Every Farm a Factory


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The Industrial Ideal in American Agriculture

Deborah Fitzgerald

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During the early decades of the twentieth century, agricultural practice in America was transformed from a pre-industrial to an industrial activity. In this book Deborah Fitzgerald argues that farms became modernized in the 1920s because they adopted not only new machinery but also the financial, cultural, and ideological apparatus of industrialism.

Fitzgerald examines how bankers and emerging professionals in engineering and economics pushed for systematic, businesslike farming. She discusses how factory practices served as a template for the creation across the country of industrial or corporate farms. She looks at how farming was affected by this revolution and concludes by following several agricultural enthusiasts to the Soviet Union, where the lessons of industrial farming were studied.

Deborah Fitzgerald is associate professor in the Program in Science, Technology and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Deborah Fitzgerald identifies the origins of industrial agriculture in the modernizing ideas of engineers and economists and follows its rise into the wheat fields of Montana. Every Farm a Factory is a significant, eye-opening book because it reveals the assumptions underlying a system of agriculture that has never served the best interests of farmers or farmland but that has always been presented to the public as necessary and inevitable.”—Steven Stoll, Yale University

“This exceptional book has broad appeal, and anyone interested in twentieth-century industrialization should read it.”—Mark Fiege, American Historical Review

“[Fitzgerald] has provided new details in a well-written narrative that clarifies our understanding of the major developments in American agriculture between the First World War and the Great Depression. Anyone interested in the history of American agriculture, broadly conceived, will find this study useful and informative.”—R. Douglas Hurt, Business History Review

“Deborah Fitzgerald’s well-written new work on the industrialization of agriculture is a valuable contribution to the sociology of agriculture, work and occupations, and science and technology. . . . An important contribution to understanding the broad logic of industrialization that swept over the United States in the Progressive Era and the New Deal.”—Kevin Wehr, Contemporary Sociology

“A worthy illustration of the penetration of rural America by the industrial sector. . . . an important contribution to the literature.”—Karen Jones, Economic History Society

"In well-crafted, engaging chapters, Fitzgerald fortifies her argument. . . . Every Farm a Factory warrants our attention. Fitzgerald provides a compelling story, one that helps us understand the current state of American agriculture."—Kimberly K. Porter, Great Plains Research

“Built on a broad array of secondary and primary sources, her argument about the origins and development of industrial agriculture is compelling. . . . I highly recommend this book to anyone attempting to understand the roots of twenty-first-century agriculture.”—Carl E. Kramer, Indiana Magazine of History

“This is a compelling story told in the words of those who shaped today’s agricultural system. This story is critical to understanding current debates over federal farm policies, biotechnology, and conventional, sustainable, and organic farming.”—Lorraine Garkovich, Journal of American History

“An important addition to the literature.”—Mark Friedberger, The Annals of Iowa

'...interesting and important... Fitzgerald's book provides a vivid and valuable account of the "how" of agricultural industrialisation...' - Jonathan Harwood, British Journal for the History of Science

"Provides a vivid and valuable account of the 'how' of agricultural industrialization."—Jonathan Harwood, British Journal for the History of Science

Winner of the 2003 Saloutos Award for the best book on American agricultural history given by the Agricultural History Society
ISBN: 9780300111286
Publication Date: February 26, 2010
256 pages, 6 x 9