America's Class Divide Is Alive and Well on the Farm

Aug 5, 2016

Peanut farmer Gary Dawson fills a water tank just outside Hawkinsville, Ga. Dawson has reduced his permanent crew of workers from dozens in the 1970s to about nine today.
Credit Patrick Jonsson / Christian Science Monitor

In recent decades, a gulf has been widening across the US between the haves and have nots. And rural America certainly hasn’t been immune to the trend, notes The Christian Science Monitor.

In today’s America, a small minority of big farms are earning the majority of the profits. The widening chasm between family and corporate operations has led to a new class of “superfarmers.” Bigger machinery and improved soil-conditioning techniques have allowed farmers to work more land more efficiently.

The bigger the farm, the bigger its average profit margin.

But for those who haven’t shared in the farm boom, the disparity looks exactly like despair. As Jonathan Bryant, a history professor at Georgia Southern University, explains: “Those who have traditionally performed jobs on the farm are left out of any sort of share in the wealth that’s being produced.”