely to do farm
Several have examined the relationship chores, field work, farm-record keeping, and
between stage in family cycle and other information seeking than their non-dairy
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
farm counterparts (Wilkening and Ahrens, woman farmer who is the principal operator of
1980). This same study also showed that a farm, and the farm housewife who lives on
women's involvement in the farm was greater the farm but assumes little direct interest or
on larger farms than those with no hired help. activity in the farm business. In another Use of hired help affected the propensity of Colorado study, Pearson (1979) developed a
Michigan hobby farmwomen to hold off-farm four-fold scheme to describe women's relationjobs (Fassinger and Schwarzweller, 1980). ships to their farms. Two of her types,
Similarly, size of farm (expressed as annual independent agricultural producers and farm sales volume) was positively related to hours homemakers,3 corresponded to Boulding's of on-farm work and inversely related to hours (1979) women farmers and farm housewives. of off-farm work for New York women living In addition, she differentiated between
on small farms that gross under $40,000 agricultural partners who functioned as coannually. The relationships did not hold up for operators of their farms, and farm helpers, women living on large farms with over $40,000 females who helped with the farm work during gross sales (Buttel and Gillespie, 1984). the peak times.
The interrelationships between the various Lodwick and Fassinger (1979) added two
components of women's work and decision- additional types to the Pearson typology when
making on-farm, in the family and off-farm they classified farmwomen in two Michigan
have been frequently investigated. Noted townships. The category, agriculturally
above, data from the Michigan survey active, included women who participated daily
indicated that women's participation in work in farm work, but werenot generally involved on hobby and small farms was positively in farm management or decisionmaking. A
correlated with their participation in second category identified by Lodwick and
household activity, but neither area of activity Fassinger was the peripheral helper, referring was affected by off-farm employment to women who had little or no direct contact
(Fassinger and Schwarzweller, 1980). In with farm work or planning with the possible
contrast, Wilkening and Ahrens (1980) exception of maintaining a vegetable garden.
reported that off-farm employment had little In the six-fold classification of Michigan
effect on Wisconsin wives' farm record farmwomen, the percent of women in the
keeping but decreased their involvement in various categories was as follows:
farm work. In an earlier Wisconsin study,
farmwomen's off-farm jobs affected their Independent Producers 2 Percent
involvement in family decisions but not in Agricultural Partners 15
farm decisions (Wilkening and Bharadwaj, Agriculturally Active 21
1967). Farm Helpers 17
Using a different perspective which focuses Farm Homemakers 35
on the interrelated spousal work roles within Peripheral Helpers 11
Kentucky farm family units, Coughenour and The Michigan researchers concluded that the
Swanson examined the effects of off-farm results of their typology "underscore the
employment on farm structure. They found heterogeneity of farm women's work"
that farms where women had off-farm jobs (1979:18).
were considerably smaller than farms where Using a different approach that crossthe women remained on their farms. However, classified the on-farm and off-farm work of
they argue that greater involvement of the husbands and wives, Buttel and Gillespie
women in the farming operation cannot (1984) identified eight types of farm
compensate for the loss of the man's labor to households in New York, and developed off-farm employment and the scale and size of descriptive profiles of the types. In four types the operation will be smaller. of the joint work roles, women do not
In a different approach to the linkages participate in the off-farm labor market. In
between the various dimensions of two of these, they work neither on nor off the
farmwomen's involvement with farm operation farm. Four additional types covered joint work
and management, several studies have attempt- roles where the women held an off-farm job. ed to identify the types of women's rela- The most prevalent type was the traditional,
tionships to agricultural production. specialized full-time family farm where both
Boulding's (1979) classification, based on a the man and woman worked on the farm, but small study in Colorado, proposed that farm- not off. In the second most common type, the women can be characterized according to man worked on-farm only, and the woman
three general types: the farmwife who works worked neither off nor on the farm.
with her husband in their farm business, the
Ross: A Commentary on Research
Alternate Theoretical Perspectives emphasize the traditional roles, care of the
Nearly all the studies mentioned above have children and maintenance of the home and utilized (at least implicitly) a structural their participation in the economic aspects
functional approach to family organization. would be shaped by their familial obligaApplied in empirical research with farm tions. Thus, farmwomen's research has
families beginning in the 1950s, this focused on variables such as stage in family
perspective grew from a broader concern with cycle, family composition, and indicators of
patterns of family life within the context of the wife's status such as education and social social-cultural change and emphasized participation as factors affecting variations in
differences in personal and social attributes of farmwomen's productive behavior. the individual as an explanation for women's
behavior in the farm family. The Structural Perspective
An alternative perspective, increasingly Emerging from a broader socioeconomic
used as a framework to analyze a range of and ecological critique of agriculture in the
issues pertaining to the organization of United States (e.g., Buttel and Newby, 1980;
agriculture in advanced societies, has been Havens, 1982; Rodefeld, 1978, 1983), the
proposed as a theoretical explanation for structural perspective provides another
farmwomen's productive relationships to theoretical vehicle for an understanding of
agriculture (Flora, 1981; Sachs, 1981, 19-3). f~rmwomen's roles. Proponents of this
Referred to here as the structural approach, perspective have focused on the organization
the latter perspective has only been recently and scale of agriculture and its bearing on a employed in a major empirical research study range of topics including socioeconomic and
dealing with U.S. farmwomen's involvement political conditions, labor issues and
in production agriculture (e.g., Buttel and agricultural environmental concerns (see
Gillespie, 1984). Buttel and Newby, 1980). For example,
Rodefeld (1978) centered on specific issues
The Individual Perspective surrounding the structure of agriculture,
Talcott Parsons (1955) concentrated on the particularly mechanization and the growth of
structural and functional relations within the
American nuclear family. In his view, the
family was a solidarity unit ascribed In a carefully developed treatise, Sachs (1981) membership and status. Its primary functions argues that farm womens' positions in agriculwere socialization of children and ture were shaped by two sources: the structure of
stabilization of adult personalities through American agriculture and the predominant
the marriage relations. To fulfill its central societal ideology of women's domesticity. functions, the family had a specialized and
highly differentiated role structure with the
male assuming leadership responsibility for corporate agriculture. On the other hand,
instrumental/task activities and the female Buttel et al. (1981) contrasted the effects of
assuming leadership for the integrative/ farm scale and wealth versus indicators of
supportive activities, social status on environmental attitudes of
Zelditch (1955) examined the patterns of Michigan and New York farmers.
instrumental and expressive (integrative/ Few empirical studies have employed the
supportive) roles in familial systems in 56 structural perspective to focus on the roles of
societies. He postulated that the nuclear farmwomen. Glazer-Malbin's (1976) essay on
family would exhibit a differentiated role housework drew heavily from theories
structure in terms of instrumental and representing the structural perspective, and de
expressive roles. He further posited that Leal and Deere (1979) applied structural
leadership for the roles would be allocated on theories to study the sexual division of labor the basis of sex. He concluded that the among various agricultural groups in
American family demonstrated most clearly Colombia. In relation to American
"equal allocation of instrumental and farmwomen, two sociologists have theoretexpressive activities" (1955:339). ically addressed the topic of farmwomen's
Applying this perspective to the farm family roles in production agriculture from the which has both economic and non-economic structural perspective.
functions, researchers interested in the In a carefully developed treatise, Sachs
division of labor and decisionmaking in the (1981) argued that farmwomens' positions in
farm family deduced that farmwomen would agriculture have been shaped by two forces:
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
the structure of American agriculture and the and organization of the farm and the class predominant societal ideology of women's position of the household. Within the larger
domesticity. In her view, the features of large- context of the structure of agriculture, Flora scale agriculture, particularly the trend sees women as an important element in
toward industrialized methods of production struggles to represent interests of their for many commodities, have reduced the farm agricultural factions. While emphasizing the family's control of production decisions, structural variables in her conceptual scheme,
displaced large numbers of agricultural Flora nevertheless recognized that the
workers, and forced many farmers to leave individual's life-cycle variations must also be
farming or supplement their incomes through considered. She observed:
off-farm employment. While the changing It is critical that any research on
structure of agriculture has affected men as farinwomen document changes over time
well as women, the impacts on women are in women's input to the farming system
unduly severe because the prevailing domestic and link them to changes in the
ideology in the society has emphasized structures of agriculture, which have
women's domestic work to the devaluation of been particularly swift in the current
their labor and involvement in farm operation generation. Researchers should
and management. nevertheless be aware of the potential of
life-cycle phases of causality and try to
separate out the two types of effects on
changes in what farmwomer. think and
While emphasizing the structural variables in do (1981:83).
her conceptual scheme, Flora nevertheless rec- Buttel and Gillespie (1984) argue that familyognized that the individual's life-cycle vani- based agricultural production is shaped by
ations must also be considered, external forces in the larger economy and
society, including product markets, capital
and labor markets, nonfarm labor markets,
and public policies. They observed:
According to Sachs, the domestic ideology Some of these ... have served to maintain
has served "the interests of both capital- or preserve family, while others have had
ism and male domination" (1981:41). It has the effects of causing differentiation of
deprived women of involvement in the farming households ...- leading to ... an
productive activities, including decision- emerging dualism ... characterized by
making, on the farm, but in turn has resulted growth of... a few large farms, by a larger
in the creation of a reserve labor force, surplus number of ... stable, but economically value in the marketplace and increased viable small farms, and by 'disappearing'
consumption. The transfer of production of of medium-sized, full-time family
food, clothing, other goods, and even services farms." (1984:185).
from the farm family to the marketplace has However, they contend that the flexibility of created a surplus value in the marketplace and the farm household labor of both men and greater consumption. In addition, women can women to adjust to the external stimuli has be maintained as a reserve labor force. "When contributed to the persistence of family
the demands of capital are such that women farming.
laborers are needed, they can be hired. As The two perspectives contrasted above have
the labor market shrinks, women can return offered essentially opposing hypotheses for the
home to their proper place without creating explanation of U.S. farmwomen's relaunemployemnt." (1981:42). tionships to agricultural production. The
In a related line of argument, Flora (1981) individual perspective, based on assumptions
observed that an explanation for the behavior about sexual division of labor and
and attitudes of U.S. farruwomen should be differentiated roles, has tried to explain
sought in a consideration of agricultural variations in women's behavior in terms of
structure and farming systems. Flora argued differences in personal and family characterthat farinwomen contribute to the farming istics. The structural perspective, on the other
system through their inputs of labor, land, hand, has pointed to indicators of the nature capital (including off-farm income), and and organization of the farming system for the
management (directly via participation in major explanatory factors for farmwomen's
decisionmaking and indirectly through behavior.
responsibility for farm records). Variations in Hypotheses relating variations in behavior women's inputs primarily are due to the nature to either structural or individual factors have
Ross: A Commentary on Research
not been fully verified. Studies on
farmwomen's labor and decisionmaking have Studies on farm women's labor and decision yielded inconsistent and sometimes' making have yielded inconsistent and some-,
contradictory findings. (However, the wide times contradictory findings. range of measurement techniques,
methodologies and sub-populations
represented in this literature must be taken is limited in several respects. Research tends into account.) In their research on environ- to be provincial and is marked by
mental attitudes, Buttel et al. (1981) examined methodological problems: generalizacompeting hypotheses derived from tions from very small and unrepresentaindividual and structural perspectives and tive samples, inadequate documentation of
failed to find unequivocal support for either research instruments and overly simplistic perspective. They concluded that "while the analysis. A much more fundamental issue,
lare-cae grculur i mre however, pertains to the treatment of critique of large-scale agriculture is more farmwomen only as incumbents of traditional compatible with the evidence we assembled,
teenvironmental attitudes literature also roles. Researchers' acceptance of a traditional the evrnetlattdsltrtralo division of labor in farm families has
contributes to our understanding of agrarian hampered exlorin fath fane of
environmentalism (1981:407). hampered exploration of the full range of
My contention is that neither perspective women's roles on the farm, and an ideological
solely provides a totally adequate explanation bias toward traditional views of women has for farmwomen's relationships to agricultural sometimes been imposed on interpretations of production. An explanation of farmwomen's findings.
labor roles requires elements of both A need for better definitions and improved
perspectives, and several assumptions. First, methodologies in the study of farmwomen is women's participation in agricultural definitely indicated. Directions for future
production is a multidimensional research include:
phenomenon which encompasses activities in More in-depth information on women's
the home and family, and in the farm and off- activities in the agricultural production profarm workplaces.4 Second, women's labor cess. More detailed and specific information
roles are intricately linked to a larger system about women's on-farm work, their other of labor allocation within the family. To under- contributions to farm operation, and their stand women's participation in on- and off- involvement in farm management will confarm work requires recognition of the inter- tribute to a fuller understanding of women's
dependency of women's and men's labor participation in agriculture. Because the
inputs. Third, an explanation of farmwomen's kinds of in-depth information needed caninvolvement in various aspects (dimensions) not be acquired through general survey
of farmactivity involves not only a consid- research, it will be important to seek
eration of both the structural organization alternate methodologies to obtain adequate
of the farming system and the social and data.
demographic attributes of the individual, but Longitudinal analyses to document tranthe linkages between them. Because women's sition over time of the life cycle of the
responsibility for the traditional work and family. Nearly all research on farmwomen
management activities in the home and has been based on cross-sectional data. A
family is a universal, characteristic of better understanding of the relationship beAmerican society, one might expect that tween stage in family cycle and changes in
variation in farmwomen's roles within the women's role requires over-time tracking.
home and family will be due to differences in A consideration of women's primary reindividuals, including age, family compo- lationship to the farm. Many studies fail to
sition, and social status. On the other hand, take into account the importance of the the expectation is that farmwomen's partici- diverse roles women may play at various
pation in the economic aspects of farm points in their lives. Is she the principal
production (including off-farm employment) operator a farmer -, or is she the prinwill be affected by an interplay of individual cipal operator's spouse a farmwife or characteristics with primary structural does she have some other relationship to the
characteristics of the farm. farm non-operator owner, or non-resident
farmer or farmwife? Certainly, women
Directions for Future Research farmers may behave differently from farmThe general body of research on farmwomen wives, at least some of the time, with respect to farm operation and management.
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
0 An understanding of women's roles in the Boulding, Elise
context of labor allocation within the family 1979 "The labor of farm women in the United States:
unit. A frequent criticism of farm women's a knowledge gap." Paper presented at the Amerresearch has been the tendency to view ican Sociological Association Meeting, Boston,
farmwomen as they are part of the family Burchinal, Lee G., and Ward W. Bauder
farm, more specifically as the incumbents of 1965 Family Decision-making Patterns Among Iowa
traditional roles of wife, mother as home- Farm and Non-Farm Families. Ames: Iowa Agmaker. Only recently, has attention directly ricultural Experiment Station, Research Bulfocused on the importance of the interre- letin 528.
Buttel, Frederick H. and Gilbert W. Gillespie
lated work roles within the farm family and 1984 "The sexual division of farm household labor- an
the relationship of these interrelation- exploratory study of the structure of on-farm and
ships to farm structure and functioning. off-farm labor allocation among farm men and
This is an area which deserves much more women." Rural Sociology 49 (summer): 183-209.
attention. Buttel, Frederick H., Gilbert W. Gillespie, Jr., Oscar W.
Larson, M1, and Craig K. Harris.
In conclusion, interest in farmwomen and 1981 "The social bases of agrarian environmentalism:
farmwomen's research seems to be on the up- a comparative analysis of New York and Michswing (e.g., Buttel and Gillespie, 1984; Cough- igan farm operators." Rural Sociology 46 (Fall):
enour and Swanson, 1983; Hill, 1981a; Haney, 391-410.
Buttel, Frederick, and Howard Newby (eds.)
1982; Flora, 1981). Emphasis also appears to 1980 The Rural Sociology of the Advanced Societies:
have shifted to improved conceptualization Critical Perspectives. Montclair, New Jersey:
that is considering the structure of the farm Allanheld, Osmun, and Company.
setting. The hope is that future research can Colman, Gould P.
avoid the pitfalls of ideological under- 1981 "Notes on methods for studying farm women-The Rural Sociologist (November): 394-395.
pinnings which marred some of the research Coughenour, C. Milton and Louis Swanson
in the past. 1983 "Work statuses and occupations of men and
women in farm families and the structure of
farms." Rural Sociology 48 (Spring): 23-24.
ENDNOTES Crawford, Inex
1. Parts of this article are drawn from unpublished 1927 The Use of Time by Farm Women. Moscow:
documents by the author (Ross, 1982, 1983). Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin
2. Bibliographies prepared by Fowler (1979), Joyce and 146.
Leadley (1977) and U.S. Department of Agriculture deLeal, Magdalena Leon, and Carmen Diana Deere
(1977) contain numerous references to the general lit- 1979 "Rural women and the development of caperature on farmwomen. italism in Colombian agriculture." Signs:Journ3. Pearson's description of the farm homemaker role al of Women in Culture and Society 5 (Autumn):
included sporadic involvement with farm operation 60-77.
during peak season through cooking for hired men and Elbert, Sarah
errands. 1981 "The challenge of research on farm women." The
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Women's Work in the U.S.: Variations by Regions
CAROLYN SACHS is Assistant Professor of Rural
Sociology at The Pennsylvania State University. Her
research interests focus on the structure of
agriculture, the role of women in agriculture, and the
management of small farms. She is currently the
Director of Circleville Farm at The Pennsylvania
State University, which was designed to provide
students an opportunity to experience agriculture
Women have been major participants in agri- that has been glossed over in regional
cultural production throughout the history of agricultural history. the U.S. Women's work in agriculture has been A division of labor between women and men
consistently unnoticed and when noticed, always exists. The form of the division
undervalued. Women have been involved in all changes. The division of labor between women
phases of agricultural production including and men in agriculture varies by numerous
plowing, planting, weeding, harvesting, and factors including region, type of agriculture,
livestock care. In addition, women on farms class, ethnicity, labor availability, and
have often assumed responsibility for on-farm technology. Certain tasks are considered processing of food for home consumption or women's work while others are considered
sale. With the commercialization of men's work. Domestic work is women's work
agriculture, management and marketing have regardless of region, class, or racial
become increasingly important tasks which distinctions. Work with specific crops,
many women also perform. livestock, or products is often defined as
This paper will discuss the changing women's work. For example, the raising, care
structure of agriculture in various regions of and marketing of chickens has historically the U.S. as the context in which women's work been women's work. is performed. Flora (1981) emphasizes the Women's work is defined by the intersection
importance of analyzing women's work in of the structure of production and the
agriculture within the framework of the organization of the household. In the U.S., the
changing structure of agriculture. Farming intersection of agricultural production and the
systems, commodities produced, land tenure, household has resulted in the predominance of
racial and ethnic composition, class structure the family farm. The family farm is viewed as and household organization all vary between the natural basis of agricultural production in
and within regions. Although women's work the U.S. (Friedmann, 1978). The ideal farm
in agriculture varies by region and numerous family owned land, performed farm work, and other factors, women's relation to agricultural were independent. The family farm was production has certain commonalities. As considered the foundation for American
Joan Jensen (1982) points out, the focus on democracy. Agriculture, or family farms, have
regionalism in agricultural history has been strongly resistant to capitalist
resulted in the neglect of issues that transcend production. region. The sexual division of labor is one issue The belief that the family farm is the
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
backbone of' American agriculture has production working primarily to provide subremained, although tenancy has increased, sistence goods to families and neighbors. The more outside labor is hired and farmers are limited amount of commercial agriculture that increasingly dependent on the market. In existed was centered close to the coast or
recent years, the survival of the family farm towns. Farmers close to town supplied the has been of increasing concern to farmers, urban markets. In subsistence production, a scholars, and policy makers. The demise of the division of labor occurred both within and number of family farms has been constant for between families. Women's economic role was the last 50 years and is likely to continue, essential to the subsistence of families. Women's labor has been essential to the Women were responsible for garden survival of family farms. A low standard of crops,small livestock and domestic living and heavy work loads for the entire production,, while men assumed primary farm family are several factors that contribute responsibility for clearing the land, large to the viability of the family farm (Bernier, livestock and field crops. Although a division 1976; Friedland, Furnari and Pugliese, 1980). of labor existed, a strict division between men Women's work both on the farm and in the and women was seldom adhered to. Due to the
household has enabled farm families to labor-intensive and seasonal nature of
remain on the farms. agricultural production, regular labor
Sons were under their/at her's control in the early years of their lives, while women and daughters were under their husband's or father's direction their entire lives.
Unlike their urban counterparts, farm shortages occurred. Women often worked in
families did not experience the physical fields during periods of labor shortages
separation of the workplace from the (Smuts, 1971). On the other hand, men seldom
household. As a result, a strong performed tasks that were women's responsiinterdependence characterized farm women bility.
and men. Interdependence does not The organization of the household is
necessarily equal equity. In fact, control of intricately connected to the structure of farms has historically been under the male agriculture in a subsistence society. Control head of the household. Changes in the rested primarily with the male -head of
structure of agriculture and the organization household on subsistence farms. Sons were of the household have resulted in changes in under their father's control in the early years women's involvement on farms. Women's of their lives, while women and daughters
involvement in agriculture has not been were under their husband's or father's
limited to their participation as members of direction their entire lives (Folbre, 1980). family farms. Throughout the history of the While men maintained control of the U.S.* women have often been employed as household on subsistence farms in New
wage laborers in agriculture. Black, Hispanic, England, the extent of male authority was Asian, immigrant, and poor women have probably less than in Europe. North American
frequently been hired to perform agricultural women had slightly more autonomy than their labor. The variation in women's work by European counterparts. As Bloch (1978) notes,
region is presented through an examination of more American women owned or managed changes in the agricultural structure and property than in Europe. Thus, despite the household organization. Although women's continuance of a patriarchal household
work varies by region, many similarities organization in New England, a loosening of
transcend regions. Certain similarities such patriarchal control was beginning to occur. as off-farm employment and women's access Women had minimal access to land
to land are discussed in relation to various ownership. Families worked the land, but men historical circumstances in particular regions. were the owners. Fathers usually distributed land to their sons, although daughters
Women in the North inherited land in the absence of sons. Women's
The majority of the population in northern land became the property of their husbands American colonies were involved in upon marriage. Widows had no control over
subsistence agriculture throughout the the families' land prior to the nineeighteenth century. Families were the units of teentli century, but during the nine32
Sachs: Women's Work in the U.S.
teeth century women gained the right to own exchangeable on the market. Women's offland after their husband's death (Jensen, farm work was viewed as a transitional
1981). arrangement prior to marriage. Women spent
The increasing commercialization of several years contributing cash to the
agriculture and industrialization of society household, but soon returned to the subshifted the organization of the farm sistence and household activities on the farm.
household. The division of labor between Although women earned wages and sold
women and men changed as their work products on the market, their economic
became differentially related to the market. position on commercial farms was Cash crops were generally considered to be subordinate to men.
men's crops despite the contribution of Women in the South
women's and children's labor. Men's work in Women's agricultural work in the South was
the fields assumed greater importance with historically set in the context of a plantation
the growing influence of the market economy. Plantations dominated Southern
(Ankarlou, 1979). Women continued to produce agriculture during the eighteenth and ninethe subsistence needs of their households. In teenth centuries, although many'smaller addition, specific commodities such as eggs, family farms did exist. The agricultural butter and cheese were produced and sold by production unit was generally larger than the women. household. The plantation economy relied on
Industrialization in the North drew heavily the labor of black women and men in the on women's labor. The movement of textile production of crops for the European market.
production from the home to factories involved Both women and men slaves worked in the the movement of many young women off the fields, primarily in the production of cotton.
farm. In the early 1800s many young farm The labor-intensive nature of cotton
women were working in textile factories to production required the labor of women and
earn cash for their families. Alexander children. Approximately 80 percent of women
Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury in 1791, worked in the fields, while only 20 percent were pointed to the benefits of a female labor force house servants (Fogel and Engerman, 1974). for both farm families and the health of the Young girls entered the fields with their general economy. Industrial work could be parents and were involved in plowing,
performed by women, while men would planting, hoeing, and harvesting.
continue to work in agriculture (Baker, 1964). The division of labor between women and Through a sexual division of labor, both men depended on the size of the plantation or
agriculture and industry could thrive. farm. Only half the slaves in the South lived
Women's contribution to farms varied on plantations with more than 20 slaves. A
according to their stage in the life cycle. With plantation with 20 slaves typically was the declining importance of household comprised of four families (Genovese, 1977).
manufacture, young women contributed to On the larger plantation, male slaves were
their families' cash needs through factory often responsible for the plowing, but women
employment. Upon marriage, women
generally returned to the farms to perform
household duties, child-bearing and rearing, Women continued to adhere to the philosophy and the production and processing of the of self-sufficiency long after male farmers family food. Women continued to adhere to the
philosophy of self-sufficiency long after male abandoned the emphasis on sufficiency in fauor farmers abandoned the emphasis on of production for the market. sufficiency in favor of production for the
market (Jensen, 1980). Although young
women contributed cash to the farm from worked in other aspects of production. In the'
factory employment and women raised cash harvesting of cotton, women sometimes were
from the sale of butter and eggs, men tended to considered superior workers (Genovese, 1977). predominate in market activities (Sachs, On the smaller farms of less than ten slaves,
1983). The farm was often defined in terms of the division of labor was minimal. Although the men's activities and crops. the white men and women divided tasks, there
The transition from subsistence to was little specialization among the blacks.
commercial production did not increase The majority of black women were expected to
women's economic power on farms. Women on work alongside the men (Genovese, 1961).
farms continued to work in household and Overall, women slaves worked longer days
subsistence activities that were not readily than men. In addition to the agricultural work,
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
women cooked food, cared for children, sewed, often performed the duty of plantation and washed clothing (Genovese, 1977). Many mistress. The pervasive image of the southern slaves also had gardens that were primarily lady has obscured the economic contribution the work of women. Thus, in the slave of white women on plantations. White women
economy women were often responsible for managed the domestic labor force for the
various subsistence needs of their families. entire plantation. Their responsibilities
As Genovese (1977) points out, the slave included supervising the production, purchase
-family was based on greater equality between and distribution of food and other goods for the planter's family and the slaves. The slave
system was both paternalistic and
The paternalism of the slave system combined patriarchal. "The plantation mistress found
with the exploitation and brutality of slavery herself trapped within a system over which
"b) ed strong women." she had no control, one from which she had no
means of escape. Cotton was king, white men
ruled, and both white women and slaves
served the same master" (Clinton, 1982:35).
women and men than the white family. The The labor-intensive crops of the South drew
paternalism of the slave system combined heavily on the labor of women. During the
with the exploitation and brutality of slavery early twentieth century, two of the major cash "bred strong women" (Genovese, 1978:501). crops in the South were cotton and tobacco.
The patriarchal household characteristic of Allen's (1931) excellent research on women in the North was not present in black house- cotton production in Texas describes the work
holds in Southern agriculture. of black, white, and Mexican women. Women's
Many women were planters in their own work in chopping and packing cotton was
right. Widows commonly were the executor's extensive and varied by race. In her study, 46 of their husband's estates and were often percent of white women performed field -work
entitled to use of one-third of the land during as compared to 57 percent of Mexican women her life (Spruill, 1938). Spruill cites examples of and 87 percent of black women. Black women a number of successful women planters in were the most likely to work in the fields. The
Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, and division of labor between women and men in
Maryland. the fields was well-defined although not
Not all white women on plantations strictly followed. Women's tasks included
belonged to the planter family. Single white hoeing corn and chopping and picking cotton, women were often employed to care for poultry while the men plowed and cultivated. Allen and dairies on plantations. Also, the wives of (1931) notes that women did plow and plantation overseers were often expected to cultivate, although they were often ashamed raise poultry and run a dairy (Spruill, 1938). of providing information concerning their
Sharecropping and the Twentieth performance of male tasks.
The legal end of slavery did not "Cotton was king, white men ruled,, and both
dramatically alter the work of black women or white women and slaves served the same
men. The sharecropping system consisted of master. if
blacks renting land from white planters who had previously been slave owners. Both women and men continued to work in the fields and
remained dependent on the white owners. The Allen (1931) examines the interplay between
organization of the household under the the household and women's agricultural work.
sharecropping system began to more closely She distinguishes between women's fieldwork approximate the white farm household. As as hired labor and as family labor. Women in
Jensen (1981) notes, the women spent more families without land worked in the fields for
time occupied in tasks typical of white women. wages. Women from land-owning or tenant Women were more likely to be in nuclear families worked as unpaid family labor. Sales
family households. Child-rearing and of butter and eggs enabled women living on
household chores were less likely to be shared family-operated farms to contribute cash to by the women. the family. Young unmarried women from
- Whether, black or white, women's work in family-operated farms often worked both in
the South revolved around the plantation their families' fields and in other fields as
system. Under the plantation system, black hired labor. In cases of economic need, married women worked in the fields and white women women also were expected to work on'other
Sachs: Women's Work in the U.S.
farms as hired l Iaborers. The long hours cash in the form of wages. The employment of worked in the fields were in addition to either or both the husband and wife off the
women's household responsibilities. Large farm has differential impacts on farm
numbers of children typified farm families, operation (Coughenour and Swanson., 1983).
-making considerable work for farm women. When men are employed full-time off the
Several studies of tobacco farms in the farm, women often provide substantial input
South reveal the importance of women's work into the farm operation (Lyson, 1979). in tobacco production (Hagood, 1977; Women's employment off the farm contributes
Janiewski, 1981). Hagood's study, based on cash to the operation, sometimes enabling interviews with 254 white tenant women in the men to remain full-time on the farm. South, found that women were quite Increasing flexibility in the division of labor
knowledgeable about their farm operations on the farm is a likely outcome of off-farm
and performed a large amount of fieldwork. employment. The amount of fieldwork women performed The increasing employment of farm women
varied with the number, age, and sex of their is a consequence of the increased reliance of. children. The overwhelming majority of farm households on off-farm income and the
women preferred fieldwork over household
work. Janiewski (1981) notes that despite
women's heavy labor contribution on tobacco
farms, men maintained control of the farm Hagood's study, based on interviews with 254 operation. white tenant women in the South, found that
Over time, the structure of agriculture in the wmnwr ut nwegal bu hi
South has changed. Since the 1930s the wmnwr ut nwegal bu hi
number of farms has declined dramatically farm operations and performed a large amount as the size of farms has increased. Also, the of fieldwork. reliance on tenant farmers decreased with the
introduction of the cotton harvester. Between
1959 and 1969, the number of black farm
operators in the South decreased 68 percent
(Bildner, 1974). The increased concentration of increase in women's labor force participation capital and land forced many black families to in general. Structural shifts in both the family migrate to urban areas in search of and the economy have increased employment
employment. Thus, black women were opportunities for women. In rural areas,
displaced as agricultural laborers. women accounted for 89 percent of
Compared to women in other regions of the employment growth between 1960 and 1970 country, farm women in the South in 1980 (Brown and O'Leary, 1979). Employment for
reported performing fewer agricultural tasks, women tends to be concentrated in industries (Jones and Rosenfeld, 1981). One explanation and occupations characterized by low wages, may be that Southern farm women are the minimum job security, limited job mobility,
most likely to be employed off the farm (Sweet, and lack of unionization (Morrissey, 1982). 1972). In 1980, 36 percent of farm women in the Rural industrialization, particularly in the U.S. were employed off the farm (Jones and South, has relied on rural women as a cheap 'Rosenfeld, 1981). Several studies in Southern supply of labor (Summers and Lang, 1976). states found that 58 percent of Florida women Thus, rural women have moved into the labor worked off the farm (Gladwin, 1982) compared force, but bften in low-wage jobs with to 38 percent in Kentucky (Bokemeier, Sachs minimal chance for advancment. For farm and Keith, 1983). Women employed off the women, low paying jobs may enable the farm
farm have less time to be involved in farm operation to continue. work. The decline of the plantation economy and
the continual mechanization of agricultural
Off-Farm Employment production in the South have resulted in a
The increased employment of women off the dramatic decline of the Southern agricultural farm is by no means limited to the South. The population. The racial inequities between cost-price squeeze in agriculture and the blacks and whites is the key to understanding
increasing reliance of farm household on women's worth in the South. The migration of
nonfarm income has resulted in both women women out of agriculture in the South to cities
and men seeking off-farm employment. The in the North is fundamental in understanding
farm household as a production unit the changes in women's work in agriculture in
exchanges labor previously used on the farm for the South.
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
Women in the West
The history of women's work in the West women's power in the family. Women often
includes the frontier experience as well as experience their work in the male realm as work in a settled agricultural society. Jensen draftees rather than partners. Men (1982) has suggested that the West is not a maintained control of the household and a homogeneous area and to understand cultural mode of resistance for women was to refuse to
diversity and women's role in agriculture, the perform fieldwork.
region should be viewed as consisting of the An autobiographical account of Elinor Mvidwest, the Southwest and the Farwest. Pruitt Stewart (1961) reveals that not all
Recent studies have documented women's women desired to return solely to the domestic
*experience in the movement West and the sphere. She reports many women enjoyed
settling of the frontier. The continuous outdoor work despite the fact that it was
availability of land in the West due to defined as men's work. Man had the
annexation and usurpation of Indian lands perogative of keeping women out of the fields.
during the nineteenth century, led many Thus, both women and men contributed to the
families to move westward and establish reestablishment of the household division of
farms. labor typical of the East.
The continuous availability of land in the West Women in the West had more opportuinty to
due o anexaionand suratio ofIndian own land than in the East. The Homestead Act
due o anexaionand suratio ofenabled single women to own land and many lands during the nineteenth century, led many women operated farms. Control of land.
families to move westward and establish farms. remains a major problem for women in
agriculture. Women are less likely than men to
either own or rent land. Ownership of land
On the Frontier occurs by inheritance or purchase, and women
The movement west was frequently initiated are at a disadvantage in both methods of land
by men, but many women were willing transfer. Women are more likely than men to
immigrants (Schissel, 1978; Jeffery, 1979). The acquire their land thru inheritance. Thus, struggle for survival required hard work on the women are apt to become owners of land at an part of -both men and women and often older age than men, frequently upon the death
involved the breakdown of the sexual division of their husbands. Women were less likely to of labor (Faragher and Stansell, 1975). The. aquire land thru purchase (57 percent) organization of the household was disrupted compared to men (79 percent) (Waters and
durigthmovmenwestWomnfrquetlyGeisler, 1982). In 1978, men owned
performed traditionally male tasks as well as approximately 83 percent of U.S. farmland
their usual domestic tasks. Disagreement (Waters and Geisler, 1982).
exists concerning women's reaction to the
disruption of the household.
Women worked with their husbands untilWoeofntunc trlfthifamprtheir homesteads were established. AnWoeofntunc trlfthifrm pra
excessive burden of work fell on the women tions over to men, thereby undermining their
during the establishment of homesteads source of power.
(Sprague, 1972). Women planted, harvested, and built the homestead, but seldom was their
domestic work decreased. Faragher and Ownership of land does not necessarily
Stansell. (1975) note that the experience of imply control of the farm operation by women moving out of the domestic sphere was not (Bentley and Sachs, 1984). The transfer of land viewed favorably by women, because they from one generation to the next often involves
were required to perform their domestic tasks the transfer of the farm to a widow. Women as well as work with the men. often turn control of their farm operation over
In another study of women on the frontier, to men, thereby undermining their source of
Jeffery (1979) found women attempted to power (Salamon and Keim, 1979). Also, women
reestablish themselves in the domestic sphere often only nominally own land that is characteristic of their lives in the East. The controlled by family corporation, their disruption of the traditional division of labor spouses, or banking institutions (Waters and
in the household did not necessarily increase Geisler, 1982).
Sachs: Women's Work in the U.S.
C lass, Ethnicity, and Race
Women's work in agriculture in the Midwest, With the settling of agriculture, the division of Southwest and Farwest varies substantially labor was reestablished in households. Wageby their class, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. earning women have continuously The organization of the household and the .contributed to agricultural production in the structure of agriculture in these areas West. Women hired as laborers have been newinterface to cause variation in the type of work ly arrived European immigrants, blacks, women perform. In many types of agriculture Asians, Chicanos, or more recently housewives.
in the West, women were involved in agriculture on farms not owned by their
families. Schob (1975), describes the demand _Teivsbltofwmnnagcuurhs for women immigrant workers in harvesting Teivsblt fwmni giutr a
and dairying in Wisconsin during the 1950's. resulted in. a household organization that is
Other reports from the 1800's note that based on male authority and responsibility.
immigrant women performed more fieldwork than American-born women, (Holmes, 1972).
At times, single women were hired and at
others were employed as members of Conclusion
households. Owners of vineyards often hired The work of women in agriculture has
German immigrants because their wives and changed over time both within and between
children also performed labor (Schob, 1975). regions. An understanding of farm women's
Throughout the history of agriculture in lives is becoming possible as scholars from
California, many Asian, Chicano and black diverse disciplines begin to uncover the
women have been hired as farm workers. historical and contemporary situations of
Women in immigrant families are responsible farm women. The connection between the for maintaining the household under adverse structure of agricultural production and the conditions such as inadequate housing, poor organization of the household defines the sanitary facilities, and limited health care. context and the daily reality of women's work.
Migrant women work in the fields as well as The importance of the household organization providing food and care for their families and men's power in the household is best (Dunbar and Kravitz, 1976). described by farm women themselves. A
Recently with increased mechanization, Kentucky woman described her situation and
and changes in labor availability there has the situation* of women working with their been an increase in the proportion of women husbands. "I've done more farming and harder hired as agricultural workers (Galarza, 1977). work than any other woman in the country. If it took a man's work, I'd do it. Most women
work right along with their husbands but not
In the tomato fields of California, app rox- under them" (Sachs, 1983:107).
imatly 0 pecen of he arvet lborfrcewas The sexual division of labor on farms has imatly 0 prcet o th harestlabr frcewas always been flexible due to the seasonal female by 1975. nature of agriculture and the relatively
constant labor shortages. As a result, women
have been extensively involved in agricultural
In the tomato fields of California, production activities. The invisibility of
approximately 80 percent of the harvest labor women in agriculture has resulted in a force was female by 1975 (Vogeler, 1981). household organization that is based on male
Many of these women are housewives, who authority and responsibility. Women's
provide an ideal temporary and cheap labor agricultural work remains unnoticed because
supply for growers. As Vogeler states, "The -men are considered to be the farmers.
local family structure provides growers with a Black women, immigrant women, and poor dependable, low-cost, docile, readily available, women have performed extensive agricultural invisible, and temporary labor source labor. These women have worked in the fields
(198:204). when fieldwork for middle or upper class white
The work of women in the West varies women was considered inappropriate. Despite
according to their class, ethnic and racial the inappropriateness of fieldwork for white backgrounds. The movement West afforded women, many white women have worked in
opportunities for women in agricultural the fields. Also, a significant number of
production while at the same time disrupting women have farmed on their own.
the division of labor within the household. Domestic work has been women's visible
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
Coughenour, C. Milton and Louis Swanson. "Work
contribution on farms. Regardless of region, Statuses and Occupations of Men and Women in Farm
race, class, or type of farm, women have Families and the Structure of Farms." Rural Sociology.
maintained responsibility for providing daily 48:1 (1983):23-43.
domestic work. The majority of women have Dunbar, Tony and Linda Kravitz. Hard Travelling:
performed household work as unpaid labor, Migrant Farm Workers in America. Cambridge: Ballinger
although immigrant or poor women worked as Publishing Co., 1976.
domestics for wages. On farms, household Faragher, Johnny and Christine Stansell. "Women and
labor is more extensive than in nonfarm Their Families on the Overland Trail to California and
Oregon, 1842-1867." Feminist Studies. 2:2/3 (1975):1b0households, and often involves raising, 166.
preserving, and processing the family food Flora, Cornelia and Sue Johnson. "Discarding the
supply. Distaff: New Roles for Rural Women." In Thomas Ford
Technological shifts, government policies, (ed.), Rural USA: Persistence and Change. Ames: Iowa
University Press, 1978.
and world market conditions have drastically Fogel, Robert and Stanley Engerman. Time on the
altered the structure of agriculture in the U.S. Cross. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1974.
Many women and men have left the family Folbre, Nancy. "Patriarchy in Colonial New England-"
farm. The small proportion of people involved The Review of Radical Political Economics. 12:2 (19S0):4in producing our food supply face an uncertain 13.
Friedland, William H., Mena Furnari and Enrico
future. Continual financial pressure on farms Pugliese. "The Labor Process and Agriculture." Paper
strain family relationships, requires changes presented at the Working Conference on the Labor
in the division of labor, and often result in the Process, Santa Cruz, California, March 14-16. 1980.
termination of farming as the source of Friedman, Harriet. "World Market, State, and Family
livelihood. Women on farms have and will bE Farm: Social Bases of Household Production in the Era of
called upon to financially and emotionally Wage Labor." Comparative Studies in Society and
calld uon o fiancall andemoionllyHistory. 20:4 (1978):545-86. support their families through times of crisis. Hsoy 04(98:4-6
Galarza, Ernesto. Farm Workers and Agri-business in
California, 1947-1960. South Bend, Indiana: Notre Dame
University Press, 1977.
Genovese, Eugene. The Political Economy of Slavery.
New York: Pantheon, 1961.
References Geneovese, Eugene. Roll, Jordan, Roll. New York:
Allen, Ruth. The Labor of Women in the Production of Gladwin, Christina H. "Off-farm work and its effect on
Cotton. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1931. Florida farm wives' contribution to the family farm."
Ankarloo, Bengt. "Agriculture and Women's Work: Paper presented at Conference on Rural Women in the
Directions of Change in the West, 1700-1900." Journal of United States, Blacksburg, Virginia, May 3-4, 1982. Family History. 4:2 (1979):111-21. Hagood, Margaret Jarman. Mothers of the South:
Baker, Gladys L. "Women in the United States Portraiture of the White Tenant Farm woman. New York:
Department of Agriculture." Agricultural History. 50:1 W.W. Norton, 1977. (1979):190-201. Holmes, George K. Supply of Farm Labor. Washington,
Bentley, Susan and Carolyn Sachs. Farm Women in the D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture, United States: An Updated Literature Review and Government Printing Office, Bureau Statistics Bulletin
Annotated Bibliography. Department of Agricultural 94, 1912.
Economics and Rural Sociology, The Pennsylvania State Jeffrey, Julie Roy. Frontier Women: The TransUniversity, University Park, PA. AE&RS #174, 1984. Mississippi West, 1840-1880. New York: Hill and Wang,
Bernier, Bernard. "'The Penetration of Capitalism in 1979.
Quebec Agriculture." Canadian Review of Sociology and Jensen, Joan M. "Cloth, Butler and Boarders: Women's
Anthropology. 13:4 (1976):422-34. Household Production for the Market." Review of Racial
Bloch, Ruth H. "Untangling the Roots of Modern Sex Political Economics. 12:2 (1980):14-24.
Roles: A Survey of Four Centuries of Change." SIGNS. 4:2 Jensen, Joan M. With These Hands: Women Workingon (1978):237-252. the Land. New York: Feminist Press, 1981.
Bokemier, Janet, Verna Keith and Carolyn Sachs. Jensen, Joan M. "A Note on Women and Agriculture in
"Whatever Happened to Rural Women: A Comparative Pre-Industrial America." Women and Agricultural
Study of Labor Force Participation." Paper presented at Production, Resources for Feminist Research. 1:1 Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting, Ithaca, New (1982):87-89. York, August, 1980. Jones, Calvin and Rachel A. Rosenfeld American Farm
Brown, David L. and Jeanne M. O'Leary. Labor Force Women: Findings from a National Survey. Chicago,
Activity of Women in Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Illinois: National Opinion Research Center Report No. America. Washington, D.C.: USDAEconomics, Statistics, 130, 1981. and Cooperatives Service, Rural Development Research Lyson, Thomas. "Some Plan to be Farmers: Career
Report No. 15, 1979. Orientations of Women in American Colleges of
Clinton, Catherine. The Plantation Mistress. New York: Agriculture." International Journal of Women's Studies. Pantheon Books, 1982. 2:4 (1979):311-23.
Sachs: Women's Work in the U.S.
Morrsey Maiet "Te Dul Eonoy ad LborSprague, William Forrest. Women and the West. New Mre Segmetan ATh Commen Eonord and Faok York: Arno Press, 1972.
Markt Sgmenatin: AComent n Lrd ad Flk"Spruill, Julia Cherry, Women's Life and Work in the Social Forces. 60:3 (1982):883-890. Southern Colonies. Chapel Hill: University of North
Sachs, Carolyn. The Invisible Farmers: Women in Carolina Press, 1983. Agricultural Production. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman Stewart, Elinore Pruitt. Letters of a Woman and Allanheld, 1983. Homesteader. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press,
Salamon, Sonya and Ann Mackey Keim. "Land 1961.
Ownership and Women's Power in a Midwestern Farming Summers, Gene F. and Jean M. Lang. "Bringing Jobs Community." Journal of Marriage and the Family. 41:1 To People: Does It Pay?" Small town. 7:3 (1976):4-11. (1979):109-119. Sweet, James A. "The Employment of Rural Farm
Schlissel, Lillian. "Mothers and Daughters on the Wives." Rural Sociology. 37:4 (1972):553-77. Western Frontier." Frontiers. 3:2 (1978):29-33. Vglr nof h yho h aiyFr.Budr
Schob, David E. Hired Hands and Plo wboys: Farm Colrno f eTe Myths ofth9 aml8Fr.1oldr Labor in the Midwest, 1815-60. Urbana, Illinois: Colordo Weitiew Pn ress 981. 'MeChngn University of Illinois Press, 1975. Warutues, WilimandCaleOesi ogilral eCandin
Smuts, Robert W. Women and Work in America. NewStutrofFmlOwesiofArctraLndn York: Schocken Books, 1971. the United States, 1946-1978." Paper presented at Annual
Meetings of Rural Sociological Society, San Francisco,
Women and International Development: UN Decade for Women Conference
Multidisciplinary Curriculum Guides
Available: In July, 1985, the culminating conference of
The Office of Women in International the UN Decade for Women will be convened in
Development (WID), University of Illinois, Nairobi, Kenya. This World Conference to
announces the availability of multidisciplin- Review and Appraise Progress Achieved and
ary curriculum guides on a number of topics Obstacles Encountered in Attaining the goats
related to women and Third World countries, and Objectives of the United Nations Decade
These guides, which have been prepared under for Women will be attended by officially,
a grant from the U.S. Department of appointed delegates of governmental
Education, include both outlines of new organizations. A parallel, non-governmental
courses and special modules for use in general meeting, hosted by a committee of 60 non-govinternational courses. Topics include: -ernmental organizations and known as
consumer economics, family ecology, women Forum 85, will be open to everyone. To assist
in agriculture and urban employment, gender conferees prepare for these conferences, the
relationships in cultural context, and foods International Women's Tribune Centre
and nutrition for women and children. Also (IWTC), 77 United Nations Plaza, N.Y., N.Y.,
included are materials on two multi-, 10017, has prepared a series Decade for
disciplinary seminar courses, one focusing on Women's Information Resources for 1985. No.
selected issues on Third World women and the 1 of the series is a bibliography of
second a guide to organizing field experiences documentation related to the World
related to women and development. These Conference, No. 2 is a list of women's
curriculum guides include course outlines, periodicals from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean,
discussion guides, and annotated Europe, North America, and the South Pacific.
bibliographies. Additional bibliographies in No. 3 is an annotated bibliography of special
Spanish and French on Women and issues of periodicals being published to
Development are also available. These coincide with the World Conference.
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order forms, please contact the WID Office, publications about women and development
3022 Foreign Languages Building, University issues are available from the IWTC office (Tel.
of Illinois, 707 South Mathews Avenue, 212/687-8633).
Urbana, Illinois 61608 (Tel.: 217/333-1977).
Values and Goals of Florida Farm Women:
Do They Help the Family Farm Survive?
Christina H. Gladwin
CHRISTINA H. GLADWIN is an Associate Professor
in the food and Resource Economics Department
and an Affiliate Professor in the Anthropology
Department at the University of Florida. Her
specialty is decision-making of small farmers and
marketeers. She has field experience in Ghana,
Mexico, Guatemala, and Florida. In Florida, her
research includes studies of women farmers and
agribusiness women, gardening, beef cattle, and
changing structure of agriculture. She has published
in the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURE ECONOMICS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND CULTURAL CHANGE, AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST, and HUMAN ORGANIZATION.
We pitch in and help; we do whatever needs to be done to keep the farm going and family A recent survey of labor allocation on the
together ... family farm in North Florida has shown that
farm women are doing more of the farming now, as compared to the 1920s and 1930s.4The The contribution of farm women and family data suggest that although farm men are
labor to the survival of the family farm in the indispensable (and are doing more farm work U.S. and Florida has been an ignored aspect of and off-farm work than the women), Florida farm entrepreneurship until recently.' In farm women are now farming an average of 22
Florida as in many agricultural states of the hours per week, as compared to the 11 hours U.S., however, the contribution of the farm per week estimated by the time-use diaries of
wife or agribusiness woman has assumed a the 1930s.5 This increase in time spent farming
new importance as inflationary pressures on may be due to previous underreporting of
land, equipment, and operating expenses force women's contributions to agricultural the male, able-bodied farmer on the small and production (Sachs, 1983: p. 20), or it may be an medium-sized family farm to seek off-farm actual increase resulting from a decrease in
work to support the family and subsidize the their time spent on housework. Due to
farm .2 The co-managerial role of the farm technological change in the production of
woman became even more important in the household appliances during the past 50
1970s, when off-farm income became more years, time spent doing housework decreased
important than farm income for more than from an average 50 to 26 hours per week.6 This
half of U.S. farms with gross sales of $40,000 to released time has allowed modern farm $100,000, and for more than one-third of the women to increase either their farm work or
farms with gross sales of $100,000 to $200,OOOA. off-farm work. Although some women choose
Gladwin: Values and Goals
to spend that time off the farm, in our sample Feminists or Defenders of Family at least an equal proportion of them choose to Ownership farm. Given the evidence that more women are
As a result, evidence also shows that more now farming in North Florida, we must ask farm women perceive themselves to be farmers why. What are their goals and reasons for rather than farmers wives: 56 percent of the 50 farming? Are they asserting themselves as farm women interviewed considered individuals or feminists by farming? Or, as
themselves to be full- or part-time farmers, happened on the Western frontier in the 19th while 36 percent perceived themselves to be century3 are they farming simply to alleviate farmers' wives .7 The Florida data thus agree a temporary labor shortage? Are they partners with National USDA data which showed that or draftees, a reserve labor force called upon in
in 1980, 55 percent of U.S. farm women times of high labor demand? If so, do they
considered themselves to be a "main operator" recognize or resent their function?14 of the family farm.8 Alternatively, as C. Flora asserts, are they
Although women are doing more of the farming to defend their families, as part of
farming now, evidence also shows that farm their commitment to the collective called the
women' s contributions to the Florida family family ?15 Rather than being part of a feminist farm complement, rather than compete with, struggle, are U.S. farm women part of a class
those of farm men on almost every work struggle, defending the farm and preserving
dimension. Data show that some Florida the land that has been in the family, often for
commodities are mainly women's generations?
commodities, because most of the work done to
produce them is usually done by women. These Results from Florida include chicken houses (both layers and To answer these questions, a sample of 50
broilers), goats, pecans, assorted poultry, and farm women in Baker and Gilchrist Counties, the garden.9 These commodities usually North Florida, were asked in an open ended
complement men's commodities, which way to describe why they farmed, why they
include row crops, cattle and hogs, pasture, worked off the farm, and what they hoped to timber, and hay, as well as the "joint achieve from both kinds of work.'6 The
commodities" which are joint ventures of both interviews were conducted in 1981, before the husband and wife and include tobacco, cotton, elements of the current farm crisis, which vegetables, and nursery operations. added a shift in the factor price of credit, and,
Rather than being part of a feminist struggle, are U.S. farm women part of a class str uggle, defending the farm and preserving the land that has been in the family, often for generations?
Rather than focusing attention on which in some areas, deflation of assets, particularly,
commodity is whose, however, it is more land. By means of the same kind of open-.ended
instructive to look at who within the family questions, they were then asked to describe the does what task.'0 On the farm, both national main reasons farmers cannot make a living and state data show that some tasks are* farming today, and the major strategies used
mainly women's tasks, which typically by experienced farmers to make a living. The
include bookkeeping, caring for small responses were coded, and patterns were found
animals, gofering, and chauffeuring." These in the responses, where possible. The sample tasks complement the traditionally male tasks of women were chosen so. that both the such as plowing, marketing, and the repairing counties and farms within each county were of equipment. Finally, data on the off-farm representative of the population. Based on the work involvement of Florida farm women variety of farming systems found on the
show that it also complements rather than sampled farms and the distance of the
competes with the farm work and off-farm counties from a major urban center, the
work of their men.'2 Women work off the counties were judged to be representative of
farm full-time when off-farm income is needed North Florida farming communities. Within and they have better paying off-farm jobs (or each county, the farms sampled were also job training) than do their husbands; representative, relative to the distribution of
oftentimes they work part-time on the farm in farms in the county by operating size, addition to holding an off-farm job, according to the 1978 Census of Agriculture'7
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
Why Do They Farm? Why Off-Farm Work
Table 1 summarizes the reasons Florida Given the evidence of the increasing
women farm.'18 Generating an income from importance of off-farm work to bigger and
farming and earning enough to pay off big bigger farms, we asked farm women why they
debts is the predominant goal mentioned. One held off-farm jobs. The replies of this sample, woman sums it up, "Our goal is to get 74 percent of whom had some off-farm income
everything paid for, land and equipment, so coming into the family and 58 percent of whom we can have an income coming in." To get out held off-farm jobs themselves at the time of the
of debt, farm families try to reinvest farm interview, are summarized in Table. 2.19
earnings back into the farm, "to build up the The most frequently-mentioned goal cow herd, to have enough cows to cover the motivating off-farm work for 41 percent of the expense of keeping them." The goal of earning respondents was an increase in family income.
money from farming is not always achieved, Off-farm work allows farmers to achieve and however. One woman sadly reflected, "I maintain a lifestyle and standard of living
enjoyed farming until we couldn't make a that farm income alone cannot support. It
profit from it." pays for luxuries such as vacations and home
improvements, and also provides fringe
benefits such as health insurance. One woman
Some farm women are concerned about raising admitted, "With the standards we have, we
children in a healthy environment where the have to have off-farm work, to make more
money and support the life styles we are
mores and values of neighbors are known and accustomed to." While farm women stress that
shared, off-farm work is "necessary, stable, and
financially more important," they also claim
that it is "not as rewarding" as farm work nor
"their first choice." It does,however, pay the
Children-centered goals (raising children bills and help make ends meet.
right, helping older children start farming) The need for personal autonomy and some were the next most frequently-mentioned, control over the timing and level of one's
reasons women farm. Some farm women are own productivity and achievement is another
concerned about raising children in a healthy goal: "You're your own boss. You can go to environment where the mores and values' of work today if you want to, or you can stay neighbors are known and shared. home, or you can go out there at 6o'clock and
Maintaining a rural residence and lifestyle, stay out there until midnight."
satisfying the desire to "stay where you are ....." Being self-sufficient in food, "knowing to live in the country, and enjoy farm life is what we are eating .... and keeping out of the another frequently-mentioned goal. Other grocery store is another major goal of Florida
farm women are accumulating land and farm women. For them, "having a large
equipment for children, encouraging them to enough garden for the whole family, having farm, and planting timber for their childrens' vegetables all year round, and growing your
future use. Only one woman said she did not own ..." are good reasons to farm.
want her sons to farm, but wanted them to
have other job opportunities.
Farming is a goal in itself for some families. Another farm woman testifies: "When you live
As one woman puts it, "The goal of farming is
building a farm; everything else is secondary." on a farm and enjoy it, you're already ahead of
Choosing an appropriate enterprise mix is a the game."
means to achieving this goal. One woman visualizes a time in the not so distant future
when she would have the chicken farm built to A sizable minority (18%7) of farm women the point that her husband can quit his off- work off the farm (or are now in school) to farm job. Another woman hopes to have the satisfy their own career goals. Some of these
farm built up and paid for, so they can sit back women are planning to start or resume a and enjoy themselves. One woman simply career (as a lawyer, writer, teacher, musician,
said, "If I didn't farm, I'd be lost." Another or nurse) which had been deferred earlier in
farm woman testifies: "When you live on a order to build the farm and family.
farm and enjoy it, you're already ahead of the For 16 percent of the women, off-farm work game." helps subsidize the farm business. Sometimes
Gladwin: Values and Goals
it is used to pay for farm equipment; always it ica." The result is that "people who farm and is perceived as a temporary means to achieve stay out of debt are not very affluent." the couple's real goal to farm full-time Other women voiced concern over the
together. As one woman said, "What I've difficulty in getting loans from Farmers 14ome
worked for has all gone back into the farm and Administration (FmHA) for capital repairs to home." Another woman cautioned: their chicken houses. One woman understood a
"Off-farm work is important, but our eyes sit-in at the local FmHA office after months of
must be on the same goal. If that is farming regular, frequent, and unsuccessful visits. Still and building a farm, then everything else is others were concerned about increasing secondary. Women cannot allow off-farm jobs property taxes. One woman said that although
to pull them from the farm, making it a half the size of the exemption to the federal estate venture. Farming cannot be a his and her tax has been raised, "Inflation has made a
venture. mockery out of that."
Establishing social contacts on the off-farm
job, earning money for children's special The price farmers receive for their products
needs, and providing service to the community is the second most cited problem: are other reasons women work off the farm. If they don't do something to preserve the
Meeting new people and having relationships family farm, one of these days Purina or a
with co-workers are aspects of off-farm work big company like that is going to own
that often-isolated farm women look forward everything and people are going to pay
to. Some jobs, such as nursing, driving a for their food. If you look at it right now
school bus, or working in a school cafeteria from the government's standpoint,
allow women to provide valuable community they're depending on the farmer to keep
service and at the same time be sociable. the cost of living down. Everybody is
The main reason farm women seek off-farm guaranteed a minimum wage except the
work, however, is to maintain the family's, farmer; we're guaranteed nothing.
standard of living and keep the farm going. Women mentioned low prices as a problem for
The need to seek off-farm income-earning chickens, vegetables, and livestock. According
opportunities usually means that farmers face to one chicken house grower, they realized problems making a living on farm income more money eight years ago, when every third
alone. Do Florida farmers perceive this to be pay check from the chickens could be put in the the case? bank. Today's low prices, moreover, are
accompanied by continual capital investProblems Farmers Face ments in chicken house equipment demanded
A person can't start out in farming today by the poultry companies; otherwise, no
and make it. If I were to give my children contract is awarded. Likewise, vegetable my whole place, all the equipment, and growers claim the market is now so restricted
two years time, the way things are going that they don't have many options. And
now, they'd be a lost cause. livestock producers claim, "Farmers cannot
Why can't full-time farmers make a living control prices they sell at and they can't
farming today? To answer this question, farm control prices they buy at; so most of the time women were asked to respond to two open- they just break even."
ended questions. First, "What are some of your Related to this problem is the need to expand major problems, needs, and concerns on the farm size to cover increasing costs of
farm?" Second, "People say that one can't production. "Too small a farm size" in addition
make a living on the farm. What do you to lack of control over product and input prices
think?" Because there are recurring themes in lead women farmers to conclude, "We survive, the responses to the two questions, the but we can't get ahead."
responses were combined and are seen in Time and labor availability is cited as
Table 3.20 another problem. One w 6man mentioned that
The problem which heads the list of she is on the phone all the time trying to locate
concerns is the skyrocketing cost of production parts for farm equipment. Another woman inputs, including land, equipment, and credit. would like to see her husband take a hand in Farmers are now caught in a bind between high the bookkeeping. Several women are
real interest rates and high production costs concerned that their kids will be leaving home on the one hand and low product prices on the soon: "the help is running off to school." other. In the opinion of one woman: Concerns of others are over health,
"Practically everything on the farm costs insurance, and retirement, and the inability to
,money; but food is the cheapest thing in Amer- pay medical bills because of the lack of health
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
insurance. One woman took her first "public" go of it, you can. If you have a will and a mind job at age 50 in order to get health insurance and want to do it bad enough, you'll do it." The for her husband who had heart trouble; after advice others give is that the whole family working the night shift as a guard at a prison, should work together, have one goal, and she farmed at least four hours a day. channel all energy and money in one direction:
Contemplating retirement, another woman "The husband and wife must work together;
asked, "We never learned to play; what do we they can't pull apart."
do with time if we retire?" Choice of appropriate land use and
.Finally, in the opinion of one woman, the commodity is the next most frequently
federally-subsidized FmHA loan program, mentioned way to be successful. Although
created especially to help small farms survive, many families started farming by clearing is a problem and not a solution: timber land and buying farmland piece by
Many farmers are FmHA farmers. They piece, most now advise young farmers to rent
are not productive, because it is not their land, given present day interest rates. Some own money in the venture. They get advise that a diversified operation is essential
money, and if they make it, okay. If not, for a small farm; while others say to depend on so what? They don't make the sacrifices a good money crop. One experienced woman
farmers did. farmer recalls:
Tobacco was our cash crop when we first
First they need a pick-up truck with a CB started fanning. You need a cashcrop to
radio, and then an air-conditioned accumulate a cash flow to work with. We
tractor. They are not building anything. grew 21/2 acres. I worked in JacksonThey farm with other people's land, with ville for an insurance company then. I'd
other people's money, and with a high come home and hoe or plant, and work
mortgage. I can't blame the farmer; they until 10 or 11 at night and then get up in
have a good thing going. But they are to' the morning and go to work again.
be blamed for going into debt and not Reports are mixed, however, concerning
working their way out. which of today's crops constitute "money
crops." Still others mention that it now takes
more land and equipment to farm than they
Many women were of the view that farmers can have.
Another popular piece of advice is: "Be
make a living farming today; but people are frugal; cut costs by saving every which way
getting lazy and don't like to work hard. you can." Although initial capital is needed to
get started farming, they urge young farmers
not to overextend themselves by going too
much into debt. Because the best equipment is
How Farmers Can Make a Living not always necessary, farmers should shop
Farming around for good deals and buy second-hand
After the same group of women were asked, equipment. Farm earnings should be
to advise beginning farmers on how to be reinvested into the fann, and each year's debt
successful in fanning, their replies were paid off. The general consensus on credit useis
compiled into the list in Table 4 .21 The revealed to "go slow, grow into farming," and use
patterns clearly show that survival on the capital and equipment efficiently.
family farm requires hard work, dedication, Management skills are considered crucial to
and commitment. Not surprisingly, "Use survival on a small farm. Farmers are advised to
'family labor efficiently" is the most frequent keep up with innovations and use all available piece of advice given to young farmers. One resources: the university, agricultural extension, woman warns, "Don't expect things to come and other farmers. Farmers should keep farm
easy." Another cautions women to expect hard records and do budgets to "figure out what you work at the wrong time: "The wife should be are'getting into." As one woman put it, "Ton't willing to work long, hard hours, as and when get excited about things that haven't been
work needs to be done." Many women were of
the view that farmers can make a living proven, for example, sunflowers and
farming today; but people are getting lazy and buckwheat. Try them out in a small way first."
-don't like to work hard.. To make a living farming, farmers should
Other women stressed the need to be expect risks and a decrease in income. In one
committed to the farm. According to them, woman's opinion, "It is hard for young people
"You have to want it and be willing to do it to farm nowadays because they were raised most." Another advises, "If you try and make a differently from us. They can make a living
Gladwin: Values and Goals
but it's not the standard of living they are used Clearly, these values and goals serve to to. They were raised in affluence." The risks of strengthen the family's resolve to keep the farming go with the profession, and as one farm going during adverse times. Further,
woman frankly said, "I'd like to see young they are values which are emotionally and ideopeople take it on the chin like we did." logically charged22 because the family farm is
The role of government in the future of small the last vestige of independent land ownership
farms is crucial, according to four percent of and production control in the U.S. today. The the respondents. Both governmental and farm woman's role in maintaining and
agricultural leaders need to encourage young reproducing these values in her family is thus people to help themselves. The government a crucial one. As witnessed by recent popular
should provide tax incentives to farmers, and movies (The River, Country), the women are support better prices for their products. One not just following but are actually leading the woman's view is that "government is not charge to defend the farm and family from
letting farmers get their share of the food creditors in times of financial crises. In Flora's dollar." (1981) terminology, they are in charge of
The need for off-farm income was stressed ideological as well as biological reproduction:
again. One woman claims, "A husband and they are the ones who instill the values
wife can work 16 hours at a job and get double required for family farming into the next incomes, and still have 16 hours to devote to generation .23 Part of their job as farm wife and farm work!" Still other women mentioned the mother is to actively defend their family farm need for financial backing from relatives or a and their class interests, and even show more
well-established older farmer. Some advised strength than men in times of farm crises.
Iigrowing your own vegetables, raising your Farm women, therefore, have multiple roles
own meat, and making your own jams and to play in helping the farm survive. Some
jellies. Farming means growing what you eat women help the farm survive physically by .rather than buying it." actively farming to alleviate a labor shortage
"If the economy is good, if the market is good, and if interest rates don't go up, it will be possible to make it in farming.
Only one percent of the respondents (due to crop seasonality or husband's off-farm
mentioned that the state of the economy work, illness, or death). Others help by
determines whether a farmer can make a bringing in necessary off-farm income which
living farming: "If the economy is good, if the complements men's farm work. Our results market is good, and if interest rates don't go show that women also help the farm survive up," it will be possible to make it in farming. by inculcating "survival values" into their children and male kin. If they don't, the farm
Conclusion (and often the family) may break up. The role
"Farming cannot be a his and her venture." played by women in instilling these values What do farm women's values and goals tell may thus be more important than the role they
us about them? Are they farming more today often play as substitute laborer in time of need.
because they are individuals and feminists?
Alternatively, are they farming due to Implications
economic necessity and the desire to safeguard The implications of these results are their families' land and production? Evidence straightforward. Given the present farm crisis from North Florida family farms clearly show in the Midwest and current debate about the that the latter motivation, to defend their 1985 Farm Bill, attention has once again been families' material well-being, is more in tune focused on the question of the survival of the with farm women's expressed goals and family farm. Butter suggests, however, that
-values. Indeed, only with respect to their own rather than explaining the demise of the off-farm work do farm women perceive them- family farM24 ... a much more interesting and
selves as individuals with individualistic enduring question concerns why the family
goals. And even then, they caution that "off- labor farm can be so persistent in advanced .farm work is important, but our eyes must be capitalism dominated by large-scale corporate on the same goal .... if that is farming and production.25 Sachs (1981) attempts to answer building a farm." that question via a provocative treatise on
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
farm women, domesticity and patriarchy, Notes
and the political economy of U.S. agriculture. 1. See Boulding, Flise, "The Labor of Farm Women in
In her rewrite of the history of the family farm the United States: A Knovwledge Gap," paper prepared
from a feminist perspective, she attributes the for the American Sociological Asociation session on
continued survival of the family farm in part "Women and Work," Boston, 1979- See also Downie,
Masuma, and Christina H. Gladwin, Florida Farm
to "under-consumption and overwork by the Wives: The)' Help the Fami- -,Farm Survire, Food and
entire family:" Resource Economics Dept., University of Florida,
The low standard of living and exploit- Gainesville, FL., 1981: and Sachs, Carolyn, The
Invisible Farmers: Women in Agricultural Producation of family labor are factors that tion, Totowa, N.J., Rowman and Allanheld, 198-3.
explain the viability of the family farm at 2. See Chaney, Elsa, and Martha Lewis, "Women, Mithe present time. Also, the continuation gration, and the Decline of SmallholderAgriculture,"
of subsistence production largely performed USAID-WID Report prepared for the Office of Women
by women on the family farm allows the in Development. USAID, lq80; and Gladivin, Christina, "Off-Farm Work and Its Effect on Florida Farm
family to survive on less cash income.25 Wives' Contribution to the Family Farm," World
Small farmers' use of unpaid family labor, Development and Women, Vol. 2, M. Rojas, Ed.,
coupled with their tendency to hang onto land Blacksburg, VA, The Virginia Tech. Title XII Women
at much personal cost, as well as their use of in International Development Office, 19S2; and
Huffman, Wallace. and Mark Lange, "Off-Farm Work
other "survival strategies" such as direct Decisions of Husbands and -Wives: Joint Decision
marketing, gardening, entering into informal Making," mim-o, Iowa State University, 1984; and
partnerships, keeping debts low, practicing Rosenfeld, Rachel, "Off-Farm Employment of Farm
frugality, renting rather than buying land and Wives and Husbands," paper presented at the Wingequipment, and cutting back production and spread Seminar on Women's Roles on North American Farms, Racine, WI, 1982; and Wilkening, Eugene,
increasing off-farm work during bad times27 and Nancy Ahrens, "lrvolvment of Wives in Farm
has allowed small farms to exist side by side Tasks as Related to Characteri.tics of the Farm, the
and compete with larger corporate farms. As Family, and Work Off the Farm," paper presented at
Hyden has shown for the peasantry in Africa, the Rural Sociological Society Meetings, Burlington.
small is more powerful than expected because VT, 1979.
3. Zulauf, Carl, "Changes in U.S. Agriculture During
to a great extent it can exist outside the normal the 1970s and Early 1980s: An Examination Based on
marketing system in an "economy of Constant Dollar Sales Categories," Columbus, Ohio,
affection."28 Ohio State University, Dept. of Agricultural EconomThe purpose of this paper has been to show ics and Rural Sociology, ESO 1146, 1985.
that women's values and goals drive that 4. Downie and Gladwin, p. 68; Gladwin, p. 5.
"economy of affection" and keep it going. The 5. Gladwin, 1982, p. 4; also see Vanek, Joanne, "Time
Spent in Housework," Scientific American 235): pp.
question that remains is: how much longer can 116-120, 1974.
these values of hard work, dedication, and 6. Vanek, p. 118.
commitment to the farm be maintained and 7. Gladwin, Christina H., "How Florida Women Help
reproduced at such an intense level, given the Farm and Agribusiness Firm Survive,"
present farm income crises. In North Florida Gainesville, FL, Florida Cooperative Extension
Service Circular 613, 1984, p. 5.
at least, it is clear that more and more younger 8. Jones, Calvin, and Rachel Rosenfeld, American Farm
farmers are pushed off the farm by high Findings from a National Surv'ey, Chicago, IL,
production costs and capital requirements, National Opinion Research Center, Report No. 130.
and pulled off the farm by off-farm work. As 1981.
9. Downie and Gladwin, p. 34.
experienced women farmers testify, they are 10. Mukhopadhyay, Carol, '"resting a Decision Process
not willing to make the sacrifices their less- Model of the Sexual Division of Labor in the Family,"
affluent parents did a generation ago. Instead, Human Organization 43(3): pp. 227-242, 1984.
they have become "FmHA farmers." It is 11. Gladwin, 1984, p. 7; Jones and Rosenfeld, p. 18.
debatable whether the old values will last to 12. Gladwin, 1982, p. 8
insure the future survival of the U.S. family 13. Sachs, pp. 13-20.
insre 14. Sachs, pp. 99, 109.
farm. 15. Flora, Cornelia, "Farm Women, Farming Systems,
and Agricultural Structure: Suggestions for
NOTE Scholarship," The Rural Sociologist 1(6): pp. 381-386,
*This paper was made possible by the gracious 1981.
hospitality of Florida farm women in Baker and Gil- 16. Downie and Gladwin, pp. 78-101. christ Counties, the cooperation of Extension Directors 17. Downie and Gladwin, Table 1. Pat Smith Barber and Marvin Weaver, the dedication of 18. Downie and Gladwin, p. 80. Dr. Masuma Downie and Ms. Janet Weston who 19. Downie and Gladwin, p- 86.
interviewed, coded, and tabulated data in Baker and 20. Downie and Gladwin, p. 90. Gilchrist Counties respectively, and funds provided by 21. Downie and Gladwin, p. 97. National Science Foundation Grant No. BNS-8218894 22. Sachs, p. 70.
awarded to Christina Gladwin. 23. Flora, p. 386.
Gladwin: Values and Goals
24. See de Janvry, Alain, The Agrarian Question and 2. Lack of a market; low prices
Reformism in Latin America, Baltimore, John received 14 10
Hopkins University Press, 1981; and Gladwin, 3. Too small land size 13 9
Christina, and Robert Zabawa, "Microdynamics of 4. Uncertain future of the
Contraction Decisions: A Cognitive Approach to small farm; lack of governStructural Change," American Journal of Agricultural ment help 1
Economics, Dec., 1984. 1
25. Buttel, Frederick, "The Political Economy, of 5. Scarcity of time and labor 11 8
Agriculture in Advanced Industrial Societies," paper 6. Not producing high-enough
presented at Canadian Sociology and Anthropology yields 10 7
Association Meetings, Montreal, 1980, p. 10. 7. "We survive, but can't get
26. Sachs, p. 66. ahead" 9 6
27. Gladwin, Christina, "Structural Change and Survival 8. The need for off-farm
Strategies in Florida Agriculture," Culture and income 9 6
Agriculture 21(3): pp. 1-7, 1983. 9. Health; safety, retirement
28. Hyden, Goran, Beyond Ujamaa in Tanzania: Under- concerns 6 4
development and an Uncap tured Peasantry, Berkeley, 10. Risks involved in farming 5 4
University of California Press, 1980. 11. The need to diversify 3 2
12. Energy self sufficiency 1 1
13. "We can't hurt any more" 1 1
TBEI. FARM GOALS 14. "The government shouldn't
TBEsubsidize farms" 1 1
1. Generation of income 29 28
2. Children-centered goals 26 25 *The number of respondents does not sum to the sample
a. helping children 16 size as some respondents gave more than one response.
b. raising children 10
3. Rural residence/lifestyle 18 17 TABLE 4. HOW FARMERS CAN MAKE A LIVING:
4. Personal autonomy 15 14 ADVICE TO YOUNG FARMERS
5. The farm is a goal in itself 13 13
6. Subsistence/self sufficiency 3 3 No. of
104 100 1.* Use family labor efficiently 48 28
2. Choose the appropriate
_________________________________enterprise mix and land use 33 19
*Number of respones do not sum to sample size because, 3. Expand slowly; be frugal in responses often reported more than one goal and all use of capital and credit 31 18
goals were recorded. 4. Manage carefully 25 14
5. Be prepared for a decrease
TABLE 2: GOALS MOTIVATING OFF-FARM WORK in income 8 5
6. Expect risks 7 4
No. of 7. It depends on government
responses* %intervention 6 4
1. Supplement farm income and 8. Get a good off-farm job 5 3
support a life style 20 41 9. Farm with others 4 2
2. Fulfill career goals 9 18 10. Be self sufficient 4 2
3. Subsidize the farm 8 16 11. It depends on the state of
4. Maintain social contacts 7 15 the economy and commodity
5. Provide for children's needs 3 6 prices 2 1
6. Assist in community service 2 4
*Again the number of respondents giving advice does
*The number of women reporting goals motivating off- not sum to the sample size, as some farmers gave more
farm work do not necessarily sum to the sample size than one piece of advice.
because first, not all farm women in the sample have off-farm income, and second, those who did often reported more than one goal.
TABLE 3. WHY FARMERS CAN'T MAKE A LIVING FARMING
1. Inflation, high cost of rsoss
inputs, credit and taxes 44 32
Research in Progress: Case Studies of
Family Adaptation to Changing Resources
M. Suzanne Sontag and Margaret W. Bubolz
SUZANNE SONTAG is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Environment and Design and MARGARET BUBOLZ is a Professor in the Department of Family and Child Ecology, College of Human Ecology, Michigan State University. Sontag and Bubolz are currently involved in research on the roles of men, women and children in small scale and diversified income agriculture. They have jointly published such articles as "The Human Ecosystem: A Model," "Satisfaction with Rural Community: A Longitudinal Study in the Upper Peninsula" and "A Human Ecological Approach to the Quality of Life: Conceptual Framework and Results of a Preliminary Analysis." The research reported here is funded by the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station, Project No. 3261. Michigan State University Journal Article No. 11558.
Changes in the economic and social structure scale and diversified income farming in the
of American society are forcing families to United States, there is an increasing
make changes in occupations and lifestyles, involvement of women in farm management
Increasing numbers of families are engaging and production. On small farms the family
in small scale and diversified income farming, functions as the management and decisionboth to augment family real income and to making unit and also as the sole or major labor
attain a more satisfying quality of life.',2 In force. Women contribute substantially to that Michigan, for example, 15 percent of the work force and to the managerial activities for
population lives on small acreages (1-40 acres), the farm and household.4,5 One indicator of Historically, farming has been a family the growing involvement of women in
enterprise in which agricultural and agriculture is the increase in the proportion of
household production are interdependent and agricultural college students who are women.6
function as an integrated system. In develop- In past decades, agricultural research and
ing countries, where food production for the educational programs have tended to focus on
family has accounted for a large share of the specific crops or animal species, single farm agricultural production output, men and enterprises, farm management strategies and
women have shared in the work necessary to production methods. Insufficient attention
feed the family, and women continue to has been given to the interrelationships
comprise a large portion of the agricultural between these components and family goals,
labor force as men are increasingly drawn into values, resources and decisions, as they off the farm work.3 With the growth of small influence the total farm-family system. For
Sontag & Bubolz: Research in Progress
example, decisions about animal and cropping 5. To assess the outputs from the production enterprises are made not only on the basis of and management systems and outcomes for technical information and technical each family member in relation to resource
rationality, but also include such factors as inputs and family values and goals. skills, values, goals and experiences of family
members. The involvement in agricultural
enterprises of all family members, including
parents and children, is a significant Methodology
component in the decision-making process. The first two phases of a five phase research
An integrated family- farm system approach is project are currently in progress. From a pool needed to take account of the interaction of 27 families who submitted integrated
between technical and social decision-making. farming enterprise proposals to a team of A comprehensive research and extension pro- University research and extension personnel, gram is underway to make rural lif in seven families were interviewed by the team.
Michigan more viable both economically and. Three of these families were selected to live on socially by developing support programs for small farm sites in Michigan. One young current and prospective resident landholders couple with two small children moved to the 40 which utilize the best available concepts and acre site in the Fall of 1983. A second young tools for strategic and indigenous natural couple who also have two small children
resources. One research component of this moved to a five acre site in the Fall of 1984. The
program involves a study of family adaptation third couple without children moved to a 20 to changing resources and environments in acre site in the Fall of 1984.
rural communities. The overall goal of the Intensive, longitudinal case studies are
research is to describe and understand the being conducted with each family over a three
relationships among technical, economic, and year period. Computer assisted self-reports as social performance and human factors in -well as paper and pencil self-reports are being
production and management on small scale used along with interviews and questionfamily farms. Increased knowledge about naires. A systems model has guided the
these interrelationships is necessary in order selection of records that each family keeps to develop public policy, educational regularly and the structure and content of the
programs, appropriate Extension activities interviews. Records of time use, external
and substantive theory directed to creating inputs, financial income and expenditures and viable small farm systems and enhancing the environmental adjustments are examples of quality of life in rural communities. records being kept by each adult family
member. Regularly scheduled interviews
Object ives monitor household and farm production
To accomplish this goal, a family ecological processes, technology, and output, decision system perspective is being implemented with making and adaptation strategies. the following objectives: The case study approach provides access to
1. To describe in detail, over time, character- the dynamics of the production and manageistics of selected Michigan families who are ment processes as these affect inputs, outputs, engaged in small scale farming and who make and family adaptation. They also provide the changes in their residential environment, unique opportunity to study the process by
lifestyle, social networks or technology in the which decisions are made and plans are home. implemented.
2. To describe and analyze how each family
member uses inputs, environments and
resources (e.g., time, space, money, energy, Preliminary Observations information and material resources) and Since we have a year's data on only one
strategies to achieve individual, family and family to date and only six months'experience farming goals and a satisfying quality of life. with the other two families, findings are
3. To describe and analyze the considered preliminary. Some initial
interdependent processes utilized in observations can, however, be made which
agricultural and household production that should be of concern to those interested in the
result in a viable and sustainable integrated role of women in agriculture. ,farm family system. Farm enterprise decisions are made, in part,
4. To analyze phases of adaptation family with considerations for the safety and members make to major changes in their lives development of children. In one family, the by engaging in small scale agriculture. decision was made to purchase angora goats
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
and raise them for mohair fiber production. structure and sequence of their schedules to The goats were perceived to be small and accommodate off-farm employment. One
permitted the children's safe participation in family made multiple changes in both their feeding and care. Another family chose husband and wife participation in off-farm its walk-behind tractor with concern for the employment before finding a workable children's safety equally as or more important situation. Distance to the job resulted in than low energy input agriculture. Also with increased transportation time and costs for respect to children, one couple desired to two families. The transition from steady fullprovide their son and daughter with natural time employment to part-time, off-farm experiences of birth and death through employment was a major adjustment for one
exposure of their children to farm animals and husband.
pets. Both husbands and wives in the two One major influence on the structure of work
families with children chose to move to a small was the time requirements of farming. Limited farm in part because of the lifestyle and daylight hours during late fall and winter
improved nutrition that limited resource months proved stressful for accomplishment
input agriculture could provide for them- of farm tasks when off-farm work schedules
-selves and their children. competed. One husband decided to work off
the farm at nights (9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.) in
order to have time for farm work and to be
Also with respect to children, one couple desired present and able to participate in the care of the couple's children. One woman with
to provide their son and daughter with natural children found it necessary to have a block of experiences of birth and death through exposure time away from the family in order to have of their children to farm animals and pets. time to plan the farm activities and to seek
Each family has been providedwith a microExtension of personal space to encompass computer for both farm and household
the farm house, garden and fields was a management as well as for educational and
dominant value expressed by all three recreational purposes. Each family recognizes
participating families. Attachment to the land the potential for computer-assisted decision and pride expressed in improvements to farm making and is eager to maintain accurate buildings and household structures suggest records. The farm women appear to be taking
the importance of the natural and constructed the managerial role in record keeping and
environments to these families. forecasting.
Both wives and husbands shared in farm
and household production activities,
including building fences, shearing and Attachment to the land and pride expressed in vaccinating- goats, planting crops, planning improvements to farm buildings, and household enterprises, gathering information, making structures suggest the importance of the natural
contacts in the community for equipment
purchase and rental and marketing products. and constructed environments to these houseIn at.least one family the wife occupies the holds.
position of full-time farmer/mother and is recognized as such in the local rural
community. The husband also values and Participation in rural community appears to
participates actively in parenting. He is the take considerable time for development of one, however, who has sought off-farm necessary linkages and resultant acceptance.
employment and is considering the Although one couple became licensed day-care
establishment of a home-based business in operators in order to begin a home-based
order to be closer to his family and to the farm. business and remain near their children while
Off-farm employment, in fact, is an essential gaining additional income, the venture was
component of each of the three farm families' deferred because of lack of community
lives. At least one adult member of each family ties.
is employed between 20 and 40 hours per week These are but a few of the rich insights being
off the farm. One of the major adaptations that gained by viewing the farm family as the unit two of the three farm families had to make in of analysis in the study of small-scale moving to their farms was to change the agriculture. Both wives and husbands share
Sontag & Bubolz: Research in Progress
equitably in both farm and off-farm work. Agiicultural Workers Conference, Tuskegee Institute,
Values related to family and child develop- Tuskegee, Albama, December 2-4, 1984.
Kerr, Jr., H.W. A Survey of Current and Expected
ment, the conservation and responsible use of Research Needs of Small Farms in the Northeastern
the land and natural environment, and a Region. Beltsville, Maryland: U.S. Department of
modest lifestyle with respect to material Agriculture, Agricultural Research (Northeastern
possessions guide their decisions and direct Region), Science and Education Administration,
their goals. Report ARR-NE-9, 1980.
3. Boulding, E. Women in the Twentieth Century World.
New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1977.
4. Verway, D.I. (Ed.) Michigan Statistical Abstract. The authors acknowledge the research Eighteenth edition. Detroit, MI.: Bureau of Business
contributions of Dr. Roger Brook, Cooperator Research, School of Business Administration, Wayne
State University, 1984.
and Associate Professor, Department of 5. Fassinger, P.A., and Schwarzweller, H.K. Work
Agriculture Engineering and Ms. Beverly Patterns of Farm Wives in Mid-Michigan. Research
Ledwith, Graduate Research Assistant, Report No. 425, Michigan State University
Department of Family and Child Ecology, Agricultural Experiment Station, East Lansing, MI,
Michigan State University, East Lansing, 61982.
6. Sollie, C.R., "Defining and Achieving Life Goals: A Michigan. Process of Human Resource Development." Current
Research Information System, Project Abstract, CRIS
NOTES ID. No. 401100/RMS, U.S. Department of Agriculture,
1. Kerr, Jr., H.W., "What To Do If the Small Farmers are Science and Education Administration, 1984.
To Survive." Paper presented at the 42nd Professional
Science and Farm Women's Work: The Agrarian
Origins of Home Economic Extension
JANE KNOWLES is on leave from her position as
Assistant Director of International Agricultural
Programs at the University of Wisconsin ... Madison,
serving as Senior Analyst/Operations Coordinator
with Abt Associates, prime contractor for the AID
funded Agricultural Policy Analysis Project. One of
her major interests is women's productive roles in
agriculture, both in the United States and developing
Consideration of a particular range of human of girls seeking higher education, and an values has been central to debate about the acceptable profession for them after
nature of American agriculture since at least completing that education. the time of theories about the Jeffersonian *The increasingly vocal concern of rural
yeoman farmers. Beginning in the decades women that the attention of those government
after the Civil War, however, and continuing agencies dealing with agriculture focus on the into the early years of this century, needs of farm households as well as on the
consideration of these values took on a new production side of agriculture.
dimension as concerns began to be expressed By the start of this century, American
about the'well-being of the entire farm family, opinion at the highest levels was troubled by explicitly including farm women and children. the increasingly rapid population movements That is, the fairly narrow concern for out of rural and into urban environments. The
increasing farm output, and with it farm shift seemed to signal a turning away from
income, broadened to include consideration of values which framed the whole American the quality of life in rural America which experience. Discussion of the current
increased income could provide. Although a agricultural credit crisis to some degree echoes
heavy emphasis on production remained, these earlier concerns. In 1908, President
there was an extension of the range of human Theodore Roosevelt appointed an influential values to be dealt with in agriculture. This national Country Life Commission. TR extension was coincident with and related to a delivered a ringing charge to the Commission, number of other current trends, including at including the statement that: "'The least: strengthening of country life is the strength*The rural to urban migration of large ening of the whole nation."" The Commission
numbers of people. reviewed 120,000 questionnaires sent out by
*The strengthening of the agricultural USDA and criss-crossed the country to hold 10
education system's ability to meet the real public hearings. Although all the Commission
needs of rural people. members were male, they were plainly moved
*The growth of home economics or by the testimony they heard regarding the
"Domestic Science" programs as both a hardships of rural life for women. Their report
suitable educational track for large numbers stressed the importance of improving the
Knowles: Science & Farm Women's Work
rewards drawn from rural life by everyone in Farmers' Institutes, and later home
the farm family, including especially farm demonstration agents, also tried to reach
wives who socialized their children into rural women and children by means of club work. life and made that life comfortable for their Women's clubs met regularly in members' husbands. One of the Commission's strongest homes to watch demonstrations of domestic
recommendations was that a national techniques. Those for children usually
extension education system be created by involved some type of project activity,
governments as a way to make the lives of generally but not rigorously gender-stereorural women less lonely and less burdensome. typed (corn cultivation for boys, baking for
Before such -a system was established, girls, etc.).
several overlapping educational programs
the Farmers' Institutes; the short course
programs on land grant university campuses; There was, by this time, a substantial body of the instructional programs undertaken by
such private firms as International Harvester; domestic science information to be transmitted, the beginnings of the county agent system, and a corps of women trained to do the transespecially in southern states -came overtime mitting. to try to address the concerns of the entire farm
family by developing programs specifically
for farm women and, later, children. I will There was by this time a substantial body of
discuss only the first of these in any detail. domestic science information to be transFarmers' Institutes, based on European mitted, and a corps of women trained to do the
models, began in the Eastern U.S., but by the transmitting. The movement, whose end of the nineteenth century had spread beginnings can be traced to Catharine
across the country. They were generally one- Beecher's books on domestic economy I of the or two-day meetings held at a time and in a 1840s, was originally an Eastern urban one,
place convenient for farm families. Initially, but during the 1890s it became securely based Farmers' Institute programs for women in the land grant colleges of the Midwest and
included some technical presentation on, e.g., South: there were 5 university programs in dairying, poultry, and bee-keeping, along with 1890, 15 by 1896, and 30 by 1900. Courses in domestic science programs on food domestic science also entered the curricula of
preparation and sanitation, child care, the nation's public schools during the same
clothing construction, etc. In time, the decade. Training of home economics teachers
emphasis came to be heavily on the domestic began at about the same time, and by the
science side, with cooking schools a partic- decade 1905-1915, there were 17,000 young ularly popular offering, at least at the state women pursuing careers of Domestic Science at level. The federal government supported and US universities, the vast majority of them in
encouraged the Institute movement. In the training to be teachers.
period of its greatest sophistication and effect One impact of this phenomenal growth can (ca. 1900-1912), the USDA's Office of be seen in the differences between the two
Experiment Stations employed a Farmers' major pieces of legislation which completed
Institute specialist who oversaw the
preparation of a series of lectures in pamphlet the construction of the agricultural education form designed to be accompanied by up to 50 system begun with the Morrill Act of 1862. The
lantern slides for delivery at the Institutes. In Hatch Act of 1887 created agricultural these lectures, 3 of the 14 "Farm Architec- experiment stations in every state, and ture," "Farm Homes," and "Farm Home directed that they conduct basic research into
Grounds-Planting and Care" were fully or a wide range of scientific processes in agripartially addressed to women .2 A USDA culture. The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 created
publication which reviewed Institute the Cooperative Extension Service (CES) and
programs for women cited their "need ... for directed that the CES' work should include: more definite instruction in domestic and "the giving of instruction and practical
sanitary science and household art than is demonstrations in agriculture and home
given to mixed audiences of the Farmer's economics to persons not attending or resident
Institutes."3 In 1908, the year on which the in the land grant colleges in the several comdocument reported, 21 states had separate munities, and imparting to such persons
programs for women, and 7 had female information on said subjects through field
lecturers in their regular programs all demonstrations, publications and otherwise
dealing with strictly domestic science topics. Concern. for any of the topics subsumed
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
under the phrase "and home economics" is They sought help with food, cook books, food
conspicuously missing from Hatch. By the and drug laws, hygiene, care of the sick, better
time of Smith-Lever, their inclusion did not human nutrition, canning and preser-ving, even evoke any comment in the often strident dealing with houseflies, sewing (a Missouri Congressional debates on other aspects of the woman wanted a re-invention of chain mail legislation. In the quarter of a century shirts to reduce mending [104, p. 551), etc.
separating the two Acts, the set of human There are several variations on the general
values which included the specific well being of theme that since the USDA and the agriculfarm women and children had assumed a tural experiment station system had provided
significant role in American discussions of scientific help and advice to farmers for years, their agricultural system. now it was time for similar advice to come to
Farm women were eager to recognize, farm women struggling to modernize their
applaud, and demand more from the broad- domestic operations as their husbands had
ening of the nation's vision. In 1913, USDA done in the fields and barns. surveyed several thousand American rural
women to solicit their advice on ways in which
the Department could provide more services to The letters in which women speak of their them. Because of the nature of the households
surveyed, the replies probably reflect the views domestic needs and responsibilities are among of farm families at the middle level or above. the most deeply felt in this set of reports. USDA divided the replies into four large
groups and published them as reports on the
social and labor, domestic, educational, and
economic needs of American farm women.4 The letters in which the women speak to
The reports make clear that women had sole their domestic needs and responsibilities are responsibility for household activities. There among the deeply felt in this set of reports. are moving requests for more efficient, less From them one gets a clear sense of the burdensome farm homes. Complaints about enormous burden of work borne by the
having to make do with antiquated, inefficient women, with virtually no prospect of any help, equipment are frequent. There is recognition human or mechanical. on the part of the women that farm profits are Concern for the well-being and the future of so low that it is difficult to find the funds to rural children was one of the focal points of the purchase new equipment for the home, but Country Life Commission Report, and the
recognition as well that the time freed and the USDA Reports echo this concern. There are human health improved by the addition of two special foci: improved nutrition and ensuch equipment could be used to make more hanced educational opportunities. In
directly productive contributions to the farm particular, there is a call for more practical enterprise. education of a type that would help rural boys
Household production was the area of their and girls to see the intrinsic worth of farm life work lives with which women wanted the most and hence encourage them to take it up as their help; they demanded that their government future. Several writers speak to the need to
provide them and their daughters with home educate all children in both agriculture and
economics advice and education: domestic science, so that the practitioner of
... girls scientifically 'trained along each will have a due respect for the work of the domestic lines will never become other [105, esp. pp. 13-25]. An Ohio woman
household drudges like their mothers wrote simply: "Our crop, the children; our
[105, p. 21]. needs, suggestions for their food" [104, p. 66].
The CES sought to meet these needs from its
Our girls need to be freed from the very inception, picking up on the efforts of
bondage of ignorance and taught the such precursors as the Farmers' Institutes,
dignity of labor. Give us schools of and is still doing so today. It has tried to do so
domestic science [105, p. 28]. by setting up two discrete systems for delivery
of services one for technical services to male
[a woman] needs to know the science farmers, and one for homemaking services to
relative to her daily tasks, that she may farm women. Over the years, the separation become a thinking wife and mother, not between the two has been very strict, with
an automaton or a follower of ancient disproportionate staff and funding resources
traditions [104, p. 51]. being devoted to the technical delivery system.
Knowles: Science & Farm Women's Work
the Country Life Movement as one instance of Several writers speak to the need to educate all this harmonization. I would argue that the children in both agriculture and domestic sci- Cooperative Extension Service, particularly ence, so that the practitioner of each will have as it affected farm women, is another example
a due respect for the work of the other. An Ohio of an attempt to use the modernization process
woman wrote simply: "Our crop, the children; to support that 'part of the agrarian tradition
our eed, sugesionsforthei fod."which favored the retention of rural people in our eed, sugesionsforthei fod."the countryside. By helping farm women to lessen the gap between their life styles and those of urban women, the CES helped to In recent years, there has been some blurring increase the satisfactions to be found in rural of the distinctions between the services, with living and hence to decrease the push to leave extension agents initiating instructional the farm. Perhaps inevitably, the means
programs on technical subjects specifically for selected to achieve that end failed to recognize farm women, but there has been no significant and support the full range of women's change in the allocation of resources. The net productive activities on American farms, a effect has been a concentration on only one failure whose reverberations still affect rural
though admittedly a very crucial one aspect life.
of women's productive roles on farms. We
cannot be too surprised:
*the early home economists, in and out of the
CES, had what they were convinced were
women's best interests in mind; Notes
*they were focusing on activities central to 1. U.S. Country Life Commission Report, reprinted
the lives of all women; in Wayne D. Rasmussen, ed., Agriculture in the
*the wer meeting flt ad vgoroslyUnited States: A Documentary History, 4 vols.
*the wer meeting flt ad vgorosly(New York, 1975): 11, 1982. expressed need on the part of rural women for 2. United States Department of Agriculture, Office of government assistance in their roles as Experiment Stations, Farmers Institute Lectures 1-14
reproducers of the American rural population; (1904-1912) (Washington, D.C., various dates).
*functioning aatieorecongist 3. John Hamilton, Farmers' Institutes for Women,
wmnseuato an timaofireation, gains U.S.D.A., Office of Experiment Stations Circular 85
wome's eucaion nd mancpaton, hey(Washington, 1909), Introduction.
were moving forward in ways that were 4. United States Department of Agriculture, Report No.
broadly acceptable. 103, Social and Labor Needs of Farm Women (WashI believe it can even be argued that the ington 1915); Report No. 104, Domestic Needs of
broadening of the discussions of human Farm Women (Washington, 1915); Report No. 105,
Educational Needs of Farm Women (Washington, values in American agriculture to include the 1915); and Report No. 106, Economic Needs of Farm
well-being of rural women and children was Women (Washington, 1915).
part of a larger historical process. In an earlier 5. Agriculture and Human Values, 1, No. 2 (Spring 1984):
issue of this journal Richard Kirkendall char- &8.
acterized "The Central Theme of American Agriculture"5 as "the interplay between the agrarian tradition and modernization, and the eventual triumph of the latter. His exposition of the agrarian tradition identifies its political, social, and economic dimensions. By modernization he means "the narrowing of the gap between countryside and city by changing farming and rural life along lines developed by city groups. This includes inter alia the
adoption of new technologies in both farmingD
and farm home making ... Kirkendall notes the tensions between the agrarian tradition and the process of modernization, but notes also that American agrarianists have on occasion been able to harmonize the two and even to harness the modernization process to support aspects of the tradition. He identifies
Extension Systems and Modern Farmers in Developing Countries
Celia Jean Weidemann
CELIA JEAN WEIDEMANN is currently Director, Federal Economics Programs, Midwest Research Institute, Washington, D.C. For the previous 12 years she has worked for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, The University of Wisconsin ... Madison, the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, and the Agency for International Development on Food, Agriculture, and Nutrition Projects in 18 countries. Weidemann has conducted research and written more than 20 books and articles in her areas of expertise: Institutional and Human Resource Development, Agricultural and Home Economics Education/Extension Systems and Project Evaluation.
National extension systems are part of the households. However, extension systems
nonformal education system throughout the patterned after U.S. models, which
world. Extension agents are sources of traditionally separate household and agriinformation on agriculture, food, nutrition, cultural production, must not overlook crucial and home economics for rural families and areas where rural women farmers need
youth worldwide. A 1981 study of 104 particular assistance.
countries, including over 70 less-developed The objective of this paper is to explore a few
countries, indicated that approximately areas where development goals, including
300,000 extension personnel are employed increased food production, can be more fully
worldwide.'0 The majority, 84%, are working achieved through more careful attention to
in Africa, Asia/Oceania, and Latin agricultural and in particular to home
America/Caribbean at the field level. Where economics extension programs for rural
male-female data are available, the study women.
revealed that 80% of agents are male and 20% are female. Forty-one per-cent of the latter are Home Economics and Women Farmers engaged in home economics-related programs. The family is probably the most
Extension services are a key link for fundamental yet value-laden of social
increasing food production and for institutions. Home economics, which was
transforming rural economies. In developing founded at the beginning of this century, has
countries, agricultural and home economics dedicated itself to family well-being. By virtue
extension systems are often among the few of its mission and philosophy, home
institutions directly serving poor rural economics operates within a complex milieu in
Weidemann: Extension Systems & Modern Farming
By virtue of its mission and philosophy, Home decreases now occurring in food production,,
Economics operates within a complex milieu in particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
a variety of cultures and must guard against imposing inappropriate values when practiced Farmer Education and Other Social
intenatonaly.There are additional ways to affect food, production and achieve broader social goals as
well. First, rural women's access to primary
a variety of cultures and must guard against education must continue. Gains have been imposing inappropriate values when made, but the imbalances are great. The recent
practiced internationally. Jamison and Lau studies (1982) demonstrate
It is clear that, because of the vast numbers that in the presence of technology, primary
of home economists, the regularity of their, education of farmers is directly related to contact, and the institutionalized nature of significant increases in agricultural home economics extension, this discipline production.5 If we are to augment food
could be a vital force in Third World supplies, significant gains can be made
development. For example, in a single year in through a more educated farming population,
Thailand almost a million people were reached including women farmers.
directly through the home economics Secondly, if we expect to reach greater
network .3 In addition to extension, home numbers of women farmers through
economics offers professional study in formal extension, we must provide formal training in education as well. There are 10,000 home agriculture for more women. A recent
economists in Thailand. In the Philippines University of Illinois study of women's
6,000 home economists are members of their participation in the agriculture and home
professional associations. Jamaica has a economics institutions which train extension
strong home economics network with 250 workers in the Third World showed that
members. Even smaller countries like Sierra women account for only 11% of intermediate Leone and Panama boast o *ver 200 trained and only 19% of higher level students in
home economists.3 Home economics sytems, agricultural institutions. Particularly
however, have been criticized for responding alarming was the finding that women's selectively to rural women's domestic and representation and opportunities in African
reproductive activities while disregarding agricultural educational institutions were the
their vital roles in agricultural production.8 most limited of any region of the world. This is
Women's roles in agriculture have been the continent where women are responsible for
widely discussed and wail documented. It is the majority of food production and where it is estimated that females head one-third of often more culturally appropriate for women
households worldwide. Further, the femini- to teach women. In Africa, women accounted zation of agriculture in Third World countries for only 17% of intermediate and higher continues, often in unexpected regions, such agricultural enrollment. The figures for Latin as in the North West Frontier in Pakistan American countries were more encouraging at
where women, once held in strict seclusion, 35%. In Asia, women's participation in must now take over the farm roles of men who agricultural educational institutions was
have migrated to the Near East oil fields. We almost equal to men's at 47%.9
have long known that women produce as While women's opportunity in higher
much as 80% of Africa's food. But the entire agricultural education in the Third World is farm decision-making and production process generally limited, it has improved since 1970.
is not woman-dominated in some areas. For But the study predicted that women's
example, a 1975 survey of one farm district in participation in formal agricultural Kenya indicated that 40% of farm household institutions will deteriorate in the future, heads were female.4 relative to men's, unless substantial growth
In short, raising food productivity in many can be assured. Secondary schooling for girls
parts of the world now hinges on increasing was the one factor studied which was most the efficiency of female farmers. Whatever highly associated with increases in women's
contact either agricultural or home economists participation in agricultural education.9 It is extension workers have with rural women recommended therefore, that targeted growth
must be directed in large measure toward rates for women's participation be established
agricultural instruction if we are to reserve the by individual institutions.
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
Thirdly, John Mellor, Director General of of Women In Development identified as
the International Food Policy Research requiring additional research: (a) studies of
Institute noted in a recent report on the world intra-household dynamics regarding division food situation that technology research, at of labor, distribution of resources, and
least for a major portion of Africa, must focus decision-making at the household level; (b) substantially on labor productivity. The income needs and income sources for males
urgency of the situation calls for attention to and females; (c) women's contribution to all possible means of raising labor agriculture; (d) fuel and water needs and
productivity, particularly during seasonal sources; and (e) incidence of households which
peaks, where bottlenecks often occur. These are actually or de-facto female-headed.2
might include changes in crop labor profiles, But many university home economics
the combination of crops, chemical and programs have striven for autonomy and
mechanical innovations, as well as basic separation from the agricultural colleges with
increases in yield. Mellor also calls for closer which they shared a common heritage under integration of mechanical and biological the land grant system. The successful
research.7 participation of home economics in
The goals Mellor describes cannot be fully international development calls for a return to
achieved without relieving women from those agricultural roots. That participation
household food processing chores to release also implies a close working relation with
their labor for other tasks, especially during nutrition which is often administratively peak periods. Assumptions about availability separate from home economics. Home of family labor must also be examined, economists who are to succeed interChristine Jones's study of intra-house- nationally must be willing to cross
hold bargaining and women withholding their. administrative and disciplinary lines.
labor from their husbands' cash crop activities U.S. home economics institutions with in the Cameroon is one example of such international students have a vital role.
research.6 One innovative program is at Utah State
University. A two-year Associate Degree
developed especially for foreign students and
Home Economics is eclectic and interdisciplin- spouses is offered in the College of Home
Economics. The program is agriculturallyary, having borrowed and applied concepts oriented and funded in part by an AID Title
from biology and the social sciences. XII Strengthening Grant. The two-year
program required special dispensation from
the university governing board, but it can be
more easily completed during a spouse's stay
Is There a Place for Home Economics? and it develops skills which will be in demand
There is probably a more important role upon return.12
than ever for home economics, if it accepts the Abroad, home economists can help redirect challenge. Home economics is eclectic and and revitalize home economics programs in
interdisciplinary, having borrowed and developing countries. Additional surveys and
applied concepts from biology and the social better use of existing data are vital to planning sciences. Home economics focuses on the appropriate home economics extension
family and uses a systems approach. Certain programs. In Nigeria, for example, the author
home economics and nutritional programs was part of a four-year FAO project which used
have a record of cultural sensitivity, for countrywide surveys of family labor and time alexample, the Expanded Food and Nutrition location in the household and on the farm as a
Education Program, (EFNEP). EFNEP basis for planning an extension unit.13 When
delivers consumer information to low-income this occurs, the home economics curriculum can
clients using indigenous para-professionals. then be planned or re-directed to address the Extension home economists who work with realities of these studies. While traditional home
youth in this country have certain potentially economics extension programs directed solely at transferrable skills as well. women's domestic activities are inadequate,
Further, U.S. home economists in family development efforts which ignore these roles
management have the skills for the time- are insufficient also. There is little evidence
budget studies which are needed in developing from the industrialized world that development countries. They could make significant significantly relieves women of domestic
contibutions to areas which the USAID Office responsibilities. Home economics can provide
Weidemann: Extension Systems & Modern Farming
valuable assistance in areas related to REFERENCES
nutrition, child care and management. In fact, Third World women want such information.1 1. AID. Office of Women in Development, 1980 Report.
Instruction in these areas can appropriate if 2.Washington, D.C.
2. AID. Women in Development Policy Paper. Washpriorities are set and the curriculum also ington, D.C., 1982.
realistically reflects women's agricultural and 3. Boynton, Willard, Elaine M. Murphy, and Celia Jean
economic roles. There needs to be a balance Weidemann: An Evaluation of Family Planning
between instruction aimed at women's roles in Assistance Through Home Economics. Washington, D.C.: USAID, 1980.
production and in consumption, keeping in 4. Buvinic, M. et al. Women and Poverty in the Third
mind that there can be vast and critical World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
differences in women's visibility and roles 1983, p. 11.
within a single country or region. 5. Jamison, J.T., and L.J. Lau: Farmer Education and
Farm Efficiency. Baltimore: John Hopkins UniverConclusion sity Press, 1982.
Significant attention is now being focused 6. Jones, Christine. "Women's Labor Allocation and Irrigated Rice Production in North Cameroon," in Greenon technology transfer and extension systems. shields, B.L. and M.A. Bellamy, (Eds.) Rural DevelDr. Clifton Wharton, former Chairman of the opment: Growth and Inequity. Aldershot, England:
Board for International Food and Agriciltural Gower Publishing Co., 1983.
Development (BIFAD) summarized' the 7. Mellor, John. "The Changing World Food Situation
needs: A CGIAR Perspective." Washington, D.C.: Internatere s oe ional Food Policy Research Institute, 1984.
If the re is one rea where we have been 8. Rogers, Barbara. Domestication of Women. New
most unsuccessful, it has been the York, N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1979.
development of cost-effective and 9. Sigman, Vicky Ann.Women 's Participation in Agriprogram-efficient models for the delivery cultural and Home Economics Education in the Third
World. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Illinois at
of new scientific and technical knowledge Urbana-Champaign, 1984.
to the millions upon millions of farm 10. Swanson, Burton and Jaffar Rassi. International
producers of the Third World. We know Directory of National Extension Systems. Urbanahow to harness the creative and inventive Champaign University of Illinois, 1981.
11. United States Department of Agriculture Extenforces of science and technology in the sion Service. "New Directions: The International Miswar on hunger, but I submit that we still sion of the Cooperative Extension Service A Statehave not been fully successful in ment of Policy." Washington, D.C., 1984.
technology of diffusion ... I believe that 12. Utah State University, College of Family Life,
attention in this area is one of AID's "Food and Family in International Development."
(Brochure) Logan, Utah, 1984.
(Agency for International Develop- 13. Weidemann, Celia Jean. "Family Roles in Nigeria:
ment's) and BIFAD's most critical items Implications for Policies and Programs Relating to
on their future agendas.11 Women and Development.'- Paper presented at the
As that agenda is shaped, careful attention Eighth Annual Spring Symposium: "Food Problems
should be given to more thoughtful diagnoses in Africa," University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, April 22-24, 1981. Co-sponsored by: Afriof women farmer's needs. This paper has ident- can Studies Program, Office of Women in Internatified some of these needs and the resources re- ional Development and International Colloquium.
quired of agricuiltural and home economics institutions in the United States and abroad.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Midwest Research Institute. Comments may be addressed to the author at Midwest Research Institute, Suite 250, 1750 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006. Excerpts from this paper were presented to the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, Denver, 1984.
The Underside of Development:
Agricultural Development and Women in Zambia
Anita Spring and Art Hansen
ANITA SPRING is Associate Dean of the College of ART HANSEN is Associate Professor and Graduate Liberal. Arts and Sciences and Associate Professor Coordinator of Anthropology. He chairs the faculty of Anthropology. She is Director of the Women in steering committee of the Food in Africa Program Agriculture Program at the University of Florida. and founded the multidisciplinary Social, AgriculBetween 1981 and 1983 she directed the Women in tural and Food Scientists Group (SAFS). From 1964 Agricultural Development Project in Malawi. She to 1968 he lived in Bolivia and the Dominican Rehas published Widely on ritual and health care sys- public conducting and supervising development tems in Zambia and on, agricultural development in programs. He has lived in Malawi and Zambia five of Malawi. Publications include WOMEN IN RITUAL the past 15 years researching small farmer agriculAND SYMBOLIC ROLES with Judith Hoch-Smith and ture. Publications include INVOLUNTARY MIGRA"Men and Women Participants in a Stall Feeder Live- TION AND RESETTLEMENT with Anthony Oliverstock Project" (Human Organization, forthcoming). Smith, THE HISTORY OF THE LUVALE PEOPLE AND THEIR CHIEFTANSHIP with Robert Papstein, and
numerous papers on farming systems research.
We begin by setting out some general hypoth- ment includes the changes in production of eses and conclusions on what happens cash crops and the formal public sectors of the
economically to rural African women during economy and labor force. The underside the process of agricultural development. We includes subsistence production of crops for then examine the changes that have occured home consumption and the informal private since the 1930s in the agricultural and sectors. These latter domains are where
economic systems of the Luvale-speaking women make major economic contributions
peoples of Zambezi District in northwestern and incur costs that subsidize the visible Zambia. At the end, the conclusions drawn from national (and male) development. This this specific case are compared with the argument underlies most of the literature and
general ones, and some future scenarios are creates parallels to Andre Gunder Frank's considered. (1969) classic "development of underdevelopment" argument and dependency theory
GENERAL HYPOTHESES ABOUT (Palmer and Parsons 1977).
WOMEN AND AGRICULTURAL
DEVELOPMENT 2. Women's Participation
1. The Underside of Development It is important to clarify the historic and
Wipper (1975-1976) suggests that rural continuing importance of women in African
African women experience regressive rather agriculture. Boserup (1970) discusses subthan progressive changes as a consequence of sistence systems of shifting cultivation in what is called development. To understand terms of female, male-assisted, and male
what happens to women she notes that it is farming systems. In female systems, women necessary to examine the "uiiderside of take charge of food production, and men's
development." The visible side of develop- contribution is limited to certain tasks suen as
Spring & Hansen: The Underside of Development
felling trees. In male-assisted agriculture, "each man who was chosen as a settler could there is more male labor but women still do only come if accompanied by a wife rather as most of the work; and in male systems men do though a wife were a necessary piece of most of the fieldwork. Tables 1 and 2 show the equipment." (1976:271). Once in the land importance of female farming from a sample settlement schemes, women were worse off than of 279 societies in Africa. Boserup notes that before because they lost their independently more women than men work in the fields and owned orchard lands and crops. The Ujamaa women work longer (hours per day or days per scheme was based on the idea that husbands year) than men. Often women do more than gave wives land. In the new scheme no
50% of the work, and in some cases they do provisions were made for a husband's death. more than 70%. Consequently widows had to leave the scheme.
The continuing importance of women's This aspect of the "underside of development"
labor has been disparaged in various ways. It means that women lost independent access to has been suggested that women only do the agricultural land which would provide food and
easy work or work on food crops, however, wealth.
data such as Clark's from Malawi show that
"the great majority of the crop and field work 4. The Colonial and National Bias is in the hands of the women" where women do A common hypothesis in the literature more work than men on every crop, including concerns a European colonial bias against tobacco and cotton (Clark 1975). women. Boserup argues that Europeans
Brain writes about resettlement of families in Ujamaa villages in Tanzania and notes that "each man who was chosen as a settler could only come if accompanied by a wife rather as though a wife were a necessary piece of equipment."
3. Land Tenure
The important contribution of women's believed that male farming was superior to
labor is not matched by an equivalent control female farming. Many land reform and of te lnd hatis frme. Wmenaresettlement schemes treated men and women generally cultivating land which their differentially. Men were inducted into the cash
husbands control (Goody and Buckley 1973), economy, learned new skills and cultivated
although there are many societies in which new cash crops, while the women were left
women hold rights to land through with the "old drudgery" of food crop
inheitacelinege lloatios, r gftsproduction and processing. Formal education (White 1959; Colson 1971). Women's rights to athdeision-mpoaks nd commeia famers land are threatened in several ways by the and thcisiow-aerreincd byotecninuingmrs increasing intensification of agriculture and ale dmi anofce exteontsrices.g by government-sponsored land "reforms" ormaed in ceo exnsnsrve.
settlement schemes. Boserup (1970) notes that Running through much of the literature on African women have been systematically women and development is the theme that
deprved f thir and ight thrughrural development programs and agri cultural dEurpedn-ofiinter land rightms, tnhuh information, including extension agencies,
land holdings are transferred to husbands ascotneobyaswmnod. heads of households and the existing 5. .Women and Subsistence Agriculture:
mechanisms by which women received rights Men and Commercial Agriculture
to land are negated under the new rules. A reason that is advanced for concentrating
For example, Tonga women in Zambia who on men in agricultural development is that
were resettled because of the construction of the they are the commercial farmers, and women Kariba dam lost their land holdings because only work on food crops for home only the household as a unit was compensated consumption. The continuing emphasis on for its lost lands, and women were unable to export crops and national balance of acquire new lands in the new sites to replace the payments assumes that women do not and will old. Brain writes about resettlement of families not respond to commercial opportunities. In in Ujamaa villages in Tanzania and notes that fact, women do make a critical contribution to
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
Men were inducted into the cash economy, consumption and authority patterns. Some
learned new skills and cultivated new cash early evidence from Mozamnbique (Young crops, while the women were left with the "old 1977), where Tonga men were able to derive
drudgery"' of food crop production and process- new incomes from ivory and horn trade ing. whereas the women still farmed, shows that
men used their new wealth to marry more
women and to buy prestige goods, thereby
subsistence production which allows the male materially out-stripping the women and and commercial orientation to continue, changing family relationships. Storgaard's
Government planners generally assume that (1975-76) material from rural Tanzania shows
subsistence food production will maintain that traditionally women were responsible for itself at a constant per capita level, and food and annual crops, while men were in routinely calculate the increase in subsistence charge of non-food items and perennials.
statistics on the sole basis of population When coffee was introduced it was a perennial growth. Along these lines, it is assumed that and a cash crop, and so it fell to -the male women are associated with extensive and domain. In the contemporary situation, new
subsistence cultivation, women's agriculture goods such as salt, sugar, tea, kerosene and is characterized by a reluctance to innovate, matches have become necessities for people.
and women's agricultural work becomes less Even though these are part of food important as development continues, preparation, they are shopped for and
Clark's (1975) research in Malawi addresses purchased by men from the cash incomes.
these assumptions and finds them contra Storgaard concludes women "become dicted by the data. Women are involved in both dependent upon their husbands in activities food and cash crops, and women's agricultural which were formerly purely under their
fieldwork increases as development and control" (1975-76:145).
commercialization occur. Guyer (1977) finds a The complementarity of roles that existed similar situation for Cameroon women near between men and women is destroyed by
Yaounde who expanded their subsistence differential remuneration. Men's cash income
production to meet the increased commercial sources are diverse, and they receive the needs. Staudt (1975-76) reports that women benefits of development and training schemes.
farm managers in Kenya spanned a range of economic categories and were as likely as men
to adopt innovations. Women remain in subsistence agriculture and
On the other hand, Boserup (1970) points out look for ways to earn cash, often resorting to low
that women's labor and decision-making status and low pay pathways e.g., beer brewinputs may increase as men leave rural areas.
in the cities and mines. Levine (1966) notes for ing, prostitution, or selling agricultural labor.
the Gusii of Kenya that mothers had increased agricultural workloads when fathers were away, and children become victims of mothers'
excessive burdens. Richards (1958) writes that Women remain in subsistence agriculture and Zambian Bemba women's agricultural look for ways to earn cash, often resorting to
workloads increased and that production and low status and low pay pathways e.g., beer caloric intake for women and children brewing, prostitution or selling their
decreased with extensive male emigration. agricultural labor. The final outcome is Hay's case material on the Luo women in greater dependency of rural agricultural
Kenya notes that women had to perform a women and less control of their families' diet
greater share of the agricultural work while and income.
men worked outside the area. At the same
time, they had to deal with reduced soil 6. Lack of Access to Education and
fertility which led to double cropping and more Capital
intensive agriculture. In this situation, women Due and Summary (1982) hypothesize that "met the problem by adopting labor-saving lack of education and credit are the two innovations in agriculture and reinvesting the primary constraints that women face in terms labor saved i n other economic activities, of development. Women lack access to primarily trade" (Hay 1976:105). education and thereby fail to learn about the
The effects of the subsistence-commercial techniques and economics of the new
dichotomy has consequences for household "scientific agriculture" and credit facilities.
Spring & Hansen.: The Underside of Development
When and if African women finance their transhumance of many people and the trade of
agricultural production, they do so by crops and fish unite the district. This analysis
borrowinally rather than through the formal focuses on the eastern side. sector. In Zambia, Due studied 123 small Trapnell and Clothier described Luvale
farmers and found that only two women were agricultural practices in the early 1930's. Some allocated credit. The management board only general features at the time were 1) shifting gave credit to a divorcee and a widow as they cultivation predominately based on bush said married women "would be more apt to sell gardens or fields; 2) increasing population their crops in someone else's name than men," pressure was causing a shortening of the but, according to the author, there was no fallow period and an increasing stabilization evidence of this (Due and Summary 1982). of field use; 3) village gardens with a mixture
of crops were being cultivated as were
AGRICULTURE IN ZAMBIA streamside or seepage gardens in dambo
Lombard and Tweedie (1972) in their study areas. There were almost no markets for of Zambian agriculture since independence agricultural -products other than the few
give no recognition to women farmers. residents European missionaries and
Training in development colleges at the administrators and their staffs.
University of Zambia's School of Agriculture
seems to have been primarily for males. This LAND TENURE AND AGRICULTURAL would also be the implication from Dodge's STABILILZATION book on Agricultural Policy and Performance The basic agricultural division of labor was in Zambia (1977) which discusses that after men cleared the trees, women
development schemes that have focused on planted, cultivated and harvested the crops.
men peasant and commercial farmers. The Luvale acquired rights to cultivate land by
roots for this can be found in the colonial receiving permission from the local chief and situation where the British sought the creation clearing the trees. Once a man had acquired of the peasant farmer on the European model. rights to land through his labor, he could Hellen (1968), writing on pre-independence, apportion that land to his wife (or wives), or to remarks that the family farming unit was members of his matrilineage, either men or
destroyed by the poll tax, and after, that, women, for their own use. Luvale beliefs that incentive measures for change were all husbands and wives had equal claims to their
directed toward men. harvestd crop were based on this
complementary input of labor. When women
LUVALE-SPEAKING PEOPLE OF cultivated lands that were gifts from their
ZAMBEZI DISTRICT, ZAMBIA matrilineages or inheritances, they did not
The particular case described here concerns have to share the produce with their husbands. the 95,000 Luvale people of the North Western Prior to 1950's, White (1959) estimated that Province. They are a matrilineal people whose income men and women received from indigenous economy is based on hoe agriculture were fairly equal (Table III).
agriculture and fishing. C.M.N. White studied
the Luvale between 1947-1960 and has
published numerous articles and monographs As agriculture stabilizes, the need/or male labor on them. Research for this paper was carried to cut the trees diminishes or is eliminated, but out in 1970-72 and 1977 (Hansen 1977, 1979a, the labor input by women increases because of 1979b, 1982; Hansen and Papatein 1979;
Spring 1976a, 1976b, 1978, 1980, 1982). increased weeding and mound building.
BASELINE AGRICULTURAL DATA
Zambezi district is divided into two different' Population pressure (largely from ecological areas by the Zambezi River. West of immigration) has had consequences for the the river are vast low-lying plains that flood stabilization of agriculture. Parts of the each rainy season; these provide fishing district were stabilized by 1930, and the
grounds and p asturage for cattle. process continued into the 1970's when the last Agriculturally, the main crop is millet. East of woodland was cut. Stabilization of agriculture the river the land is better suited for has been important to Luvale women in terms of
agriculture work and cassava, maize and their labor input. As agriculture stabilizes, the
groundnuts are being grown. Both areas need for male labor to cut the trees diminishes
complement each other, and the essential or is eliminated, but the labor input by women
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
increases because of increased weeding and Whether or not women could have received
mound building. Standard accounts of credit, other government decisions in the
shifting cultivation state that people shift 1960's reduced women's economic incentives. their fields because of the increase in pests and Throughout the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, the decreased soil fertility. What commonly is women sold groundnuts to European traders omitted is the fact that in subsequent years in Zambia and Angola. These traders were there is a tremendous increase in the weeds that willing to purchase in small amounts. With the the tree cover minimized and the initial advent of Zambian independence, the new
burning killed. With continuous cultivation, anti-colonial government closed the border weeds become more numerous and weeding with Angola, cutting off access to these
becomes a major chore. This is all women's traders. They set up a new governmental work. Also, it is necessary to plant a field marketing board, the National Agricultural under continuous cultivation differently than Board (NAMBOARD), to buy pi-oduce, but the one under temporary cultivation. In shifting board was only willing to buy in large cultivation the field is cleared, the surface quantities, thereby excluding the small broken, the ash scattered, and then the crops producer. In both cassava and groundnut are planted. In stabilized agriculture, mounds production government decisions negatively are created in order to incorporate the stubble affected commercial production. The from the field as fertilizer. The making of government did not make these policies to mounds requires the elimination of roots from contribute to the loss of income for women, but the field, a difficult and time-consuming task this has been the result. that falls to women.
White noted in the 1950's that agricultural
modernization was just beginning in the area NEW DEVELOPMENTS with projects to introduce peasant farming; he During this time, aid in the form of credit, w ondered about the effects of development on .machinery, seeds, fertilizers, techniques and the Luvale. He realized that peasant farming knowledge has been directed toward the men was male oriented and that, as practiced in and toward the production on farms of maize, Eastern Province At the time, men were livestock, and European fruits and vegetables.
keeping all or a large part of agricultural The "farm" epitomized governmental incomes. White wrote that if modernizationin development policy. A farm is solely for this form came to the Luvale, it would "tend to commercial production of maize and is worked strike a blow at a fundamental principle of by tractor, plow or hired labor. Farms and Luvale agricultural economics" (1959:23). fields must be planted and cultivated at the
Essentially his predictions have come true. same time, so wives end up working in the
Cassava has always been important in local fields while husbands work in the farms. Only trade and was'exported in large quantities to men receive farm training and are eligible for Western Province during the 1930's, 1940's credit. and 1950's. Cassava was grown primarily by The only reason why farms have not
women, and totally procesed by them for sale. resulted in a tremendous increase in men's Since women did not participate in long agricultural incomes is because 'farms have
distance trade, they sold it in small quantities not been very successful in the district because to middlemen. Men did well in this trade as of tractor breakdowns and problems with the middlemen and transporters, and women as NAMBOARD. For example, NAMBOARD
producers and processors. However, the trade has single-handedly frustrated popular efforts to Barotse collapsed after independence to establish rice as a major crop west of the
because of roads constructed that linked river by its refusal to buy the crop or transport
Western Province with other food centers. Also it. government subsidies of maize undermined Other development efforts have been aimed
and broke the Luvale cassava market. at livestock and the production of vegetables
Government policies resulted in a loss of and fruits, all of which are controlled by men
income to Luvale women and men. primarily. Improved techniques and plant
The other major crop, groundnuts, was breeding materials have been provided
grown on land controlled by women. through extension training programs to men,
Stabilized cultivation lowered the yields. and these gardens and livestock have become Groundnuts yields can be increased with the increasingly important sources of agricultural addition of fertilizer but credits are made income for men. available to men, and men do not grow ground- The bias in agricultural development nuts. programs toward men is an observed reality in
Spring & Hansen: The Underside of Development
If they divorce, men keep the land plus half the planted crops, while the women have to harvest their halves immediately.
Zambezi District. Men's incomes from agricultural burdens due to the cessation of
agriculture in the 1970's were 5 to 10 times shifting cultivation. The association of women greater than women's, and their incomes from with subsistence and men with cash crops is wage labor were large. This means that the made by policy planners, and consequently all
primary source of women's incomes has been education and training which are geared to
diverted to reinforce men's control of the commercial production have been earmarked
economy, while men continue to benefit from for men. Women's cash incomes have declined expanding wage labor opportunities. At the relative to men's since the 1950's because
same time, women's labor is increasingly tied agricultural markets have diminished and no up in subsistence food production because of income substitute, training or credit facilities expanded weeding and mound-building tasks. are available to them. At the same time, people
With increasing population, women's plots get no longer are content to exist on locally smaller and farther from the villages. This has produced goods, and women have become had great effects on household consumption increasingly dependent on their husbands and
patterns and decision making within the male relatives for purchased items.
household. On the other hand, men and women in
general felt their lot had improved and they
had experienced "progress" because they
MARRIAGE, DIVORCE AND HOUSEHOLD could own manufactured clothes and utensils,
GOODS live in tin roofed houses, send their children to
One area where the increasing economic school, etc. However, there were few real
disparity is most noticeable is in the marriage improvements in agriculture since the 1950's and family situation. Women join their and there was not much satisfaction expressed
husbands at marriage. Husbands provide by local people concerning their local
wives with fields, shelter, clothes and cooking agriculture.
utensils. If they divorce, men keep the land plus half the planted crops, while the women
have to harvest their halves immediately. The The association of women with subsistence and
house and household goods are left in the
husband's possession. In the past they were men with cash crops is made by policy easily replaced by the divorced women when planners, and consequently, all education and they set up their new households. Now the training which are geared to commercial proshelters are tin roofed, concrete floored houses auction have been earmarked for men.
with glass windows; the clothes consist of dresses, petticoats, shoes and trinkets, and the
utensils are pots, dishes and furniture. At Considering the future of the area, several
divorce, women find themselves without these scenarios may be envisaged. If current trends items. Their meager income derived from beer- continue, women will be handicapped in making and minor cassava sales can hardly contributions to agricultural productivity
replace what they lost. Women find because: 1) an increase in continuo us
themselves almost destitute with any savings cultivation of cassava on soils with decreasing going to set up their new households. They fertility will give diminishing yields, and 2) an
have great difficulty in regaining their increase in population means that land will be
previous standard of living. Men accumulate subdivided and plot sizes decreased. If agricultural products at divorce and keep the government projects concerned with purchased goods, thereby maintaining their education, credit agricultural extension and
standard of living quite easily. cash cropping continue to be oriented toward
men, then 1) more of the field and dambo lands
will be taken by men for their commercial
SUMMARY AND FUTURE SCENARIOS maize farms and vegetable production,
Many of the hypotheses and conclusions depriving women of land that is close to
derived from the literature are applicable to villages and naturally irrigated, and 2) there northwest Zambia. Women have increased Will be greater income inequalities between the
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
On the other hand, if there are changes in extension services and opportunities for
which the problems of women farmers and the credit" (HRDD 1975:62). As a result of limited
smallholder in general are recognized, then education, loss of half the labor force in
perhaps the productivity of the area and the development schemes (because of the exclusion
quality of life will increase. Some mechanisms of women) and failure to compensate the rural
which would facilitate women's participation female sector for the exodus of males, the goals
in new technologies and more viable agriculture of development may be retarded. The
are the following: commission believes the underlying cause is
1. NAMBOARD or independent traders the persistence of attitudes of men towards
might buy groundnuts (and other crops) in women and women towards their own roles
small quantities and have several pick-up stemming from the traditional division of
stations. labor and "evolved beliefs" introduced by
.2. Demonstration farms and farming systems foreigners (HRDD 1975:64). A consequence of
research procedures might be directed at these unfortuante ideas is a false planning
women in order to show them new tech- base which no planner would choose one
nologies and solve their local problems. that perpetrates the underside of development
3. Credit might become available for
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29, pp. 45-67. Source: White (1959)
FARMING SYSTEMS IN THE NIGERIAN SAVANNA by David W. Norman, Emmy B. Simmons, and Henry M. Hays, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1982.
MILDRED A. KONAN is a Rural Sociologist and authors' efforts to establish a viable socioConsultant in International Development who economic research program in the Institute for specializes in translating research to facilitate its Agricultural Research at Ahmadu Bello use. Her work has appeared in several popular University in Nigeria. magazines, including "Americas" and Chapter II presents a detailed description of
"Horticulture", and in brochures and educational the farming systems approach to research. By film strips. Konan is currently working with the Africa focusing on farming households rather than Bureau, Agency for International Development, particular commodities or resources, FSR recognizes that all household members play
roles in determining actual farming systems.
To develop and assess the potential of
improved technologies, researchers must
What is the best way to increase agricul- understand the goals and resources of each
tural production in Africa? How can we ensure member, including, of course, women. that farmers will adopt new technologies and Chapter III deals with the agroecology of the
participate in the changes that ensue? Nigerian savanna. After briefly describing the
Farming Systems in the Nigerian Savanna climate, soils and biological factors relating to
does not attempt grandiose answers to such crop and animal physiology, diseases and
questions. Rather, it shows how answers can pests, the authors discuss strategies that evolve from research that starts with the farmers use to minimize the adverse effects of
farmers themselves. This approach is now climate and soil. In the past, agricultural
labelled farming systems research (FSR) or researchers have devoted little attention to
the farming systems approach to research such traditional practices.
(FSAR). Chapter IV describes the socioeconomic
The authors and their colleagues conducted organization of farming communities and research in several villages of northern how some national and state efforts to
Nigeria over a period of eleven years. The book encourage development in northern Nigeria is a scholarly presentation of their efforts. have been received. Here, and in Chapter V, Numerous citations to relevant literature help which focuses on farming systems in three place their work within the context of villages, the authors provide extensive
agricultural research in general and information on daily life. The discussion
agricultural development in the Nigerian introduces numerous Hausa terms. In fact,
savanna in particular. more than 30 different Hausa words are used
Chapter I outlines the background and in both chapters. It's hard to keep track of the
rationale for farming systems research. meanings of all those terms. A glossary would
Included is the institutional history of the help.
Konan: Book Review
Readers who are curious about women in the Nigerian savanna by presenting empirical
northern Nigeria will find much of interest, evidence from village studies in the Sokoto Information about women is not segregated, and Bauchi areas. Savanna farming systems
but sprinkled throughout and thoroughly show many differences and one similarity:
integrated into descriptions of social they seldom make use of modern technologies. organization. How appropriate! Since women Clearly, the authors believe that the farming
are kept in various degrees of seclusion and systems approach to research can help remedy generally do not farm, it might appear that this situation. Researchers must first underthey need not be considered in the introduction stand how farmers work and what problems of farming changes. However, the authors they have before generating 'improved
show otherwise. Women provide critical labor technologies designed to modify work habits in the harvesting ct certain crops, especially and solve problems. cotton and peppers. Any decision to increase Chapter VII presents empirical results of
the yields of these crops would run into trouble farming systems research to test improved if it failed to plan for seasonal labor from sorghum, maize, cowpea and cotton packages. women. The authors share several important lessons
Furthermore, if the concept of farm work is they have learned. Interdisciplinary cooperaexpanded to include the processing of farm tion at the farm, level is not easy but it
commodities, women's role in farm decisions works as a means to obtain a m -uch better' is substantial. Food processing is generally understanding of the interaction between done by hand. Since mechanical grinding technical and human elements of the environrequires cash, women may reject products that ment. This understanding makes it much cannot readily be processed by hand methods. more likely that meaningful and useful results
At the beginning of their research effort, the will be generated by multidisciplinary teams authors calculated household incomes without than by single-discipline approaches. including women's earnings. Subsequent Chapter VII concludes with a discussion of
studies clearly showed that women's incomes the role of the farming systems approach to are important and cannot be ignored. Women research in broader strategies for promoting
carry on a wide variety of independent agricultural development. The authors
economic activities which satisfy social as reassert their view that knowledge of what well as economic needs. Their activities also farmers do can be valuable in establishing the provide cash for personal needs and gifts for research priorities of technical scientists and children and trusted female friends, in designing and implementing macro-level
Independent financial resources are clearly strategies in agricultural deve1'j.ment. important to women in northern Nigeria. .Farming Systems in the Nigerian Savanna
Chapter V is 71 pages in length. It also is essentially an academic treatise a
includes analyses of crop production, comprehensive record in text and tables of
marketing, livestock and off-farm eleven years of research in northern Nigeria.
employment in the three villages studied. In This research charted new territory in the the quest for food security, farming farming systems approach to research. The
households have adopted a strategy of risk authors share insights and lessons learned as
aversion. One clear implication is that agricul- well as empirical findings. It's not easy to get tural changes that require small adjustments much by browsing through this text but are more likely to succeed than those calling there's a wealth of detail and a wellfor complete transformations. documented view of early experiences in the
Chapter VI enlarges the view of farming in farming systems approach to research.
WOMEN AND NUTRITION IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES by Sahni
Hamilton, Barry Popkin, and Deborah Spicer, New York: Bergin and
Garvey Publishers, Inc. 1984.
studies. This has resulted in a concise
MEREDITH SMITH teaches International and discussion but few clues to the possible
Community Nutrition at Kansas State University, has reasons for reported differences. Some of the conducted nutrition surveys in Haiti, the Dominican studies, especially those relating to nutritional Republic and Paraguay, and is currently working supplementation, are discussed in greater 'with The Women and Development Project in detail in the chapter on programs.
Paraguay. Smith is also beginning a new Nutrition The brief discussion of patterns and and Agriculture Project in the Dominican Republic variations in nutritional status in Chapter 3 is .as part of her long-term association with Plan Sierra, supplemented with several tables in theunder the auspices of the Dominican Government. appendix. It would be helpful to the reader if one or more graphs, summarizing these tables,
had been included in the body of the chapter.
Although the final chapter on policy
implications does include a discussion of the
Nutrition studies in third world countries seasonality effect on nutritional status, some
usually are directed at moderately or severely reference to the topic would be appropriate, in malnourished infants, pre-school children, this chapter. Also missing in a discussion of
school children, pregnant, or lactating variation in nutritional status is the subject of
women. Less 'attention has been given to the adaptation to low levels of intake, especially effects of chronic undernutrition on women's protein.
economic and biological productivity. This Chapter 4 reviews social and economic
slim volume presents an excellent overview of determinants of women's nutritional status. women's nutrition from a broader perspective There is some lack of congruence between this than just pregnancy or lactation. The discussion and the conceptual framework
nutritional implications of the complex (Figure 1 in the appendix) to which it refers.
interactions between women's biological and The model, which includes factors that are
socio-econornic roles are examined. Planned discussed in other chapters as well, is only interventions which affect women's referred to in this chapter. The interaction of
nutritional status are analyzed. The policy biological, environmental, and socio-economic
implications of poor nutritional status of factors with nutritional status makes it
women are discussed with suggestions for difficult to design an adequate model of the
incorporating these concerns into programs determinants of malnutrition. In designing
designed and for future research. Figure 1, insufficient attention was paid to the
The review of women's nutrition is divided format of the book, which is quite logical. The into three chapters which discuss functional clarity of the nutritional status chapters would consequences, variations, and determinants have been greatly improved if the authors had
of women's nutritional status. The discussion introduced their model in Chapter 1 and then of existing studies of the functional developed it further in Chapters 2, 3 and 4.
consequences of women's nutrition in Chapter The effect of nutrition and health programs
2 is very good but knowledgeable readers may on the nutritional status of women is well be somewhat frustrated by the brief covered in Chapter 6. The discussion of
summaries of these studies. Field research is development programs, especially agridifficult at best. Research designs have to culture, is less thorough. This reflects the
accommodate existing constraints and fact that, until recently, almost all nutrition
available resources. This makes it virtually interventions were designed and implemented impossible to replicate previous studies and within the health sector. The emphasis on may account for many of the inconsistencies nutrition programs within the agriculture
between studies. The authors have opted not to sector is recent enough that the results of few analyze the methodologies of the reviewed studies or programs have been reported.
Smith: Book Review
The final chapter, Policy Implications, is nutritional status of women. Given the lack of designed to help planners incorporate appropriate anthropometric, biochemical,
women's nutritional concerns into program behavioral or dietary indicators, how do we
planning. It also identifies areas for future measure either the impact or response rate of a research. Program planners will find some program on women, especially undernouruseful suggestions. Unfortunately, macro- ished women?
level policy planners will not find a discussion This book, despite its limitations, should be of the interactions and tradeoffs that become read by anyone planning nutrition programs important in developing national policy. For or research in third world countries. It example, what would be the long term impact provides a very good introduction to the* of improving the nutritional status of women subject. The tables in the appendix and the on population growth or economic bibliography are very useful. The authors are
development? Valid research questions are to be commended for presenting a multiraised throughout the book and summarized in disciplinary approach to women's nutrition in this chapter. There is, however, no discussion developing countries. of possible indicators of change in the
STRONG FARM WOMEN. MOVIE REVIEW OF PLA CES IN THE HEART, CO UNTR Y AND THE RIVER.
Cornelia B. Flora
world economic expansion, declining farm
CORN ELIA BUTLER FLORA is Professor of Sociology, population and declining number of farms Anthropology, and Social Work at Kansas State were viewed as evidence of the superiority University. She has published extensively in the of American economic and technological areas of women and development and farming strategies, not as major failures or insystems research. She is currently Program Leader dicators of disaster. During the period of of the Kansas State University Farming Systems severe economic distress'of the 1930s, the farm Support project. population actually increased slightly, as alternatives were lacking in other parts of the
Mass culture did little to commemorate this
The fall of 1984 was marked by increasing dramatic shift in rural life, even during the
farm foreclosures, rural bank failures and the early period of farm crisis. If we use nominarelease of three movies that attempted to doc- tions for academy awards as an indicator of ument crises in American agriculture, past combined public and critical recognition of a
and present. The three actresses in those movie, and if we accept that the subjects of
movies, Sally Field in Places in the Heart, movies are not random events, but indeed reJessica Lange in Country, and Sissy Spacek flect those of the times, it is important to
in The River, all received Academy Award note the lack of recognition of agriculture and
nominations for best actress. farm women in the movies and actresses nomThe phenomenon of farmers going out of inated since the Academy began recognizing
business is not new. The farm population has its own work. Among the best actress decreased from over 30 percent of the U.S. pop- nominees of the 1930s, only A Farmer's ulation in 1920 to 15 percent in 1950 to 3 per- Daughter harkened to the farm and her cent in 1982. The decline was most dramatic agricultural activities were of little note. The between 1950 and 1960, when the number of major movie documenting the upheavals in
persons living on farms declined from 23 agriculture of the 1930s, Grapes of Wrath,
million to 15.6 million. However, as that was nominated for an academy award in 1940.
decline occured during a period of rapid It did not receive a nomination for best actress,
AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES WINTER 1985
although it did receive a nomination for best widow in Places in the Heart, she has two men supporting actress. The movie was made after to make up for her dead husband, although the public perception of crisis had passed. both, like her, share a social handicap as one is The only other actress to receive an academy black and the other blind). Her strength is award nomination for portraying a farm admired, not condemned.
woman was Cicily Tyson in Sounder in 1963. The confrontation with the economic
(This is discounting Grace Kelly in Country structure, the risks made by human ingenuity Girl a role that showed the farm as a place and profit seeking, are more baffling for the one left, rather than glorified.) In Sounder, farm woman and totally daunting for the men the Black sharecropping family did not con- involved. Mere strength and goodness, love front the crisis of low prices and high costs as and fight, are not enough. Rapacious much as the passage to adulthood for a farm middlemen (in The Riuer coveting not only the boy and his dog in the racist rural South. profit from the crop but the land and the farm What are the implications of the growing woman herself), weak-willed bankers acknowledgement of the crisis in agricul- responding to bureaucratic pressures to
ture and the important role of farm women in foreclose, low prices that vary according to the confronting it? Has Hollywood seen the light whim of the buyer, all make clear that farming and determined to right the wrongs of past is a lost cause. But the women will not give up. neglect? Or are we seeing a coming together Even, as in the case of Country, when the man of macro economic events with personal needs disintegrates when faced with the overwhelmthat have facilitated the symbolic legitimaiion ing odds of low crop prices, declining land
-of the farm crisis? values, high financial exposure and the
Film critic Pat Aufderheide states that these inability to get short-term financing, the farm three movies did not come about through the woman hangs in there. She will bring in the usual Hollywood production process. Instead, crop and save the farm. Critics, as pointed out three excellent middle aged actresses were by Diane R. Margolis, are upset that in these searching for parts that were appropriate to films the farm woman does not fall into the their talents and life cycle stage. Each woman, arms of a man to solve the problems for her. apparently without any interaction with the The farm woman's strength in confronting others, personally commissioned the script, socio-economic threat is less laudable than specifying a strong female part. By making standing firm against nature. that part a farm woman, they were able to In each film the importance of rural
show the maximum range of positive female community is legitimized. The farm woman
behavior loving (and sexy) wife, good does not solve the social or economic problem
mother, concerned cook and provider, by herself. Instead, her strength is greater
business manager and productive worker. The because she organizes. In each film, the farm farm woman provides the ultimate in the woman actively seeks out others like herself,
renaissance woman in a way a secretary, disadvantaged by the economic system that
reporter, missionary or prostitute cannot. seems about to devastate all she loves. Each
In all three movies the women with or movie ends with a celebration of solidarity. In
without their men confronted the risks Places in the Heart, that solidarity is
involved in agriculture that lend rural life to community solidarity. In the other two films, drama. The risks are two-fold nature and class solidarity is affirmed. the economic system. In Places in the Heart It is that class solidarity manifested in The
and Country, nature manifested itself as a Riuer and Country that have led critics to tornado, ripping apart all in its path and dismiss the films as unrealistic. Yet in manv other details the realism is strong. Bills f r
threatening the life of loved ones for whom the consumption, like loans for production, must farm woman felt responsible. In The Riuer, be paid. Women's home industry does perennial floods provided the same contribute needed cash at crucial times. Farm
confrontation with the elements. The roar of men, socialized to be non-verbal and to deal water and wind against the darkening sky indi- with problems by either joking or violence, do cates the raw power attacking the farm wom- fall apart under stress. (The rather an's world. But in each case, she perseveres, unflattering portrayal of farm men, particsheltering herself and loved ones from the ularly Sam Shepard, the husband in Country, elements gone wild, digging them out and seems very threatening to male critics. Urban
saving their lives in the aftermath. Her loving men can admit vulnerability when faced with strength can confront nature and win. In these single parenting, but to be thwarted in the cases, her man is with her (for Sally Field, a male role of provider is unacceptable.)
*Country, the least popular and most changed from private problems to public
criticized of the films, strikes Kansas farmers issues. The victim is no longer blamed. If as the most real. It is the most overtly populist someone as handsome as Mel Gibson faces in ideology, with the actors shouting one-line foreclosure and forced sale, the problem has truisms that could have come dirctly from the got to be with structural factors, not the American Agricultural Movement. It also individual. The films symbolically
most convincingly portrays family life. The acknowledge that farmers' economic decisions children are not cute (the baby, played by that made sense in the 1970s were not scene-stealing twins, and carried by Lange mistakes in judgement on their part. They everywhere she goes, is the exception), and are were decisions made by many rational people ,constantly fighting with each other. Cooking, using all the available evidence. child care, and farmer organizing are all Seeing farming as a way of life, rather than
combined in a wonderful scene all working simply another way of making a living, is also
women can identify with in Jessica Lange's legitimated. The films can correctly be accused kitchen. Chicken fries and the daughter looks of rampant rural romanticism. The farm up numbers and dials while the mother, baby women refuse to view land as a commodity. on hip, phone under chin, stirs the gravy and Instead, it represents their independence and keeps the chaos liveable. The strain on the their familyness. It will be interesting to track marriage, the retreat to alcohol, the suicides how that romanticism and the legitimation of and child abuse presented in Country are all the farm crisis that it represents will be played being recognized in farm areas as direct out in policy during the formation of the 1985
pathologies of the farm crisis, farm bill. As a good women's film should do,
For agriculture, the importance of these these films have demonstrated that the films is not in their artistic merit, or even the personal is indeed political. quality of the acting or plot. Instead, the publicRernc recognition accorded these films allows the Refrencs De R Cuty tTeCnm
farm crisis and the resulting financial and Margeoris, iael. "C, ontr" At 85 Th 1inm social disasters stemming from it to be SW1t6. o. I o1 auay 95 5
Meeting the Expect ations of the Land: Essays Soil Mechanics. in Sustainable Agriculture and Stewardship. Jumikis, Alfreds R.
Editors: Jackson, Wes Robert E. Krieger Publishing Co.:
Berry, Wendell Malabar, Florida 1984.
North Point Press: Berkeley, 1985.
The Staffs of Life. *Bread for the World
Kahn, E.J. Jr. Simon, Arthur
Little, Brown & Co.: Boston, 1985. Paulist Press: Ramsey, N.J., 1975, rev. ed.
Rural Development and Human Fertility.
Editors: Schutjer, Wayne A.
Stokes, C. Shannon
Macmillan: New York, 1985.
Transforming Traditionally. Land and-Labor
The Causes of Hunger Use in Agriculture in Asia and Africa.
Editr: Bron WiliamNair, Kusum
Editr: Bron WiliamThe Riverdale Co.: Riverdale, Maryland, Paulist Press: Ramsey, N.J., 1982. 1983.
In The Field
ROGER PADEN currently holds a Post Doctoral Fellowship in the Center for Applied Philosophy and
Ethics in the Professions, University of Florida.
His publications in such journals as PHILOSOPHY
AND SOCIAL CRITICISM and ECONOMIC FORUM
reflect his work in the philosophy of science
and social criticism. His recent research has been
in the area of the philosophy of the human
Although the spectacular growth of women's Revisited," "Women in Rural Production and
studies during the 1970s has been widely Reproduction: Socialist Development
recognized, many still think of this discipline Experiences," and, a review article, "Me as somewhat ingrown, inbred and, most Domestication of Women: Discrimination in
importantly, irrelevant to other intel- Developing Societies." All these articles are
lectual pursuits. Nothing could be further from well written and researched. They are also the truth. Despite a tendency to be "ghetto- very scholarly and could serve as guidelines ized" in specialized departments and for further research- Articles in the current
journals, the work produced by feminist volume address such issues as the status of
scholars is both of high quality and of great women in rural Tunisia, and the role of women interest to scholars in other disciplines. This is in rural labor in Taiwan. especially true of the areas of rural sociology, Signs also publishes articles that are not anthropology, and developmental economics. directly concerned with agriculture. Recently
Although good work is being published in it has published special issues on "Women and
feminist journals in these areas, it is often Religion" and "French Feminist Theory." overlooked by writers unfamiliar with these Articles on the psychology of women and
journals. In order to help make this rich feminist political analysis are also common.
resource more available to the members of the Despite the wide range of articles, they are all agricultural community, we offer several short of uniform high quality and never fail to be descriptions of some of the best "women's informative.
studies" journals. A different type of journal is the Women's
Signs is perhaps one of the most respected of Studies International Forum. This is a multithese journals. Now in its tenth year, Signs disciplinary journal for the rapid publication describes itself as a "journal of women in of research and review articles in women's
culture and society." It is a multi-disciplin- studies. As such it serves as a good guide to ary journal offering articles in sociology, current writing in the field. Perhaps the most
psychology, philosophy, and politics. In 1981 interesting feature of Women's Studies Interit published a special issue on "Development national Forum is its large and comprehensive and the Sexual Division of Labor," which book review section. Most high quality books
provides a good introduction to the kinds of on the role of women in society are reviewed in articles of interest to the agricultural these pages sooner or later usually sooner.
community which Signs publishes. The Moreover, although often preliminary, they are
following articles appeared in- that issue, solid work. Again, much of the work published
"Accumulation, Reproduction, and Women's. here should be of interest to the agricultural
Role in Economic Development: Boserup community. In just one recent issue (vol. 6, no.
1), there were several such articles; on the The journals discussed above should be
effects of land reform in China on women, on available in most university libraries. If they the role of Asian women in national develop- are not, or if a subscription is desired, the ment, and on women in the "Arab world." editors can be contacted at the following
Moreover, unlike Signs, which seems to focus addresses:' on international issues, Women's Studies International forum publishes many articles on the role of women in America, e.g., on the Signs, Barbara Gelpi, ed., Center for Research mobilization of women during World War II. on Women, Serra House, Stanford University,
On another front, WIN NEIWS (for Women's Stanford, CA. 94305..
International Network), is a non-academic newsletter, containing "all the news that's fit -Women's Studies International Forum, Dale to print by, for and about women." WIN NE WS Spender, ed. Rossetti House, Flood Street, consists of short bulletins grouped into Longon, SW3 5TF, UK
standard sections. One such section is titled "Women and Development." Other sections WIN NEWS, 187 Grant St., Lexington, Mass.
contain news on women from around the 02173.
world organized by continent. Most of the articles have already appeared in other Other journals of interest:
journals or newspapers. WIN NEWS gathers FSFeminist Studies, c/o Women's Studies these together into the kind of neat package Program, University of Maryland, College which makes research in these areas quite Park, MD 20742.
Women's studies journals should be used as International Journal of Women' Studies, a ,source of information and ideas by all Eden Press, P0 Box 51, St. Albans, VT 05478.
members of the agricultural community. Moreover, they can provide a larger audience Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, Plenum for some of the work done by this community. Publishers, 233 Spring Street, New York, NY Reading these journals and publishing in 10013.
them will not only benefit the individual agricultural researcher, but will help build a The Women's Review of Books, Wellesley larger community of interest that will help College, Center for Research on Women, both fields avoid academic isolation. Wellesley, MA 02181.
IZI'TMR -continued fron page 76.
Values. Being an Extension Agronomist, the Let me add my voice to those who have praised
title caught my eye immediately and I and welcomed Agriculture and Human
proceeded to sit down and read the three Values. It is truly a piece for our times. I am
journals that the library had available. I pleased to read of continued funding through
found them to be of great interest and would 1985. Please keep us on your mailing list. I certainly appreciate receiving the previous have an article in mind for the fall issue. Hope journals as well as being placed on the mailing the business of farming will allow me to get it list for future volumes. to you.
Steven C. Fransen Jay Adams
Extension Agronomist Executive Director
Cooperative Extension of Washington State Maine Organic Farmers and Gardners
Western Washington Research and Extension Augusta, Maine
Letters to the Editor
I just received the Fall 1984 Agriculture and Dear Professor Jung Human Values and realized that I have been
derelict in commenting on the usefulness of It is our policy to give permission for this publication. The history and practice of duplicating materials published in landscape architecture has been inextricably Agriculture and Human Values if the use intertwined. with agricultural philosophies, is for educational purposes. We require practices, and values, and I have found ARV a written notice of purpose and number of marvelous resource over its short life. copies to be made. You are also advised to
request permission from the author, Jan
Thank you again for your efforts with the Wojcik.
Herrick H. Smith, FASLA I was recently placed on the mailing list for
Chairman Agriculture and Human Values, and just
Landscape Architecture received my first issue (vol. 1, no. 4). It was
University of Florida outstanding a real breath of fresh air and a
I was impressed by the article in Agriculture much needed contribution which will and Human Values by Jan Wojcik, "The hopefully make us agriculturalists look
American Wisdom Literature of Farming." It beyond our blinders. My only concern is that I is useful to do what this article does; show that missed the first three issues! Any possibility of the merit of small, family farm agriculture vs. receiving a copy of each of these three issues. large-scale corporate fanning is thousands of Thanks for your consideration and keep up years old. Personally, I stand with the old the good work. concept of the sturdy yeoman farmer and Sam M. Cordes
believe that agribusiness has subtracted Associate Professor of Agricultural
something we needed to make representative Economics government work well. Among other reasons The Pennsylvania State University
this helps account for why the American University Park
people can be lured into voting for Reagan.
J ohn Mahon Dear Professor Cordes,
Gainesville, Florida We are sending under separate cover nos.
1 and 3. No. 2 is out of stock, but we can
There will be'a new course being taught at send you a xerox copy at cost.
Concordia beginning next fall entitled Editor
"Principia." For this course I wish to use a
section of the journal Agriculture and Human I would like to receive your newsletter Values, "The American Wisdom Literature of Agriculture and Human Values. We now have Farming" by Jan Wojcik. I would need to a course on ethics and agriculture and this
reproduce this section for approximately 700 journal looks as if it would be useful. I would students who will be taking this freshman appreciate receiving it regularly.
Could you please let me know the procedure Hugh Lehman for reproducing this section of the journal and Department of Philosophy the cost, if there would be any? University of Guelph
Thank you for your consideration in this Ontario
L. Shannon Jung I was recently at our main campus of
Washington State University in Pullman and
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics spent a considerable time in the Sciences
Department of Religion Library. I happened to come across a new
Concordia College publication entitled Agriculture and Human
emumied on page 75
Published four times a year by the Humanities CONTRIBUTOR'S GUIDE
and Agriculture Program, Center for Applied Agriculture and Human Values is an interdisciplinPhilosophy and Ethics in the Professions at the ary journal for educators, researchers, policy makers,
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Agriculture and Human Values is published under Professional Ethics." Business and Professional a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to facilitate Ethics Journal. 2 (Fall 1982) 51-60. a greater integration of the agricultural and liberal arts disciplines. While duplication of materials for Jones, Bryan. The Farming Game. Lincoln: Univereducational purposes is encouraged, permission must sity of Nebraska Press, 1982. be obtained from the author, and written notice of purpose and number of copies to be made must be Unnecessary documentation is discouraged. Endgiven to the Editor. notes should be used primarily for suggestions
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HUMANITIES AND AGRICULTURE 243 Arts and Sciences Building I DS
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