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Farmer's Benevolent Trust: Law and Agricultural Cooperation in Industrial America, 1865-1945 (Studies in Legal History)by Victoria Saker Woeste
Synopses & Reviews
Americans have always regarded farming as a special calling, one imbued with the Jeffersonian values of individualism and self-sufficiency. As Victoria Saker Woeste demonstrates, farming's cultural image continued to shape Americans' expectations of rural society long after industrialization radically transformed the business of agriculture. Even as farmers enthusiastically embraced cooperative marketing to create unprecedented industry-wide monopolies and control prices, they claimed they were simply preserving their traditional place in society. In fact, the new legal form of cooperation far outpaced judicial and legislative developments at both the state and federal levels, resulting in a legal and political struggle to redefine the place of agriculture in the industrial market.
Woeste shows that farmers were adept at both borrowing such legal forms as the corporate trust for their own purposes and obtaining legislative recognition of the new cooperative style. In the process, however, the first rule of capitalism—every person for him- or herself—trumped the traditional principle of cooperation. After 1922, state and federal law wholly endorsed cooperation's new form. Indeed, says Woeste, because of its corporate roots, this model of cooperation fit so neatly with the regulatory paradigms of the first half of the twentieth century that it became an essential policy of the modern administrative state.
A comprehensive, historical case study of the complex problems that confronted and still confront American commercial agriculture.
Law and History Review The study is a valuable contribution to establishing agriculture as a realistic participant in a modernising economy.
Business History An excellent contribution to the study of the transformation of American agriculture during the first part of the twentieth century.
American Historical Review [S]hunning simplistic assumptions she exposes flaws in much theory-based history of agriculture•s place in the national market revolution.
Agricultural History Unsettles even the most sophisticated reader•s sentimental notions about traditional nineteenth-century farm cooperatives.
Journal of American History
Examines changes in the farming industry from 1865-1945, when industrialization radically transformed the business of agriculture. Uses the example of cooperative marketing to show how farmers used legal strategies to their own purposes.
About the Author
Victoria Saker Woeste is a research fellow at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago.
Table of Contents
Part I. Cooperation and Agriculture in American Culture, 1865-1910
1. The Farm Problem
2. From Agribusiness to Family Farms
Part II. The Legal Status of Cooperatives, 1865-1914
3. Voluntary Associations or Corporate Combinations?
4. A Growers' Trust
5. Cooperatives and Federal Law
Part III. The Benevolent Trust in Law and Policy, 1912-1928
6. A Ruthless Trust Monopoly
7. Busting the Raisin Trust?
8. Decline of the Benevolent Trust
Part IV. Cooperation in the Industrial Economy, 1920-1945
9. Associationalism and Regulation
10. From Administered Markets to Public Monopoly
Appendix. The Statistical Profile of Small Farms in California, 1850-1940
Sunkist advertisement, Ladies' Home Journal, February 1919
An early Fresno raisin packing plant, ca. 1890
Raisins drying in the sun, ca. 1900
Raisins drying in sweat boxes, 1940
Armenian immigrants harvesting wine grapes, ca. 1885
Formal portrait of M. Theo Kearney, 1903
Meeting of the California Raisin Growers Association, 1900
Kearney riding in chauffeur-driven limousine, Paris, 1904
James Madison and Wylie M. Giffen in the CARC offices, 1914
James Madison with "Sun-Maid girls," 1916
Early CARC advertisement for Sun-Maid Raisins, December 1915
CARC advertisement, Ladies' Home Journal, October 1917
California Associated Raisin Company brokers and salesmen, 1916
Women workers packing raisins in CARC plant, 1917
Growers signing contracts in CARC offices, 1917
Aerial view of Sun-Maid plant, Fresno, 1936
1. California agricultural production regions, 1909
2. Fresno County, California, ca. 1920
3. Agricultural colonies in Fresno County, ca. 1875
4. Sun-Maid plants, receiving stations, and unit divisions, 1923
A.1. Farm Size in Fruit-Growing and Nonfruit-Growing Counties in California, 1910
A.2. Farm Size in Fruit-Growing and Nonfruit-Growing Counties in California, 1920
A.3. Farm Size in Fruit-Growing and Nonfruit-Growing Counties in California, 1930
A.4. Farm Size in Fruit-Growing and Nonfruit-Growing Counties in California, 1940
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