Surveying queer farmers

How heteropatriarchy affects farm viability and farmer well-being in U.S. agriculture




Farm Viability, Farmer Well-being, Food Justice, Gender, Sexuality, Queer, LGBTQIA


Qualitative studies have begun demonstrating how heteropatriarchy negatively affects queer farmer well-being and farm viability. However, quantita­tive surveys of farmers rarely ask questions about gender identity and sexual orientation, precluding analyses that could connect farmers’ experiences to their queerness or to heteropatriarchy more broadly. In this article, we present data from one of the first surveys of U.S. queer farmers. This article inquires: (a) What barriers to farm viability and farmer well-being do queer farmers report? (b) How are these barriers related to or influenced by gender and sexuality? (c) How, if at all, do queer farmers mitigate heteropatriarchal barriers in farm­ing? We find that queer farmers explicitly attributed interpersonal areas of discrimination to their queer­ness—or rather, to heteropatriarchy—especially anticipated discrimination, social isola­tion, training opportunities and/or lack of skill, and family dynamics. We assert that farmers’ reported chal­lenges to farming success reflect areas of systemic heteropatriarchal oppression, especially in profita­bility, land access, health insurance, and affordable and/or available hous­ing. At the same time, queer farmers turn to each other for support in navi­gating the heteropatri­archal landscape of U.S. agri­culture. The top area that queer farmers found helpful for their success was LGBTQIA+ farm mentors or peers. Our findings indicate that het­eropatriarchy is a central force negatively affecting queer farmers’ well-being and farm viability. This research offers critical information for farmers, farming organi­zations, scholars, and policymakers to bolster farmers’ contributions to U.S. agriculture and gain a more holistic understanding of (in)equity in U.S. agriculture.


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Author Biographies

Michaela Hoffelmeyer, The Pennsylvania State University

Ph.D. candidate, Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education

Jaclyn Wypler, National Young Farmers Coalition

Farmer Mental Health Director

Isaac Sohn Leslie, University of Vermont

Extension Assistant Professor of Community Development



How to Cite

Hoffelmeyer, M., Wypler, J., & Leslie, I. (2023). Surveying queer farmers: How heteropatriarchy affects farm viability and farmer well-being in U.S. agriculture. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 12(3), 111–125.