Surveying queer farmers
How heteropatriarchy affects farm viability and farmer well-being in U.S. agriculture
Keywords: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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Copyright (c) 2023 Michaela Hoffelmeyer, Jaclyn Wypler, Isaac Sohn Leslie
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