Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 219–240 | Cite as

The community effects of industrialized farming: Social science research and challenges to corporate farming laws

  • Linda LobaoEmail author
  • Curtis W. Stofferahn


Social scientists have a long history of concern with the effects of industrialized farming on communities. Recently, the topic has taken on new importance as corporate farming laws in a number of states are challenged by agribusiness interests. Defense of these laws often requires evidence from social science research that industrialized farming poses risks to communities. A problem is that no recent journal articles or books systematically assess the extent to which research to date provides evidence of these risks. This article addresses the gap in the literature. We evaluate studies investigating the effects of industrialized farming on community well-being from the 1930s to the present. Using a pool of 51 studies, we document the research designs employed, evaluate results as to whether adverse consequences were found, and delineate the aspects of community life that may be affected by industrialized farming. Of these studies, 57% found largely detrimental impacts, 25% were mixed, finding some detrimental impacts, and 18% found no detrimental impacts. Adverse impacts were found across an array of indicators measuring socioeconomic conditions, community social fabric, and environmental conditions. Few positive effects of industrialized farming were found across studies. The results demonstrate that public concern about industrialized farms is warranted. Scholars often debate whether research should be oriented around disciplines’ accumulated body of knowledge or, conversely, provide critical knowledge in the public interest. Social scientists’ long-term engagement in building the body of research on industrialized farming allows for accomplishment of both objectives.


Agriculture Corporate farming Corporate farm laws Community well-being Industrialized farming Communities 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rural Sociology Program, Department of Human and Community Resource DevelopmentThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA

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