The ideal of the family farm has been used to justify a myriad of federal farm legislation. Land grants, the distribution of irrigation water, land-grant college research and services, farm programs, and tax laws all have been affected. Yet, asserts the author, federal legislation and practices have had an institutional bias toward large-scale farms and agribusiness and have hastened the demise of family farms. Dr. Vogeler examines the struggle between land interests in the private and public sectors and finds that the myth of the family farm has been used to obscure the dominance of agribusiness and that the corporate penetration of agriculture has in turn contributed to the plight of migrant workers, the decline of small towns, and the economic difficulties of independent farmers. Dr. Vogeler also identifies the major shortcomings of agribusiness and federal land-related laws and programs; examines the regional impact of agribusiness and federal farm programs on rural areas; and considers the role of racial minorities and women in the development of agrarian capitalism. In conclusion, he offers a structural analysis that provides the means for progressive social change and states that the achievement of economic equality in rural America and the dismantling of the corporate control of agriculture can be realized through farmer-labor alliances.
Table of Contents
Also of Interest -- Introduction: The Myth of the Family Farm -- The Myth of the Family Farm -- What Is a Family Farm? Farm Definitions and Classifications -- Consequences of Federal Land and Water Policies: The Dominance of Agribusiness -- U.S. Land-Granting Policies -- Federal Water Legislation and Practices -- This Land Is Not Our Land: Who Owns Rural America? -- The Market Economy and Agribusiness -- The Myth of Large-Scale Efficiency -- The Business of Agribusiness -- Federal Subsidies to Agribusiness -- Tax-Loss Farming -- Federal Farm Programs -- The Land-Grant College System -- Rural Consequences of Agribusiness -- The Plight of Seasonal Farm Families -- The Decline of Agriculturally Dependent Small Towns -- Conclusion: Agrarian Democracy or Agrarian Capitalism? -- Farmers Challenge Agribusiness -- Where Have All the Family Farmers Gone? A Structural Analysis of U.S. Agriculture -- Appendix: Organizations Working for Progressive Rural Change
Ingolf Vogeler, associate professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has conducted field research and published extensively for ten years on the underdevelopment and cultural landscapes of U.S. rural areas. He coedited Dialectics of Third World Development and is series editor for Westview's Geographies of the United States series.