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Schewe study on family labour on New Zealand organic dairy farms published in Sociologia Ruralis

Dec 31, 2014

Rebecca Schewe

Rebecca Schewe

In contrast to arguments about the conventionalisation of organic agriculture, this study of organic dairy labour relations in New Zealand finds that many organic producers have reverted to a heavy reliance on family labour even while conventional New Zealand dairy farms are increasingly dependent on paid non-family and immigrant labour.

The author argues that a return to classic rural sociological literature on the persistence of family farming and the agrarian question explains this seeming anomaly, and that the narrative of conventionalisation oversimplifies the complexity of labour relations specifically and organic agricultural production more broadly. Labour relations in both conventional and organic agriculture are complex and contradictory, further demonstrating the importance of specificity and historicity in analysis of the organic agrifood system.