Table of Contents
 Editorial board
 From the editor
 Women and agriculture by Cornelia...
 The role of farm women in American...
 A commentary on research on American...
 Women's work in the U.S.: Variations...
 Values and goals of Florida farm...
 Research in progress: Case studies...
 Science and farm women's work:...
 Extension systems and modern farmers...
 The underside of development: Agricultural...
 Book reviews
 In the field by Roger Paden
 Letters to the editor
 Back Cover

Title: Agriculture and human values
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080506/00001
 Material Information
Title: Agriculture and human values
Abbreviated Title: Agric. human values
Physical Description: v. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: University of Florida -- Humanities and Agriculture Program
Publisher: Humanities and Agriculture Program, Center for Applied Philosophy and Ethics in the Professions, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1984-
Frequency: quarterly
Subject: Agriculture -- Social aspects -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 1, no. 1 (winter 1984)-
General Note: Title from cover.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00080506
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000943699
oclc - 10794933
notis - AEQ5418
lccn - 87644809
issn - 0889-048X

Table of Contents
    Table of Contents
        Page i
    Editorial board
        Page ii
    From the editor
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Women and agriculture by Cornelia Flora
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    The role of farm women in American history: Areas for additional research by Joan Jensen
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    A commentary on research on American farmwomen by Peggy Ross
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
    Women's work in the U.S.: Variations by regions by Carolyn Sachs
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
    Values and goals of Florida farm women: Do they help the family farm survive? by Christina Gladwin
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
    Research in progress: Case studies of family adaptation to changing resources and environments
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
    Science and farm women's work: The agrarian origins of home economic extension by Jane Knowles
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
    Extension systems and modern farmers in developing countries by Celia Jean Weidemann
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
    The underside of development: Agricultural development and women in Zambia by Anita Spring and Art Hansen
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
    Book reviews
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
    In the field by Roger Paden
        Page 74
        Page 75
    Letters to the editor
        Page 76
        Page 77
    Back Cover
        Page 78
Full Text

WINTER 1985Women 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 Farm-
Peggy J. Ross
31 Women's Work in the U.S.: Variations by Region
Carolyn Sachs
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 Environ-
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 Devel-
oping Countries
Celia Jean Weidemann
60 The Underside of Development: Agricultural Devel-
opment 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


Richard Haynes

Assistant Editor
Jan Elliott

Managing Editor
Vyvyan WVensley

Guest Editor
Cornelia Flora

Editorial Assistants
Sidney Jones Rodney White

Editorial Advisors

Lawrence Busch
University of Kentucky

Stanley Curtis
Animal Science
University of Illinois

Richard Hare
University of Florida

R.S. Loomis
Agronomy & Range Science
University of California

Leo Polopolus
Agricultural Economics
University of Florida

Theodore E. Downing
University of Arizona

AFRICAN STUDIES: R. Hunt Davis, Jr., Della
AGRONOMY: Ken Buhr, David Knauft, Frank
ANTHROPOLOGY: Paul Doughty, Brian Dutoit, Art
Hansen, Paul Magnarella, Anita Spring.
ENGLISH: Rosalie Baum, Carl Bredahl.

Frederick Buttel
Rural Sociology
Cornell University

Cornelia Flora
Kansas State University

Richard Kirkendall
Iowa State University

Russell Nye
American Studies
University of South Florida

Robert Rabb
North Carolina State University

John Vandermeer
University of Michigan


William Summerhill, Clifton Taylor.
Bates, James Dinning.
Evan Drummond, Robert Emerson, Christina Glad-
win, Peter Hildebrand, Clyde Kiker, Max Langham,
Gary Lynne, W.W. McPherson.
HISTORY: Fred Blakey, Merlin Cox, Ralph Peek,
George Pozzetta, Sam Proctor.
HORTICULTURE: Michael Lazin.

J. Baird Callicott
University of Wisconsin
Stephens Point

Don Hadwiger
Political Science
iowa State University

H.O. Kunkel
Dean, College of Agriculture
Texas A&M University

John Perkins
Biology & History of Science
Evergreen State College

Bill Stout
Agricultural Engineering
Texas A&M University

PHILOSOPHY: Thomas Auxter, Rcbert EBaum, R er
POLITICAL SCIENCE: 'Water Rosenbaum. St-,e
SOIL SCIENCES: Gera!d Kidder.

From the Editor

Starting with the current issue, Volume II,
Number 1, Agriculture and Human Values is
adopting a new format and publishing policy.
With support from the W.K. Kellogg
Foundation for a second year of publication
and distribution, we are expanding the size,
and changing the format to include a greater
proportion of substantive articles to
pedagogical materials. During its second
year we shall refer to our publication as a
"journal/newsletter". We continue to invite
the submission of manuscripts on a broad
range of topics relating to the main theme of
the journal. Papers should be addressed to a
general academic readership, while
maintaining high standards of scholarship. It
will be our policy to acknowledge manuscripts
upon receipt and attempt to provide reviewer
evaluations within three months from date of
receipt if the paper is thought to have
publication potential. Although the final
decision to accept a paper for publication rests
in the hands of the editor, assessments by
referees within the author's discipline and
from related disciplines, as well as from the
Editorial Advisors, will be paramount. It shall
also be our policy to pass on suggestions from
the reviewers about how manuscripts of merit
may be improved for resubmission. We
continue to invite reviews of relevant books,
short discussion papers, and letters to the
editor, as well as announcements.
We shall continue to issue calls for papers on
special topics and announce deadlines for
their receipt, though we reserve the right to
depart from announced publication schedules.
In the previous number we invited papers for
the Spring, 1985 issue on the special theme
"Ethnic Groups and Agriculture in the U.S."
and for the Fall, 1985 special issue on "Values
and Ethics in the Agricultural Curriculum:
Past, Present, and Future." The tentative
deadlines for summer and fall issues are,
respectively, July 15 and August 15. Read-
ers are invited to suggest topics for special
theme issues in the future, or to submit
manuscripts that are sequent to those already

One of the journal's Editorial Advisors, Cor-
nelia Flora, has joined the editor in co-editing
the current special issue on Women and Ag-
riculture. She has played a major role in sel-
ecting contributors and editing manuscripts.
She has also contributed the lead article as
well as a film review. And she has co-authored
the major portion of what follows, though she
is not responsible for the laudatory remarks
made by the editor about her excellent lead
article. In her lead article she develops an his-
torical and international context for under-
standing the linkages between the seasonal
labor demands of agricultural production and
the organization of different modes of produc-
tion that attempt to satisfy those demands. Her
article makes clear not only how traditional sex-
ual divisions of labor have given women an oft-
en unrecognized and immensely significant role
in agriculture, but also how both planned and
unplanned changes in the structure of
agriculture have shifted power away from
women without diminishing the significance
of their role. The inadequately recognized
significance of what farm women do in terms
of their productive work on and off the farm is
the theme that unifies the various studies in
this volume. The studies cross spatial,
temporal, and disciplinary boundaries. The
papers by Jensen, Ross, Sachs, Gladwin,
Sontag and Bubolz, and Knowles focus on
post-colonial U.S. farm women and on
research about the significance of their roles.
As Flora's article shows, however, even
though technology has reduced some of "the
lumpiness of labor use in modern agriculture"
and, in the U.S., contributed to the reduction of
many of the natural risks of production, inter-
national linkages in the market have
increased the economic risks of farming. The
role of national agriculture and home
economics extension policies in fostering these
international linkages is suggested by
Knowles's paper, and directly applied by
Weidemann to third world countries. The
paper by Knowles describing the emergence of
the Home Economics Extension Service sets
the stage for Weidemann's critique of its

I r L I I i- I ,


uncritical and often ethnocentric transference
to Third World countries. The paper by Spring
and Hansen, then, consider the types of
regressive changes that rural African women
experience under misconceived development
In the past, as Jensen argues, women have
been given the charge of guarding and trans-
mitting the values of farming as a way of life,
through their work in churches, schools, and
farm organizations. Women's activities as
reproducers of this value system have been a
major key in keeping alive the agrarian
tradition in the United States, a tradition
which has defended farming as a way of life
and which has helped put into practice policies
that have made farming profitable as a way of
making a living for at least some farmers.
Jensen's brief overview of the historical
data and lacunae on farm women draws
attention to the important role that farm
women have played as value articulators in
the translation of farm values into public
policy. She also argues for the need to develop
a fuller understanding of women's past roles
and the mechanisms through which they
fulfilled them. For example, scholars have
given increased attention to the role of
women's support networks in the past, and
these networks, Jensen suggests, should be
seen as farm support networks as well. Thus
farm women may be seen as having both a
community and a family orientation, and the
values they introduced through their farm
organizations might be viewed as antithetical
to the corporate individualism of the farm. An
alternative perspective would be to view the
move to community outside the family
through activity in church and school simply
as a widening of the "we-they" notion that
characterizes farm family solidarity. To
choose between these views, much more
research is needed about the content and
practice of women's farm organizations and
their implications for the structure of
agriculture and the emergent values
Jensen's article introduces a motiff that is
replicated in all the research that deals with
farm women: hard work. Hard work is highly
valued by farm women and it is applied in all
of their activities in their work on the farm
in production, in raising their children, in
keeping their homes together, and in their
community work. As an altruistic
commitment, it stands in implicit conflict with
a concern for the legal rights of farm women
instead of a concern for the family farm. The

contradictions of self versus family for farm
women have yet to emerge in many rural areas
of this country. They are likely to become more
salient if family ownership becomes less and
less a reality in the agricultural
production process.
Ross's extensive review of the research on
women's participation in farming,
particularly regarding labor and manage-
ment, demonstrates the diversity of women's
activities within the context of varying
farming systems and production processes.
Her paper also points to the difficulty of
measuring women's on-farm activity and
generalizing from it. But she succeeds in
identifying many of the inputs women provide
that contribute to the continuance of family
farms and agricultural production. These
include, in particular, on-farm labor and
management and off-farm work that provides
important capital.
Sachs's article looks at the importance of
women's participation in maintaining the
family farm as the mythical backbone of
American democracy. The family farm
represents free enterprise at its primitive best,
with the independence of the productive unit
insured. There are no bosses in the family
farm context, except, of course, men who are in
charge of women. Women's labor, Sachs
shows, is the key to the survival of the family
farm. Sachs also argues that historically
women played a crucial role in other forms of
agricultural production, especially in the
South and the West. They had a crucial role in
providing land, though they seldom had
control over it, and they furnished labor both
as unpaid family laborers and as hired hands.
This is particularly true in the case of southern
plantation agriculture when it shifted to
tenant agriculture, and in the West, where
mechanization of farm work ironically led to a
greater use of women in the fields as hired
hands. This is partly due to the cyclical nature
of this type of farm work, and to the seasonal
availability of women, who have been
considered housewives other times of the year.
Sachs's overview of the major U.S.
agricultural types and of their different
implications for women's participation draws
attention to the universality of the importance
of women's productive work on the farm. In
contrast to the glorification of their
reproductive work, there is almost a universal
lack of knowledge about and recognition of
their productive work.
Gladwin's important study of Florida farm
women strongly suggests that women them-

From the Editor

selves value what they do, but that they value
it in terms of their belief about the value of
farming as a way of life. The women that
Gladwin studied see themselves making
contributions through a variety of activities
primarily, if not exclusively, to family well-
being rather than to individual self-realization
or self-advancement. Those who were
interviewed view their activities as difficult
and their contributions to the family
enterprise as requiring hard work and
sacrifice, and it is precisely these features of
their work that make it worthwhile. These
women demonstrate a strong commitment to
the family enterprise, in the values
they perpetuate, in the policies they demand,
and in the hard work they do on and off the
farm in order to maintain that farm as a viable
Belief in the value of hard work is a common
feature of the women interviewed, for these
women seem to share the belief that it is hard
work that makes the difference between success
and failure, and that it is hard work that gives
merit to those who do succeed. These women
maintain that those who work hard and
sacrifice will make it, and imply, thereby, that
those who don't make it deserve little
sympathy. Such an attitude assumes that the
reason why some farmers fail is that they do
not work hard, or were not good managers, or
engaged in too much consumption activity
rather than savings activity. This hard work
ideology that many farm women share may
account for some of the lack of solidarity that
has emerged in the current farm crisis:
somehow it is your fault if you fail as a farm
family to maintain your farm.
The women interviewed by Gladwin also
stress the importance of the entire family
working together toward a single goal, while
they attempt a variety of collective survival
strategies. In addition to hard work and
creativity, the women also express a
continuing commitment to the time-honored
belief that it is the role and duty of the farm
wife to reduce consumption so that money can
be saved for investment. Consequently, their
productive and reproductive activities are
oriented to the task of building the farm. A
corollary belief is that farmers with selfish
wives do not succeed. The belief that women
should be altruistic workers providing labor
and capital to the family for its better-
ment is very strong among the women
interviewed, and they do, thereby, seek to
maintain their class as a petite bourgeoisie.
While they are the articulators of the family
farm values of hard work, familiness, and self-

sacrifice, there is, indeed, a question whether
these values will survive as larger structural
changes alter the possibilities of maintaining
the family farm enterprise.
The research in progress reported by Sontag
and Bubolz exemplifies the importance of
attending to the role of men, women, and
children in the family in the task of
maintaining the family farm under the
conditions that prevail in the small, part-time
farming sector. Their case study shows that
farming ventures that fall within this ever-
increasing category in the U.S. are highly
dependent on the intrahousehold aspects of
farm development, as well as on the develop-
ment of sustainable, integrated farming
systems, and that the role of women and
children in such systems continues to be
Knowles, in her paper, points out the
important function that the reproductive role
of the farm woman served in the Country Life
Commission's recommendation for creating a
Home Economics Extension Service. Since the
Commission was concerned with maintaining
a strong rural population, their focus on the
value of women as producers was minimal.
The Commission was motivated by a general
concern with the decline of rural values, and
thus, Home Economics Extension, when it
evolved historically, served to emphasize the
reproductive values and give them higher
visibility through the introduction of
"scientific" technology into the home-making
process, just as Catharine Beecher's books on
domestic economy for the daughters of the
urban middle class made their reproductive
work more visible.
Through the growth and development of
Home Economics Extension, modernization
was used to support agrarianism. Women as
value reproducers needed to be happy in their
role as reproducers and home-makers in the
countryside if the countryside was to maintain
itself as it had existed at the beginning of the
American nation.
To focus on women's reproductive roles, in
terms both of their home-making skills and in
terms of the values they shared with their
children and the skills they transferred, made
sense in the political and technological
context of that time. Home Economics
Extension in its early years helped to bring the
great technological advances in the
mechanization of women's home-making
work into rural areas. However, it did ignore
women's farm work and thus undervalued
their productive role. As a result, as
Weidemann points out, the transfer of Home


Economics Extension overseas in the
development era of the last three and a half
decades meant that what might have made
cultural sense at one }historical I time and place
often makes little sense in other points of time
and space.
Weidemann describes the cultural based
nature of Home Economics that is a
consequence of its particular development in
the United States. A male agricultural
extension service, when transferred overseas,
has cultural and value underpinnings that has
made the content of training and technical
expertise inappropriate or ineffective under
conditions in developing countries. To an even
greater extent Home Economics Extension,
which was aimed primarily at women, has had
problems in developing countries in
responding to the actual activities of women in
rural settings. Home Economics, both
domestically and overseas, has traditionally
ignored farm women's production work
because it has had an implicit commitment to
certain cultural norms about the proper role of
women. Its development in the United States
occurred at a time when there was a strong
subscription to the belief that men should take
care of women in terms of providing the means
necessary for supporting the household.
According to these norms, women should be
encouraged to stay at home in order to inspire
men to go out and do the work necessary for
the household support. These norms may have
served some function during a time in the
United States when the sex ratio was heavily
male-biased. In developing countries,
however, where sex ratios in rural areas are
often skewed toward females, male temporary
migration is the rule rather than the exception,
and women have traditionally been the
producers of food. To be effective in these
contexts, Home Economics Extension must
meet women's production needs as well.
Home Economics Extension, Weidemann
argues, has the ability to be more flexible than
most of the other institutions that North
Americans transfer overseas. Because the
tools of Home Economics have a direct
cultural origin, and because Home Economics
is a holistic science, its utilization of a systems

approach in the creation and delivery of
knowledge could enable it, Weidemann
argues, to readjust quickly in its response to
specific settings. To make this adjustment,
however, Home Economics Extension, in
providing a women-oriented extension service,
must take into account both the productive
and reproductive roles of women, and serve
to help women better integrate them in their
Spring and Hansen also point out the
problems of transferring colonial mindsets to
developing country settings. They claim, as
did Weidemann, that these mindsets can be
particularly detrimental to women. Land, for
example, is a crucial factor of production. The
colonial bias in assigning private ownership
of land deprived women of access to it.
These authors also argue that not only is
this a problem of justice, i.e., women are
deprived of the basic means they needed to
produce what they always have produced in
society, but it also has dire societal
consequences. They maintain that similar
assumptions about women's production roles
exist both in the U.S. and abroad, that is, that
women produce primarily for home use and
only sell the surplus, while men produce for the
market. However, women have always been
highly integrated into the market economy in
many parts of Africa, and thus both their role
in the market economy and home use
production make it important to take women's
agricultural activities into account, if
development programs are to succeed in
maintaining or improving aggregate food
production. These authors also argue that
policies which help small holders thereby help
women, and vice versa. Similar to
Weidemann's call for programs that recognize
women's multiple roles, they argue that
policies should address both the production

and the reproductive work of farm women.
The books and movies reviewed in this issue
attempt to show the importance of women in
the food chain, both in terms of production and
symbolically. They demonstrate an
increasing symbolic awareness of farm
women worldwide, both in their roles as
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 is currently Program Leader
of the Kansas State University Farming Systems
Support project.

Agriculture is an enterprise that often engages
resources from all family members. These
resources include land, labor, and capital.
Agriculture is unique in the way it combines
the factors of production and, thus, unique in
the kind of commitment demanded from
family members when they are the sources of
these factors. The role of women in agriculture
- just as the role of men in agriculture can
best be understood through analysis of the
relationships of each household member to
land through ownership or use right; to labor
through provision of labor at key times and for
key elements in the production cycle; and to
capital, in terms of both the mobilization of
inputs and the allocation of the surplus
produced. It is also important to consider how
family members relate to each other and to
other production units in providing or
exchanging these factors of production over
Unlike other types of production, agriculture
involves rhythms and risks which influence
these relationships. This is particularly
helpful in understanding family-based
farming, where the unit of production the
agricultural enterprise is coterminous with
the unit of reproduction the farm household.
These considerations also prove helpful when
examining other ways of organizing
agricultural production, including plantation
agriculture, hacienda-type agriculture, and

even highly industrialized, capital intensive
Mann and Dickinson have identified a
major characteristic that distinguishes
agricultural production from industrial
production: the disjuncture between
production time and labor time.2 In
agricultural production, the rhythm of biologi-
cal processes determines the time it takes to go
from sowing to harvest for crops, or from
insemination to birth to market for animals.
Thus labor time, when labor is actually
applied to the production of crops and live-
stock, is less than production time, which
includes the growth process. Further, labor
time is organized differently in agriculture
than in other types of production, in that farm
operations take place sequentially rather than
simultaneously.3 This sequential process has
a biological base, since with any given crop it
is impossible to reap at the same time one
sows. Thus, all the factors of production must
be mobilized with special attention to the
limiting aspects of sequential and irregular
production cycles, as well as with an eye to the
risks involved due to dependence on nature,
which limits predictability through variations
in rainfall, temperature, and pests.4
In the United States and Canada, family
labor has been particularly important in the
northern and central parts of the country. The
availability of slaves in the South and migrant

1 _. I I I


labor in parts of the West were two systems for
labor provision that attempted to overcome
the discontinuities between production time
and labor time. In other parts of the country,
particularly the north and the central regions,
the family farm, with the crucial but hidden
work of women and children, filled in during
times of peak labor demand. Further, before
large mechanization and the relative
enterprise specialization that accompanied it,
family labor was crucial not only in producing
for market but also in producing for
subsistence, allowing for cash savings
through provision of food and agricultural
inputs such as draught power. Such activities
also provided a separate income for women,
the proverbial egg and milk money.
Technology has to a degree overcome some of
the lumpiness of labor use in modern
agriculture, in such enterprises as dairying,
hog raising and poultry production. Yet even
in these enterprises, family labor is a crucial
element for survival for small and middle-
sized producers. There is a definite payoff to
the family in terms of solidarity and
commitment to the family and its enterprise.
There is a cost in terms of the individual
sacrificing their interests for the sake of the
group. In the North American context,
technology and government programs have
attempted to reduce the natural risks of
production. The current farm crisis, however,
suggests that the economic risks of asset
devaluation, high real interest rates, a strong
U.S. dollar reducing the competitiveness of
U.S. farm products on the world market, and a
reduced effective world demand due to a debt
crisis in the Third World have more impact on
the welfare of farm families and are more
difficult to overcome than risk due to nature.

Some crops were his, some were hers, some
were theirs, and others may have belonged to
the larger community. Intricate relationships
and hierarchies emerged, and women and
children were often the resources on which
male hierarchies were based.

In most situations of precapitalist
agriculture, family and communal
organization, labor, and capital worked
together to reduce the risk inherent in
agricultural production. Land was rotated or
shared through use right rather than formal
individual ownership. Capital, in the form of

inputs, also was shared and produced within
the family or tribal unit. And labor, although
highly differentiated by age and sex, was
organized in multiple stock, crop, and craft
activity. In such situations, the intrafamilial
division of resources involved multiple
enterprises and multiple production units.
Some crops were his, some were hers, some
were theirs, and others may have belonged to
the larger community. Intricate exchange
relationships and hierarchies emerged, and
women and children were often the resources
on which male hierarchies were based.5
The formations and strategies that
developed in different areas were highly
diversified. Nevertheless, certain regularities
can be distinguished in peasant agriculture.
Everyone worked in agricultural production,
young and old, men and women, boys and
girls. But there was substantial division of
labor by sex and by age. What men did in one
culture, women might do in another. Men and
women's work was highly complementary -
that is to say, each depended on the work of the
other in order to complete their agricultural
endeavors. For example, men might clear the
land and plow, while women selected the seed
and planted. Women and children would weed,
and all would participate in the harvest, with
the men reaping and the women threshing and
winnowing. If one's husband was derelict in
his agricultural activities, other men
(brothers, uncles or cousins) might be counted
on to fill in.
Men's activities, particularly those related
to livestock production, often contributed more
directly to status than did women's activities,

yet women's agricultural and reproductive
work, which were highly intertwined, were not
devalued. Separate male and female cultures
gave parallel systems of status, as well as
separate enterprises, which allowed for
reduction of risk and rationalization of
resource use over the agricultural cycle.
The linkage of peasant agricultural systems
to larger economic systems disrupted the
sexual complementarity of labor. Access to the
factors of production by sex, which previously
allowed both men and women to control or use
land, labor, and capital, was altered, giving
men dominance over all the resources, when
the control was not entirely removed from the
native peoples.
The manner of linkage to larger economic
systems varied. In some settings, the linkage
was through the trade of agricultural products
to other areas. For example, in much of Central
Africa, precolonial agricultural production
contributed to a highly developed land- and

Flora: Women and Agriculture

sea-based trading system. Colonial
penetration established linkages to export raw
materials to the "mother" country. The raw
materials were of two basic kinds mineral
and agricultural. In both cases, linkages did
not mean simply that traditional mineral or
agricultural crops were traded by the
indigenous population. Often colonial powers
imposed new forms of production on mining
and agriculture. Those new forms influenced
the traditional peasant farming systems by
disrupting first the relationship of the family
to labor and then to land. These new linkages
and the demands they made on the family
production system placed ever-greater
burdens on female producers, while at the
same time women had less access to the
resources necessary to successfully carry out
their responsibilities.

Most of the credit and extension services
national governments assumed that men

In both Africa and Latin America, mineral
extraction was a major motivating force for
colonial penetration. Myths of rich mines and
vast wealth spurred the search for minerals, a
search that often was successful in locating
underground lodes. Extraction of those
deposits required labor lots of it.
In addition to the export of minerals,
agricultural products were exported early.
New crops were introduced to increase the
wealth of the colonial power. Many of these
crops were raised under the conditions of
plantation agriculture. Sugar was the first
plantation crop, forming a firm point in the
Triangular Trade route for Caribbean sugar
cane. Bananas are a later plantation crop,
which shares many similarities with sugar in
its demand for labor, although that demand is
much less seasonal. While sugar competed for
the best, most central lands, banana
plantations often were located in marginal,
sometimes malarial, lowland areas.
Local labor, slave and free, was sought for
both the mines and the plantations. For sugar
and bananas (but not for cotton), males were
recruited as labor. By using only adult men,
the costs of reproducing the labor force were
borne by the sending populations, the
subsistence agriculture sector. Women were
left by default to provide for the reproductive
necessaries of the labor force, including the
production of food through subsistence
agriculture. The more mobile men were pulled

to mines and plantations by the wages offered
and pushed by the need for cash to pay the
newly instituted cash taxes imposed by the
colonial powers. Examples of such
motivational tax structures were present in
both Africa and Latin America. In Guatemala,
vagrancy laws requiring forced labor or cash
payment of fines were instituted to get Indian
men to work in the banana plantations.6 The
British protectorate of Bechuanaland (now
Botswana) introduced a poll tax at the turn of
the twentieth century, to be paid in cash,
requiring that young men seek work in neigh-
boring countries, either as farm or mine labor.
This institutionalized expatriate male labor,
and left women even more firmly in charge of
agricultural production, although older men
kept control of cattle, the principal form of
wealth in a society where most land is still
communally held.7

established by colonial powers and later by
were the primary agricultural producers.

These two kinds of linkages of farm
households to larger markets, through the sale
or expropriation of labor for both mineral and
plantation agricultural production, used
primarily male labor and upset the traditional
complementarity of agricultural production.
Most of the male migration was temporary,
with the men returning from time to time with
their cash wages. In such situations, the
provision of cash afforded greater status than
the provision of food. Incipient sex inequality
was increased. Women's ability to produce
food was severely modified by 1) the lack of
available male labor to perform the traditional
male tasks, 2) the fact that males often
retained decision-making power over the
utilization of capital, making investment in
food production extremely difficult, and 3) the
lack of resources and technology aimed at the
special conditions of female farmers. Most of
the credit and extension services established
by colonial powers and later by national
governments assumed that men were the
primary agricultural producers.8
Plantation agriculture was particularly
detrimental for women through its disruption
of the family as an agricultural production
unit. Plantation agriculture recruited
exclusively males, and often for longer periods
than did mining work. Indeed, sugar- and
banana-based plantation agriculture in Latin
America utilized primarily males, often
African slave labor, in contrast to the North


Plantation agriculture was particularly detri-
mental for women through its disruption of the
family as an agricultural production unit.

American plantation system, which was
cotton based and which recruited kidnapped
males and females from different parts of
Africa in order to reproduce its own labor force.
In plantation areas, the tradition of
permanent female-headed (dejure) households
emerged much earlier than in other parts of
the world, where with more temporary male
migration, temporary female-headed
households (de facto) were more common. In
the African and Latin American circum-
stances of high male participation in
plantation agriculture, women often had to
leave agriculture entirely, and took on roles as
traders and craftspersons, since they lacked
access to land and capital, as well as the
crucial complementary male labor.
Other production systems utilized family
labor to produce crops that provided the
economic link to the colonial powers. In some
areas, such as Costa Rica and Colombia in
Latin America and Ghana in Africa, small
producers kept control of their land, but
changed its use from food crops for home or
local consumption to cash crops for export. A
market-based, family-farm agriculture was
created. Land relationships became
formalized under the liberal reform T
movements of the late nineteenth and early The
twentieth century, family use rights to land proa
were changed to male property rights. Men van
were generally firmly in control of cash crop fami
production and the income it generated, in sister
part because the colonial buying agents who
helped introduce the crops held the male- min
dominant assumptions based on the Victorian
ideal of womanhood. It never occurred to them
that women were farmers, engaging in both
family-based and individual agricultural
production enterprises. Men were the
recipients of the skill and inputs necessary to
produce coffee and cacao, the two export crops
for which there are few, if any, economies of
scale (and for which there are several dis-
economies of scale, because of the relatively
intensive care required by these tree crops).
Those crops, newly introduced in many areas,
became male-owned crops, although family
labor, as well as seasonal wage labor, was
necessary to produce them. Men and women,
boys and girls, all were active in harvesting

Hacienda agriculture involved appropria-
tion of the land by the colonial power, who
then deeded it to those who had provided the
crown with enough wealth or conquest to
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
peasants, now bound to the land by complex
systems of legal and debt peonage, provided
labor and received the use of a parcel of land
for their own subsistence production,
following after the feudal land and labor
relationships in Europe in the sixteenth
century. Hacienda agriculture was much more
self-contained than plantation agriculture,
with little market orientation. Both male and
female labor was used, often extremely cruelly.
However, the labor and land relationships
meant that the complementarity of male and
female agricultural labor, both for the
hacienda and in the subsistence plots, was not
challenged. Women were crucial in production
for both the hacendado and the family.9
In all these systems of agricultural
production, peasant, female subsistence,
hacienda, and family farm, there was a
flexibility that allowed for the family to
reproduce itself in times of economic crisis. In
all these situations, the family had access to
the land, whether owned or not, to produce the
food necessary when wage work was not to be
had or when international markets declined.

arrangements in all the linked agricultural
auction systems were exploitative and disad-
taged women, but did provide for a variety of
ily. survival strategies, as access to sub-
nce production remained for all but. a
ority of the plantation workers.

The arrangements in all the linked agricul-
tural production systems were exploitative
and disadvantaged women, but did provide for
a variety of family survival strategies, as
access to subsistence production remained for
all but a minority of the plantation workers.
At the same time that raw materials were
being exported to the colonial powers, which,
even after political independence retained
economic hegemony in their previous
colonies, manufactured goods were exported
from the central, industrialized countries to
their former colonies and new client states.
The markets were never large, as skewed
income distribution reduced the purchasing
power of the vast majority of the populations.

Flora: Women and Agriculture

But the traditional elite and the small but
growing middle-class groups imported
consumer goods, from perfume to tooth-
paste and shoes, as well as capital goods from
the industrialized nations. When the world
economic situation was sound and the export
crops were selling well, they could import lots
of consumer goods. When the economic
situation was bad,-and prices for their export
products were low, the elites simply cut back
on consumption. The agricultural workers in
such times devoted more of their labor -to
subsistence crops, if only in exchange for
services rendered, a share of the crop, or a cash
rent (the least common way for peasant
producers to gain access to land in the first
half of the 20th century). Thus, the depression
of the 1930s, while definitely felt in the
developing countries of the world, had a
muffled impact compared to that in the
industrialized countries. A large part of the
economy was not linked to international
markets and could maintain itself. And sub-
sistence agriculture was an ever-present
alternative, even in areas of highly concen-
trated land ownership. Women's access to the
factors of production and their share in them,
while not great, increased in times of crisis and
was crucial for family survival among peasant
and semi-proletarianized workers workers
that had small plots for agricultural
production worked for wages at irregular
intervals in response to the agricultural cycle
in export crops.

Women's access to the factors of production and
their share in them, while not great, increased in
times of crisis and was crucial for family sur-
vival among peasant and semi-proletarianized
workers ...

After the second World War, the nationalism
that led to political independence began to
address issues of economic independence as
well. In Africa and parts of Asia, the two
movements tended to coincide, while in Latin
America, political independence movements
preceded economic independence by as much
as 200 years. The move for economic
independence sought first to attack the major
symbols of dependency the importation of
manufactured consumer goods. Why, it was
reasoned, should we not produce these articles,
in our own country? We would not then be
sending scarce foreign exchange abroad and
we would be creating alternatives to
agricultural employment at home. The

employment envisioned was urban
employment for males.
The strategy that developed from this
reasoning is often referred to as import
substitution industrialization: This means
that a nation will produce domestically items
that it previously imported. To carry out such a
strategy requires a reorganization of capital,
land, and labor relations, under the aegis of a
strong state. Import substitution strategies
involved collaboration between both private
and public sectors to carry out this
In order to substitute national products for
imported products, factories had to be built.
This required capital equipment, which had to
be acquired in the international market, using
foreign exchange generally U.S. dollars.
This required loans, either to private
industrial groups or to governments, which
would then subsidize the factories. But even if
the factories were successful in replacing
foreign goods (and the state ensured that they
would be, by enacting strong tariff barriers to
manufactured products), the loans could not
be repaid through profits from domestic sales.
Those sales were in local currency,
unacceptable in the international market
place. In order to repay the loans, foreign
exchange must be generated and the only
sources were the traditional export sectors -
minerals and agriculture. Agriculture, in
particular, became the source of investment
capital in much of Latin America and Asia,
although in oil-rich countries, petroleum
exports could be the dominant source of
foreign exchange.
Reorganization of the urban-based economy
thus required reorganization of the rural-
based economy. Land, capital, and labor in
agriculture had to become more productive.
The old ways of production, particularly the
extensive hacienda system that encompassed
much of the flat arable land, had to shift to
intensive production systems. But such a shift
also required capital investment, as well as
different labor relations. At first the
traditional rural elites were hesitant to
change, seeing no reason to risk their secure
economic and social position by entering the
world market. Their strategy, which had
served them for hundreds of years, was that of
low capital and management investment,
with multiple enterprises reducing risk.
Further, through relative self-sufficiency, risk
was limited to environmental factors.
Thus modernizing elites, particularly in
much of Latin America, instituted a tactic to
force the traditional agricultural landlords to


Thus modernizing elites, particularly in much of
Latin America, instituted a tactic to force the
traditional agricultural landlords to become
more efficient. It was called land reform, and its
goal was increased agricultural efficiency,
rather than increased agricultural equity.

become more efficient. It was called land
reform, and its goal was increased agricultural
efficiency,rather than increased agricultural
equity.10 Either use the land to produce what it
is capable of, the new land reforms read, or
your land will be given to those who will use it
to produce to capacity, paid for at the rate
which it is evaluated, by your own declaration,
for tax, purposes. Naturally, such low
compensation was unacceptable, and radical
changes in land use began to occur among
landowners with extensive property holdings.
Land reform gained a veneer of equity
because that same historical period that of
the 1960s was a period of heightened
peasant organization and protest. In Latin
America, the success of the Cuban revolution
in 1959 underlined the dangers of ignoring
inequality. In particular, the United States
saw its interests threatened by peasant unrest
and potential revolution, so the forces of
international development were put behind
the land reform effort.
At the end of two decades of land reform,
agricultural land in most Latin American
countries remains as concentrated as it was in
1960.11 Few peasants now own land. The land
reform decades did not reduce the push factor
causing migration to urban areas. Those years
were periods of high rural urban migration, as
peasants left sharecropping situations for
potential employment in urban industries. But
despite heavy investment, relatively few jobs
were created, and the biggest increase in
urban employment was in the informal sector,
the sector of the economy where formal,
contractual employee-employer relations do
not exist, where few statistics enumerate labor
force activity, and where relatively little
capital is expended per hour of labor time.
Informal sector employment was dominated
by women, often female heads of household,
whose access to the factors of production were
further decreased by formalized land
relationships, which, when land was titled to
peasants, was titled in the name of the man
only. Further, the land that was deeded to
peasants was not the productive, centrally
located land they coveted, but newly opened

land in outlying areas, often isolated and
hostile with little infrastructure and fragile
soils. Women in the peasant agricultural
systems in the colonization areas often lost the
female support groups that they had in their
traditional villages. Because of the lack of
community organization, women often joined
with the men in field work, which had
previously been for men alone. In addition,
women had their traditional work to do, both
agricultural and household. And because the
agricultural system was radically different,
these peasant women were unable to use the
skills they had acquired from their mothers in
seed selection, soil preparation, and food
preservation. When such knowledge was made
available through government and
international colonization programs, it was
made available to the men.
The shift to export agriculture meant that
land was used more intensively than ever
before. No longer could small plots be ceded to
peasant families for their own subsistence
production. The risk-reducing strategy if the
hacienda involved mixed crop and livestock
systems with a relatively small gap between
total production time and total labor time, if
peasant plots were also counted as part of the
production system. Export crops tended to be
planted in monoculture, requiring large labor
inputs at key junctures, with a lot of time when
production required no labor skill at all. It was
difficult to shift the year-round hacienda labor
force into a seasonal agricultural labor force,
although it did occur with one of the new
export crops, cotton. Instead, peasants
previously involved in their own production
systems and in hacienda production migrated
to urban areas. Large farms increased their
capital intensivity and their need for
foreign exchange by mechanizing. Often
government policy reinforced this trend by
subsidizing the agricultural inputs for export
agriculture, while ignoring the capital
requirements for food production. In many
countries in both Africa and Latin America,
total agricultural production rose at the same
time food production fell and food imports
increased. While there was worldwide
inflation and a strong world economy, no one
was particularly troubled by these develop-
ments, although they heralded another major
shift in women's role in agriculture.
The advent of capital intensive export
agriculture created a rural labor force totally
dependent on sale of its labor. Because many
peasants lost their use right to land, as a
strategy of major landowners to make sure
peasants had no claim on the land in case land

Flora: Women and Agriculture

reform was really taken seriously, a relatively
large rural labor force was available, forcing
wages down, except for peak harvest periods.
Women and men increasingly sold their labor
for the same tasks, including the harvesting of
coffee (a traditional source of temporary rural
employment for women in peasant families)
and cotton and for weeding and other
cultivation tasks in row crops. Women again
had to do the same agricultural work as men,
this time for a wage, and still be responsible for
their household tasks. Marital instability
increased in this group of disenfranchised
hacienda residents. Some of them squatted on
unused land, but increasingly were driven off
by government forces, in part because of the
growing pressures for exports during the

The year 1973 was a landmark for developing
countries, as events were set in motion that
greatly affected the structure of agriculture
around the world and the role of women in that

The year 1973 was a landmark for develop-
ing countries, as events were set in motion that
greatly affected the structure of agriculture
around the world and the role of women
within that structure. It was the year of the
world oil crisis, with drastically increasing oil
prices that dramatically shifted the terms of
trade for most developing countries. In oil-
purchasing countries with import substitution
industries highly dependent on petroleum
imports to run their factories, even more
pressure was put on the export sector. More
land went into export crops, even as the prices
dropped due to overproduction and inelastic
demand. For the oil-producing countries, it
meant increased indebtedness, with much of
the borrowed money used to import food, as the
subsistence agriculture sector, already
relegated to women and virtually ignored,
became even less viable. Suddenly there were
lots of petrodollars to recycle, and
international banks competed to lend money.
It need hardly be stated that males control
export crops. However, class distinctions in
the rural sector increased, with different roles
in agriculture for women in the different and
emerging classes. Deere and Leon de Leall2,
among others, show how in Latin America the
sexual division of labor in agriculture declined

for the rural proletariat and peasants, as it
increased for women in the upper rural classes,
who tended to be removed entirely from
agricultural production. In other areas, it left
women in charge of subsistence production,
with less access to land, labor, and capital.
With continued economic expansion,
families were able to maintain themselves,
often with the increasing wage work of women
in agriculture or through their growing partici-
pation in the informal sector. However, the
world economic crisis of the 1980s
demonstrated how vulnerable that system
was and how the radical reorganization of
agriculture had decreased its flexibility, in
part by further deterioration of the
complementarity of men's and women's work
in agriculture.
The economic depression of the 1980s was
worldwide, the worst crisis since the 1930s. But
while in the 1930s an economic cutback meant
that the elites and the middle class cutback on
consumption of imported goods, now decreased
consumption also meant fewer jobs. Urban
industrial workers lost their jobs, hit by the
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
loans became impossible to roll over. Export
crops, already affected by increasing world
production, earned less and less. And the
subsistence fallback, whereby peasant
families withdrew to small plot subsistence
production to sustain themselves during a
crisis, had been eliminated by the
transformation of agriculture. Around the
world, developing countries had favored
export agriculture over food production and

maintained a cheap food policy through
imports. So even the remaining peasant
farmers and family farmers had little
incentive to grow food. Those programs aimed
at food production often did not address the
major policy issues, and even fewer addressed
their efforts to the women who by default often
were left raising the subsistence crops.
The debt crisis in developing countries is
compounded by stagnant economies; decline
in value and quantity of exports; decrease in
imports, particularly food that provided
subsidized maintenance for urban female-
headed households disrupted by temporary
and permanent male migration; increase in
unemployment; increase in public deficits;
increasing balance of payment deficiencies;
and increasing inflation. Contradictions
abound, particularly for women. To solve the


long-term problem of production disin-
centives, food costs must rise. An increase in
food costs hits most heavily at the poor, and
women and the children in the households
they head are most likely to be poor 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
survival strategies have been eliminated.
In developing countries, the role of women in
agriculture continues to be vital, but hidden.
While affected negatively by planned
change13, it is the unplanned change that most
directly breaks down the complementary roles
in agricultural production and increases.the
disparity between the landless peasants and
the major landowners. Women are key
producers in the often-female-headed landless
peasant families, but marginal to production,
except through wage labor, in the extensive
land holdings oriented to export agriculture.
The complexity of women's contribution to the
variety of production enterprises related to
food production, both crop and animal, as well
as the replacement of those enterprises by
capital intensive agricultural enterprises and
imports (when available) need to be examined.

Planned programs must keep fully in mind the
productive activities of female farmers, their
differential access to land, labor, and capital,
and the fact that theirproductive activities must
almost always be combined with their repro-
ductive, or household-based activities.

Planned programs must keep fully in mind the
productive activities of female farmers, their
differential access to land, labor, and capital,
and the fact that their productive activities
must almost always be combined with their
reproductive, or household-based activities,
which include cooking and other forms of food
processing, gathering fuel, and carrying
water. As high debt and international
agencies, such as the International Monetary
Fund, combine to limit the potential of
developing countries to import food and
maintain cheap food policies, recognition of
the key role of women in food production and
the disadvantaged conditions under which
they do it must be part of the national calculus.
Because of their work for the household and
the multiple activities they carry out in
agricultural production, particularly small
farm production, women as agriculturalists

An increase in food costs hits most heavily at
the poor, and women and the children in the
households they head are most likely to be poor
in developing countries, as in the United States.

tend to minimize the gap between production
time and labor time. Household, handicraft,
off-farm labor, as well as a variety of animal
and crop enterprises, including gardening and
egg and milk production, contribute to
providing necessary labor when peak labor
times in crop or animal production occur.
Further, women's multiple enterprises help
rural families reduce the risk that linkage to
international markets, including credit,
inputs and sales, entails. When women are
excluded from agriculture, however uninten-
tionally, the farm family's ability to overcome
the built-in difficulties of agriculture as a form
of production are limited.

1. Contribution 85-227-J from the Kansas Agricultural
Experiment Station.
2. Mann, S.A. rnd J.M. Dickinson. "Obstacles to the de-
velopment of a capitalist agriculture." Journal of
Peasant Studies 5 (1978):466-81.
3. Brewster, John M. "The machine process in agricul-
ture and industry." Journal of Farm Economics 32
4. Pfeffer, Max. "Social origins of three systems of farm
production in the United States." Rural Sociology 4S
5. Paige, Karen Ericksen and Jeffery M. Paige. The
Politics of Reproductive Ritual. Berkeley: The Univer-
sity of California Press, 1981.
6. Brown, Andrea. "Land of the few: Rural land owner-
ship in Guatemala" In Revolution in CentralAmerica,
Stanford Central America Action Network (eds.)
Boulder: Westview Press (1983):232-47.
7. Campbell, Alex. The Guide to Botswana. Gaborone:
Winchester Press, 1980, p. 230.
8. Staudt, Kathleen. Women and participation in rural
development: A framework for project design and
policy oriented research. Ithaca, New York: Cornell
University Center for International Studies, 1979.
9. Carrion, Lucia. La mujeren la hacienda lechera ecua-
doriana. Quito: CEPLAES, 1983.
10. Barsky, Osvaldo and Gustavo Cosse. Tecnologia v
cambio social: Las haciendas lecheras del Ecuador.
Quito: FLASCO, 1981.
11. de Janvry, Alain. TheAgrarian Question and Reform-
ism in Latin America. Baltimore: The John Hopkins
Press, 1982.
12. Deere, Carmen Diana and Magdalena Leon de Leal.
Women in agriculture: Peasant production and rural
wage employment in Colombia and Andean Peru.
Geneva: International Labor Organization, 1982.
13. Nash, June. "Implications of technological change for
household level and rural development." Michigan
State University Women in Development Working
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 work-
ers. Her most recent books are LOOSENING THE
1850, Yale University Press, and CALIFORNIA
WOMEN: A HISTORY, Boyd and Fraser.

Recent changes in women's property and
credit rights and the intensification of
women's political activism may affect farm
women more than urban women in the next
two decades. Family farms have traditionally
demanded from women both hard work and
the subordination of their interests to the
interests of the family farm as a unit. The role
that women have played in American
agriculture is still not adequately understood
or appreciated, nor is their role in the develop-
ment of some major U.S. institutions. Since
women on the land will take an increasingly
important role in shaping the future of farm
policy as the country goes through the
economic transition of the next two decades,
and they will play this role with greater self-
consciousness and visibility, they will demand
greater attention from policy makers to their
present lives and from scholars to their past
Historians still have an incomplete and
fragmentary knowledge of the work roles that
women have played, of the support networks
that they developed, of their contributions to
the development of religious, educational, and
economic institutions, and of their degree of
political activity. The growing body of
information that we have suggests that these
roles were more varied and more important

than have traditionally been recognized. For
example, historians have only recently begun
to uncover some of the patterns of women's
community activity.
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. This culture of women, whose
major theme is support, has persisted, even
when damaged by the cleavages of race and
class. It has been the basis for a type of
feminism on the farm whose role in allowing
women to survive, and at times flourish under
severe pressure, has not been given adequate
attention by scholars. One reason, of course, is
that it is difficult for scholars to document,
although it is a thread that can be traced
through oral histories, family histories,
letters, and diaries. This fabric of support was
important both to the women it helped and to
the society they served.2
The role that women have played in the
more formal community organizations is
easier to document. For example, their
involvement in religious and educational
institutions played a major role in the develop-
ment of these institutions at the rural level, as
women used or created them to extend the

1 L I I _r L ii


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
From the late eighteenth century in the U.S.
women have been moving more firmly into
their established religions. The ministry of
women began with the Quaker farm women
who criss-crossed the forests of the early
colonies, often travelling thousands of miles to
bring spiritual comfort. Although women
have moved into almost every denomination
as ministers today, during most of the nine-
teenth and twentieth centuries women played
a less obvious leadership role, even though in
the nineteenth century they became the
majority in church membership. It is clear that
they handled most of the welfare functions of
the church and were instrumental in moving
the churches in the direction of a greater
concern for the welfare of their communities.
They often managed the maintenance of
churches as well. Although there is no doubt
about the physical and spiritual importance of
the rural church for women, and of the degree
to which this institution was used by women to
support each other, we still know far too little
about these institutions themselves.3
Women also moved into and began to create
rural educational institutions in the early
nineteenth century. They took over an
increasing amount of the educational
functions of the rural church and stood at the
foundation of the rural school. At exactly the
period in American History when rural women
needed these institutions the most, men were
losing interest in both religion and education.
As family farms moved more toward
commercial production, increasing the work
each family member performed, education
moved out of the home. Daughters could
perform this educational work more
competently and efficiently outside the farm
house, and evidence suggests that they were
only too happy to leave. Quaker women were
among the first to go. Deep into the twentieth
century women spread public education with
their commitment to its importance and their
willingness to work for low wages. Our
knowledge of this poorly paid community
work is entirely inadequate, but we know that
women struggled to establish a good school
system in many parts of the country. Although
these schools, like other rural institutions,
were scarred and weakened by racial and

economic conflicts, they none-the-less formed
the backbone of American public education.
We know, in fact, that quality education could
and did take place even in racially segregated
rural schools, but we still have inadequate
information about what went on in these one-
room school houses, which 'formed the
backbone of American public education.4
Historians are also finding that rural
women took a more politically active role than
traditional history has indicated. Quaker farm
women, for example, were active in calling the
first public meeting of women in the U.S. to
discuss their political needs. This 1848 Seneca
Falls meeting was attended primarily by rural
women. When Lucretia Mott went home to
Philadelphia from Seneca Falls to urge urban
women to call their own state conference, she
got no response. When she talked to Chester
County farm women, however, they
immediately took up the idea and organized
the first statewide conference in West Chester,
appropriately in the new Horticultural Hall.
Women also formed anti-slavery and
temperance associations, and later in the
nineteenth century, farm women flooded into
the Grange, one of the first national organiza-
tions to admit women. Farm women lobbied
hard for oleomargarine laws in the 1880s, and
joined the Farmer's Alliances and the Populist
Party, moving it to become the first political
party to support women's suffrage.
After Congress created the Cooperative
Extension Service in 1914, rural women also
rallied to form farm organizations. In New
Mexico, for example, women were eager
organizers of the earliest Farm Bureaus.
Others formed separate rural women's clubs
and extension clubs. By the 1930s, rural
women were far better organized in New
Mexico than were urban women, and I expect
that the same conditions existed in many
other states. Farm Bureau women in Las
Cruces, for example, organized a room where
rural women could rest when they came to
town to shop. When Federal programs reached
New Mexico in the 1930s, much needed and
welcomed in the rural areas, farm women
worked together to raise matching funds for
paving farm roads and to organize community
canneries to help feed their families and the
poorer members of their communities. Fabiola
Cabeza de Baca, who had moved from

Jensen: The Role of Farm Women

teaching in rural schools prior to World War I
to agricultural extension work, helped
organize Hispanic women in northern New
Mexico. They responded enthusiastically. "If
we have an excuse to leave work for one day a
month, we ought to take advantage of it even
if it is only to get away from work," urged one
woman. For these women, organizing was a
rest "from the daily routine of house and
outdoor work." As another extension
homemaker later recalled, "I just picked up my
baby and went."5

They were accustomed to organizing their o0
complex families and work, and used many
these same skills which they had been devel
ing since childhood in organizing publicly.

I suspect that hard work was one of the
reasons that farm women organized so much
and so well. They were accustomed to
organizing their own complex families and
work, and used many of these same skills
which they had been developing from
childhood in organizing publicly. Although it
is commonly known that "women's work is
never done," the true dimensions of women's
work has not been adequately realized.
Historians, for example, are still debating the
amount of outdoor work farm women have
done in the course of American history. While
some historians have maintained that white
women did not do outdoor work, anyone who
has been on a farm, even today, knows that
only a few farm women do not work outdoors
as well as in. Ranch women in New Mexico
have traditionally rode in roundups, branded,
and "pulled" birthedd) calves. Hispanic women
have harvested chile. Homesteaders worked in
the fields alongside their husbands. Who
gathered all of those potatoes Americans have
found to be their staff of life? In the San Luis
Valley, women drive potato trucks in the
harvest. Before there were harvesters, they
loaded potatoes in sacks from the fields. Before
sacks, into bushel baskets. Women picked
hops in New York and the state of
Washington, gathered cantelopes in the
Mesilla Valley of New Mexico and lettuce in
the Imperial Valley of California. Black and
white women both picked cotton in the valleys
of the south. Without the outdoor labor of
women at harvest time, few harvests could
take place. While it is true that men and
women have often said that women do not
do certain types of farm work, in fact, women

do and did almost every type of work whenever
necessary. Not all women did all kinds of
work, but the variety is impressive.6
Women on tractors and plows are part of a
long history of work. Thomas Jefferson
advocated a family farm and praised the male
as yeoman, as the farmer upon whom the
economy and politics of the new nation would
be based. Yet on his farm, according to his
farm diary of 1795, farm workers were black
women who worked as plowers, sicklers,
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
vn until 10 should serve as nurses, from 10 to 16
of spin, and at 16 "go into the ground or learn
)p- trades." It was this kind of work that
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
were so helpless. He said men even had to help
women over mudpuddles. No one ever helped
me over a mud puddle, Sojourner Truth
retorted, "And ain't I a woman?" She made the
point for all farm women.7
The work was hard for all women, and they
could perform typically men's work when
necessary even though men seldom recipro-
cated. Women still had to bear and care for
dependent children, elders, and the ill, process
most of the food used in the household for
family and hired help, and care for smaller
barnyard animals, especially poultry. Poultry
was not a small item. In Delaware County,
Pennsylvania, as early as 1848, for example,
farm families raised 80,000 hens, produced
24,000 chicks, and over six million eggs a year.

While it is true that men and women have
often said that women do not do certain types
of farm work, in fact, women do and did almost
every type of work whenever necessary.

Women usually milked cows and processed
massive quantities of butter in most areas of
the country before 1860. The Middle-Atlantic
states alone produced almost 180 million
pounds of butter in 1860. In addition, women
processed textiles until factories took over this
job in the early nineteenth century, sewed
massive amounts of clothing and linens down
through much of the twentieth century,
managed and maintained household space,
including large and growing amounts of all


types of farm and household equipment. For
most of history, rural women also had to carry
much of the household water and wood for the
fires. I am reminded of the comment of the
grateful New Mexico farmwoman who finally
got running water in her farmhouse in the
1930s. She estimated that it saved at least 260
miles of walking done yearly to bring water
from the well to her kitchen. Of nearly 30,000
New Mexico farms in 1945, only 28 percent had
running water.8
Even fewer had electricity. The major
technology of New Mexico farm women in the
1930s was not one of the electric irons,
washing machines, or vacuum cleaners that
we hear so much about in urban areas, or even
a treadle sewing machine. It was the pressure
cooker, the symbol of farm women's
technology in the 1920s and 1930s. The
gardens and canning of thousands of rural
women brought poor farm families through
the worst Depression ,and drought in
American history with relatively little
starvation. Some rural Americans did die a
ranch woman from Hatch, New Mexico,
remembered living in Oklahoma during the
Depression where a neighbor's baby died
because she had only oatmeal to feed it. She
was so busy, this woman remembered sadly,
that she did not walk the mile over to see how
her neighbor was doing. "Most any of us could
have helped somewhat," she said, "so when
you live through an experience and you know
that a little baby has starved to death, then
you're for welfare." She saw the government
doing women's work, something they needed
help with. There was not time to do it all. Like
education, welfare had to be done by
specialists, because farm people could not take
care of everybody.9
The family remained the social institution
within which women performed both their
service and production work. If women went to
work for wages, as increasing numbers of farm
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
earlier, the thousands of women endentured to
work for others to pay their passage to the New
World, worked within families. Women's labor
took form within the family and remained
there longest.
And yet woman had only limited control in
that family. For most of American history,
males legally owned the land and any wages
women earned working on the land. In the
western community-property states, men still

had management and control of women's half
of the property during their lives, and, in some
states, remained in control even in death. In
New Mexico, for example, women could not
dispose of their half of the community
property by will until 1973 when the state
Equal Rights Amendment was passed.10
Farm women are likely to make increasing
policy demands in the next decades. For young
women, these will take the form of recognition
of their desire to participate as full partners
and as sole practitioners in agricultural
ventures. Although women make up a third of
many Colleges of Agriculture today, they are
still not always taken seriously by the
predominantly male faculties and -adminis-
trations of those colleges. Agriculture women
will continue to demand an equal place in
education that will include more women
faculty and administrators, support for
research interests, and consideration of their
ideas about local and national agricultural
Women already engaged in agriculture,
most as members of a family farm, will want
legal protection and recognition of their
contributions to the productivity of the farm.
They will want credit reform so that they can
obtain credit for themselves for partnerships
as well as for full ventures. They will want
greater assistance in obtaining off farm job
training and jobs; help with child care; more
flexibility by cooperative extension personnel
in planning family transitions to new crops
and structures. Corporate structures are now
being used to deny some farm women a role in.
decision making. Women want protection for
their investment of time and resources.

If farm women were in bondage, as the majority
of black women were before the 1860s, it was
within the family.

Widows and older women will want changes in
laws so that they will not have to pay
inheritance tax on farm businesses in which
they have invested their life's work. Some
states have already changed their laws to
protect their interests; many have not. Most of
these policy demands relate to the desire of
women to enter or remain in agriculture, but
women as a whole will ask for a larger part in
determining the overall agricultural policy of
the government.

Jensen: The Role of Farm Women

Scholars have an obligation to assist in this
reformulating of policy. They need to work
with farm women to help them articulate their
needs, to provide historical information to
assist in developing viable policies, and
generally to use the wisdom of their disciplines
in aiding the transition to a new agricultural
system. Mainly, scholars will be called upon to
document the essential role that women have
played in the agricultural development of the
United States in the past and to point out the
critical role they will play in the development
of future agricultural policy.


1. This paper is a revised version of the Keynote address
delivered at the American Farm Women in Historical
Perspective Conference, New Mexico State Univer-
sity, Las Cruces, New Mexico, Feb. 3, 1984.
2. Jessie Bernard, The Female World. New York: The
Free Press, 1981, pp. 322-342. For fictionalized ac-
counts of this support structure see Susan Keating
Glaspell, "A Jury of Her Peers," in Lee Edwards and
Arlyn Diamonds, eds., American Voices, American
Women (New York: Avon, 1973) and Donna E.
Smythe, Quilt, Trumansburg, N.Y.: Crossing Press,
3. For Quaker women see Joan M. Jensen, Loosening
the Bonds: Mid-Atlantic Farm Women, 1750-1850 New
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press (in press).
4. New Mexican Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, for example,
remembered being paid in eggs for her rural school
teaching in New Mexico before World War I, We Fed
Them Cactus (Albuquerque: University of New Mex-
ico Press, 1979), while Agnes Smedley, who wrote
Daughter of Earth (Old Westbury: Feminist Press,
1973), remembered teaching for little more. See also
Jensen, Loosening the Bonds, op.cit.; and "Women
Teachers, Class, and Ethnicity: New Mexico, 1900-
1950," Southwest Economy and Society, 4 (Winter

1978/79). For one rural black school see Maya
Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (New
York: Bantam Books, 1971).
5. Joan M. Jensen, Loosening the Bonds op. cit.; and
With These Hands: Women Working on the Land. Old
Westbury: Feminist Press, 1981.
6. The literature is growing steadily. See Jensen,
With These Hands, op. cit. and Carolyn E. Sachs, The
Invisible Farmer: Women In Agricultural Production
(Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Allanheld, 1983). The
best recent guide to the literature is in Susan Bentley
and Carolyn Sachs, "Farm Women in the United
States: An Updated Literature review and Annotated
Bibliography," A.E. & R.S.1, Dept. of Agricultural
Economics and Rural Sociology, Pennsylvania State
University, College Park, PA, May, 1984.
7. Sojourner Truth, "The Narrative of Sojourner Truth,
1978," in Wendy Martin, The American Sisterhood:
Writings of the Feminist Movement from Colonial
Times to the Present (New York: Harper and row,
1972), p. 103.
8. Joan M. Jensen, "Women and Industrialization: The
Case of Buttermaking in Nineteenth Century Mid-
Atlantic America," Signs (forthcoming); and Jensen,
"'I've Worked, I'm Not Afraid of Work': Farm Women
in New Mexico, 1921-1940," in Joan M. Jensen and
Darlis A. Miller, eds.; New Mexico Women: Inter-
cultural Perspectives (Albuqurque: University of
New Mexico Press, in press).
9. Joan M. Jensen, Canning Comes to New Mexico:
Women and the Agricultural Extension Service, 1914-
1919," New Mexico Historical Review, 57 (Oct. 1982),
361-386; and "Farm Women in New Mexico, 1900-
1940," in Robert Kern, ed., Labor in New Mexico:
Strikes, Unions, and Social History Since 1881
(Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press,
1983); "'I've Worked, I'm Not Afraid of Work,'" in Jen-
sen and Miller, New Mexico Women: Intercultural Per-
spectives; and Joan M. Jensen, "Recovering Her
Story: Learning the History of Farm Women," Paper
presented at the National Extension Homemakers
Conference, Laramie, Wyoming, August 31, 1983.
10. Joan M. Jensen, "The Campaign for Women's Com-
munity Property Rights in New Mexico, 1940-1960," in
Jensen and Miller, New Mexico Women: Intercultural
Perspectives, op. cit.


Published quarterly, this journal provides a forum for the discussion
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Robert J. Baum, Norman E. Bowie, Deborah G. Johnson
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Ethical Responsibilities of Engineers in Large Organizations: Richard T. De George
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What is Hamlet to McDonnell-Douglas or Peter A. French
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Commentary Homer Sewell, formerly Director, Boeing Corporation
Lawgivingfor Professional Life Lisa H. Newton, Fairfield University
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Licensing Professions: Preliminary Considerations Bernard Gert, Dartmouth College
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Engineers Who Kill: Professional Ethics and the Paramountcy of Kenneth Kipnis
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The Sealed-Beam Case: Engineering in the Public and George P. E. Meese
Private Interest Michigan Technological University
Commentary Robert Knoll, Consumer's Union
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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
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A Commentary on Research
on American Farmwomen

Peggy J. Ross

PEGGY ROSS is a Rural Sociologist in the Economic
Development Division, Economic Research Serv-
ice, USDA. She is currently Project Leader for
Research on Income Distribution Problems of Non-
metropolitan People. In the past she has done re-
search 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. Depart-
ment 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
changing social and economic roles of women
in the United States, relatively little is known
about contemporary farmwomen and their
participation in agricultural production.
Although it is commonly recognized that
historically farmwomen have participated in
various aspects of farm operation and
management, the nature and magnitude of
their involvement remains largely
undocumented. (Boulding, 1979; Haney, 1982;
Hill, 1981a; Huffman, 1976).
The knowledge gap, as Boulding labeled it,
stems from several inter-related sources. One
contributing factor is the sparsity and
inadequacy of national data on the character-
istics and behavior of farm people generally,
and farmwomen in particular. The Census of
Agriculture did not report numbers or basic
characteristics of farm operators by sex until
1978 (see Kalbacher, 1982). Furthermore,
national statistics only partially account for
farm work done by farm wives and other
family members, because such workers have
.been traditionally counted as unpaid family

workers, if counted at all (Huffman, 1976). A
second factor is the prevailing view of the
farmwoman as a fundamental maternal and
domestic being nurturer, mother, wife,
helpmate, homemaker (Bernard, 1968; Haney,
1982). This has resulted in the tendency for
researchers and policymakers to see farm-
women primarily from the traditional
viewpoint, as occupants of home and hearth
roles, and thus, to keep women on the fringe of
agricultural public policy (Paarlberg, 1980).
Another contributor to the paucity of
knowledge about farmwomen's economic roles
in agriculture is the lack of broad-based social
science research on farmwomen, per se.
Almost all of the sociological studies of the
1950s and 1960s approach the topic of farm-
women "as they related to men and family life
- as wives and mothers and restrict the
analysis to the spheres which included these
functions" (Joyce and Leadley, 1977: 19).
This article has two purposes: to review the
major sociological research on U.S. farm-
women during this century, and to examine
two alternative theoretical perspectives which

I -~ Irl


attempt to account for variations in farm-
women's productive behavior. These
perspectives undergird much of the research.
One explanation, which served as the
rationale (at least implicitly) for most post
World War II studies on farmwomen, links
differences in productive activities among
farmwomen to variations in their individual
and family characteristics, particularly their
stage in the family cycle. The second
explanation, exemplified by some of the
current research on the structure of agri-
culture, suggests that variations in
farmwomen's productive behavior stems from
economic and political conditions affecting
agricultural production systems. A
comparison of these two explanatory
perspectives is preceded by an examination of
the social science research literature on farm-

Studies of farmwomen in the United States
are few in number and cover a relatively short
time since World War II. Except for a few
pieces of research, information about U.S.
farmwomen and their lives in the early 1900s
has appeared mainly in journalistic and
historical sources books, journals,
magazines, and newsletters.2 Although
seldom recognized, an invaluable source of
information about the farmwomen of the early
1900s is a series of USDA publications dealing
with the social, labor, domestic, educational,
and economic needs of wives of 55,000 crop cor-
respondents (U.S. Department of Agriculture,
1915a; 1915b; 1915c; 1915d). These publica-
tions contain extracts of letters received in
response to an inquiry about ways the U.S.
Department of Agriculture might better serve
The impetus for sociological research on
farmwomen's roles came from two sources
during the 1950s. One was the development of
family sociology, a sub-discipline that
spawned interest in the study of the division of
labor in conjugal units, including the family
farm (e.g., Blood, 1958; Blood and Wolfe, 1960;
Smith, 1969; Straus, 1958; 1960). The other
source was an emphasis within the Extension
Service on farm and home development and a
consequent interest in farmwomen's roles in
farm work, decisionmaking and information
processing within the family (e.g., Burchinal
and Bauder, 1965; Wilkening, 1958;
Wilkening and Bharadwaj, 1967;Wilkening
and Guerrero, 1969; Wilkening and Morrison,

The interest in women's labor on the farm
carried over into the 1970s and 1980s with
attention to classifications of farmwomen's
roles (Boulding, 1979; Buttel and Gillespie,
1984; Lodwick and Fassinger, 1979; Pearson,
1979). Other studies concentrated on farm-
women's off-farm work (Bokemeier, 1980;
1983; Sweet, 1972), and the interrelated labor
roles of men and women (Buttel and Gillespie,
1984; Coughenour and Swanson, 1983).

Review of Literature
This review centers primarily on studies,
beginning with the 1950s, that have addressed
issues of decisionmaking and the division of
labor in farm families. Although little
sociological research on farmwomen occurred
before 1950, a few earlier studies do deserve
special recognition.

Early Studies
In the 1920s, four investigations of time use
by rural homemakers, in Idaho, Oregon,
Minnesota and South Dakota, resulted from
passages of the Purnell Act of 1925, which
financed research in rural areas. These studies
revealed that farmwomen worked longer
hours inside and outside the home than their
urban counterparts. On the average,
farmwomen spent more than 50 hours per
week working in the home and more than 10
hours per week in other farm labor (Crawford,
1927; Wilson, 1927; Wasson, 1930; Studley,
1931). These studies were important because
they were the first to focus on the behavior of
rural women, including farmwomen.
During the hard times of the 1930s, research
attention shifted from rural women's roles as
homemakers to economic problems. In
Mothers of the South, Margaret Hagood (1939)
reported on the social and economic plight of
Southern white tenant farmwomen. Her work
documented the strains experienced by tenant
farmwomen as they tried to fulfill the roles of
mother, homemaker and farm laborers. It also
revealed that women yielded responsibility
for management of the farm to their husbands.
Most important, however, Hagood explicitly
recognized the influences of structural forces
(including the state of agriculture and the
economic injustices of tenancy) on depressed
living conditions, low incomes, and
inadequate diets and housing conditions for
tenant farm families (1939:6).
Another of the early studies is Beers' (1937)
widely cited analysis of changes in the
structure of ihe New York farm family. His
research indicated a lessening of patriarchal
dominance, greater specialization in division

Ross: A Commentary on Research

of labor (particularly among sexual lines), and
a tendency toward democratic decision-
making. Beers found that many decisions,
especially about borrowing money, were made
jointly by husbands and wives. On the other
hand, Beers observed that men on larger
farms tended to take sole responsibility for
financial decisions. He foresaw that an
increased scale of agriculture would lead to
greater specialization within the family, with
men assuming responsibility for the farm and
women for the home. This study was a
conceptual forerunner of many mid-century
studies that would deal with sexual division of
labor and patterns of decisionmaking within
the American family, including the farm
Decisionmaking Studies
Wilkening (1958) applied the concepts of
status and role to examine joint decision-
making among husbands and wives on 600
Wisconsin farms. Viewing women's partici-
pation in farm management decisions as a
function of her social status, he tested the
hypothesis that farmwomen's involvement in
joint decisionmaking could be explained by
differences in two indicators of the women's
social status: education and joint decision-
making and a positive relationship between
social participation and decisionmaking only
among women at relatively high income
levels. He concluded that sexual roles in
decisionmaking are shaped more by
individual perception about the needs of farm
and households than by cultural definitions of
husbands' and wives' roles.

He concluded that sexual roles in decision
making are shaped more by individual pe
ception about the needs of farm and house
holds than by cultural definitions of hu
bands' and wives' roles.
Subsequent studies also failed to find clear-
cut patterns of differentiation of authority in
farm families. Using data from a statewide
study of 500 Wisconsin families, Smith (1969)
found egalitarian patterns of decisionmaking
between the sexes, although spouses assumed
leadership in decisions related to their
respective responsibilities: husbands usually
made decisions about farm operations, and
wives made decisions about domestic matters
including food, housework, and entertain-
ment. Responsibilities for decisions about
farm resources, furnishing and maintaining
the home, and socialization of the children
tended to be shared.

Routine household decisions were handled by
women, but major decisions affecting the
family, such as large purchases, children's
well-being, and family recreation, were often
made jointly.

Burchinal and Bauder's (1965) work with
rural and urban families in Iowa and Blood
and Wolfe's 1960 study of city and farm
families in Michigan both found egalitarian
patterns of decisionmaking among families
regardless of farm or urban residence.
Burchinal and Bauder (1965) did not, however,
consider decisions about the farming
The participation of women in farm
decisions varies with the kinds of decisions
involved. Wilkening and Bharadwaj (1967)
contended that joint decisionmaking in
Wisconsin families was more prevalent for
major farm resources decisions involving
considerable outlay of family funds i.e.,
purchase of land or automobiles than for
farm operation decisions involving day-to-day
operation of the farm. This same study also
found that women's involvement in major
decisions about farm operations was
unrelated to their involvement in family and
home decisions.
In a more recent report, Wilkening (1981)
compared changes in labor and
decisionmaking patterns for 1962 and 1978
samples of Wisconsin farm families. The
n percentage of farmwomen who shared
responsibility for major farm decisions
r- equally with their husbands decreased
e- slightly between 1962 and 1978. In the later
s- sample, women were more involved in farm
business decisions if they kept the farm books.
Routine household decisions were handled by
women, but major decisions affecting the
family, such as large purchases, children's
well-being, and family recreation, were
often made jointly.
Other research has examined the relation
between women's involvement in decisions
and the economic size of the farm operation.
Sawyer (1973) reported that women at lower
income levels were more apt to participate in
farm management and adoption decisions. On
the other hand, Wilkening (1958) found a
curvilinear relationship between women's
involvement in farm decisions and farm
income; middle-income farm families in
Wisconsin were more prone to joint decision-


making than low or high income farm
families. Straus (1960) speculated that the
curvilinear relationship appeared because
fewer managerial decisions were made by the
lower income families, and the kinds of
decisions required of higher income families
lay beyond the technological ability of the
farm wife.
Labor Studies
Studies of farmwomen's labor have tended
to focus on one of several aspects of women's
work: farm work, household activities
(including child rearing), and off-farm work.
Some studies (e.g., Straus, 1958; 1960) have not
recognized the traditional home and family-
related activities as economically productive
labor. But Fassinger and Schwarzweller
(1980) argued that women contribute to the
economics of the farm unit through farm labor
such as field work and farm chores, through
housework and child care, incurred as hidden
factors of production, and through off-farm
employment. A similar stance was taken by
Colman (1981) and Elbert (1981), who
suggested that farm and farm family are
separate but highly integrated systems, and
labor within the family arena such as
"reproduction, supervision and feeding of
future farms" can appropriately be construed
as farm activities (Colman, 1981:935). The
following review of studies dealing with farm-
women's work is generally organized around
the three areas of work mentioned above.
A number of studies have considered the
amounts and kinds of work women do on the
farm. Wilkening's (1981) research with
Wisconsin farmwomen in 1978 revealed that
12 percent worked 30 hours or more a week
doing farm chores, 48 percent worked at least
sometimes in the fields, and 6 percent worked
in the fields 60 or more days a year. In a study
measuring the productive value of women's
work, Huffman (1976) estimated that the value
of farm work was comparable to returns from
non-farm work.
Fassinger and Schwarzweller (1980)
discovered that the number of hours of farm
work by Michigan farmwomen increased with
farm size. Nonetheless, women on the hobby,
small and large farms all contributed about
the same proportion (25 percent) of total
person-hours of farm work.
The multidimensionality of women's labor
has been frequently assumed, but Wilkening
and Bharadwaj (1967) were among the first
empirically delineate and define multiple
dimensions. They factor analyzed 15 farms
and household tasks performed by Wisconsin

families and identified six dimensions of tasks
labeled field work, barn chores, money matters
domestic tasks, household maintenance, and
children's socialization. Money matters
included both farm business records and
family expenses, but the researchers classified
it as a household-family activity. The families,
they found, exhibited a division of labor not
only between farm and family dimensions but
between family dimensions as well.
In a comparison of city and farm families in
Michigan, Blood (1958) found that
farmwomen do more work than city women.
"Farm wives not only take over from their
husbands a substantial share of household
tasks and from commercial enterprises a large
proportion of consumer goods production, but
they also help their husbands with the farm
work. By contrast, most urban wives feel that
they cannot help their husbands at all or at
best can give them emotional support and
encouragement" (1958:172).

By contrast, most urban wives feel that they
cannot help their husbands at all or at best can
give them emotional support and encourage-

Regarding household work, studies have
consistently demonstrated that responsibility
for the traditional women's activities in the
home, including child rearing, rests with the
farmwomen. In both the 1962 and 1978
Wisconsin studies, Wilkening (1981) reported
that household chores in farm work were done
almost solely by women. Women's partici-
pation in farmwork, Wilkening observed, had
increased much more than men's
participation in household work.
Fassinger and Schwarzweller's findings in
Michigan supported those in Wisconsin.
Women primarily did the household work
regardless of farm size. Furthermore, level of
participation in household tasks was
associated with higher levels of participation
in farm work, but not affected by off-farm
Straus (1958) related farm success to
Columbia River Basin wives' involvement in
two traditional homemaking activities care
of a vegetable garden and canning. 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.

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
the increasing number of rural farmwomen
employed in off-farm jobs. He found that off-
farm employment was greater among women
who were in the South, better educated, or
married to men with non-farm jobs.
Nearly 40 percent of women in the Michigan
survey held off-farm jobs, regardless of farm
size (Fassinger and Schwarzweller, 1980). On
the larger farms, however, women who worked
at off-farm jobs tended to be the sole source of
off-farm income.
A 1980 study of nearly 14,000 farm women in
a 29-county area of Mississippi and Tennessee
found that nearly 40 percent held off-farm
jobs, mainly in the manufacturing and service
sectors. About 5 percent worked both off and
on the farm. Women's economic contributions
from off-farm work maintained solvency in
many households, refuting the notion that
women work out of the home by choice rather
than necessity (Salant, 1983).
In looking at the labor force participation of
farm, non-farm and metropolitan Kentucky
women, Bokemeir et al. (1980) found that 38
percent of farm women were employed in
either full- or part-time jobs. Farmwomen on
the smallest farms were less likely to enter the
labor force than women in the middle-size
farms, reflecting possibly that on the very
small farms women's farm labor may be worth
more than their off-farm labor. The presence of
children under 18 years old in the family was
related to working outside the home for non-
farm women, but not for farmwomen. The
researchers suggested that child care
arrangements may be more readily available
for farmwomen than for women living in off-
farm locations. In an additional analysis of
their Kentucky data, the authors concluded
that marital status and stage in family cycle
are less important determinants of off-farm
employment than marketable skills and
education (Bokemeir et al., 1983).
Different findings regarding stage in family
cycle and off-farm work were reported in the
Michigan study (Fassinger and Schwarz-
weller, 1980). Farmwomen living on hobby
and small farms were more apt to be employed
off-farm if they had dependent children at
Several have examined the relationship
between stage in family cycle and other

aspects of women's work and decisionmaking.
Wilkening and Ahrens (1980) reported that
stage in family cycle was negatively related to
farm record keeping responsibilities. They
also found that women in the early stages of
the family cycle were more involved in farm
work than women who had older children
(particularly sons) to whom responsibility for
work could possibly be transferred.
Jones and Rosenfeld (1981) analyzed the
relationships between selected individual and
farm characteristics and U.S. farmwomen's
performance of farm tasks included higher
education, having fewer children age 6 and
under at home, single marital status, off-farm
employment of husband and of self. In
addition, size and nature of the farm operation
and its regional location had significant
effects on task involvement. Together,
however, the combined set of individual and
farm characteristics accounted for less than 20
percent of variations in task performance.
When Fassinger and Schwarzweller (1980)
examined the effects of stage in family cycle
and participation in farming activities, they
found that women without dependent children
at home were more involved in farm tasks on
hobby farms and to a lesser degree on small
farms. Stage in family cycle was not related to
level of farm labor for women living on larger
Buttel and Gillespie (1984) found that hours
of on-farm work for New York farmwomen
was only modestly associated with stage in life
cycle variables, and that the presence or
absence of children of various ages in the
family had little or no effect on off-farm work.
Education has been identified as a factor
related to both farm tasks and off-farm
employment. In the 1978 Wisconsin studies,
education of husband and wife was associated
with record keeping and seeking information
via mass media (Wilkening and Ahrens, 1980).
Education has also been related to off-farm
employment (Sweet, 1972; Bokemeier et al.;
1980; 1983).
Moving away from the personal attitudes of
the individual, a few studies have shown that
farm characteristics are associated with labor
activities. In the 1978 Wisconsin study (again),
dairy farmwomen were more likely to do farm
chores, field work, farm-record keeping, and
information seeking than their non-dairy


farm counterparts (Wilkening and Ahrens,
1980). This same study also showed that
women's involvement in the farm was greater
on larger farms than those with no hired help.
Use of hired help affected the propensity of
Michigan hobby farmwomen to hold off-farm
jobs (Fassinger and Schwarzweller, 1980).
Similarly, size of farm (expressed as annual
sales volume) was positively related to hours
of on-farm work and inversely related to hours
of off-farm work for New York women living
on small farms that gross under $40,000
annually. The relationships did not hold up for
women living on large farms with over $40,000
gross sales (Buttel and Gillespie, 1984).
The interrelationships between the various
components of women's work and decision-
making on-farm, in the family and off-farm
have been frequently investigated. Noted
above, data from the Michigan survey
indicated that women's participation in work
on hobby and small farms was positively
correlated with their participation in
household activity, but neither area of activity
was affected by off-farm employment
(Fassinger and Schwarzweller, 1980). In
contrast, Wilkening and Ahrens (1980)
reported that off-farm employment had little
effect on Wisconsin wives' farm record
keeping but decreased their involvement in
farm work. In an earlier Wisconsin study,
farmwomen's off-farm jobs affected their
involvement in family decisions but not in
farm decisions (Wilkening and Bharadwaj,
Using a different perspective which focuses
on the interrelated spousal work roles within
Kentucky farm family units, Coughenour and
Swanson examined the effects of off-farm
employment on farm structure. They found
that farms where women had off-farm jobs
were considerably smaller than farms where
the women remained on their farms. However,
they argue that greater involvement of the
women in the farming operation cannot
compensate for the loss of the man's labor to
off-farm employment and the scale and size of
the operation will be smaller.
In a different approach to the linkages
between the various dimensions of
farmwomen's involvement with farm operation
and management, several studies have attempt-
ed to identify the types of women's rela-
tionships to agricultural production.
Boulding's (1979) classification, based on a
small study in Colorado, proposed that farm-
women can be characterized according to
three general types: the farmwife who works
with her husband in their farm business, the

woman farmer who is the principal operator of
a farm, and the farm housewife who lives on
the farm but assumes little direct interest or
activity in the farm business. In another
Colorado study, Pearson (1979) developed a
four-fold scheme to describe women's relation-
ships to their farms. Two of her types,
independent agricultural producers and farm
homemakers,3 corresponded to Boulding's
(1979) women farmers and farm housewives.
In addition, she differentiated between
agricultural partners who functioned as co-
operators of their farms, and farm helpers,
females who helped with the farm work during
the peak times.
Lodwick and Fassinger (1979) added two
additional types to the Pearson typology when
they classified farmwomen in two Michigan
townships. The category, agriculturally
active, included women who participated daily
in farm work, but werenot generally involved
in farm management or decisionmaking. A
second category identified by Lodwick and
Fassinger was the peripheral helper, referring
to women who had little or no direct contact
with farm work or planning with the possible
exception of maintaining a vegetable garden.
In the six-fold classification of Michigan
farmwomen, the percent of women in the
various categories was as follows:

Independent Producers 2 Percent
Agricultural Partners 15
Agriculturally Active 21
Farm Helpers 17
Farm Homemakers 35
Peripheral Helpers 11
The Michigan researchers concluded that the
results of their typology "underscore the
heterogeneity of farm women's work"
Using a different approach that cross-
classified the on-farm and off-farm work of
husbands and wives, Buttel and Gillespie
(1984) identified eight types of farm
households in New York, and developed
descriptive profiles of the types. In four types
of the joint work roles, women do not
participate in the off-farm labor market. In
two of these, they work neither on nor off the
farm. Four additional types covered joint work
roles where the women held an off-farm job.
The most prevalent type was the traditional,
specialized full-time family farm where both
the man and woman worked on the farm, but
not off. In the second most common type, the
man worked on-farm only, and the woman
worked neither off nor on the farm.

Ross: A Commentary on Research

Alternate Theoretical Perspectives
Nearly all the studies mentioned above have
utilized (at least implicitly) a structural
functional approach to family organization.
Applied in empirical research with farm
families beginning in the 1950s, this
perspective grew from a broader concern with
patterns of family life within the context of
social-cultural change and emphasized
differences in personal and social attributes of
the individual as an explanation for women's
behavior in the farm family.
An alternative perspective, increasingly
used as a framework to analyze a range of
issues pertaining to the organization of
agriculture in advanced societies, has been
proposed as a theoretical explanation for
farmwomen's productive relationships to
agriculture (Flora, 1981; Sachs, 1981, 1983).
Referred to here as the structural approach,
the latter perspective has only been recently
employed in a major empirical research study
dealing with U.S. farmwomen's involvement
in production agriculture (e.g., Buttel and
Gillespie, 1984).

The Individual Perspective
Talcott Parsons (1955) concentrated on the
structural and functional relations within the
American nuclear family. In his view, the
family was a solidarity unit ascribed
membership and status. Its primary functions
were socialization of children and
stabilization of adult personalities through
the marriage relations. To fulfill its central
functions, the family had a specialized and
highly differentiated role structure with the
male assuming leadership responsibility for
instrumental/task activities and the female
assuming leadership for the integrative/
supportive activities.
Zelditch (1955) examined the patterns of
instrumental and expressive (integrative/
supportive) roles in familial systems in 56
societies. He postulated that the nuclear
family would exhibit a differentiated role
structure in terms of instrumental and
expressive roles. He further posited that
leadership for the roles would be allocated on
the basis of sex. He concluded that the
American family demonstrated most clearly
"equal allocation of instrumental and
expressive activities" (1955:339).
Applying this perspective to the farm family
which has both economic and non-economic
functions, researchers interested in the
division of labor and decisionmaking in the
farm family deduced that farmwomen would

emphasize the traditional roles, care of the
children and maintenance of the home and
their participation in the economic aspects
would be shaped by their familial obliga-
tions. Thus, farmwomen's research has
focused on variables such as stage in family
cycle, family composition, and indicators of
the wife's status such as education and social
participation as factors affecting variations in
farmwomen's productive behavior.

The Structural Perspective
Emerging from a broader socioeconomic
and ecological critique of agriculture in the
United States (e.g., Buttel and Newby, 1980;
Havens, 1982; Rodefeld, 1978, 1983), the
structural perspective provides another
theoretical vehicle for an understanding of
farmwomen's roles. Proponents of this
perspective have focused on the organization
and scale of agriculture and its bearing on a
range of topics including socioeconomic and
political conditions, labor issues and
agricultural environmental concerns (see
Buttel and Newby, 1980). For example,
Rodefeld (1978) centered on specific issues
surrounding the structure of agriculture,
particularly mechanization and the growth of

In a carefully developed treatise, Sachs (1981)
argues that farm women' positions in agricul-
ture were shaped by two sources: the structure of
American agriculture and the predominant
societal ideology of women's domesticity.

corporate agriculture. On the other hand,
Buttel et al. (1981) contrasted the effects of
farm scale and wealth versus indicators of
social status on environmental attitudes of
Michigan and New York farmers.
Few empirical studies have employed the
structural perspective to focus on the roles of
farmwomen. Glazer-Malbin's (1976) essay on
housework drew heavily from theories
representing the structural perspective, and de
Leal and Deere (1979) applied structural
theories to study the sexual division of labor
among various agricultural groups in
Colombia. In relation to American
farmwomen, two sociologists have theoret-
ically addressed the topic of farmwomen's
roles in production agriculture from the
structural perspective.
In a carefully developed treatise, Sachs
(1981) argued that farmwomens' positions in
agriculture have been shaped by two forces:


the structure of American agriculture and the
predominant societal ideology of women's
domesticity. In her view, the features of large-
scale agriculture, particularly the trend
toward industrialized methods of production
for many commodities, have reduced the farm
family's control of production decisions,
displaced large numbers of agricultural
workers, and forced many farmers to leave
farming or supplement their incomes through
off-farm employment. While the changing
structure of agriculture has affected men as
well as women, the impacts on women are
unduly severe because the prevailing domestic
ideology in the society has emphasized
women's domestic work to the devaluation of
their labor and involvement in farm operation
and management.

While emphasizing the structural variables in
her conceptual scheme, Flora nevertheless rec-
ognized that the individual's life-cycle vari-
ations must also be considered.

According to Sachs, the domestic ideology
has served "the interests of both capital-
ism and male domination" (1981:41). It has
deprived women of involvement in the
productive activities, including decision-
making, on the farm, but in turn has resulted
in the creation of a reserve labor force, surplus
value in the marketplace and increased
Consumption. The transfer of production of
food, clothing, other goods, and even services
from the farm family to the marketplace has
created a surplus value in the marketplace and
greater consumption. In addition, women can
be maintained as a reserve labor force. "When
the demands of capital are such that women
laborers are needed, they can be hired. As
the labor market shrinks, women can return
home to their proper place without creating
unemployemnt." (1981:42).
In a related line of argument, Flora (1981)
observed that an explanation for the behavior
and attitudes of U.S. farmwomen should be
sought in a consideration of agricultural
structure and farming systems. Flora argued
that farmwomen contribute to the farming
system through their inputs of labor, land,
capital (including off-farm income), and
management (directly via participation in
decisionmaking and indirectly through
responsibility for farm records). Variations in
women's inputs primarily are due to the nature

and organization of the farm and the class
position of the household. Within the larger
context of the structure of agriculture, Flora
sees women as an important element in
struggles to represent interests of their
agricultural factions. While emphasizing the
structural variables in her conceptual scheme,
Flora nevertheless recognized that the
individual's life-cycle variations must also be
considered. She observed:
It is critical that any research on
farmwomen document changes over time
in women's input to the farming system
and link them to changes in the
structures of agriculture, which have
been particularly swift in the current
generation. Researchers should
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 farmwomen think and
do (1981:83).
Buttel and Gillespie (1984) argue that family-
based agricultural production is shaped by
external forces in the larger economy and
society, including product markets, capital
and labor markets, nonfarm labor markets,
and public policies. They observed:
Some of these ... have served to maintain
or preserve family, while others have had
the effects of causing differentiation of
farming households ... leading to ... an
emerging dualism ... characterized by
growth of... a few large farms, by a larger
number of ... stable, but economically
viable small farms, and by 'disappearing'
... of medium-sized, full-time family
farms." (1984:185).
However, they contend that the flexibility of
the farm household labor of both men and
women to adjust to the external stimuli has
contributed to the persistence of family
The two perspectives contrasted above have
offered essentially opposing hypotheses for the
explanation of U.S. farmwomen's rela-
tionships to agricultural production. The
individual perspective, based on assumptions
about sexual division of labor and
differentiated roles, has tried to explain
variations in women's behavior in terms of
differences in personal and family character-
istics. The structural perspective, on the other
hand, has pointed to indicators of the nature
and organization of the farming system for the
major explanatory factors for farmwomen's
Hypotheses relating variations in behavior
to either structural or individual factors have

Ross: A Commentary on Research

not been fully verified. Studies on
farmwomen's labor and decisionmaking have
yielded inconsistent and sometimes
contradictory findings. (However, the wide
range of measurement techniques,
methodologies and sub-populations
represented in this literature must be taken
into account.) In their research on environ-
mental attitudes, Buttel et al. (1981) examined
competing hypotheses derived from
individual and structural perspectives and
failed to find unequivocal support for either
perspective. They concluded that "while the
critique of large-scale agriculture is more
compatible with the evidence we assembled,
the environmental attitudes literature also
contributes to our understanding of agrarian
environmentalism (1981:407).
My contention is that neither perspective
solely provides a totally adequate explanation
for farmwomen's relationships to agricultural
production. An explanation of farmwomen's
labor roles requires elements of both
perspectives, and several assumptions. First,
women's participation in agricultural
production is a multidimensional
phenomenon which encompasses activities in
the home and family, and in the farm and off-
farm workplaces.4 Second, women's labor
roles are intricately linked to a larger system
of labor allocation within the family. To under-
stand women's participation in on- and off-
farm work requires recognition of the inter-
dependency of women's and men's labor
inputs. Third, an explanation offarmwomen's
involvement in various aspects (dimensions)
of farm'activity involves not only a consid-
eration of both the structural organization
of the farming system and the social and
demographic attributes of the individual, but
the linkages between them. Because women's
responsibility for the traditional work and
management activities in the home and
family is a universal, characteristic of
American society, one might expect that
variation in farmwomen's roles within the
home and family will be due to differences in
individuals, including age, family compo-
sition, and social status. On the other hand,
the expectation is that farmwomen's partici-
pation in the economic aspects of farm
production (including off-farm employment)
will be affected by an interplay of individual
characteristics with primary structural
characteristics of the farm.

Directions for Future Research
The general body of research on farmwomen

Studies on farm women's labor and decision
making have yielded inconsistent and some-
times contradictory findings.

is limited in several respects. Research tends
to be provincial and is marked by
methodological problems: generaliza-
tions from very small and unrepresenta-
tive samples, inadequate documentation of
research instruments and overly simplistic
analysis. A much more fundamental issue,
however, pertains to the treatment of
farmwomen only as incumbents of traditional
roles. Researchers' acceptance of a traditional
division of labor in farm families has
hampered exploration of the full range of
women's roles on the farm, and an ideological
bias toward traditional views of women has
sometimes been imposed on interpretations of
A need for better definitions and improved
methodologies in the study of farmwomen is
definitely indicated. Directions for future
research include:
More in-depth information on women's
activities in the agricultural production pro-
cess. More detailed and specific information
about women's on-farm work, their other
contributions to farm operation, and their
involvement in farm management will con-
tribute to a fuller understanding of women's
participation in agriculture. Because the
kinds of in-depth information needed can-
not be acquired through general survey
research, it will be important to seek
alternate methodologies to obtain adequate
Longitudinal analyses to document tran-
sition over time of the life cycle of the
family. Nearly all research on farmwomen
has been based on cross-sectional data. A
better understanding of the relationship be-
tween stage in family cycle and changes in
women's role requires over-time tracking.
A consideration of women's primary re-
lationship to the farm. Many studies fail to
take into account the importance of the
diverse roles women may play at various
points in their lives. Is she the principal
operator a farmer -, or is she the prin-
cipal operator's spouse a farmwife or
does she have some other relationship to the
farm non-operator owner, or non-resident
farmer or farmwife? Certainly, women
farmers may behave differently from farm-
wives, at least some of the time, with re-
spect to farm operation and management.


* An understanding of women's roles in the
context of labor allocation within the family
unit. A frequent criticism of farm women's
research has been the tendency to view
farmwomen as they are part of the family
farm, more specifically as the incumbents of
traditional roles of wife, mother as home-
maker. Only recently, has attention directly
focused on the importance of the interre-
lated work roles within the farm family and
the relationship of these interrelation-
ships to farm structure and functioning.
This is an area which deserves much more
In conclusion, interest in farmwomen and
farmwomen's research seems to be on the up-
swing (e.g., Buttel and Gillespie, 1984; Cough-
enour and Swanson, 1983; Hill, 1981a; Haney,
1982; Flora, 1981). Emphasis also appears to
have shifted to improved conceptualization
that is considering the structure of the farm
setting. The hope is that future research can
avoid the pitfalls of ideological under-
pinnings which marred some of the research
in the past.

1. Parts of this article are drawn from unpublished
documents by the author (Ross, 1982, 1983).
2. Bibliographies prepared by Fowler (1979), Joyce and
Leadley (1977) and U.S. Department of Agriculture
(1977) contain numerous references to the general lit-
erature on farmwomen.
3. Pearson's description of the farm homemaker role
included sporadic involvement with farm operation
during peak season through cooking for hired men and
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Beers, Howard
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Bernard, Jessie
1968 "The status of women in modern patterns of cul-
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ical and social Science 275 (January): 3-14.
Blood, Robert 0.
1958 "The division of labor in city and farm families."
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Blood, Robert 0., and Donald M. Wolfe
1960 Husbands and Wives. New York: Free Press.
Bokemeier, Janet, Verna Keith, and Carolyn Sachs
1980 "What happened to rural women? A comparative
study of labor force participation." Paper pre-
sented at the Rural Sociological Meeting, Ithaca,
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Bokemeier, Janel L., Carolyn Sachs and Verna Keith
1983 "Labor force participation of metro-
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Boulding, Elise
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Buttel, Frederick H., Gilbert W. Gillespie, Jr., Oscar W.
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1981 "The social bases of agrarian environmentalism:
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1980 The Rural Sociology of the Advanced Societies:
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Allanheld, Osmun, and Company.
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Women's Work in the U.S.: Variations by Regions

Carolyn Sachs

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-
cultural production throughout the history of
the U.S. Women's work in agriculture has been
consistently unnoticed and when noticed,
undervalued. Women have been involved in all
phases of agricultural production including
plowing, planting, weeding, harvesting, and
livestock care. In addition, women on farms
have often assumed responsibility for on-farm
processing of food for home consumption or
sale. With the commercialization of
agriculture, management and marketing have
become increasingly important tasks which
many women also perform.
This paper will discuss the changing
structure of agriculture in various regions of
the U.S. as the context in which women's work
is performed. Flora (1981) emphasizes the
importance of analyzing women's work in
agriculture within the framework of the
changing structure of agriculture. Farming
systems, commodities produced, land tenure,
racial and ethnic composition, class structure
and household organization all vary between
and within regions. Although women's work
in agriculture varies by region and numerous
other factors, women's relation to agricultural
production has certain commonalities. As
Joan Jensen (1982) points out, the focus on
regionalism in agricultural history has
resulted in the neglect of issues that transcend
region. The sexual division of labor is one issue

that has been glossed over in regional
agricultural history.
A division of labor between women and men
always exists. The form of the division
changes. The division of labor between women
and men in agriculture varies by numerous
factors including region, type of agriculture,
class, ethnicity, labor availability, and
technology. Certain tasks are considered
women's work while others are considered
men's work. Domestic work is women's work
regardless of region, class, or racial
distinctions. Work with specific crops,
livestock, or products is often defined as
women's work. For example, the raising, care
and marketing of chickens has historically
been women's work.
Women's work is defined by the intersection
of the structure of production and the
organization of the household. In the U.S., the
intersection of agricultural production and the
household has resulted in the predominance of
the family farm. The family farm is viewed as
the natural basis of agricultural production in
the U.S. (Friedmann, 1978). The ideal farm
family owned land, performed farm work, and
were independent. The family farm was
considered the foundation for American
democracy. Agriculture, or family farms, have
been strongly resistant to capitalist
The belief that the family farm is the



backbone of American agriculture has
remained, although tenancy has increased,
more outside labor is hired and farmers are
increasingly dependent on the market. In
recent years, the survival of the family farm
has been of increasing concern to farmers,
scholars, and policy makers. The demise of the
number of family farms has been constant for
the last 50 years and is likely to continue.
Women's labor has been essential to the
survival of family farms. A low standard of
living and heavy work loads for the entire
farm family are several factors that contribute
to the viability of the family farm (Bernier,
1976; Friedland, Furnari and Pugliese, 1980).
Women's work both on the farm and in the
household has enabled farm families to
remain on the farms.

production working primarily to provide sub-
sistence goods to families and neighbors. The
limited amount of commercial agriculture that
existed was centered close to the coast or
towns. Farmers close to town supplied the
urban markets. In subsistence production, a
division of labor occurred both within and
between families. Women's economic role was
essential to the subsistence of families.
Women were responsible for garden
crops,small livestock and domestic
production,, while men assumed primary
responsibility for clearing the land, large
livestock and field crops. Although a division
of labor existed, a strict division between men
and women was seldom adhered to. Due to the
labor-intensive and seasonal nature of
agricultural production, regular labor

Sons were under their father'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
families did not experience the physical
separation of the workplace from the
household. As a result, a strong
interdependence characterized farm women
and men. Interdependence does not
necessarily equal equity. In fact, control of
farms has historically been under the male
'head of the household. Changes in the
structure of agriculture and the organization
of the household have resulted in changes in
women's involvement on farms. Women's
involvement in agriculture has not been
limited to their participation as members of
family farms. Throughout the history of the
U.S. women have often been employed as
wage laborers in agriculture. Black, Hispanic,
Asian, immigrant, and poor women have
frequently been hired to perform agricultural
labor. The variation in women's work by
region is presented through an examination of
changes in the agricultural structure and
household organization. Although women's
work varies by region, many similarities
transcend regions. Certain similarities such
as off-farm employment and women's access
to land are discussed in relation to various
historical circumstances in particular regions.

Women in the North
The majority of the population in northern
American colonies were involved in
subsistence agriculture throughout the
eighteenth century. Families were the units of

shortages occurred. Women often worked in
fields during periods of labor shortages
(Smuts, 1971). On the other hand, men seldom
performed tasks that were women's responsi-
The organization of the household is
intricately connected to the structure of
agriculture in a subsistence society. Control
rested primarily with the male -head of
household on subsistence farms. Sons were
under their father'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 (Folbre, 1980).
While men maintained control of the
household on subsistence farms in New
England, the extent of male authority was
probably less than in Europe. North American
women had slightly more autonomy than their
European counterparts. As Bloch (1978) notes,
more American women owned or managed
property than in Europe. Thus, despite the
continuance of a patriarchal household
organization in New England, a loosening of
patriarchal control was beginning to occur.
Women had minimal access to land
ownership. Families worked the land, but men
were the owners. Fathers usually distributed
land to their sons, although daughters
inherited land in the absence of sons. Women's
land became the property of their husbands
upon marriage. Widows had no control over
the families' land prior to the nine-
teenth century, but during the nine-

Sachs: Women's Work in the U.S.

teenth century women gained the right to own
land after their husband's death (Jensen,
The increasing commercialization of
agriculture and industrialization of society
shifted the organization of the farm
household. The division of labor between
women and men changed as their work
became differentially related to the market.
Cash crops were generally considered to be
men's crops despite the contribution of
women's and children's labor. Men's work in
the fields assumed greater importance with
the growing influence of the market
(Ankarlou, 1979). Women continued to produce
the subsistence needs of their households. In
addition, specific commodities such as eggs,
butter and cheese were produced and sold by
Industrialization in the North drew heavily
on women's labor. The movement of textile
production from the home to factories involved
the movement of many young women off the
farm. In the early 1800s many young farm
women were working in textile factories to
earn cash for their families. Alexander
Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury in 1791,
pointed to the benefits of a female labor force
for both farm families and the health of the
general economy. Industrial work could be
performed by women, while men would
continue to work in agriculture (Baker, 1964).
Through a sexual division of labor, both
agriculture and industry could thrive.
Women's contribution to farms varied
according to their stage in the life cycle. With
the declining importance of household
manufacture, young women contributed to
their families' cash needs through factory
employment. Upon marriage, women
generally returned to the farms to perform
household duties, child-bearing and rearing,
and the production and processing of the
family food. Women continued to adhere to the
philosophy of self-sufficiency long after male
farmers abandoned the emphasis on
sufficiency in favor of production for the
market (Jensen, 1980). Although young
women contributed cash to the farm from
factory employment and women raised cash
from the sale of butter and eggs, men tended to
predominate in market activities (Sachs,
1983). The farm was often defined in terms of
the men's activities and crops.
The transition from subsistence to
commercial production did not increase
women's economic power on farms. Women on
farms continued to work in household and
subsistence activities that were not readily

exchangeable on the market. Women's off-
farm work was viewed as a transitional
arrangement prior to marriage. Women spent
several years contributing cash to the
household; but soon returned to the sub-
sistence and household activities on the farm.
Although women earned wages and sold
products on the market, their economic
position on commercial farms was
subordinate to men.
Women in the South
Women's agricultural work in the South was
historically set in the context of a plantation
economy. Plantations dominated Southern
agriculture during the eighteenth and nine-
teenth centuries, although many'smaller
family farms did exist. The agricultural
production unit was generally larger than the
household. The plantation economy relied on
the labor of black women and men in the
production of crops for the European market.
Both women and men slaves worked in the
fields, primarily in the production of cotton.
The labor-intensive nature of cotton
production required the labor of women and
children. Approximately 80 percent of women
worked in the fields, while only 20 percent were
house servants (Fogel and Engerman, 1974).
Young girls entered the fields with their
parents and were involved in plowing,
planting, hoeing, and harvesting.
The division of labor between women and
men depended on the size of the plantation or
farm. Only half the slaves in the South lived
on plantations with more than 20 slaves. A
plantation with 20 slaves typically was
comprised of four families (Genovese, 1977).
On the larger plantation, male slaves were
often responsible for the plowing, but women

Women continued to adhere to the philosophy
of self-sufficiency long after male farmers
abandoned the emphasis on sufficiency in favor
of production for the market.

worked in other aspects of production. In the
harvesting of cotton, women sometimes were
considered superior workers (Genovese, 1977).
On the smaller farms of less than ten slaves,
the division of labor was minimal. Although
the white men and women divided tasks, there
was little specialization among the blacks.
The majority of black women were expected to
work alongside the men (Genovese, 1961).
Overall, women slaves worked longer days
than men. In addition to the agricultural work,


women cooked food, cared for children, sewed,
and washed clothing (Genovese, 1977). Many
slaves also had gardens that were primarily
the work of women. Thus, in the slave
economy women were often responsible for
various subsistence needs of their families.
As Genovese (1977) points out, the slave
family was based on greater equality between

The paternalism of the slave system combined
with the exploitation and brutality of slavery
"bred strong women."

women and men than the white family. The
paternalism of the slave system combined
with the exploitation and brutality of slavery
"bred strong women" (Genovese, 1978:501).
The patriarchal household characteristic of
the North was not present in black house-
holds in Southern agriculture.
Many women were planters in their own
right. Widows commonly were the executor's
of their husband's estates and were often
entitled to use of one-third of the land during
her life (Spruill, 1938). Spruill cites examples of
a number of successful women planters in
Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, and
Not all white women on plantations
belonged to the planter family. Single white
women were often employed to care for poultry
and dairies on plantations. Also, the wives of
plantation overseers were often expected to
raise poultry and run a dairy (Spruill, 1938).

Sharecropping and the Twentieth
The legal end of slavery did not "Co
dramatically alter the work of black women or whi
men. The sharecropping system consisted of
blacks renting land from white planters who ma
had previously been slave owners. Both women
and men continued to work in the fields and
remained dependent on the white owners. The
organization of the household under the
sharecropping system began to more closely
approximate the white farm household. As
Jensen (1981) notes, the women spent more
time occupied in tasks typical of white women.
Women were more likely to be in nuclear
family households. Child-rearing and
household chores were less likely to be shared
by the women.
Whether, black or white, women's work in
the South revolved around the plantation
system. Under the plantation system, black
women worked in the fields and white women

often performed the duty of plantation
mistress. The pervasive image of the southern
lady has obscured the economic contribution
of white women on plantations. White women
managed the domestic labor force for the
entire plantation. Their responsibilities
included supervising the production, purchase
.and distribution of food and other goods for
the planter's family and the slaves. The slave
system was both paternalistic and
patriarchal. "The plantation mistress found
herself trapped within a system over which
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).
The labor-intensive crops of the South drew
heavily on the labor of women. During the
early twentieth century, two of the major cash
crops in the South were cotton and tobacco.
Allen's (1931) excellent research on women in
cotton production in Texas describes the work
of black, white, and Mexican women. Women's
work in chopping and packing cotton was
extensive and varied by race. In her study, 46
percent of white women performed fieldwork
as compared to 57 percent of Mexican women
and 87 percent of black women. Black women
were the most likely to work in the fields. The
'division of labor between women and men in
the fields was well-defined although not
strictly followed. Women's tasks included
hoeing corn and chopping and picking cotton,
while the men plowed and cultivated. Allen
(1931) notes that women did plow and
cultivate, although they were often ashamed
of providing information concerning their
performance of male tasks.

tton was king, white men ruled, and both
te women and slaves served the same

Allen (1931) examines the interplay between
the household and women's agricultural work.
She distinguishes between women's fieldwork
as hired labor and as family labor. Women in
families without land worked in the fields for
wages. Women from land-owning or tenant
families worked as unpaid family labor. Sales
of butter and eggs enabled women living on
family-operated farms to contribute cash to
the family. Young unmarried women from
family-operated farms often worked both in
their families' fields and in other fields as
hired labor. In cases of economic need, married
women also were expected to work on other

Sachs: Women's Work in the U.S.

farms as hired laborers. The long hours
worked in the fields were in addition to
women's household responsibilities. Large
numbers of children typified farm families,
making considerable work for farm women.
Several studies of tobacco farms in the
South reveal the importance of women's work
in tobacco production (Hagood, 1977;
Janiewski, 1981). Hagood's study, based on
interviews with 254 white tenant women in the
South, found that women were quite
knowledgeable about their farm operations
and performed a large amount of fieldwork.
The amount of fieldwork women performed
varied with the number, age, and sex of their
children. The overwhelming majority of
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
Over time, the structure of agriculture in the
South has changed. Since the 1930s the
number of farms has declined dramatically
as the size of farms has increased. Also, the
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
capital and land forced many black families to
migrate to urban areas in search of
employment. Thus, black women were
displaced as agricultural laborers.
Compared to women in other regions of the
country, farm women in the South in 1980
reported performing fewer agricultural tasks
(Jones and Rosenfeld, 1981). One explanation
may be that Southern farm women are the
most likely to be employed off the farm (Sweet,
'1972). In 1980, 36 percent of farm women in the
U.S. were employed off the farm (Jones and
'Rosenfeld, 1981). Several studies in Southern
states found that 58 percent of Florida women
worked off the farm (Gladwin, 1982) compared
to 38 percent in Kentucky (Bokemeier, Sachs
and Keith, 1983). Women employed off the
farm have less time to be involved in farm

Off-Farm Employment
The increased employment of women off the
farm is by no means limited to the South. The
cost-price squeeze in agriculture and the
increasing reliance of farm household on
nonfarm income has resulted in both women
and men seeking off-farm employment. The
farm household as a production unit
exchanges labor previously used on the farm for

cash in the form of wages. The employment of
either or both the husband and wife off the
farm has differential impacts on farm
operation (Coughenour and Swanson, 1983).
When men are employed full-time off the
farm, women often provide substantial input
into the farm operation (Lyson, 1979).
Women's employment off the farm contributes
cash to the operation, sometimes enabling
men to remain full-time on the farm.
Increasing flexibility in the division of labor
on the farm is a likely outcome of off-farm
The increasing employment of farm women
is a consequence of the increased reliance of
farm households on off-farm income and the

Hagood's study, based on interviews with 254
white tenant women in the South, found that
women were quite knowledgeable about their
farm operations and performed a large amount
of fieldwork.

increase in women's labor force participation
in general. Structural shifts in both the family
and the economy have increased employment
opportunities for women. In rural areas,
women accounted for 89 percent of
employment growth between 1960 and 1970
(Brown and O'Leary, 1979). Employment for
women tends to be concentrated in industries
and occupations characterized by low wages,
minimum job security, limited job mobility,
and lack of unionization (Morrissey, 1982).
Rural industrialization, particularly in the
South, has relied on rural women as a cheap
supply of labor (Summers and Lang, 1976).
Thus, rural women have moved into the labor
force, but bften in low-wage jobs with
minimal chance for advancement. For farm
women, low paying jobs may enable the farm
operation to continue.
The decline of the plantation economy and
the continual mechanization of agricultural
production in the South have resulted in a
dramatic decline of the Southern agricultural
population. The racial inequities between
blacks and whites is the key to understanding
women's worth in the South. The migration of
women out of agriculture in the South to cities
in the North is fundamental in understanding
the changes in women's work in agriculture in
the South.


Women in the West
The history of women's work in the West
includes the frontier experience as well as
work in a settled agricultural society. Jensen
(1982) has suggested that the West is not a
homogeneous area and to understand cultural
diversity and women's role in agriculture, the
region should be viewed as consisting of the
Midwest, the Southwest and the Farwest.
Recent studies have documented women's
experience in the movement West and the
settling of the frontier. The continuous
availability of land in the West due to
annexation and usurpation of Indian lands
during the nineteenth century, led many
families to move westward and establish

The continuous availability of land in the V
due to annexation and usurpation of Ind
lands during the nineteenth century, led mi
families to move westward and establish far

On the Frontier
The movement west was frequently initiated
by men, but many women were willing
immigrants (Schissel, 1978; Jeffery, 1979). The
struggle for survival required hard work on the
part of both men and women and often
involved the breakdown of the sexual division
of labor (Faragher and Stansell, 1975). The
organization of the household was disrupted
during the movement west. Women frequently
performed traditionally male tasks as well as
their usual domestic tasks. Disagreement
exists concerning women's reaction to the
disruption of the household.
Women worked with their husbands until
their homesteads were established. An
excessive burden of work fell on the women
during the establishment of homesteads
(Sprague, 1972). Women planted, harvested,
and built the homestead, but seldom was their
domestic work decreased. Faragher and
Stansell (1975) note that the experience of
moving out of the domestic sphere was not
viewed favorably by women, because they
were required to perform their domestic tasks
as well as work with the men.
In another study of women on the frontier,
Jeffery (1979) found women attempted to
reestablish themselves in the domestic sphere
characteristic of their lives in the East. The
disruption of the traditional division of labor
in the household did not necessarily increase

women's power in the family. Women often
experience their work in the male realm as
draftees rather than partners. Men
maintained control of the household and a
mode of resistance for women was to refuse to
perform fieldwork.
An autobiographical account of Elinor
Pruitt Stewart (1961) reveals that not all
women desired to return solely to the domestic
sphere. She reports many women enjoyed
outdoor work despite the fact that it was
defined as men's work. Man had the
perogative of keeping women out of the fields.
Thus, both women and men contributed to the
reestablishment of the household division of
labor typical of the East.

Land Ownership
Vest Women in the West had more opportuinty to
ian own land than in the East. The Homestead Act
enabled single women to own land and many
any women operated farms. Control of land
ms. remains a major problem for women in
agriculture. Women are less likely than men to
either own or rent land. Ownership of land
occurs by inheritance or purchase, and women
are at a disadvantage in both methods of land
transfer. Women are more likely than men to
acquire their land thru inheritance. Thus,
women are apt to become owners of land at an
older age than men, frequently upon the death
of their husbands. Women were less likely to
acquire land thru purchase (57 percent)
compared to men (79 percent) (Waters and
Geisler, 1982). In 1978, men owned
approximately 83 percent of U.S. farmland
(Waters and Geisler, 1982).

Women often turn control of their farm opera-
tions over to men, thereby undermining their
source of power.

Ownership of land does not necessarily
imply control of the farm operation by women
(Bentley and Sachs, 1984). The transfer of land
from one generation to the next often involves
the transfer of the farm to a widow. Women
often turn control of their farm operation over
to men, thereby undermining their source of
power (Salamon and Keim, 1979). Also, women
often only nominally own land that is
controlled by family corporation, their
spouses, or banking institutions (Waters and
Geisler, 1982).

Sachs: Women's Work in the U.S.

Class, Ethnicity, and Race
Women's work in agriculture in the Midwest,
Southwest and Farwest varies substantially
by their class, ethnic, and racial backgrounds.
The organization of the household and the
structure of agriculture in these areas
interface to cause variation in the type of work
women perform. In many types of agriculture
in the West, women were involved in
agriculture on farms not owned by their
families. Schob (1975) describes the demand
for women immigrant workers in harvesting
and dairying in Wisconsin during the 1950's.
Other reports from the 1800's note that
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
households. Owners of vineyards often hired
German immigrants because their wives and
children also performed labor (Schob, 1975).
Throughout the history of agriculture in
California, many Asian, Chicano and black
women have been hired as farm workers.
Women in immigrant families are responsible
for maintaining the household under adverse
conditions such as inadequate housing, poor
sanitary facilities, and limited health care.
Migrant women work in the fields as well as
providing food and care for their families
(Dunbar and Kravitz, 1976).
Recently with increased mechanization,
and changes in labor availability there has
been an increase in the proportion of women
hired as agricultural workers (Galarza, 1977).

In the tomato fields of California, apprc
imately 80 percent of the harvest labor force w
female by 1975.

In the tomato fields of California,
approximately 80 percent of the harvest labor
force was female by 1975 (Vogeler, 1981).
Many of these women are housewives, who
provide an ideal temporary and cheap labor
supply for growers. As Vogeler states, "The
local family structure provides growers with a
dependable, low-cost, docile, readily available,
invisible, and temporary labor source
The work of women in the West varies
according to their class, ethnic and racial
backgrounds. The movement West afforded
opportunities for women in agricultural
production while at the same time disrupting
the division of labor within the household.

With the settling of agriculture, the division of
labor was reestablished in households. Wage-
earning women have continuously
.contributed to agricultural production in the
West. Women hired as laborers have been new-
ly arrived European immigrants, blacks,
Asians, Chicanos, or more recently housewives.

The invisibility of women in agriculture has
resulted in a household organization that is
based on male authority and responsibility.

The work of women in agriculture has
changed over time both within and between
regions. An understanding of farm women's
lives is becoming possible as scholars from
diverse disciplines begin to uncover the
historical and contemporary situations of
farm women. The connection between the
structure of agricultural production and the
organization of the household defines the
context and the daily reality of women's work.
The importance of the household organization
and men's power in the household is best
described by farm women themselves. A
Kentucky woman described her situation and
the situation of women working with their
husbands. "I've done more farming and harder
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
,x- under them" (Sachs, 1983:107).
The sexual division of labor on farms has
as always been flexible due to the seasonal
nature of agriculture and the relatively
constant labor shortages. As a result, women
have been extensively involved in agricultural
production activities. The invisibility of
women in agriculture has resulted in a
household organization that is based on male
authority and responsibility. Women's
agricultural work remains unnoticed because
men are considered to be the farmers.
Black women, immigrant women, and poor
women have performed extensive agricultural
labor. These women have worked in the fields
when fieldwork for middle or upper class white
women was considered inappropriate. Despite
the inappropriateness of fieldwork for white
women, many white women have worked in
the fields. Also, a significant number of
women have farmed on their own.
Domestic work has been women's visible


contribution on farms. Regardless of region,
race, class, or type of farm, women have
maintained responsibility for providing daily
domestic work. The majority of women have
performed household work as unpaid labor,
although immigrant or poor women worked as
domestics for wages. On farms, household
labor is more extensive than in nonfarm
households, and often involves raising,
preserving, and processing the family food
Technological shifts, government policies,
and world market conditions have drastically
altered the structure of agriculture in the U.S.
Many women and men have left the family
farm. The small proportion of people involved
in producing our food supply face an uncertain
future. Continual financial pressure on farms
strain family relationships, requires changes
in the division of labor, and often result in the
termination of farming as the source of
livelihood. Women on farms have and will bE
called upon to financially and emotionally
support their families through times of crisis.


Allen, Ruth. The Labor of Women in the Production of
Cotton. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1931.
Ankarloo, Bengt. "Agriculture and Women's Work:
Directions of Change in the West, 1700-1900." Journal of
Family History. 4:2 (1979):111-21.
Baker, Gladys L. "Women in the United States
Department of Agriculture." Agricultural History. 50:1
Bentley, Susan and Carolyn Sachs. Farm Women in the
United States: An Updated Literature Review and
Annotated Bibliography. Department of Agricultural
Economics and Rural Sociology, The Pennsylvania State
University, University Park, PA. AE&RS #174, 1984.
Bernier, Bernard. "The Penetration of Capitalism in
Quebec Agriculture." Canadian Review of Sociology and
Anthropology. 13:4 (1976):422-34.
Bloch, Ruth H. "Untangling the Roots of Modern Sex
Roles: A Survey of Four Centuries of Change." SIGNS. 4:2
Bokemier, Janet, Verna Keith and Carolyn Sachs.
"Whatever Happened to Rural Women: A Comparative
Study of Labor Force Participation." Paper presented at
Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting, Ithaca, New
York, August, 1980.
Brown, David L. and Jeanne M. O'Leary. Labor Force
Activity of Women in Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan
America. Washington, D.C.: USDAEconomics, Statistics,
and Cooperatives Service, Rural Development Research
Report No. 15, 1979.
Clinton, Catherine. The Plantation Mistress. New York:
Pantheon Books, 1982.

Coughenour, C. Milton and Louis Swanson. "Work
Statuses and Occupations of Men and Women in Farm
Families and the Structure of Farms." Rural Sociology.
48:1 (1983):23-43.
Dunbar, Tony and Linda Kravitz. Hard Travelling:
Migrant Farm Workers in America. Cambridge: Ballinger
Publishing Co., 1976.
Faragher, Johnny and Christine Stansell. "Women and
Their Families on the Overland Trail to California and
Oregon, 1842-1867." Feminist Studies. 2:2/3 (1975):150-
Flora, Cornelia and Sue Johnson. "Discarding the
Distaff: New Roles for Rural Women." In Thomas Ford
(ed.), Rural USA: Persistence and Change. Ames: Iowa
University Press, 1978. .
Fogel, Robert and Stanley Engerman. Time on the
Cross. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1974.
Folbre, Nancy. "Patriarchy in Colonial New England."
The Review of Radical Political Economics. 12:2 (1980):4-
Friedland, William H., Mena Furnari and Enrico
Pugliese. "The Labor Process and Agriculture." Paper
presented at the Working Conference on the Labor
Process, Santa Cruz, California, March 14-16, 1980.
Friedman, Harriet. "World Market, State, and Family
Farm: Social Bases of Household Production in the Era of
Wage Labor." Comparative Studies in Society and
History. 20:4 (1978):545-86.
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.
Geneovese, Eugene. Roll, Jordan, Roll. New York:
Pantheon, 1977.
Gladwin, Christina H. "Off-farm work and its effect on
Florida farm wives' contribution to the family farm."
Paper presented at Conference on Rural Women in the
United States, Blacksburg, Virginia, May 3-4, 1982.
Hagood, Margaret Jarman. Mothers of the South:
Portraiture of the White Tenant Farm woman. New York:
W.W. Norton, 1977.
Holmes, George K. Supply of Farm Labor. Washington,
D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture,
Government Printing Office, Bureau Statistics Bulletin
94, 1912.
Jeffrey, Julie Roy. Frontier Women: The Trans-
Mississippi West, 1840-1880. New York: Hill and Wang,
Jensen, Joan M. "Cloth, Butler and Boarders: Women's
Household Production for the Market." Review of Racial
Political Economics. 12:2 (1980):14-24.
Jensen, Joan M. With These Hands: Women Workingon
the Land. New York: Feminist Press, 1981.
Jensen, Joan M. "A Note on Women and Agriculture in
Pre-Industrial America." Women and Agricultural
Production, Resources for Feminist Research. 1:1
Jones, Calvin and Rachel A. Rosenfeld American Farm
Women: Findings from a National Survey. Chicago,
Illinois: National Opinion Research Center Report No.
130, 1981.
Lyson, Thomas. "Some Plan to be Farmers: Career
Orientations of Women in American Colleges of
Agriculture." International Journal of Women's Studies.
2:4 (1979):311-23.

Sachs: Women's Work in the U.S.

Morrisey, Marieta "The Dual Economy and Labor
Market Segmentation: A Comment on Lord and Folk"
Social Forces. 60:3 (1982):883-890.
Sachs, Carolyn. The Invisible Farmers: Women in
Agricultural Production. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman
and Allanheld, 1983.
Salamon, Sonya and Ann Mackey Keim. "Land
Ownership and Women's Power in a Midwestern Farming
Community." Journal of Marriage and the Family. 41:1
Schlissel, Lillian. "Mothers and Daughters on the
Western Frontier." Frontiers. 3:2 (1978):29-33.
Schob, David E. Hired Hands and Plowboys: Farm
Labor in the Midwest, 1815-60. Urbana, Illinois:
University of Illinois Press, 1975.
Smuts, Robert W. Women and Work in America. New
York: Schocken Books, 1971.

Sprague, William Forrest. Women and the West. New
York: Arno Press, 1972.
Spruill, Julia Cherry, Women's Life and Work in the
Southern Colonies. Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1983.
Stewart, Elinore Pruitt. Letters of a Woman
Homesteader. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press,
Summers, Gene F. and Jean M. Lang. "Bringing Jobs
To People: Does It Pay?" Small town. 7:3 (1976):4-11.
Sweet, James A. "The Employment of Rural Farm
Wives." Rural Sociology. 37:4 (1972):553-77.
Vogeler, Ingolf. The Myth of the Family Farm. Boulder,
Colorado: Westview Press, 1981.
Waters, William and Charles Geisler. "The Changing
Structure of Female Ownership of Agricultural Land in
the United States, 1946-1978." Paper presented at Annual
Meetings of Rural Sociological Society, San Francisco,
California, 1982.


Women and International Development:
Multidisciplinary Curriculum Guides
The Office of Women in International
Development (WID), University of Illinois,
announces the availability of multidisciplin-
ary curriculum guides on a number of topics
related to women and Third World countries.
These guides, which have been prepared under
a grant from the U.S. Department of
Education, include both outlines of new
courses and special modules for use in general
international courses. Topics include:
consumer economics, family ecology, women
in agriculture and urban employment, gender
relationships in cultural context, and foods
and nutrition for women and children. Also
included are materials on two multi-
disciplinary seminar courses, one focusing on
selected issues on Third World women and the
second a guide to organizing field experiences
related to women and development. These
curriculum guides include course outlines,
discussion guides, and annotated
bibliographies. Additional bibliographies in
Spanish and French on Women and
Development are also available. These
materials are available at the cost of handling
and postage. For more information and for
order forms, please contact the WID Office,
3022 Foreign Languages Building, University
of Illinois, 707 South Mathews Avenue,
Urbana, Illinois 61608 (Tel.: 217/333-1977).

UN Decade for Women Conference

In July, 1985, the culminating conference of
the UN Decade for Women will be convened in
Nairobi, Kenya. This World Conference to
Review and Appraise Progress Achieved and
Obstacles Encountered in Attaining the goats
and Objectives of the United Nations Decade
for Women will be attended by officially
appointed delegates of governmental
organizations. A parallel, non-governmental
meeting, hosted by a committee of 60 non-gov-
ernmental organizations and known as
Forum 85 will be open to everyone. To assist
conferees prepare for these conferences, the
International Women's Tribune Centre
(IWTC), 77 United Nations Plaza, N.Y., N.Y.,
10017, has prepared a series Decade for
Women's Information Resources for 1985. No.
1 of the series is a bibliography of
documentation related to the World
Conference, No. 2 is a list of women's
periodicals from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean,
Europe, North America, and the South Pacific.
No. 3 is an annotated bibliography of special
issues of periodicals being published to
coincide with the World Conference.
Additional information packets, The Tribune
newsletter, slide tapes, as well as several new
publications about women and development
issues are available from the IWTC office (Tel.


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

We pitch in and help; we do whatever needs to
be done to keep the farm going and family
together ...

The contribution of farm women and family
labor to the survival of the family farm in the
U.S. and Florida has been an ignored aspect of
farm entrepreneurship until recently.1 In
Florida as in many agricultural states of the
U.S., however, the contribution of the farm
wife or agribusiness woman has assumed a
new importance as inflationary pressures on
land, equipment, and operating expenses force
the male, able-bodied farmer on the small and
medium-sized family farm to seek off-farm
work to support the family and subsidize the
farm.2 The co-managerial role of the farm
woman became even more important in the
1970s, when off-farm income became more
important than farm income for more than
half of U.S. farms with gross sales of $40,000 to
$100,000, and for more than one-third of the
farms with gross sales of $100,000 to $200,000."

A recent survey of labor allocation on the
family farm in North Florida has shown that
farm women are doing more of the farming
now, as compared to the 1920s and 1930s.4 The
data suggest that although farm men are
indispensable (and are doing more farm work
and off-farm work than the women), Florida
farm women are now farming an average of 22
hours per week, as compared to the 11 hours
per week estimated by the time-use diaries of
the 1930s.5 This increase in time spent farming
may be due to previous underreporting of
women's contributions to agricultural
production (Sachs, 1983: p. 20), or it may be an
actual increase resulting from a decrease in
their time spent on housework. Due to
technological change in the production of
household appliances during the past 50
years, time spent doing housework decreased
from an average 50 to 26 hours per week.6 This
released time has allowed modern farm
women to increase either their farm work or
off-farm work. Although some women choose

Gladwin: Values and Goals

to spend that time off the farm, in our sample
at least an equal proportion of them choose to
As a result, evidence also shows that more
farm women perceive themselves to be farmers
rather than farmers' wives: 56 percent of the 50
farm women interviewed considered
themselves to be full- or part-time farmers,
while 36 percent perceived themselves to be
farmers' wives.7 The Florida data thus agree
with National USDA data which showed that
in 1980, 55 percent of U.S. farm women
considered themselves to be a "main operator"
of the family farm.8
Although women are doing more of the
farming now, evidence also shows that farm
women's contributions to the Florida family
farm complement, rather than compete with,
those of farm men on almost every work
dimension. Data show that some Florida
commodities are mainly women's
commodities, because most of the work done to
produce them is usually done by women. These
include chicken houses (both layers and
broilers), goats, pecans, assorted poultry, and
the garden.9 These commodities usually
complement men's commodities, which
include row crops, cattle and hogs, pasture,
timber, and hay, as well as the "joint
commodities" which are joint ventures of both
husband and wife and include tobacco, cotton,
vegetables, and nursery operations.

Feminists or Defenders of Family
Given the evidence that more women are
now farming in North Florida, we must ask
why. What are their goals and reasons for
farming? Are they asserting themselves as
individuals or feminists by farming? Or, as
happened on the Western frontier in the 19th
century'3 are they farming simply to alleviate
a temporary labor shortage? Are they partners
or draftees, a reserve labor force called upon in
times of high labor demand? If so, do they
recognize or resent their function?14
Alternatively, as C. Flora asserts, are they
farming to defend their families, as part of
their commitment to the collective called the
family?1 Rather than being part of a feminist
struggle, are U.S. farm women part of a class
struggle, defending the farm and preserving
the land that has been in the family, often for
Results from Florida
To answer these questions, a sample of 50
farm women in Baker and Gilchrist Counties,
North Florida, were asked in an open ended
way to describe why they farmed, why they
worked off the farm, and what they hoped to
achieve from both kinds of work.16 The
interviews were conducted in 1981, before the
elements of the current farm crisis, which
added a shift in the factor price of credit, and,

Rather than being part of a feminist struggle, are U.S. farm womenpart of a class strug-
gle, defending the farm and preserving the land that has been in the family, often for

Rather than focusing attention on which
commodity is whose, however, it is more
instructive to look at who within the family
does what task.10 On the farm, both national
and state data show that some tasks are
mainly women's tasks, which typically
include bookkeeping, caring for small
animals, gofering, and chauffeuring." These
tasks complement the traditionally male tasks
such as plowing, marketing, and the repairing
of equipment. Finally, data on the off-farm
work involvement of Florida farm women
show that it also complements rather than
competes with the farm work and off-farm
work of their men.12 Women work off the
farm full-time when off-farm income is needed
and they have better paying off-farm jobs (or
job training) than do their husbands;
oftentimes they work part-time on the farm in
addition to holding an off-farm job.

in some areas, deflation of assets, particularly
land. By means of the same kind of open-ended
questions, they were then asked to describe the
main reasons farmers cannot make a living
farming today, and the major strategies used
by experienced farmers to make a living. The
responses were coded, and patterns were found
in the responses, where possible. The sample
of women were chosen so that both the
counties and farms within each county were
representative of the population. Based on the
variety of farming systems found on the
sampled farms and the distance of the
counties from a major urban center, the
counties were judged to be representative of
North Florida farming communities. Within
each county, the farms sampled were also
representative, relative to the distribution of
farms in the county by operating size,
according to the 1978 Census of Agriculture17
(Table 1).


Why Do They Farm?
Table 1 summarizes the reasons Florida
women farm.'8 Generating an income from
farming and earning enough to pay off big
debts is the predominant goal mentioned. One
woman sums it up, "Our goal is to get
everything paid for, land and equipment, so
we can have an income coming in." To get out
of debt, farm families try to reinvest farm
earnings back into the farm, "to build up the
cow herd, to have enough cows to cover the
expense of keeping them." The goal of earning
money from farming is not always achieved,
however. One woman sadly reflected, "I
enjoyed farming until we couldn't make a
profit from it."

Some farm women are concerned about raising
children in a healthy environment where the
mores and values of neighbors are known and

Children-centered goals (raising children
right, helping older children start farming)
were the next most frequently-mentioned
reasons women farm. Some farm women are
concerned about raising children in a healthy
environment where the mores and values- of
neighbors are known and shared.
Maintaining a rural residence and lifestyle,
satisfying the desire to "stay where you are ...,"
to live in the country, and enjoy farm life is
another frequently-mentioned goal. Other
farm women are accumulating land and
equipment for children, encouraging them to
farm, and planting timber for their children'
future use. Only one woman said she did not
want her sons to farm, but wanted them to
have other job opportunities.
Farming is a goal in itself for some families.
As one woman puts it, "The goal of farming is
building a farm; everything else is secondary." on
Choosing an appropriate enterprise mix is a thE
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
the point that her husband can quit his off-
farm job. Another woman hopes to have the
farm built up and paid for, so they can sit back
and enjoy themselves. One woman simply
said, "If I didn't farm, I'd be lost." Another
farm woman testifies: "When you live on a
farm and enjoy it, you're already ahead of the

Why Off-Farm Work
Given the evidence of the increasing
importance of off-farm work to bigger and
bigger farms, we asked farm women why they
held off-farm jobs. The replies of this sample,
74 percent of whom had some off-farm income
coming into the family and 58 percent of whom
held off-farm jobs themselves at the time of the
interview, are summarized in Table. 2.19
The most frequently-mentioned goal
motivating off-farm work for 41 percent of the
respondents was an increase in family income.
Off-farm work allows farmers to achieve and
maintain a lifestyle and standard of living
that farm income alone cannot support. It
pays for luxuries such as vacations and home
improvements, and also provides fringe
benefits such as health insurance. One woman
admitted, "With the standards we have, we
have to have off-farm work, to make more
money and support the life styles we are
accustomed to." While farm women stress that
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
bills and help make ends meet.
The need for personal autonomy and some
control over the timing and level of one's
own productivity and achievement is another
goal: "You're your own boss. You can go to
work today if you want to, or you can stay
home, or you can go out there at 6 o'clock and
stay out there until midnight."
Being self-sufficient in food, "knowing
what we are eating ...," and keeping out of the
grocery store is another major goal of Florida
farm women. For them, "having a large
enough garden for the whole family, having
vegetables all year round, and growing your
own ..." are good reasons to farm.

other farm woman testifies: "When you live
a farm and enjoy it, you're already ahead of

A sizable minority (18%) of farm women
work off the farm (or are now in school) to
satisfy their own career goals. Some of these
women are planning to start or resume a
career (as a lawyer, writer, teacher, musician,
or nurse) which had been deferred earlier in
order to build the farm and family.
For 16 percent of the women, off-farm work
helps subsidize the farm business. Sometimes

Gladwin: Values and Goals

it is used to pay for farm equipment; always it
is perceived as a temporary means to achieve
the couple's real goal to farm full-time -
together. As one woman said, "What I've
worked for has all gone back into the farm and
home." Another woman cautioned:
"Off-farm work is important, but our eyes
must be on the same goal. If that is farming
and building a farm, then everything else is
secondary. Women cannot allow off-farm jobs
to pull them from the farm, making it a half
venture. Farming cannot be a his and her
Establishing social contacts on the off-farm
job, earning money for children's special
needs, and providing service to the community
are other reasons women work off the farm.
Meeting new people and having relationships
with co-workers are aspects of off-farm work
that often-isolated farm women look forward
to. Some jobs, such as nursing, driving a
school bus, or working in a school cafeteria
allow women to provide valuable community
service and at the same time be sociable.
The main reason farm women seek off-farm
work, however, is to maintain the family's
standard of living and keep the farm going.
The need to seek off-farm income-earning
opportunities usually means that farmers face
problems making a living on farm income
alone. Do Florida farmers perceive this to be
the case?

Problems Farmers Face
A person can't start out in farming today
and make it. If I were to give my children
my whole place, all the equipment, and
two years time, the way things are going
now, they'd be a lost cause.
Why can't full-time farmers make a living
farming today? To answer this question, farm
women were asked to respond to two open-
ended questions. First, "What are some of your
major problems, needs, and concerns on the
farm?" Second, "People say that one can't
make a living on the farm. What do you
think?" Because there are recurring themes in
the responses to the two questions, the
responses were combined and are seen in
Table 3.20
The problem which heads the list of
concerns is the skyrocketing cost of production
inputs, including land, equipment, and credit.
Farmers are now caught in a bind between high
real interest rates and high production costs
on the one hand and low product prices on the
other. In the opinion of one woman:
"Practically everything on the farm costs
money; but food is the cheapest thing in Amer-

ica." The result is that "people who farm and
stay out of debt are not very affluent."
Other women voiced concern over the
difficulty in getting loans from Farmers Home
Administration (FmHA) for capital repairs to
their chicken houses. One woman understood a
sit-in at the local FmHA office after months of
regular, frequent, and unsuccessful visits. Still
others were concerned about increasing
property taxes. One woman said that although
the size of the exemption to the federal estate
tax has been raised, "Inflation has made a
mockery out of that."

The price farmers receive for their products
is the second most cited problem:
If they don't do something to preserve the
family farm, one of these days Purina or a
big company like that is going to own
everything and people are going to pay
for their food. If you look at it right now
from the government's standpoint,
they're depending on the farmer to keep
the cost of living down. Everybody is
guaranteed a minimum wage except the
farmer; we're guaranteed nothing.
Women mentioned low prices as a problem for
chickens, vegetables, and livestock. According
to one chicken house grower, they realized
more money eight years ago, when every third
pay check from the chickens could be put in the
bank. Today's low prices, moreover, are
accompanied by continual capital invest-
ments in chicken house equipment demanded
by the poultry companies; otherwise, no
contract is awarded. Likewise, vegetable
growers claim the market is now so restricted
that they don't have many options. And
livestock producers claim, "Farmers cannot
control prices they sell at and they can't
control prices they buy at; so most of the time
they just break even."
Related to this problem is the need to expand
farm size to cover increasing costs of
production. "Too small a farm size" in addition
to lack of control over product and input prices
lead women farmers to conclude, "We survive,
but we can't get ahead."
Time and labor availability is cited as
another problem. One woman mentioned that
she is on the phone all the time trying to locate
parts for farm equipment. Another woman
would like to see her husband take a hand in
the bookkeeping. Several women are
concerned that their kids will be leaving home
soon: "the help is running off to school."
Concerns of others are over health,
insurance, and retirement, and the inability to
pay medical bills because of the lack of health


insurance. One woman took her first "public"
job at age 50 in order to get health insurance
for her husband who had heart trouble; after
working the night shift as a guard at a prison,
she farmed at least four hours a day.
Contemplating retirement, another woman
asked, "We never learned to play; what do we
do with time if we retire?"
Finally, in the opinion of one woman, the
federally-subsidized FmHA loan program,
created especially to help small farms survive,
is a problem and not a solution:
Many farmers are FmHA farmers. They
are not productive, because it is not their
own money in the venture. They get
money, and if they make it, okay. If not,
so what? They don't make the sacrifices
farmers did.

First they need a pick-up truck with a CB
radio, and then an air-conditioned
tractor. They are not building anything.
They farm with other people's land, with
other people's money, and with a high
mortgage. I can't blame the farmer; they
have a good thing going. But they are to
be blamed for going into debt and not
working their way out.

Many women were of the view that farmers can
make a living farming today; but people are
getting lazy and don't like to work hard.

How Farmers Can Make a Living.
After the same group of women were asked'
to advise beginning farmers on how to be
successful in farming, their replies were
compiled into the list in Table 4.21 The revealed
patterns clearly show that survival on the
family farm requires hard work, dedication,
and commitment. Not surprisingly, "Use
family labor efficiently" is the most frequent
piece of advice given to young farmers. One
woman warns, "Don't expect things to come
easy." Another cautions women to expect hard
work at the wrong time: "The wife should be
willing to work long, hard hours, as and when
work needs to be done." Many women were of
the view that farmers can make a living
farming today; but people are getting lazy and
don't like to work hard.
Other women stressed the need to be
committed to the farm. According to them,
"You have to want it and be willing to do it
most." Another advises, "If you try and make a

go of it, you can. If you have a will and a mind
and want to do it bad enough, you'll doit."The
advice others give is that the whole family
should work together, have one goal, and
channel all energy and money in one direction:
"The husband and wife must work together;
they can't pull apart."
Choice of appropriate land use and
commodity is the next most frequently
mentioned way to be successful. Although
many families started farming by clearing
timber land and buying farmland piece by
piece, most now advise young farmers to rent
land, given present day interest rates. Some
advise that a diversified operation is essential
for a small farm; while others say to depend on
a good money crop. One experienced woman
farmer recalls:
Tobacco was our cash crop when we first
started farming. You need a cash crop to
accumulate a cash flow to work with. We
grew 2/2 acres. I worked in Jackson-
ville for an insurance company then. I'd
come home and hoe or plant, and work
until 10 or 11 at night and then get up in
the morning and go to work again.
Reports are mixed, however, concerning
which of today's crops constitute "money
crops." Still others mention that it now takes
more land and equipment to farm than they
Another popular piece of advice is: "Be
frugal; cut costs by saving every which way
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
not always necessary, farmers should shop
around for good deals and buy second-hand
equipment. Farm earnings should be
reinvested into the farm, and each year's debt
paid off. The general consensus on credit use is
to "go slow, grow into farming," and use
capital and equipment efficiently.
Management skills are considered crucial to
survival on a small farm. Farmers are advised to
keep up with innovations and use all available
resources: the university, agricultural extension,
and other farmers. Farmers should keep farm
records and do budgets to "figure out what you
are getting into." As one woman put it, "Don't
get excited about things that haven't been
proven, for example, sunflowers and
buckwheat. Try them out in a small way first."
To make a living farming, farmers should
expect risks and a decrease in income. In one
woman's opinion, "It is hard for young people
to farm nowadays because they were raised
differently from us. They can make a living

Gladwin: Values and Goals

but it's not the standard of living they are used
to. They were raised in affluence." The risks of
farming go with the profession, and as one
woman frankly said, "I'd like to see young
people take it on the chin like we did."
The role of government in the future of small
farms is crucial, according to four percent of
the respondents. Both governmental and
agricultural leaders need to encourage young
people to help themselves. The government
should provide tax incentives to farmers, and
support better prices for their products. One
woman's view is that "government is not
letting farmers get their share of the food
The need for off-farm income was stressed
again. One woman claims, "A husband and
wife can work 16 hours at a job and get double
incomes, and still have 16 hours to devote to
farm work!" Still other women mentioned the
need for financial backing from relatives or a
well-established older farmer. Some advised
"growing your own vegetables, raising your
own meat, and making your own jams and
jellies. Farming means growing what you eat
rather than buying it."

"If the economy is good, if the market is good,
possible to make it in farming.

Only one percent of the respondents
mentioned that the state of the economy
determines whether a farmer can make a
living farming: "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.
"Farming cannot be a his and her venture."
What do farm women's values and goals tell
us about them? Are they farming more today
because they are individuals and feminists?
Alternatively, are they farming due to
economic necessity and the desire to safeguard
their families' land and production? Evidence
from North Florida family farms clearly show
that the latter motivation, to defend their
families' material well-being, is more in tune
with farm women's expressed goals and
values. Indeed, only with respect to their own
off-farm work do farm women perceive them-
selves as individuals with individualistic
goals. And even then, they caution that "off-
farm work is important, but our eyes must be
on the same goal ..., if that is farming and
building a farm."

Clearly, these values and goals serve to
strengthen the family's resolve to keep the
farm going during adverse times. Further,
they are values which are emotionally and ideo-
logically charged22 because the family farm is
the last vestige of independent land ownership
and production control in the U.S. today. The
farm woman's role in maintaining and
reproducing these values in her family is thus
a crucial one. As witnessed by recent popular
movies (The River, Country), the women are
not just following but are actually leading the
charge to defend the farm and family from
creditors in times of financial crises. In Flora's
(1981) terminology, they are in charge of
ideological as well as biological reproduction:
they are the ones who instill the values
required for family farming into the next
generation.23 Part of their job as farm wife and
mother is to actively defend their family farm
and their class interests, and even show more
strength than men in times of farm crises.
Farm women, therefore, have multiple roles
to play in helping the farm survive. Some
women help the farm survive physically by
actively farming to alleviate a labor shortage

and if interest rates don't go up," it will be

(due to crop seasonality or husband's off-farm
work, illness, or death). Others help by
bringing in necessary off-farm income which
complements men's farm work. Our results
show that women also help the farm survive
by inculcating "survival values" into their
children and male kin. If they don't, the farm
(and often the family) may break up. The role
played by women in instilling these values
may thus be more important than the role they
often play as substitute laborer in time of need.

The implications of these results are
straightforward. Given the present farm crisis
in the Midwest and current debate about the
1985 Farm Bill, attention has once again been
focused on the question of the survival of the
family farm. Buttel suggests, however, that
rather than explaining the demise of the
family farm24 "... a much more interesting and
enduring question concerns why the family
labor farm can be so persistent in advanced
capitalism dominated by large-scale corporate
production.25 Sachs (1981) attempts to answer
that question via a provocative treatise on


farm women, domesticity and patriarchy,
and the political economy of U.S. agriculture.
In her rewrite of the history of the family farm
from a feminist perspective, she attributes the
continued survival of the family farm in part
to "under-consumption and overwork by the
entire family:"
The low standard of living and exploit-
ation of family labor are factors that
explain the viability of the family farm at
the present time. Also, the continuation
of subsistence production largely performed
by women on the family farm allows the
family to survive on less cash income.25
Small farmers' use of unpaid family labor,
coupled with their tendency to hang onto land
at much personal cost, as well as their use of
other "survival strategies" such as direct
marketing, gardening, entering into informal
partnerships, keeping debts low, practicing
frugality, renting rather than buying land and
equipment, and cutting back production and
increasing off-farm work during bad times27
has allowed small farms to exist side by side
and compete with larger corporate farms. As
Hyden has shown for the peasantry in Africa,
small is more powerful than expected because
to a great extent it can exist outside the normal
marketing system in an "economy of
The purpose of this paper has been to show
that women's values and goals drive that
"economy of affection" and keep it going. The
question that remains is: how much longer can
these values of hard work, dedication, and
commitment to the farm be maintained and
reproduced at such an intense level, given
present farm income crises. In North Florida
at least, it is clear that more and more younger
farmers are pushed off the farm by high
production costs and capital requirements,
and pulled off the farm by off-farm work. As
experienced women farmers testify, they are
not willing to make the sacrifices their less-
affluent parents did a generation ago. Instead,
they have become "FmHA farmers." It is
debatable whether the old values will last to
insure the future survival of the U.S. family

*This paper was made possible by the gracious
hospitality of Florida farm women in Baker and Gil-
christ Counties, the cooperation of Extension Directors
Pat Smith Barber and Marvin Weaver, the dedication of
Dr. Masuma Downie and Ms. Janet Weston who
interviewed, coded, and tabulated data in Baker and
Gilchrist Counties respectively, and funds provided by
National Science Foundation Grant No. BNS-8218894
awarded to Christina Gladwin.

1. See Boulding, Elise, "The Labor of Farm Women in
the United States: A Knowledge Gap," paper prepared
for the Amercan Sociological Asociation session on
"Women and Work," Boston, 1979. See also Downie,
Masuma, and Christina H. Gladwin, Florida Farm
Wives: They Help the Family Farm Survive, Food and
Resource Economics Dept., University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL., 1981: and Sachs, Carolyn, The
Invisible Farmers: Women in Agricultural Produc-
tion, Totowa, N.J., Rowman and Allanheld, 1983.
2. See Chaney, Elsa, and Martha Lewis, "Women, Mi-
gration, and the Decline of Smallholder Agriculture,"
USAID-WID Report prepared for the Office of Women
in Development. USAID, 1980; and Gladwin, Chris-
tina, "Off-Farm Work and Its Effect on Florida Farm
Wives' Contribution to the Family Farm," World
Development and Women, Vol. 2, M. Rojas, Ed.,
Blacksburg, VA, The Virginia Tech. Title XII Women
in International Development Office, 19S2; and
Huffman, Wallace. and Mark Lange, "Off-Farm Work
Decisions of Husbands and Wives: Joint Decision
Making," mim-o, Iowa State University, 1984; and
Rosenfeld, Rachel, "Off-Farm Employment of Farm
Wives and Husbands," paper presented at the Wing-
spread Seminar on Women's Roles on North Amer-
ican Farms, Racine, WI, 1982; and Wilkening, Eugene,
and Nancy Ahrens, "rIvolvpment of Wives in Farm
Tasks as Related to Characteristics of the Farm. the
Family, and Work Off the Farm," paper presented at
the Rural Sociological Society Meetings, Burlington,
VT, 1979.
3. Zulauf, Carl, "Changes in U.S. Agriculture During
the 1970s and Early 1980s: An Examination Based on
Constant Dollar Sales Categories," Columbus, Ohio,
Ohio State University, Dept. of Agricultural Econom-
ics and Rural Sociology, ESO 1146, 1985.
4. Downie and Gladwin, p. 68; Gladwin, p. 5.
5. Gladwin, 1982, p. 4; also see Vanek, Joanne, 'Time
Spent in Housework," Scientific American 23(5): pp.
116-120, 1974.
6. Vanek, p. 118.
7. Gladwin, Christina H., "How Florida Women Help
the Farm and Agribusiness Firm Survive,"
Gainesville, FL, Florida Cooperative Extension
Service Circular (i13, 1984, p. 5.
8. Jones, Calvin, and Rachel Rosenfeld, American Farm
Findings from a National Surrey, Chicago, IL,
National Opinion Research Center, Report No. 130.
9. Downie and Gladwin, p. 34.
10. Mukhopadhyay, Carol, 'Testing a Decision Process
Model of the Sexual Division of Labor in the Family,"
Human Organization 43(3): pp. 227-242, 1984.
11. Gladwin, 1984, p. 7; Jones and Rosenfeld, p. 18.
12. Gladwin, 1982, p. 8
13. Sachs, pp. 13-20.
14. Sachs, pp. 99, 109.
15. Flora, Cornelia, "Farm Women, Farming Systems,
and Agricultural Structure: Suggestions for
Scholarship," The Rural Sociologist 1(6): pp. 381-386,
16. Downie and Gladwin, pp. 78-101.
17. Downie and Gladwin, Table 1.
18. Downie and Gladwin, p. 80.
19. Downie and Gladwin, p. 86.
20. Downie and Gladwin, p. 90.
21. Downie and Gladwin, p. 97.
22. Sachs, p. 70.
23. Flora, p. 386.

Gladwin: Values and Goals

24. See de Janvry, Alain, The Agrarian Question and
Reformism in Latin America, Baltimore, John
Hopkins University Press, 1981; and Gladwin,
Christina, and Robert Zabawa, "Microdynamics of
Contraction Decisions: A Cognitive Approach to
Structural Change," American Journal of Agricultural
Economics, Dec., 1984.
25. Buttel, Frederick, "The Political Economy of
Agriculture in Advanced Industrial Societies," paper
presented at Canadian Sociology and Anthropology
Association Meetings, Montreal, 1980, p. 10.
26. Sachs, p. 66.
27. Gladwin, Christina, "Structural Change and Survival
Strategies in Florida Agriculture," Culture and
Agriculture 21(3): pp. 1-7, 1983.
28. Hyden, Goran, Beyond Ujamaa in Tanzania: Under-
development and an Uncaptured Peasantry, Berkeley,
University of California Press, 1980.


1. Generation of income
2. Children-centered goals
a. helping children 16
b. raising children 10
3. Rural residence/lifestyle
4. Personal autonomy
5. The farm is a goal in itself
6. Subsistence/self sufficiency

No. of


104 1

* Number of responses do not sum to sample size because
responses often reported more than one goal and al
goals were recorded.


1. Supplement farm income and
support a life style
2. Fulfill career goals
3. Subsidize the farm
4. Maintain social contacts
5. Provide for children's needs
6. Assist in community service

No. of


2 4

49 100

* The number of women reporting goals motivating off-
farm work do not necessarily sum to the sample size
because first, not all farm women in the sample have
off-farm income, and second, those who did often re-
ported more than one goal.


1. Inflation, high cost of
inputs, credit and taxes

No. of
responses* %

44 32

2. Lack of a market; low prices
3. Too small land size
4. Uncertain future of the
small farm; lack of govern-
ment help
5. Scarcity of time and labor
6. Not producing high-enough
7. "We survive, but can't get
8. The need for off-farm
9. Health, safety, retirement
10. Risks involved in farming
11. The need to diversify
12. Energy self sufficiency
13. "We can't hurt any more"
14. "The government shouldn't
subsidize farms"

14 10
13 9

12 9
11 8

10 7

9 6

9 6

6 4
5 4
3 2
1 1
1 1

1 1

139 100

* The number of respondents does not sum to the sample
size as some respondents gave more than one response.


00 1. Use family labor efficiently
2. Choose the appropriate
enterprise mix and land use
e, 3. Expand slowly; be frugal in
1 use of capital and credit
4. Manage carefully
5. Be prepared for a decrease
K in income
6. Expect risks
7. It depends on government
% intervention
8. Get a good off-farm job
41 9. Farm with others
18 10. Be self sufficient
16 11. It depends on the state of
15 the economy and commodity
6 prices

No. of

33 19

31 18
25 14

8 5
7 4

2 1

173 100

* Again the number of respondents giving advice does
not sum to the sample size, as some farmers gave more
than one piece of advice.

Research in Progress: Case Studies of
Family Adaptation to Changing Resources
and Environments

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 Depart-
ment 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, Pro-
ject No. 3261. Michigan State University Journal
Article No. 11558.

Changes in the economic and social structure
of American society are forcing families to
make changes in occupations and lifestyles.
Increasing numbers of families are engaging
in small scale and diversified income farming,
both to augment family real income and to
attain a more satisfying quality of life.1,2 In
Michigan, for example, 15 percent of the
population lives on small acreages (1-40 acres).
Historically, farming has been a family
enterprise in which agricultural and
household production are interdependent and
function as an integrated system. In develop-
ing countries, where food production for the
family has accounted for a large share of the
agricultural production output, men and
women have shared in the work necessary to
feed the family, and women continue to
comprise a large portion of the agricultural
labor force as men are increasingly drawn into
off the farm work.3 With the growth of small

scale and diversified income farming in the
United States, there is an increasing
involvement of women in farm management
and production. On small farms the family
functions as the management and decision-
making unit and also as the sole or major labor
force. Women contribute substantially to that
work force and to the managerial activities for
the farm and household.4,5 One indicator of
the growing involvement of women in
agriculture is the increase in the proportion of
agricultural college students who are women.6
In past decades, agricultural research and
educational programs have tended to focus on
specific crops or animal species, single farm
enterprises, farm management strategies and
production methods. Insufficient attention
has been given to the interrelationships
between these components and family goals,
values, resources and decisions, as they
influence the total farm-family system. For

ii u I I

example, decisions about animal and cropping
enterprises are made not only on the basis of
technical information and technical
rationality, but also include such factors as
skills, values, goals and experiences of family
members. The involvement in agricultural
enterprises of all family members, including
parents and children, is a significant
component in the decision-making process.
An integrated family farm system approach is
needed to take account of the interaction
between technical and social decision-making.
A comprehensive research and extension pro-
gram is underway to make rural life in
Michigan more viable both economically and
socially by developing support programs for
current and prospective resident landholders
which utilize the best available concepts and
tools for strategic and indigenous natural
resources. One research component of this
program involves a study of family adaptation
to changing resources and environments in
rural communities. The overall goal of the
research is to describe and understand the
relationships among technical, economic, and
social performance and human factors in
production and management on small scale
family farms. Increased knowledge about
these interrelationships is necessary in order
to develop public policy, educational
programs, appropriate Extension activities
and substantive theory directed to creating
viable small farm systems and enhancing the
quality of life in rural communities.

To accomplish this goal, a family ecological
system perspective is being implemented with
the following objectives:
1. To describe in detail, over time, character-
istics of selected Michigan families who are
engaged in small scale farming and who make
changes in their residential environment,
lifestyle, social networks or technology in the
2. To describe and analyze how each family
member uses inputs, environments and
resources (e.g., time, space, money, energy,
information and material resources) and
strategies to achieve individual, family and
farming goals and a satisfying quality of life.
3. To describe and analyze the
interdependent processes utilized in
agricultural and household production that
result in a viable and sustainable integrated
farm family system.
4. To analyze phases of adaptation family
members make to major changes in their lives
by engaging in small scale agriculture.

Sontag & Bubolz: Research in Progress

5. To assess the outputs from the production
and management systems and outcomes for
each family member in relation to resource
inputs and family values and goals.

The first two phases of a five phase research
project are currently in progress. From a pool
of 27 families who submitted integrated
farming enterprise proposals to a team of
University research and extension personnel,
seven families were interviewed by the team.
Three of these families were selected to live on
small farm sites in Michigan. One young
couple with two small children moved to the 40
acre site in the Fall of 1983. A second young
couple who also have two small children
moved to a five acre site in the Fall of 1984. The
third couple without children moved to a 20
acre site in the Fall of 1984.
Intensive, longitudinal case studies are
being conducted with each family over a three
year period. Computer assisted self-reports as
well as paper and pencil self-reports are being
used along with interviews and question-
naires. A systems model has guided the
selection of records that each family keeps
regularly and the structure and content of the
interviews. Records of time use, external
inputs, financial income and expenditures and
environmental adjustments are examples of
records being kept by each adult family
member. Regularly scheduled interviews
monitor household and farm production
processes, technology, and output, decision
making and adaptation strategies.
The case study approach provides access to
the dynamics of the production and manage-
ment processes as these affect inputs, outputs,
and family adaptation. They also provide the
unique opportunity to study the process by
which decisions are made and plans are

Preliminary Observations
Since we have a year's data on only one
family to date and only six months' experience
with the other two families, findings are
considered preliminary. Some initial
observations can, however, be made which
should be of concern to those interested in the
role of women in agriculture.
Farm enterprise decisions are made, in part,
with considerations for the safety and
development of children. In one family, the
decision was made to purchase angora goats


and raise them for mohair fiber production.
The goats were perceived to be small and
permitted the children's safe participation in
their feeding and care. Another family chose
its walk-behind tractor with concern for the
children's safety equally as or more important
than low energy input agriculture. Also with
respect to children, one couple desired to
provide their son and daughter with natural
experiences of birth and death through
exposure of their children to farm animals and
pets. Both husbands and wives in the two
families with children chose to move to a small
farm in part because of the lifestyle and
improved nutrition that limited resource
input agriculture could provide for them-
selves and their children.

Also with respect to children, one couple des
to provide their son and daughter with nat
experiences of birth and death through expo
of their children to farm animals and pets

Extension of personal space to encompass
the farm house, garden and fields was a
dominant value expressed by all three
participating families. Attachment to the land
and pride expressed in improvements to farm
buildings and household structures suggest
the importance of the natural and constructed
environments to these families.
Both wives and husbands shared in farm
and household production activities,
including building fences, shearing and
vaccinating' goats, planting crops, planning
enterprises, gathering information, making
contacts in the community for equipment
purchase and rental and marketing products.
In at least one family the wife occupies the
position of full-time farmer/mother and is
recognized as such in the local rural
community. The husband also values and
participates actively in parenting. He is the
one, however, who has sought off-farm
employment and is considering the
establishment of a home-based business in
order to be closer to his family and to the farm.
Off-farm employment, in fact, is an essential
component of each of the three farm families'
lives. At least one adult member of each family
is employed between 20 and 40 hours per week
off the farm. One of the major adaptations that
two of the three farm families had to make in
moving to their farms was to change the

structure and sequence of their schedules to
accommodate off-farm employment. One
family made multiple changes in both
husband and wife participation in off-farm
employment before finding a workable
situation. Distance to the job resulted in
increased transportation time and costs for
two families. The transition from steady full-
time employment to part-time, off-farm
employment was a major adjustment for one
One major influence on the structure of work
was the time requirements of farming. Limited
daylight hours during late fall and winter
months proved stressful for accomplishment
of farm tasks when off-farm work schedules
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
*ired present and able to participate in the care of
the couple's children. One woman with
ural children found it necessary to have a block of
sure time away from the family in order to have
time to plan the farm activities and to seek
required information.
Each family has been provided with a micro-
computer for both farm and household
management as well as for educational and
recreational purposes. Each family recognizes
the potential for computer-assisted decision
making and is eager to maintain accurate
records. The farm women appear to be taking
the managerial role in record keeping and

Attachment to the land and pride expressed in
improvements to farm buildings, and household
structures suggest the importance of the natural
and constructed environments to these house-

Participation in rural community appears to
take considerable time for development of
necessary linkages and resultant acceptance.
Although one couple became licensed day-care
operators in order to begin a home-based
business and remain near their children while
gaining additional income, the venture was
deferred because of lack of community
These are but a few of the rich insights being
gained by viewing the farm family as the unit
of analysis in the study of small-scale
agriculture. Both wives and husbands share

equitably in both farm and off-farm work.
Values related to family and child develop-
ment, the conservation and responsible use of
the land and natural environment, and a
modest lifestyle with respect to material
possessions guide their decisions and direct
their goals.

The authors acknowledge the research
contributions of Dr. Roger Brook, Cooperator
and Associate Professor, Department of
Agriculture Engineering and Ms. Beverly
Ledwith, Graduate Research Assistant,
Department of Family and Child Ecology,
Michigan State University, East Lansing,
1. Kerr, Jr., H.W., "What To Do If the Small Farmers are
To Survive." Paper presented at the 42nd Professional

Sontag & Bubolz: Research in Progress

Agiicultural Workers Conference, Tuskegee Institute,
Tuskegee, Albama, December 2-4, 1984.
2. Kerr, Jr., H.W. A Survey of Current and Expected
Research Needs of Small Farms in the Northeastern
Region. Beltsville, Maryland: U.S. Department of
Agriculture, Agricultural Research (Northeastern
Region), Science and Education Administration,
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.
Eighteenth edition. Detroit, MI.: Bureau of Business
Research, School of Business Administration, Wayne
State University, 1984.
5. Fassinger, P.A., and Schwarzweller, H.K. Work
Patterns of Farm Wives in Mid-Michigan. Research
Report No. 425, Michigan State University
Agricultural Experiment Station, East Lansing, MI,
6. Sollie, C.R., "Defining and Achieving Life Goals: A
Process of Human Resource Development." Current
Research Information System, Project Abstract, CRIS
ID. No. 401100/RMS, U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Science and Education Administration, 1984.

Science and Farm Women's Work: The Agrarian
Origins of Home Economic Extension

Jane Knowles

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
values has been central to debate about the
nature of American agriculture since at least
the time of theories about the Jeffersonian
yeoman farmers. Beginning in the decades
after the Civil War, however, and continuing
into the early years of this century,
consideration of these values took on a new
dimension as concerns began to be expressed
about the well-being of the entire farm family,
explicitly including farm women and children.
That is, the fairly narrow concern for
increasing farm output, and with it farm
income, broadened to include consideration of
the quality of life in rural America which
increased income could provide. Although a
heavy emphasis on production remained,
there was an extension of the range of human
values to be dealt with in agriculture. This
extension was coincident with and related to a
number of other current trends, including at
*The rural to urban migration of large
numbers of people.
*The strengthening of the agricultural
education system's ability to meet the real
needs of rural people.
*The growth of home economics or
"Domestic Science" programs as both a
suitable educational track for large numbers

of girls seeking higher education, and an
acceptable profession for them after
completing that education.
*The increasingly vocal concern of rural
women that the attention of those government
agencies dealing with agriculture focus on the
needs of farm households as well as on the
production side of agriculture.
By the start of this century, American
opinion at the highest levels was troubled by
the increasingly rapid population movements
out of rural and into urban environments. The
shift seemed to signal a turning away from
values which framed the whole American
experience. Discussion of the current
agricultural credit crisis to some degree echoes
these earlier concerns. In 1908, President
Theodore Roosevelt appointed an influential
national Country Life Commission. TR
delivered a ringing charge to the Commission,
including the statement that: "'The
strengthening of country life is the strength-
ening of the whole nation.'"' The Commission
reviewed 120,000 questionnaires sent out by
USDA and criss-crossed the country to hold 10
public hearings. Although all the Commission
members were male, they were plainly moved
by the testimony they heard regarding the
hardships of rural life for women. Their report
stressed the importance of improving the

Ip~ar~ 'Illli~ll'' II I

Knowles: Science & Farm Women's Work

rewards drawn from rural life by everyone in
the farm family, including especially farm
wives who socialized their children into rural
life and made that life comfortable for their
husbands. One of the Commission's strongest
recommendations was that a national
extension education system be created by
governments as a way to make the lives of
rural women less lonely and less burdensome.
Before such a system was established,
several overlapping educational programs -
the Farmers' Institutes; the short course
programs on land grant university campuses;
the instructional programs undertaken by
such private firms as International Harvester;
the beginnings of the county agent system,
especially in southern states came over time
to try to address the concerns of the entire farm
family by developing programs specifically
for farm women and, later, children. I will
discuss only the first of these in any detail.
Farmers' Institutes, based on European
models, began in the Eastern U.S., but by the
end of the nineteenth century had spread
across the country. They were generally one-
or two-day meetings held at a time and in a
place convenient for farm families. Initially,
Farmers' Institute programs for women
included some technical presentation on, e.g.,
dairying, poultry, and bee-keeping, along with
domestic science programs on food
preparation and sanitation, child care,
clothing construction, etc. In time, the
emphasis came to be heavily on the domestic
science side, with cooking schools a partic-
ularly popular offering, at least at the state
level. The federal government supported and
encouraged the Institute movement. In the
period of its greatest sophistication and effect
(ca. 1900-1912), the USDA's Office of
Experiment Stations employed a Farmers'
Institute specialist who oversaw the
preparation of a series of lectures in pamphlet
form designed to be accompanied by up to 50
lantern slides for delivery at the Institutes. In
these lectures, 3 of the 14 "Farm Architec-
ture," "Farm Homes," and "Farm Home
Grounds-Planting and Care" were fully or
partially addressed to women.2 A USDA
publication which reviewed Institute
programs for women cited their "need ... for
more definite instruction in domestic and
sanitary science and household art than is
given to mixed audiences of the Farmer's
Institutes."3 In 1908, the year on which the
document reported, 21 states had separate
programs for women, and 7 had female
lecturers in their regular programs all
dealing with strictly domestic science topics.

Farmers' Institutes, and later home
demonstration agents, also tried to reach
women and children by means of club work.
Women's clubs met regularly in members'
homes to watch demonstrations of domestic
techniques. Those for children usually
involved some type of project activity,
generally but not rigorously gender-stereo-
typed (corn cultivation for boys, baking for
girls, etc.).

There was, by this time, a substantial body of
domestic science information to be transmitted,
and a corps of women trained to do the trans-

There was by this time a substantial body of
domestic science information to be trans-
mitted, and a corps of women trained to do the
transmitting. The movement, whose
beginnings can be traced to Catharine
Beecher's books on domestic economy of the
1840s, was originally an Eastern urban one,
but during the 1890s it became securely based
in the land grant colleges of the Midwest and
South: there were 5 university programs in
1890, 15 by 1896, and 30 by 1900. Courses in
domestic science also entered the curricula of
the nation's public schools during the same
decade. Training of home economics teachers
began at about the same time, and by the
decade 1905-1915, there were 17,000 young
women pursuing careers of Domestic Science at
US universities, the vast majority of them in
training to be teachers.
One impact of this phenomenal growth can
be seen in the differences between the two
major pieces of legislation which completed
the construction of the agricultural education
system begun with the Morrill Act of 1862. The
Hatch Act of 1887 created agricultural
'experiment stations in every state, and
directed that they conduct basic research into
a wide range of scientific processes in agri-
culture. The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 created
the Cooperative Extension Service (CES) and
directed that the CES' work should include:
"the giving of instruction and practical
demonstrations in agriculture and home
economics to persons not attending or resident
in the land grant colleges in the several com-
munities, and imparting to such persons
information on said subjects through field
demonstrations, publications and otherwise
..." Concern for any of the topics subsumed


under the phrase "and home economics" is
conspicuously missing from Hatch. By the
time of Smith-Lever, their inclusion did not
even evoke any comment in the often strident
Congressional debates on other aspects of the
legislation. In the quarter of a century
separating the two Acts, the set of human
values which included the specific well being of
farm women and children had assumed a
significant role in American discussions of
their agricultural system.
Farm women were eager to recognize,
applaud, and demand more from the broad-
ening of the nation's vision. In 1913, USDA
surveyed several thousand American rural
women to solicit their advice on ways in which
the Department could provide more services to
them. Because of the nature of the households
surveyed, the replies probably reflect the views
of farm families at the middle level or above.
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 reports make clear that women had sole
responsibility for household activities. There
are moving requests for more efficient, less
burdensome farm homes. Complaints about
having to make do with antiquated, inefficient
equipment are frequent. There is recognition
on the part of the women that farm profits are
so low that it is difficult to find the funds to
purchase new equipment for the home, but
recognition as well that the time freed and the
human health improved by the addition of
such equipment could be used to make more
directly productive contributions to the farm
Household production was the area of their
work lives with which women wanted the most
help; they demanded that their government
provide them and their daughters with home
economics advice and education:
... girls scientifically trained along
domestic lines will never become
household drudges like their mothers
[105, p. 21].

Our girls need to be freed from the
bondage of ignorance and taught the
dignity of labor. Give us schools of
domestic science [105, p. 28].

[a woman] needs to know the science
relative to her daily tasks, that she may
become a thinking wife and mother, not
an automaton or a follower of ancient
traditions [104, p. 51].

They sought help with food, cook books, food
and drug laws, hygiene, care of the sick, better
human nutrition, canning and preserving,
dealing with houseflies, sewing (a Missouri
woman wanted a re-invention of chain mail
shirts to reduce mending [104, p. 55]), etc.
There are several variations on the general
theme that since the USDA and the agricul-
tural experiment station system had provided
scientific help and advice to farmers for years,
now it was time for similar advice to come to
farm women struggling to modernize their
domestic operations as their husbands had
done in the fields and barns.

The letters in which women speak of their
domestic needs and responsibilities are among
the most deeply felt in this set of reports.

The letters in which the women speak to
their domestic needs and responsibilities are
among the deeply felt in this set of reports.
From them one gets a clear sense of the
enormous burden of work borne by the
women, with virtually no prospect of any help,
human or mechanical.
Concern for the well-being and the future of
rural children was one of the focal points of the
Country Life Commission Report, and the
USDA Reports echo this concern. There are
two special foci: improved nutrition and en-
hanced educational opportunities. In
particular, there is a call for more practical
education of a type that would help rural boys
and girls to see the intrinsic worth of farm life
and hence encourage them to take it up as their
future. Several writers speak to the need to
educate all children in both agriculture and
domestic science, so that the practitioner of
each will have a due respect for the work of the
other [105, esp. pp. 13-25]. An Ohio woman
wrote simply: "Our crop, the children; our
needs, suggestions for their food" [104, p. 66].
The CES sought to meet these needs from its
very inception, picking up on the efforts of
such precursors as the Farmers' Institutes,
and is still doing so today. It has tried to do so
by setting up two discrete systems for delivery
of services one for technical services to male
farmers, and one for homemaking services to
farm women. Over the years, the separation
between the two has been very strict, with
disproportionate staff and funding resources
being devoted to the technical delivery system.

Knowles: Science & Farm Women's Work

Several writers speak to the need to educate all
children in both agriculture and domestic sci-
ence, so that the practitioner of each will have
a due respect for the work of the other. An Ohio
woman wrote simply: "Our crop, the children;
our needs, suggestions for their food."

In recent years, there has been some blurring
of the distinctions between the services, with
extension agents initiating instructional
programs on technical subjects specifically for
farm women, but there has been no significant
change in the allocation of resources. The net
effect has been a concentration on only one -
though admittedly a very crucial one aspect
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;
*they were focusing on activities central to
the lives of all women;
*they were meeting a felt and vigorously
expressed need on the part of rural women for
government assistance in their roles as
reproducers of the American rural population;
*functioning at a time of reaction against
women's education and emancipation, they
were moving forward in ways that were
broadly acceptable.
I believe it can even be argued that the
broadening of the discussions of human
values in American agriculture to include the
well-being of rural women and children was
part of a larger historical process. In an earlier
issue of this journal Richard Kirkendall char-
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 modern-
ization 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 farming
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

the Country Life Movement as one instance of
this harmonization. I would argue that the
Cooperative Extension Service, particularly
as it affected farm women, is another example
of an attempt to use the modernization process
to support that part of the agrarian tradition
which favored the retention of rural people in
the countryside. By helping farm women to
lessen the gap between their life styles and
those of urban women, the CES helped to
increase the satisfactions to be found in rural
living and hence to decrease the push to leave
the farm. Perhaps inevitably, the means
selected to achieve that end failed to recognize
and support the full range of women's
productive activities on American farms, a
failure whose reverberations still affect rural

1. U.S. Country Life Commission Report, reprinted
in Wayne D. Rasmussen, ed., Agriculture in the
United States: A Documentary History, 4 vols.
(New York, 1975): II, 1982.
2. United States Department of Agriculture, Office of
Experiment Stations, Farmers Institute Lectures 1-14
(1904-1912) (Washington, D.C., various dates).
3. John Hamilton, Farmers' Institutes for Women,
U.S.D.A., Office of Experiment Stations Circular 85
(Washington, 1909), Introduction.
4. United States Department of Agriculture, Report No.
103, Social and Labor Needs of Farm Women (Wash-
ington 1915); Report No. 104, Domestic Needs of
Farm Women (Washington, 1915); Report No. 105,
Educational Needs of Farm Women (Washington,
1915); and Report No. 106, Economic Needs of Farm
Women (Washington, 1915).
5. Agriculture and Human Values, 1, No. 2 (Spring 1984):

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 12years
she has worked for the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organization, The University of
Wisconsin ... Madison, the Board for Inter-
national 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

National extension systems are part of the
nonformal education system throughout the
world. Extension agents are sources of
information on agriculture, food, nutrition,
and home economics for rural families and
youth worldwide. A 1981 study of 104
countries, including over 70 less-developed
countries, indicated that approximately
300,000 extension personnel are employed
worldwide.10 The majority, 84%, are working
in Africa, Asia/Oceania, and Latin
America/Caribbean at the field level. Where
male-female data are available, the study
revealed that 80% of agents are male and 20%
are female. Forty-one per-cent of the latter are
engaged in home economics-related programs.
Extension services are a key link for
increasing food production and for
transforming rural economies. In developing
countries, agricultural and home economics
extension systems are often among the few
institutions directly serving poor rural

households. However, extension systems
patterned after U.S. models, which
traditionally separate household and agri-
cultural production, must not overlook crucial
areas where rural women farmers need
particular assistance.
The objective of this paper is to explore a few
areas where development goals, including
increased food production, can be more fully
achieved through more careful attention to
agricultural and in particular to home
economics extension programs for rural

Home Economics and Women Farmers
The family is probably the most
fundamental yet value-laden of social
institutions. Home economics, which was
founded at the beginning of this century, has
dedicated itself to family well-being. By virtue
of its mission and philosophy, home
economics operates within a complex milieu in


Weidemann: Extension Systems & Modern Farming

By virtue of its mission and philosophy, Home
Economics operates within a complex milieu in
a variety of cultures and must guard against
imposing inappropriate values when practiced

a variety of cultures and must guard against
imposing inappropriate values when
practiced internationally.
It is clear that, because of the vast numbers
of home economists, the regularity of their
contact, and the institutionalized nature of
home economics extension, this discipline
could be a vital force in Third World
development. For example, in a single year in
Thailand almost a million people were reached
directly through the home economics
network.3 In addition to extension, home
economics offers professional study in formal
education as well. There are 10,000 home
economists in Thailand. In the Philippines
6,000 home economists are members of their
professional associations. Jamaica has a
strong home economics network with 250
members. Even smaller countries like Sierra
Leone and Panama boast over 200 trained
home economists.3 Home economics systems,
however, have been criticized for responding
selectively to rural women's domestic and
reproductive activities while disregarding
their vital roles in agricultural production.8
Women's roles in agriculture have been
widely discussed and well documented. It is
estimated that females head one-third of
households worldwide. Further, the femini-
zation of agriculture in Third World countries
continues, often in unexpected regions, such
as in the North West Frontier in Pakistan
where women, once held in strict seclusion,
must now take over the farm roles of men who
have migrated to the Near East oil fields. We
have long known that women produce as
much as 80% of Africa's food. But the entire
farm decision-making and production process
is not woman-dominated in some areas. For
example, a 1975 survey of one farm district in
Kenya indicated that 40% of farm household
heads were female.4
In short, raising food productivity in many
parts of the world now hinges on increasing
the efficiency of female farmers. Whatever
contact either agricultural or home economists
extension workers have with rural women
must be directed in large measure toward
agricultural instruction if we are to reserve the

decreases now occurring in food production,,
particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Farmer Education and Other Social
There are additional ways to affect food
production and achieve broader social goals as
well. First, rural women's access to primary
education must continue. Gains have been
made, but the imbalances are great. The recent
Jamison and Lau studies (1982) demonstrate
that in the presence of technology, primary
education of farmers is directly related to
significant increases in agricultural
production.5 If we are to augment food
supplies, significant gains can be made
through a more educated farming population,
including women farmers.
Secondly, if we expect to reach greater
numbers of women farmers through
extension, we must provide formal training in
agriculture for more women. A recent
University of Illinois study of women's
participation in the agriculture and home
economics institutions which train extension
workers in the Third World showed that
women account for only 11% of intermediate
and only 19% of higher level students in
agricultural institutions. Particularly
alarming was the finding that women's
representation and opportunities in African
agricultural educational institutions were the
most limited of any region of the world. This is
the continent where women are responsible for
the majority of food production and where it is
often more culturally appropriate for women
to teach women. In Africa, women accounted
for only 17% of intermediate and higher
agricultural enrollment. The figures for Latin
American countries were more encouraging at
35%. In Asia, women's participation in
agricultural educational institutions was
almost equal to men's at 47%.9
While women's opportunity in higher
agricultural education in the Third World is
generally limited, it has improved since 1970.
But the study predicted that women's
participation in formal agricultural
institutions will deteriorate in the future,
relative to men's, unless substantial growth
can be assured. Secondary schooling for girls
was the one factor studied which was most
highly associated with increases in women's
participation in agricultural education.9 It is
recommended therefore, that targeted growth
rates for women's participation be established
by individual institutions.


Thirdly, John Mellor, Director General of
the International Food Policy Research
Institute noted in a recent report on the world
food situation that technology research, at
least for a major portion of Africa, must focus
substantially on labor productivity. The
urgency of the situation calls for attention to
all possible means of raising labor
productivity, particularly during seasonal
peaks, where bottlenecks often occur. These
might include changes in crop labor profiles,
the combination of crops, chemical and
mechanical innovations, as well as basic
increases in yield. Mellor also calls for closer
integration of mechanical and biological
The goals Mellor describes cannot be fully
achieved without relieving women from
household food processing chores to release
their labor for other tasks, especially during
peak periods. Assumptions about availability
of family labor must also be examined.
Christine Jones's study of intra-house-
hold bargaining and women withholding their
labor from their husbands' cash crop activities
in the Cameroon is one example of such

Home Economics is eclectic and interdisciplin-
ary, having borrowed and applied concepts
from biology and the social sciences.

Is There a Place for Home Economics?
There is probably a more important role
than ever for home economics, if it accepts the
challenge. Home economics is eclectic and
interdisciplinary, having borrowed and
applied concepts from biology and the social
sciences. Home economics focuses on the
family and uses a systems approach. Certain
home economics and nutritional programs
have a record of cultural sensitivity, for
example, the Expanded Food and Nutrition
Education Program, (EFNEP). EFNEP
delivers consumer information to low-income
clients using indigenous para-professionals.
Extension home economists who work with
youth in this country have certain potentially
transferrable skills as well.
Further, U.S. home economists in family
management have the skills for the time-
budget studies which are needed in developing
countries. They could make significant
contributions to areas which the USAID Office

of Women In Development identified as
requiring additional research: (a) studies of
intra-household dynamics regarding division
of labor, distribution of resources, and
decision-making at the household level; (b)
income needs and income sources for males
and females; (c) women's contribution to
agriculture; (d) fuel and water needs and
sources; and (e) incidence of households which
are actually or de-facto female-headed.2
But many university home economics
programs have striven for autonomy and
separation from the agricultural colleges with
which they shared a common heritage under
the land grant system. The successful
participation of home economics in
international development calls for a return to
those agricultural roots. That participation
also implies a close working relation with
nutrition which is often administratively
separate from home economics. Home
economists who are to succeed inter-
nationally must be willing to cross
administrative and disciplinary lines.
U.S. home economics institutions with
international students have a vital role.
One innovative program is at Utah State
University. A two-year Associate Degree
developed especially for foreign students and
spouses is offered in the College of Home
Economics. The program is agriculturally-
oriented and funded in part by an AID Title
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
and it develops skills which will be in demand
upon return.12
Abroad, home economists can help redirect
and revitalize home economics programs in
developing countries. Additional surveys and
better use of existing data are vital to planning
appropriate home economics extension
programs. In Nigeria, for example, the author
was part of a four-year FAO project which used
countrywide surveys of family labor and time al-
location in the household and on the farm as a
basis for planning an extension unit.13 When
this occurs, the home economics curriculum can
then be planned or re-directed to address the
realities of these studies. While traditional home
economics extension programs directed solely at
women's domestic activities are inadequate,
development efforts which ignore these roles
are insufficient also. There is little evidence
from the industrialized world that development
significantly relieves women of domestic
responsibilities. Home economics can provide

Weidemann: Extension Systems & Modern Farming

valuable assistance in areas related to
nutrition, child care and management. In fact,
Third World women want such information.1
Instruction in these areas can be appropriate if
priorities are set and the curriculum also
realistically reflects women's agricultural and
economic roles. There needs to be a balance
between instruction aimed at women's roles in
production and in consumption, keeping in
mind that there can be vast and critical
differences in women's visibility and roles
within a single country or region.
Significant attention is now being focused
on technology transfer and extension systems.
Dr. Clifton Wharton, former Chairman of the
Board for International Food and Agriciltural
Development (BIFAD) summarized'the
If there is one area where we have been
most unsuccessful, it has been the
development of cost-effective and
program-efficient models for the delivery
of new scientific and technical knowledge
to the millions upon millions of farm
producers of the Third World. We know
how to harness the creative and inventive
forces of science and technology in the
war on hunger, but I submit that we still
have not been fully successful in
technology of diffusion ... I believe that
attention in this area is one of AID's
(Agency for International Develop-
ment's) and BIFAD's most critical items
on their future agendas.11
As that agenda is shaped, careful attention
should be given to more thoughtful diagnoses
of women farmer's needs. This paper has ident-
ified some of these needs and the resources re-
quired of agricultural and home economics
institutions in the United States and abroad.

1. AID. Office of Women in Development, 1980 Report.
Washington, D.C.
2. AID. Women in Development Policy Paper. Wash-
ington, D.C., 1982.
3. Boynton, Willard, Elaine M. Murphy, and Celia Jean
Weidemann: An Evaluation of Family Planning
Assistance Through Home Economics. Washing-
ton, D.C.: USAID, 1980.
4. Buvinic, M. et al. Women and Poverty in the Third
World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
1983, p. 11.
5. Jamison, J.T., and L.J. Lau: Farmer Education and
Farm Efficiency. Baltimore: John Hopkins Univer-
sity Press, 1982.
6. Jones, Christine. "Women's Labor Allocation and Irri-
gated Rice Production in North Cameroon," in Green-
shields, B.L. and M.A. Bellamy, (Eds.) Rural Devel-
opment: Growth and Inequity. Aldershot, England:
Gower Publishing Co., 1983.
7. Mellor, John. "The Changing World Food Situation -
A CGIAR Perspective." Washington, D.C.: Internat-
ional Food Policy Research Institute, 1984.
8. Rogers, Barbara. Domestication of Women. New
York, N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1979.
9. Sigman, Vicky Ann. Women 's Participation in Agri-
cultural and Home Economics Education in the Third
World. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, 1984.
10. Swanson, Burton and Jaffar Rassi. International
Directory of National Extension Systems. Urbana-
Champaign University of Illinois, 1981.
11. United States Department of Agriculture Exten-
sion Service. "New Directions: The International Mis-
sion of the Cooperative Extension Service A State-
ment of Policy." Washington, D.C., 1984.
12. Utah State University, College of Family Life,
"Food and Family in International Development."
(Brochure) Logan, Utah, 1984.
13. Weidemann, Celia Jean. "Family Roles in Nigeria:
Implications for Policies and Programs Relating to
Women and Development." Paper presented at the
Eighth Annual Spring Symposium: "Food Problems
in Africa," University of Illinois at Urbana-
Champaign, April 22-24, 1981. Co-sponsored by: Afri-
can Studies Program, Office of Women in Internat-
ional Development and International Colloquium.

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

I II I i -

ANITA SPRING is Associate Dean of the College of
Liberal Arts and Sciences and Associate Professor
of Anthropology. She is Director of the Women in
Agriculture Program at the University of Florida.
Between 1981 and 1983 she directed the Women in
Agricultural Development Project in Malawi. She
has published widely on ritual and health care sys-
tems in Zambia and on agricultural development in
Malawi. Publications include WOMEN IN RITUAL.
AND SYMBOLIC ROLES with Judith Hoch-Smith and
"Men and Women Participants in a Stall Feeder Live-
stock Project" (Human Organization, forthcoming).

We begin by setting out some general hypoth-
eses and conclusions on what happens
economically to rural African women during
the process of agricultural development. We
then examine the changes that have occurred
since the 1930s in the agricultural and
economic systems of the Luvale-speaking
peoples of Zambezi District in northwestern
Zambia. At the end, the conclusions drawn from
this specific case are compared with the
general ones, and some future scenarios are

1. The Underside of Development
Wipper (1975-1976) suggests that rural
African women experience regressive rather
than progressive changes as a consequence of
what is called development. To understand
what happens to women she notes that it is
necessary to examine the "muderside of
development." The visible side of develop-

ART HANSEN is Associate Professor and Graduate
Coordinator of Anthropology. He chairs the faculty
steering committee of the Food in Africa Program
and founded the multidisciplinary Social, Agricul-
tural and Food Scientists Group (SAFS). From 1964
to 1968 he lived in Bolivia and the Dominican Re-
public conducting and supervising development
programs. He has lived in Malawi and Zambia five of
the past 15 years researching small farmer agricul-
ture. Publications include INVOLUNTARY MIGRA-
TION AND RESETTLEMENT with Anthony Oliver-
THEIR CHIEFTANSHIP with Robert Papstein, and
numerous papers on farming systems research.

ment includes the changes in production of
cash crops and the formal public sectors of the
economy and labor force. The underside
includes subsistence production of crops for
home consumption and the informal private
sectors. These latter domains are where
women make major economic contributions
and incur costs that subsidize the visible
national (and male) development. This
argument underlies most of the literature and
creates parallels to Andre Gunder Frank's
(1969) classic "development of underdevelop-
ment" argument and dependency theory
(Palmer and Parsons 1977).

2. Women's Participation
It is important to clarify the historic and
continuing importance of women in African
agriculture. Boserup (1970) discusses sub-
sistence systems of shifting cultivation in
terms of female, male-assisted, and male
farming systems. In female systems, women
take charge of food production, and men's
contribution is limited to certain tasks sucn as

felling trees. In male-assisted agriculture,
there is more male labor but women still do
most of the work; and in male systems men do
most of the fieldwork. Tables 1 and 2 show the
importance of female farming from a sample
of 279 societies in Africa. Boserup notes that
more women than men work in the fields and
women work longer (hours per day or days per
year) than men. Often women do more than
50% of the work, and in some cases they do
more than 70%.
The continuing importance of women's
labor has been disparaged in various ways. It
has been suggested that women only do the
easy work or work on food crops, however,
data such as Clark's from Malawi show that
"the great majority of the crop and field work
is in the hands of the women" where women do
more work than men on every crop, including
tobacco and cotton (Clark 1975).

Spring & Hansen: The Underside of Development

"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." (1976:271). Once in the land
settlement schemes, women were worse off than
before because they lost their independently
owned orchard lands and crops. The Ujamaa
scheme was based on the idea that husbands
gave wives land. In the new scheme no
provisions were made for a husband's death.
Consequently widows had to leave the scheme.
This aspect of the "underside of development"
means that women lost independent access to
agricultural land which would provide food and

4. The Colonial and National Bias
A common hypothesis in the literature
concerns a European colonial bias against
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
labor is not matched by an equivalent control
of the land that is farmed. Women are
generally cultivating land which their
husbands control (Goody and Buckley 1973),
although there are many societies in which
women hold rights to land through
inheritance, lineage allocations, or gifts
(White 1959; Colson 1971). Women's rights to
land are threatened in several ways by the
increasing intensification of agriculture and
by government-sponsored land "reforms" or
settlement schemes. Boserup (1970) notes that
African women have been systematically
deprived of their land rights through
European-originated land reforms, in which
land holdings are transferred to husbands as
heads of households and the existing
mechanisms by which women received rights
to land are negated under the new rules.
For example, Tonga women in Zambia who
were resettled because of the construction of the
Kariba dam lost their land holdings because
only the household as a unit was compensated
for its lost lands, and women were unable to
acquire new lands in the new sites to replace the
old. Brain writes about resettlement of families
in Ujamaa villages in Tanzania and notes that

believed that male farming was superior to
female farming. Many land reform and
settlement schemes treated men and women
differentially. Men were inducted into the cash
economy, learned new skills and cultivated
new cash crops, while the women were left
with the "old drudgery" of food crop
production and processing. Formal education
and training programs were aimed at men as
the decision-makers and commercial farmers,
and this was reinforced by the continuing
male dominance of extension services.
Running through much of the literature on
women and development is the theme that
rural development programs and agricultural
information, including extension agencies,
continue to bypass women today.

5. Women and Subsistence Agriculture:
Men and Commercial Agriculture
A reason that is advanced for concentrating
on men in agricultural development is that
they are the commercial farmers, and women
only work on food crops for home
consumption. The continuing emphasis on
export crops and national balance of
payments assumes that women do not and will
not respond to commercial opportunities. In
fact, women do make a critical contribution to


Men were inducted into the cash economy,
learned new skills and cultivated new cash
crops, while the women were left with the "old
drudgery" of food crop production and process-

subsistence production which allows the male
and commercial orientation to continue.
Government planners generally assume that
subsistence food production will maintain
itself at a constant per capital level, and
routinely calculate the increase in subsistence
statistics on the sole basis of population
growth. Along these lines, it is assumed that
women are associated with extensive and
subsistence cultivation, women's agriculture
is characterized by a reluctance to innovate,
and women's agricultural work becomes less
important as development continues.
Clark's (1975) research in Malawi addresses
these assumptions and finds them contra-
dicted by the data. Women are involved in both
food and cash crops, and women's agricultural
fieldwork increases as development and
commercialization occur. Guyer (1977) finds a
similar situation for Cameroon women near
Yaounde who expanded their subsistence
production to meet the increased commercial
needs. Staudt (1975-76) reports that women
farm managers in Kenya spanned a range of
economic categories and were as likely as men
to adopt innovations. Wo
On the other hand, Boserup (1970) points out loo
that women's labor and decision-making sta
inputs may increase as men leave rural areas s
in the cities and mines. Levine (1966) notes for ing,
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
Zambian Bemba women's agricultural
workloads increased and that production and
caloric intake for women and children
decreased with extensive male emigration.
Hay's case material on the Luo women in
Kenya notes that women had to perform a
greater share of the agricultural work while
men worked outside the area. At the same
time, they had to deal with reduced soil
fertility which led to double cropping and more
intensive agriculture. In this situation, women
"met the problem by adopting labor-saving
innovations in agriculture and reinvesting the
labor saved in other economic activities,
primarily trade" (Hay 1976:105).
The effects of the subsistence-commercial
dichotomy has consequences for household

consumption and authority patterns. Some
early evidence from Mozambique (Young
1977), where Tonga men were able to derive
new incomes from ivory and horn trade
whereas the women still farmed, shows that
men used their new wealth to marry more
women and to buy prestige goods, thereby
materially out-stripping the women and
changing family relationships. Storgaard's
(1975-76) material from rural Tanzania shows
that traditionally women were responsible for
food and annual crops, while men were in
charge of non-food items and perennials.
When coffee was introduced it was a perennial
and a cash crop, and so it fell to the male
domain. In the contemporary situation, new
goods such as salt, sugar, tea, kerosene and
matches have become necessities for people.
Even though these are part of food
preparation, they are shopped for and
purchased by men from the cash incomes.
Storgaard concludes women "become
dependent upon their husbands in activities
which were formerly purely under their
control" (1975-76:145).
The complementarity of roles that existed
between men and women is destroyed by
differential remuneration. Men's cash income
sources are diverse, and they receive the
benefits of development and training schemes.

men remain in subsistence agriculture and
k for ways to earn cash, often resorting to low
tus and low pay pathways e.g., beer brew-
, prostitution, or selling agricultural labor.

Women remain in subsistence agriculture and
look for ways to earn cash, often resorting to
low status and low pay pathways e.g., beer
brewing, prostitution or selling their
agricultural labor. The final outcome is
greater dependency of rural agricultural
women and less control of their families' diet
and income.

6. Lack of Access to Education and
Due and Summary (1982) hypothesize that
lack of education and credit are the two
primary constraints that women face in terms
of development. Women lack access to
education and thereby fail to learn about the
techniques and economics of the new
"scientific agriculture" and credit facilities.

When and if African women finance their
agricultural production, they do so by
borrowinally rather than through the formal
sector. In Zambia, Due studied 123 small
farmers and found that only two women were
allocated credit. The management board only
gave credit to a divorcee and a widow as they
said married women "would be more apt to sell
their crops in someone else's name than men,"
but, according to the author, there was no
evidence of this (Due and Summary 1982).

Lombard and Tweedie (1972) in their study
of Zambian agriculture since independence
give no recognition to women farmers.
Training in development colleges at the
University of Zambia's School of Agriculture
seems to have been primarily for males. This
would also be the implication from Dodge's
book on Agricultural Policy and Performance
in Zambia (1977) which discusses
development schemes that have focused on
men peasant and commercial farmers. The
roots for this can be found in the colonial
situation where the British sought the creation
of the peasant farmer on the European model.
Hellen (1968), writing on pre-independence,
remarks that the family farming unit was
destroyed by the poll tax, and after that,
incentive measures for change were all
directed toward men.

The particular case described here concerns
the 95,000 Luvale people of the North Western
Province. They are a matrilineal people whose
indigenous economy is based on hoe
agriculture and fishing. C.M.N. White studied
the Luvale between 1947-1960 and has
published numerous articles and monographs
on them. Research for this paper was carried
out in 1970-72 and 1977 (Hansen 1977, 1979a,
1979b, 1982; Hansen and Papatein 1979;
Spring 1976a, 1976b, 1978, 1980, 1982).

Zambezi district is divided into two different'
ecological areas by the Zambezi River. West of
the river are vast low-lying plains that flood
each rainy season; these provide fishing
grounds and pasturage for cattle.
Agriculturally, the main crop is millet. East of
the river the land is better suited for
agriculture work and cassava, maize and
groundnuts are being grown. Both areas
complement each other, and the essential

Spring & Hansen: The Underside of Development

transhumance of many people and the trade of
crops and fish unite the district. This analysis
focuses on the eastern side.
Trapnell and Clothier described Luvale
agricultural practices in the early 1930's. Some
general features at the time were 1) shifting
cultivation predominately based on bush
gardens or fields; 2) increasing population
pressure was causing a shortening of the
fallow period and an increasing stabilization
of field use; 3) village gardens with a mixture
of crops were being cultivated as were
streamside or seepage gardens in dambo
areas. There were almost no markets for
agricultural, products other than the few
residents European missionaries and
administrators and their staffs.

The basic agricultural division of labor was
that after men cleared the trees, women
planted, cultivated and harvested the crops.
Luvale acquired rights to cultivate land by
receiving permission from the local chief and
clearing the trees. Once a man had acquired
rights to land through his labor, he could
apportion that land to his wife (or wives), or to
members of his matrilineage, either men or
women, for their own use. Luvale beliefs that
husbands and wives had equal claims to their
harvest crop were based on this
complementary input of labor. When women
cultivated lands that were gifts from their
matrilineages or inheritances, they did not
have to share the produce with their husbands.
Prior to 1950's, White (1959) estimated that
income men and women received from
agriculture were fairly equal (Table III).

As agriculture stabilizes, the needfor male labor
to cut the trees diminishes or is eliminated, but
the labor input by women increases because of
increased weeding and mound building.

Population pressure (largely from
immigration) has had consequences for the
stabilization of agriculture. Parts of the
district were stabilized by 1930, and the
process continued into the 1970's when the last
woodland was cut. Stabilization of agriculture
has been important to Luvale women in terms of
their labor input. As agriculture stabilizes, the
need for male labor to cut the trees diminishes
or is eliminated, but the labor input by women


increases because of increased weeding and
mound building. Standard accounts of
shifting cultivation state that people shift
their fields because of the increase in pests and
the decreased soil fertility. What commonly is
omitted is the fact that in subsequent years
there is a tremendous increase in the weeds that
the tree cover minimized and the initial
burning killed. With continuous cultivation,
weeds become more numerous and weeding
becomes a major chore. This is all women's
work. Also, it is necessary to plant a field
under continuous cultivation differently than
one under temporary cultivation. In shifting
cultivation the field is cleared, the surface
broken, the ash scattered, and then the crops
are planted. In stabilized agriculture, mounds
are created in order to incorporate the stubble
from the field as fertilizer. The making of
mounds requires the elimination of roots from
the field, a difficult and time-consuming task
that falls to women.
White noted in the 1950's that agricultural
modernization was just beginning in the area
with projects to introduce peasant farming; he
wondered about the effects of development on
the Luvale. He realized that peasant farming
was male oriented and that, as practiced in
Eastern Province at the time, men were
keeping all or a large part of agricultural
incomes. White wrote that if modernization.in
this form came to the Luvale, it would "tend to
strike a blow at a fundamental principle of
Luvale agricultural economics" (1959:23).
Essentially his predictions have come true.
Cassava has always been important in local
trade and was exported in large quantities to
Western Province during the 1930's, 1940's
and 1950's. Cassava was grown primarily by
women, and totally proceed by them for sale.
Since women did not participate in long
distance trade, they sold it in small quantities
to middlemen. Men did well in this trade as
middlemen and transporters, and women as
producers and processors. However, the trade
to Barotse collapsed after independence
because of roads constructed that linked
Western Province with other food centers. Also
government subsidies of maize undermined
and broke the Luvale cassava market.
Government policies resulted in a loss of
income to Luvale women and men.
The other major crop, groundnuts, was
grown on land controlled by women.
Stabilized cultivation lowered the yields.
Groundnuts yields can be increased with the
addition of fertilizer but credits are made
available to men, and men do not grow ground-

Whether or not women could have received
credit, other government decisions in the
1960's reduced women's economic incentives.
Throughout the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's,
women sold groundnuts to European traders
in Zambia and Angola. These traders were
willing to purchase in small amounts. With the
advent of Zambian independence, the new
anti-colonial government closed the border
with Angola, cutting off access to these
traders. They set up a new governmental
marketing board, the National Agricultural
Board (NAMBOARD), to buy produce, but the
board was only willing to buy in large
quantities, thereby excluding the small
producer. In both cassava and groundnut
production government decisions negatively
affected commercial production. The
government did not make these policies to
contribute to the loss of income for women, but
this has been the result.

During this time, aid in the form of credit,
.machinery, seeds, fertilizers, techniques and
knowledge has been directed toward the men
and toward the production on farms of maize,
livestock, and European fruits and vegetables.
The "farm" epitomized governmental
development policy. A farm is solely for
commercial production of maize and is worked
by tractor, plow or hired labor. Farms and
fields must be planted and cultivated at the
same time, so wives end up working in the
fields while husbands work in the farms. Only
men receive farm training and are eligible for
The only reason why farms have not
resulted in a tremendous increase in men's
agricultural incomes is because farms have
not been very successful in the district because
of tractor breakdowns and problems with the
has single-handedly frustrated popular efforts
to establish rice as a major crop west of the
river by its refusal to buy the crop or transport
Other development efforts have been aimed
at livestock and the production of vegetables
and fruits, all of which are controlled by men
primarily. Improved techniques and plant
breeding materials have been provided
through extension training programs to men,
and these gardens and livestock have become
increasingly important sources of agricultural
income for men.
The bias in agricultural development
programs toward men is an observedreality in

Spring & Hansen: The Underside of Development

If they divorce, men keep the land plus half
harvest their halves immediately.

Zambezi District. Men's incomes from
agriculture in the 1970's were 5 to 10 times
greater than women's, and their incomes from
wage labor were large. This means that the
primary source of women's incomes has been
diverted to reinforce men's control of the
economy, while men continue to benefit from
expanding wage labor opportunities. At the
same time, women's labor is increasingly tied
up in subsistence food production because of
expanded weeding and mound-building tasks.
With increasing population, women's plots get
smaller and farther from the villages. This has
had great effects on household consumption
patterns and decision making within the

One area where the increasing economic
disparity is most noticeable is in the marriage
and family situation. Women join their
husbands at marriage. Husbands provide
wives with fields, shelter, clothes and cooking
utensils. If they divorce, men keep the land
plus half the planted crops, while the women
have to harvest their halves immediately. The Ti
house and household goods are left in the
husband's possession. In the past they were m
easily replaced by the divorced women when pl
they set up their new households. Now the tre
shelters are tin roofed, concrete floored houses du
with glass windows; the clothes consist of
dresses, petticoats, shoes and trinkets, and the
utensils are pots, dishes and furniture. At
divorce, women find themselves without these
items. Their meager income derived from beer-
making and minor cassava sales can hardly
replace what they lost. Women find
themselves almost destitute with any savings
going to set up their new households. They
have great difficulty in regaining their
previous standard of living. Men accumulate
agricultural products at divorce and keep the
purchased goods, thereby maintaining their
standard of living quite easily.

Many of the hypotheses and conclusions
derived from the literature are applicable to
northwest Zambia. Women have increased

the planted crops, while the women have to

agricultural burdens due to the cessation of
shifting cultivation. The association of women
with subsistence and men with cash crops is
made by policy planners, and consequently all
education and training which are geared to
commercial production have been earmarked
for men. Women's cash incomes have declined
relative to men's since the 1950's because
agricultural markets have diminished and no
income substitute, training or credit facilities
are available to them. At the same time, people
no longer are content to exist on locally
produced goods, and women have become
increasingly dependent on their husbands and
male relatives for purchased items.
On the other hand, men and women in
general felt their lot had improved and they
had experienced "progress" because they
could own manufactured clothes and utensils,
live in tin roofed houses, send their children to
school, etc. However, there were few real
improvements in agriculture since the 1950's
and there was not much satisfaction expressed
by local people concerning their local

he association of women with subsistence and
en with cash crops is made by policy
anners, and consequently, all education and
gaining which are geared to commercial pro-
iction have been earmarked for men.

Considering the future of the area, several
scenarios may be envisaged. If current trends
continue, women will be handicapped in
contributions to agricultural productivity
because: 1) an increase in continuous
cultivation of cassava on soils with decreasing
fertility will give diminishing yields, and 2) an
increase in population means that land will be
subdivided and plot sizes decreased. If
government projects concerned with
education, credit agricultural extension and
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
maize farms and vegetable production,
depriving women of land that is close to
villages and naturally irrigated, and 2) there
will be greater income inequalities between the


On the other hand, if there are changes in
which the problems of women farmers and the
smallholder in general are recognized, then
perhaps the productivity of the area and the
quality of life will increase. Some mechanisms
which would facilitate women's participation
in new technologies and more viable agriculture
are the following:
1. NAMBOARD or independent traders
might buy groundnuts (and other crops) in
small quantities and have several pick-up
.2. Demonstration farms and farming systems
research procedures might be directed at
women in order to show them new tech-
nologies and solve their local problems.
3. Credit might become available for
women for fertilizers, increased agricul-
tural production, and small businesses.
4. Cooperatives might be introduced to
women farmers on an experimental basis.
5. Appropriate technology such as ground-
nut decorticators sellersrs, hand operated
grinding mills for maize, and squeezing
presses for casava might be introduced to
aid in food processing (Carr 1978).
6. Water taps might be constructed so as to
relieve women of the burden of carrying
water, and women might be trained to
maintain and repair them.
7. School fees might be reduced or abolished,
and/or female school attendance might be
encouraged so that more girls attend
schools. Some might become agricultural
extension agents.

Whether or not these mechanisms are im-
plemented depends on greater recognition by
Zambian ministries of women's role in agri-
cultural production. However, the impetus for
this recognition is likely to be facilitated by
development ideas and projects from
international and foreign agencies, such as
the UN, World Bank and USAID, which are
concerned with this issue, rather than from the
local scene or even the national level. In
population planning, impetus for family
planning programs came from international
agencies and the agencies had greater
influence on Zambian policy than local
peoples' needs (Spring 1978b).
To conclude, in reviewing issues of women
and national development, the UN Human
Resources Development Division reports that
"Two thirds of agricultural labor in the region
is given by women, yet their means of
production, processing and distribution
remain primitive due to lack of training,

extension services and opportunities for
credit" (HRDD 1975:62). As a result of limited
education, loss of half the labor force in
development schemes (because of the exclusion
of women) and failure to compensate the rural
female sector for the exodus of males, the goals
of development may be retarded. The
commission believes the underlying cause is
the persistence of attitudes of men towards
women and women towards their own roles
stemming from the traditional division of
labor and "evolved beliefs" introduced by
foreigners (HRDD 1975:64). A consequence of
these unfortuante ideas is a false planning
base which no planner would choose one
that perpetrates the underside of development.

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ford University Press, pp. 87-110.
Hellen, John
1978 Rural Economic Development in Zambia, 1980-
1964, Munich: Weltforum Verlag.
HRDD (Human Resources Development Division, U.N.,
Economic Commission for Africa)
1975 "Women and National Development in African
Countries: Some Profound Contradictions," Afri-
can Studies Review 18:3:47-70.
Levine, Robert
1966 "Sex Role and Economic Change in Africa,"
Ethnology 5:2:186-93.
Lombard, C.A. and A.H.C. Tweedie
1972 Agriculture in Zambia Since Independence,
Lusaka: Neczam.
Palmer, Robin and Neil Parsons, eds.
1977 The Roots of Rural Poverty in Central and South-
ern Africa, London: Heinemann.
Richards, Audrey
1958 "A Changing Pattern of Agriculture in East Africa:
The Bemba of Northern Rhodesia," Geography
Journal, 124:3:30:302-14.
Spring, Anita
1976a "An Indigenous Therapeutic Style and Its
Consequences for Natality," in J. Marshall and S.
Polgar, eds., Culture, Natality, and Family Plan-
ning, Chapel Hill: Carolina Population Center,
pp. 99-125.
1976b Women's Ritual and Natality Among the Luvale
of Zambia, Ph.D. Dissertation, Cornell Univer-
sity, Ithaca, New York.
1978a "Epidemiology of Spirit Possession Among the
Luvale of Zambia," in J. Hoch-Smoth and A.
Spring, eds., Women in Ritual and Symbolic
Roles, New York: Plenum pp. 165-190.
1978b "A Population 'Crisis' Comes to Zambia, or Dr.
Malthus, I Presume," Society for Applied Anthro-
pology Annual Meeting, Merida, Mexico, April 6.
1980 "Traditional and Biomedical Health Care sys-
tems in Northwest Zambia" in P. Ulin and M.
Segal, eds., Traditional Health Care in Contemp-
ary Africa, Syracuse University Maxwell Series
1982 "Women and Men as Refugees: Differential As-
similation of Angolans in Zambia," in A. Hansen
and A. Oliver-Smith, eds., Involuntary Migration
and Resettlement: The Problems and Responses
of Dislocated Peoples, Boulder: Westview pp. 37-
Staudt, Kathleen
1976 "Women Farmers and Inequalities in Agriculture
Services," in A. Wipper, ed., Rural Women:Develop-
ment or Underdevelopment, Rural Africana, No.
29, pp. 81-94.
Stichter, Sharon
1975-76 "Women and the Labor Force in Kenya 1895-
1964," in A. Wipper, ed., Rural Women: Develop-
ment or Underdevelopment, Rural Africana, No.
29, pp. 45-67.

Spring & Hansen: The Underside of Development

Storgaard, Birgit
1975-76 "Women in Ujamaa villages," in A. Wipper, ed.,
Rural Women: Development or Underdevelop-
ment, Rural Africana, No. 29, pp. 135-55.
Trapnell, C.G. and J.N. Clothier
1957 The Soils, Vegetation and Agricultural Systems
of North-Western Rhodesia, Lusaka: Govern-
ment Printing Office.
White, C.M.N.
1959 A Preliminary Study of Luvale Rural Economy,
Rhodes-Livingstone Paper, No. 29.
Wipper, Audrey, ed.
1975-76 Rural Women: Development or Underdevelop-
ment, Rural Africana, No. 29.
Young, Sherylynn
1977 "Fertility and Famine: Women's Agricultural
History in Southern Mozambique," in Robin
Palmer and Neil Parsons, eds., The Roots of
Rural Poverty in Central and Southern Africa,
London: Heinemann, pp. 66-81.

Sexual Division of Labor in African Societies:
Major Part in Cultivation by Men in Women
in 279 African Societies

Women Equal Men No Ag- Total

All Africa 126 73 71 9 279
Sub-Saharan Africa 124 59 41 8 232

Source: Goody and Buckley (1973)

Type of Agriculture and Sexual Division of Labor
in 270 African Societies

Intensive Extensive Total

Male labor
dominant 41 30 71
Labor equal 28 45 73
Female labor
dominant 25 101 126


Source: Goody and Buckley (1973)

Average Income from Crop Sales
for Luvale Men and Women in the 1950s

L. s. d.

L. s. d.

Cassava 1 12 8 1 9 9
Groundnuts 17 3 1 8 10
Other crops 7 0 7 0
Standing crops 12 3 4 0

392 397

Source: White (1959)

Book Reviews

Emmy B. Simmons, and Henry M. Hays, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press,

MILDRED A. KONAN is a Rural Sociologist and
Consultant in International Development who
specializes in translating research to facilitate its
use. Her work has appeared in several popular
magazines, including "Americas" and
"Horticulture", and in brochures and educational
film strips. Konan is currently working with the Africa
Bureau, Agency for International Development.

What is the best way to increase agricul-
tural production in Africa? How can we ensure
that farmers will adopt new technologies and
participate in the changes that ensue?
Farming Systems in the Nigerian Savanna
does not attempt grandiose answers to such
questions. Rather, it shows how answers can
evolve from research that starts with the
farmers themselves. This approach is now
labelled farming systems research (FSR) or
the farming systems approach to research
The authors and their colleagues conducted
research in several villages of northern
Nigeria over a period of eleven years. The book
is a scholarly presentation of their efforts.
Numerous citations to relevant literature help
place their work within the context of
agricultural research in general and
agricultural development in the Nigerian
savanna in particular.
Chapter I outlines the background and
rationale for farming systems research.
Included is the institutional history of the

authors' efforts to establish a viable socio-
economic research program in the Institute for
Agricultural Research at Ahmadu Bello
University in Nigeria.
Chapter II presents a detailed description of
the farming systems approach to research. By
focusing on farming households rather than
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
understand the goals and resources of each
member, including, of course, women.
Chapter III deals with the agroecology of the
Nigerian savanna. After briefly describing the
climate, soils and biological factors relating to
crop and animal physiology, diseases and
pests, the authors discuss strategies that
farmers use to minimize the adverse effects of
climate and soil. In the past, agricultural
researchers have devoted little attention to
such traditional practices.
Chapter IV describes the socioeconomic
organization of farming communities and
how some national and state efforts to
encourage development in northern Nigeria
have been received. Here, and in Chapter V,
which focuses on farming systems in three
villages, the authors provide extensive
information on daily life. The discussion
introduces numerous Hausa terms. In fact,
more than 30 different Hausa words are used
in both chapters. It's hard to keep track of the
meanings of all those terms. A glossary would

Konan: Book Review

Readers who are curious about women in
northern Nigeria will find much of interest.
Information about women is not segregated,
but sprinkled throughout and thoroughly
integrated into descriptions of social
organization. How appropriate! Since women
are kept in various degrees of seclusion and
generally do not farm, it might appear that
they need not be considered in the introduction
of farming changes. However, the authors
show otherwise. Women provide critical labor
in the harvesting ct certain crops, especially
cotton and peppers. Any decision to increase
the yields of these crops would run into trouble
if it failed to plan for seasonal labor from
Furthermore, if the concept of farm work is
expanded to include the processing of farm
commodities, women's role in farm decisions
is substantial. Food processing is generally
done by hand. Since mechanical grinding
requires cash, women may reject products that
cannot readily be processed by hand methods.
At the beginning of their research effort, the
authors calculated household incomes without
including women's earnings. Subsequent
studies clearly showed that women's incomes
are important and cannot be ignored. Women
carry on a wide variety of independent
economic activities which satisfy social as
well as economic needs. Their activities also
provide cash for personal needs and gifts for
children and trusted female friends.
Independent financial resources are clearly
important to women in northern Nigeria.
Chapter V is 71 pages in length. It also
includes analyses of crop production,
marketing, livestock and off-farm
employment in the three villages studied. In
the quest for food security, farming
households have adopted a strategy of risk
aversion. One clear implication is that agricul-
tural changes that require small adjustments
are more likely to succeed than those calling
for complete transformations.
Chapter VI enlarges the view of farming in

the Nigerian savanna by presenting empirical
evidence from village studies in the Sokoto
and Bauchi areas. Savanna farming systems
show many differences and one similarity:
they seldom make use of modern technologies.
Clearly, the authors believe that the farming
systems approach to research can help remedy
this situation. Researchers must first under-
stand how farmers work and what problems
they have before generating improved
technologies designed to modify work habits
and solve problems.
Chapter VII presents empirical results of
farming systems research to test improved
sorghum, maize, cowpea and cotton packages.
The authors share several important lessons
they have learned. Interdisciplinary coopera-
tion at the farm level is not easy but it
works as a means to obtain a much better
understanding of the interaction between
technical and human elements of the environ-
ment. This understanding makes it much
more likely that meaningful and useful results
will be generated by multidisciplinary teams
than by single-discipline approaches.
Chapter VII concludes with a discussion of
the role of the farming systems approach to
research in broader strategies for promoting
agricultural development. The authors
reassert their view that knowledge of what
farmers do can be valuable in establishing the
research priorities of technical.scientists and
in designing and implementing macro-level
strategies in agricultural devenjment.
Farming Systems in the Nigerian Savanna
is essentially an academic treatise a
comprehensive record in text and tables of
eleven years of research in northern Nigeria.
This research charted new territory in the
farming systems approach to research. The
authors share insights and lessons learned as
well as empirical findings. It's not easy to get
much by browsing through this text but
there's a wealth of detail and a well-
documented view of early experiences in the
farming systems approach to research.

Hamilton, Barry Popkin, and Deborah Spicer, New York: Bergin and
Garvey Publishers, Inc. 1984.

Meredith Smith

MEREDITH SMITH teaches International and
Community Nutrition at Kansas State University, has
conducted nutrition surveys in Haiti, the Dominican
Republic and Paraguay, and is currently working
with The Women and Development Project in
Paraguay. Smith is also beginning a new Nutrition
and Agriculture Project in the Dominican Republic
as part of her long-term association with Plan Sierra,
under the auspices of the Dominican Government.

Nutrition studies in third world countries
usually are directed at moderately or severely
malnourished infants, pre-school children,
school children, pregnant, or lactating
women. Less attention has been given to the
effects of chronic undernutrition on women's
economic and biological productivity. This
slim volume presents an excellent overview of
women's nutrition from a broader perspective
than just pregnancy or lactation. The
nutritional implications of the complex
interactions between women's biological and
socio-economic roles are examined. Planned
interventions which affect women's
nutritional status are analyzed. The policy
implications of poor nutritional status of
women are discussed with suggestions for
incorporating these concerns into programs
designed and for future research.
The review of women's nutrition is divided
into three chapters which discuss functional
consequences, variations, and determinants
of women's nutritional status. The discussion
of existing studies of the functional
consequences of women's nutrition in Chapter
2 is very good but knowledgeable readers may
be somewhat frustrated by the brief
summaries of these studies. Field research is
difficult at best. Research designs have to
accommodate existing constraints and
available resources. This makes it virtually
impossible to replicate previous studies and
may account for many of the inconsistencies
between studies. The authors have opted not to
analyze the methodologies of the reviewed

studies. This has resulted in a concise
discussion but few clues to the possible
reasons for reported differences. Some of the
studies, especially those relating to nutritional
supplementation, are discussed in greater
detail in the chapter on programs.
The brief discussion of patterns and
variations in nutritional status in Chapter 3 is
supplemented with several tables in the
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
seasonality effect on nutritional status, some
reference to the topic would be appropriate in
this chapter. Also missing in a discussion of
variation in nutritional status is the subject of
adaptation to low levels of intake, especially
Chapter 4 reviews social and economic
determinants of women's nutritional status.
There is some lack of congruence between this
discussion and the conceptual framework
(Figure 1 in the appendix) to which it refers.
The model, which includes factors that are
discussed in other chapters as well, is only
referred to in this chapter. The interaction of
biological, environmental, and socio-economic
factors with nutritional status makes it
difficult to design an adequate model of the
determinants of malnutrition. In designing
Figure 1, insufficient attention was paid to the
format of the book, which is quite logical. The
clarity of the nutritional status chapters would
have been greatly improved if the authors had
introduced their model in Chapter 1 and then
developed it further in Chapters 2, 3 and 4.
The effect of nutrition and health programs
on the nutritional status of women is well
covered in Chapter 6. The discussion of
development programs, especially agri-
culture, is less thorough. This reflects the
fact that, until recently, almost all nutrition
interventions were designed and implemented
within the health sector. The emphasis on
nutrition programs within the agriculture
sector is recent enough that the results of few
studies or programs have been reported.

Smith: Book Review

The final chapter, Policy Implications, is
designed to help planners incorporate
women's nutritional concerns into program
planning. It also identifies areas for future
research. Program planners will find some
useful suggestions. Unfortunately, macro-
level policy planners will not find a discussion
of the interactions and tradeoffs that become
important in developing national policy. For
example, what would be the long term impact
of improving the nutritional status of women
on population growth or economic
development? Valid research questions are
raised throughout the book and summarized in
this chapter. There is, however, no discussion
of possible indicators of change in the

nutritional status of women. Given the lack of
appropriate anthropometric, biochemical,
behavioral or dietary indicators, how do we
measure either the impact or response rate of a
program on women, especially undernour-
ished women?
This book, despite its limitations, should be
read by anyone planning nutrition programs
or research in third world countries. It
provides a very good introduction to the
subject. The tables in the appendix and the
bibliography are very useful. The authors are
to be commended for presenting a multi-
disciplinary approach to women's nutrition in
developing countries.


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 is currently Program Leader
of the Kansas State University Farming Systems
Support project.

The fall of 1984 was marked by increasing
farm foreclosures, rural bank failures and the
release of three movies that attempted to doc-
ument crises in American agriculture, past
and present. The three actresses in those
movies, Sally Field in Places in the Heart,
Jessica Lange in Country, and Sissy Spacek
in The River, all received Academy Award
nominations for best actress.
The phenomenon of farmers going out of
business is not new. The farm population has
decreased from over 30 percent of the U.S. pop-
ulation in 1920 to 15 percent in 1950 to 3 per-
cent in 1982. The decline was most dramatic
between 1950 and 1960, when the number of
persons living on farms declined from 23
million to 15.6 million. However, as that
decline occurred during a period of rapid

world economic expansion, declining farm
population and declining number of farms
were viewed as evidence of the superiority
of American economic and technological
strategies, not as major failures or in-
dicators of disaster. During the period of
severe economic distress of the 1930s, the farm
population actually increased slightly, as al-
ternatives were lacking in other parts of the
Mass culture did little to commemorate this
dramatic shift in rural life, even during the
early period of farm crisis. If we use nomina-
tions for academy awards as an indicator of
combined public and critical recognition of a
movie, and if we accept that the subjects of
movies are not random events, but indeed re-
flect those of the times, it is important to
note the lack of recognition of agriculture and
farm women in the movies and actresses nom-
inated since the Academy began recognizing
its own work. Among the best actress
nominees of the 1930s, only A Farmer's
Daughter harkened to the farm and her
agricultural activities were of little note. The
major movie documenting the upheavals in
agriculture of the 1930s, Grapes of Wrath,
was nominated for an academy award in 1940.
It did not receive a nomination for best actress,


although it did receive a nomination for best
supporting actress. The movie was made after
the public perception of crisis had passed.
The only other actress to receive an academy
award nomination for portraying a farm
woman was Cicily Tyson in Sounder in 1963.
(This is discounting Grace Kelly in Country
Girl a role that showed the farm as a place
one left, rather than glorified.) In Sounder,
the Black sharecropping family did not con-
front the crisis of low prices and high costs as
much as the passage to adulthood for a farm
boy and his dog in the racist rural South.
What are the implications of the growing
acknowledgement of the crisis in agricul-
ture and the important role of farm women in
confronting it? Has Hollywood seen the light
and determined to right the wrongs of past
neglect? Or are we seeing a coming together
of macro economic events with personal needs
that have facilitated the symbolic legitimation
of the farm crisis?
Film critic Pat Aufderheide states that these
three movies did not come about through the
usual Hollywood production process. Instead,
three excellent middle aged actresses were
searching for parts that were appropriate to
their talents and life cycle stage. Each woman,
apparently without any interaction with the
others, personally commissioned the script,
specifying a strong female part. By making
that part a farm woman, they were able to
show the maximum range of positive female
behavior loving (and sexy) wife, good
mother, concerned cook and provider,
business manager and productive worker. The
farm woman provides the ultimate in the
renaissance woman in a way a secretary,
reporter, missionary or prostitute cannot.
In all three movies the women with or
without their men confronted the risks
involved in agriculture that lend rural life to
drama. The risks are two-fold nature and
the economic system. In Places in the Heart
and Country, nature manifested itself as a
tornado, ripping apart all in its path and
threatening the life of loved ones for whom the
farm woman felt responsible. In The River,
perennial floods provided the same
confrontation with the elements. The roar of
water and wind against the darkening sky indi-
cates the raw power attacking the farm wom-
an's world. But in each case, she perseveres,
sheltering herself and loved ones from the
elements gone wild, digging them out and
saving their lives in the aftermath. Her loving
strength can confront nature and win. In these
cases, her man is with her (for Sally Field, a '

widow in Places in the Heart, she has two men
to make up for her dead husband, although
both, like her, share a social handicap as one is
black and the other blind). Her strength is
admired, not condemned.
The confrontation with the economic
structure, the risks made by human ingenuity
and profit seeking, are more baffling for the
farm woman and totally daunting for the men
involved. Mere strength and goodness, love
and fight, are not enough. Rapacious
middlemen (in The River coveting not only the
profit from the crop but the land and the farm
woman herself), weak-willed bankers
responding to bureaucratic pressures to
foreclose, low prices that vary according to the
whim of the buyer, all make clear that farming
is a lost cause. But the women will not give up.
Even, as in the case of Country, when theman
disintegrates when faced with the overwhelm-
ing odds of low crop prices, declining land
values, high financial exposure and the
inability to get short-term financing, the farm
woman hangs in there. She will bring in the
crop and save the farm. Critics, as pointed out
by Diane R. Margolis, are upset that in these
films the farm woman does not fall into the
arms of a man to solve the problems for her.
The farm woman's strength in confronting
socio-economic threat is less laudable than
standing firm against nature.
In each film the importance of rural
community is legitimized. The farm woman
does not solve the social or economic problem
by herself. Instead, her strength is greater
because she organizes. In each film, the farm
woman actively seeks out others like herself,
disadvantaged by the economic system that
seems about to devastate all she loves. Each
movie ends with a celebration of solidarity. In
Places in the Heart, that solidarity is
community solidarity. In the other two films,
class solidarity is affirmed.
It is that class solidarity manifested in The
River and Country that have led critics to
dismiss the films as unrealistic. Yet in many
other details the realism is strong. Bills for
consumption, like loans for production, must
be paid. Women's home industry does
contribute needed cash at crucial times. Farm
men, socialized to be non-verbal and to deal
with problems by either joking or violence, do
fall apart under stress. (The rather
unflattering portrayal of farm men, partic-
ularly Sam Shepard, the husband in Country,
seems very threatening to male critics. Urban
men can admit vulnerability when faced with
single parenting, but to be thwarted in the
male role of provider is unacceptable.)

Country, the least popular and most
criticized of the films, strikes Kansas farmers
as the most real. It is the most overtly populist
in ideology, with the actors shouting one-line
truisms that could have come directly from the
American Agricultural Movement. It also
most convincingly portrays family life. The
children are not cute (the baby, played by
scene-stealing twins, and carried by Lange
everywhere she goes, is the exception), and are
constantly fighting with each other. Cooking,
child care, and farmer organizing are all
combined in a wonderful scene all working
women can identify with in Jessica Lange's
kitchen. Chicken fries and the daughter looks
up numbers and dials while the mother, baby
on hip, phone under chin, stirs the gravy and
keeps the chaos liveable. The strain on the
marriage, the retreat to alcohol, the suicides
and child abuse presented in Country are all
being recognized in farm areas as direct
pathologies of the farm crisis.
For agriculture, the importance of these
films is not in their artistic merit, or even the
quality of the acting or plot. Instead, the public
recognition accorded these films allows the
farm crisis and the resulting financial and
social disasters stemming from it to be

changed from private problems to public
issues. The victim is no longer blamed. If
someone as handsome as Mel Gibson faces
foreclosure and forced sale, the problem has
got to be with structural factors, not the
individual. The films symbolically
acknowledge that farmers' economic decisions
that made sense in the 1970s were not
mistakes in judgement on their part. They
were decisions made by many rational people
using all the available evidence.
Seeing farming as a way of life, rather than
simply another way of making a living, is also
legitimate. The films can correctly be accused
of rampant rural romanticism. The farm
women refuse to view land as a commodity.
Instead, it represents their independence and
their familyness. It will be interesting to track
how that romanticism and the legitimation of
the farm crisis that it represents will be played
out in policy during the formation of the 1985
farm bill. As a good women's film should do,
these films have demonstrated that the
personal is indeed political.

Margolis, Diane R. "Country" At The Cinema
SWSNetwork, Vol. II, No. 1, January, 1985:15-

Books Received

Meeting the Expectations of the Land: Essays
in Sustainable Agriculture and Stewardship.
Editors: Jackson, Wes
Berry, Wendell
Colman, Bruce
North Point Press: Berkeley, 1985;

The Staffs of Life.
Kahn, E.J. Jr.
Little, Brown & Co.: Boston, 1985.

Rural Development and Human Fertility.
Editors: Schutjer, Wayne A.
Stokes, C. Shannon
Macmillan: New York, 1985.

The Causes of Hunger
Editor: Byron, William
Paulist Press: Ramsey, N.J., 1982.

Soil Mechanics.
Jumikis, Alfreds R.
Robert E. Krieger Publishing Co.:
Malabar, Florida 1984.

Bread for the World
Simon, Arthur
Paulist Press: Ramsey, N.J., 1975, rev. ed.

Transforming Traditionally. Land andcLabor
Use in Agriculture in Asia and Africa.
Nair, Kusum
The Riverdale Co.: Riverdale, Maryland,

In The Field

Roger Paden

ROGER PADEN currently holds a Post Doctoral Fel-
lowship in the Center for Applied Philosophy and
Ethics in the Professions, University of Florida.
His publications in such journals as PHILOSOPHY
reflect his work in the philosophy of science
and social criticism. His recent research has been

in the area of the

Although the spectacular growth of women's
studies during the 1970s has been widely
recognized, many still think of this discipline
as somewhat ingrown, inbred and, most
importantly, irrelevant to other intel-
lectual pursuits. Nothing could be further from
the truth. Despite a tendency to be "ghetto-
ized" in specialized departments and
journals, the work produced by feminist
scholars is both of high quality and of great
interest to scholars in other disciplines. This is
especially true of the areas of rural sociology,
anthropology, and developmental economics.
Although good work is being published in
feminist journals in these areas, it is often
overlooked by writers unfamiliar with these
journals. In order to help make this rich
resource more available to the members of the
agricultural community, we offer several short
descriptions of some of the best "women's
studies" journals.
Signs is perhaps one of the most respected of
these journals. Now in its tenth year, Signs
describes itself as a "journal of women in
culture and society." It is a multi-disciplin-
ary journal offering articles in sociology,
psychology, philosophy, and politics. In 1981
it published a special issue on "Development
and the Sexual Division of Labor," which
provides a good introduction to the kinds of
articles of interest to the agricultural
community which Signs publishes. The
following articles appeared in that issue,
"Accumulation, Reproduction, and Women's
Role in Economic Development: Boserup

philosophy of the human

Revisited," "Women in Rural Production and
Reproduction: Socialist Development
Experiences," and, a review article, 'The
Domestication of Women: Discrimination in
Developing Societies." All these articles are
well written and researched. They are also
very scholarly and could serve as guidelines
for further research. Articles in the current
volume address such issues as the status of
women in rural Tunisia, and the role of women
in rural labor in Taiwan.
Signs also publishes articles that are not
directly concerned with agriculture. Recently
it has published special issues on "Women and
Religion" and "French Feminist Theory."
Articles on the psychology of women and
feminist political analysis are also common.
Despite the wide range of articles, they are all
of uniform high quality and never fail to be
A different type of journal is the Women's
Studies International Forum. This is a multi-
disciplinary journal for the rapid publication
of research and review articles in women's
studies. As such it serves as a good guide to
current writing in the field. Perhaps the most
interesting feature of Women's Studies Inter-
national Forum is its large and comprehensive
book review section. Most high quality books
on the role of women in society are reviewedin
these pages sooner or later usually sooner.
Moreover, although often preliminary, they are
solid work. Again, much of the work published
here should be of interest to the agricultural
community. In just one recent issue (vol. 6, no.

1 1 I I II

1), there were several such articles; on the
effects of land reform in China on women, on
the role of Asian women in national develop-
ment, and on women in the "Arab world."
Moreover, unlike Signs, which seems to focus
on international issues, Women's Studies
International forum publishes many articles
on the role of women in America, e.g., on the
mobilization of women during World War II.
On another front, WINNEWS (for Women's
International Network), is a non-academic
newsletter, containing "all the news that's fit
to print by, for and about women." WINNEWS
consists of short bulletins grouped into
standard sections. One such section is titled
"Women and Development." Other sections
contain news on women from around the
world organized by continent. Most of the
articles have already appeared in other
journals or newspapers. WIN NEWS gathers
these together into the kind of neat package
which makes research in these areas quite
Women's studies journals should be used as
a source of information and ideas by all
members of the agricultural community.
Moreover, they can provide a larger audience
for some of the work done by this community.
Reading these journals and publishing in
them will not only benefit the individual
agricultural researcher, but will help build a
larger community of interest that will help
both fields avoid academic isolation.

The journals discussed above should be
available in most university libraries. If they
are not, or if a subscription is desired, the
editors can be contacted at the following

Signs, Barbara Gelpi, ed., Center for Research
on Women, Serra House, Stanford University,
Stanford, CA. 94305.

-Women's Studies International Forum, Dale
Spender, ed. Rossetti House, Flood Street,
Longon, SW3 5TF, UK

WIN NEWS, 187 Grant St., Lexington, Mass.

Other journals of interest:
FS, Feminist Studies, c/o Women's Studies
Program, University of Maryland, College
Park, MD 20742.

International Journal of Women' Studies,
Eden Press, PO Box 51, St. Albans, VT 05478.

Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, Plenum
Publishers, 233 Spring Street, New York, NY

The Women's Review of Books, Wellesley
College, Center for Research on Women,
Wellesley, MA 02181.

ILEIERS -continued from page 76.

Values. Being an Extension Agronomist, the
title caught my eye immediately and I
proceeded to sit down and read the three
journals that the library had available. I
found them to be of great interest and would
certainly appreciate receiving the previous
journals as well as being placed on the mailing
list for future volumes.

Steven C. Fransen
Extension Agronomist
Cooperative Extension of Washington State
Western Washington Research and Extension
Puyallup, Washington

Let me add my voice to those who have praised
and welcomed Agriculture and Human
Values. It is truly a piece for our times. I am
pleased to read of continued funding through
1985. Please keep us on your mailing list. I
have an article in mind for the fall issue. Hope
the business of farming will allow me to get it
to you.

Jay Adams
Executive Director
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardners
Augusta, Maine

I I I '

Letters to the Editor

I just received the Fall 1984 Agriculture and
Human Values and realized that I have been
derelict in commenting on the usefulness of
this publication. The history and practice of
landscape architecture has been inextricably
intertwined with agricultural philosophies,
practices, and values, and I have found AHV a
marvelous resource over its short life.

Thank you again for your efforts with the

Herrick H. Smith, FASLA
Landscape Architecture
University of Florida

I was impressed by the article in Agriculture
and Human Values by Jan Wojcik, "The
American Wisdom Literature of Farming." It
is useful to do what this article does; show that
the merit of small, family farm agriculture vs.
large-scale corporate farming is thousands of
years old. Personally, I stand with the old
concept of the sturdy yeoman farmer and
believe that agribusiness has subtracted
something we needed to make representative
government work well. Among other reasons
this helps account for why the American
people can be lured into voting for Reagan.

John Mahon
Gainesville, Florida

There will be a new course being taught at
Concordia beginning next fall entitled
"Principia." For this course I wish to use a
section of the journal Agriculture and Human
Values, "The American Wisdom Literature of
Farming" by Jan Wojcik. I would need to
reproduce this section for approximately 700
students who will be taking this freshman
Could you please let me know the procedure
for reproducing this section of the journal and
the cost, if there would be any?
Thank you for your consideration in this

L. Shannon Jung
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Department of Religion
Concordia College
Moorhead, Minnesota

Dear Professor Jung

It is our policy to give permission for
duplicating materials published in
Agriculture and Human Values if the use
is for educational purposes. We require
written notice of purpose and number of
copies to be made. You are also advised to
request permission from the author, Jan

I was recently placed on the mailing list for
Agriculture and Human Values, and just
received my first issue (vol. 1, no. 4). It was
outstanding a real breath of fresh air and a
much needed contribution which will
hopefully make us agriculturalists look
beyond our blinders. My only concern is that I
missed the first three issues! Any possibility of
receiving a copy of each of these three issues.
Thanks for your consideration and keep up
the good work.

Sam M. Cordes
Associate Professor of Agricultural
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park

Dear Professor Cordes,
We are sending under separate cover nos.
1 and 3. No. 2 is out of stock, but we can
send you a xerox copy at cost.


I would like to receive your newsletter
Agriculture and Human Values. We now have
a course on ethics and agriculture and this
journal looks as if it would be useful. I would
appreciate receiving it regularly.

Hugh Lehman
Department of Philosophy
University of Guelph

I was recently at our main campus of
Washington State University in Pullman and
spent a considerable time in the Sciences
Library. I happened to come across a new
publication entitled Agriculture and Human
continued on page 75

Published four times a year by the Humanities
and Agriculture Program, Center for Applied
Philosophy and Ethics in the Professions at the
University of Florida:

Robert Baum
Richard Haynes
Ray Lanier

The Humanities and Agricultural Program is joint-
ly supported by the College of Liberal Arts and
Sciences, Charles F. Sidman, Dean; and the Institute
for Food and Agricultural Sciences, Ken Tefertiller,
Vice President for Agricultural Affairs, and Gerald
Zachariah, Dean for Resident Instruction, College
of Agriculture.

Agriculture and Human Values is published under
a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to facilitate
a greater integration of the agricultural and liberal
arts disciplines. While duplication of materials for
educational purposes is encouraged, permission must
be obtained from the author, and written notice of
purpose and number of copies to be made must be
given to the Editor.

During the second year, 5,000 copies of Agricul-
ture and Human Values will be distributed quarterly
free of cost to individuals and institutions. Requests
should be addressed to the Managing Editor. Xerox
copies of out-of-stock back issues may be obtained at
cost plus postage.

Advertising rate:
$100 full page / $60 half page.

Agriculture and Human Values is an interdisciplin-
ary journal for educators, researchers, policy makers,
and research managers who have an interest in under-
standing the implications of alternative agricultural
policies and practices and for creating educational and
scholarly junctures between liberal arts and agricul-
tural disciplines. Contributions on a broad range of
topics relating to the main newsletter theme are
welcome. They should be addressed to a general aca-
demic readership while maintaining high standards of
scholarship. Manuscripts should be submitted in trip-
licate. Those with publication potential will be re-
viewed by at least two referees in the author's spec-
ilaization or in related disciplines.

Articles should be double-spaced on standard bond,
free of technical language, and prepared according to
the Chicago Manual of Style, 13th ed. (University of
Chicago Press). Endnotes and bibliogrpahical entries
should include full names of authors and editors. The
following form should be used:

Hall, Robert T., "Emile Durkheim on Business and
Professional Ethics." Business and Professional
Ethics Journal. 2 (Fall 1982) 51-60.

Jones, Bryan. The Farming Game. Lincoln: Univer-
sity of Nebraska Press, 1982.

Unnecessary documentation is discouraged. End-
notes should be used primarily for suggestions
about additional reading. Submissions are subject
to editing. A brief resume should accompany each

Announcements, reports of conferences, descrip-
tions of programs or courses, bibliographies or lists
of bibliographical sources are welcome. Reviews of
books of general interest to the readership are en-
couraged. Course descriptions, syllabi, and reading
lists should be informative, but not unnecessarily
lengthy. Letters or discussions of previously pub-
lished material should be limited to 10 double-spaced
typewritten pages.

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