While its been a period of time since my last entry as a guest blogger, Jim Chen's recent entry on Feminist Agricultural Law serves as a reminder of a related corollary. Specifically contrasting with the ongoing demise of traditional dominant farmers women are actively entering farming as independent owner operators. Yet whether as independent operators or as consumers women in agriculture remain primarily on the outside of mainstream legal investigations to the detriment of the nation's health.
A gendered perspective on food production is underscored when for example pesticide use in industrial agriculture is contemplated. Studies outside of legal academic investigations demonstrate that women take the brunt of the many toxic chemicals employed in conventional agriculture with the pact on their children obligating the further need of greater study. In contrast, formalistic investigations dominate studies on the regulatory state of farming leaving pesticide absorption rates for women and children on the margins of legal scrutiny.
Agricultural legal history moreover is dominated with well-defined gaps on the impact of gendered farming interests. Yet since the earlier colonial periods when female-farming interests confronted adverse federal hostility and arbitrary treatment of their independent operations. Further study of how they sought to defend their property moreover remains primarily lacking in formal legal studies.
Additional examples surface such as the active participation of women in the rural insurgency movements of the 1920s and 1930s that sought to protect independent owner operators. Yet once again rural women witnessed injurious treatment with consequences into the present. Until recently, the agricultural census for example failed to enumerate women operators in data sets thereby losing opportunities to assess gendered capital accumulation in the operation of their interests. Into the contemporary period women operators also continue to face inequities such as in accessing credit or failing to qualify for federal funds permitted dominant based agricultural interests in specialized programs notwithstanding their origins in the populism of the past.
Against the backdrop of inter alia increasing hunger levels, consumers seeking the specialized ethnic products that women produce, and the realm of food safety issues facing the nation from large scale food production, thereby renders imperative the above plea for gendered and feminist studies in law.