The population of women farm operators continues to increase in the U.S. That growth, however, is mediated by research showing that women in agriculture experience persistent barriers to equality with men. The Feminist Agriculture Food Theory (FAST) developed by Sach et al. (The Rise of Women Farmers and Sustainable Agriculture, University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, (Sachs et al., The rise of women farmers and sustainable agriculture, University of Iowa Press, 2016) posits that in the face of these barriers, women farmers in the Northeast are engaging in six strategies to increase their success. These include (1) increasing gender equality on their farms, (2) asserting an identity as a farmer, (3) gaining greater access to resources, (4) shaping new food and farming systems, (5) negotiating roles in agricultural organizations, and (6) forming women-centered farming organizations. While researchers have applied FAST to Michigan, it has not been examined at a national level. In this paper, then, we use the 2017 Census of Agriculture Data to measure how women in agriculture in the U.S. are faring on each aspect of FAST we can measure (strategies 1–5). We compare women to men farmers across these FAST strategies and across three different farm types: Non-Organic Non-Value-Added Farms, Organic Farms, and Value-Added Farms. Our findings suggest for FAST strategies 1 and 2 there is an increase in equity and ability to identify as a farmer for women on organic and value-added farms. However, our findings also suggest that for FAST strategies that require more institutional and structural resources (I.e. strategies 3–5), inequities persist across farm types.
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Census of agriculture
Community supported agriculture
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United Stated department of agriculture
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This work is supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant no. 2019-68006-29325/project accession no. 1018649 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. We would also like to acknowledge the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, with whom we worked to access Census of Agriculture micro-level data.
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Dentzman, K., Pilgeram, R. & Wilson, F. Applying the feminist agrifood systems theory (fast) to U.S. organic, value-added, and non-organic non-value-added farms. Agric Hum Values (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-023-10413-x
- Feminist agrifood systems theory: FAST
- Quantitative analysis
- U.S. census of agriculture
- Women in agriculture