"This Woman's Work" in a "Man's World": A Feminist Analysis of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002

Laws often have unintended consequences—consequences that even the most earnest policymakers fail to mull over. Such is the case with the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (hereinafter the 2002 Farm Bill), which, as discussed herein, has negative impacts on many of the world’s farmers. Many criticisms may be leveled at this law with their genesis across the broad spectrum of domestic political theory as well as international relations theory. Some may choose to focus on the disastrous depression of groundnut prices, a major cash crop of Western Africa, which forces Western Africans further into poverty. This argument would build upon post-colonial criticism, an increasingly more popular focus of critical theory. Others may focus on the impact that the 2002 Farm Bill has on domestic farmers, engaging in a ruralism dialogue. Furthermore some may stake a claim against the sugar subsidies of the 2002 Farm Bill because they negatively affect the Everglades, developing an environmentalist argument. Furthermore, a more traditional approach might be to critique the 2002 Farm Bill’s effects on the Brazilian economy. These criticisms, which are in my opinion valid, are well and good, but not enough has been said about the 2002 Farm Bill’s effect on womyn internationally. This paper will discuss the background of the 2002 Farm Bill and its origins in the Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (hereinafter the 1996 Farm Bill). Secondly, a basic discussion of feminist international relations and more generally, feminist legal theory will be invoked to provide a theoretical beacon for the rest of the journey. Thirdly, specific arguments about ecofeminsim and postcolonial feminism are teased out in order to critically investigate the direct and indirect consequences of United States farm policy. Fourthly, the 2002 Farm Bill’s disparate impact on international womyn will be discussed and theories about the need for critical investigation of international law from a feminist perspective will be developed. Next, the impending expiration of the 2002 Farm Bill and the possibilities and problems associated with the pending 2007 Farm Bill will be analyzed to provide a starting point for those interested in affecting agricultural policy and international trade, with emphasis paid to feminist theory. Lastly, the paper will conclude with recommendations for future inquiry and ways in which agricultural policy can be advanced while preserving the value of womyn’s work.


Issue Date:
2006
Publication Type:
Journal Article
DOI and Other Identifiers:
0195-7643 (Other)
PURL Identifier:
http://purl.umn.edu/37239
Page range:
709-739
Total Pages:
31
Note:
Published in Whittier Law Review, v.28, 2006

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