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Explaining the Uneven Penetration of Industrialization in the US Dairy Sector
Staff Paper Series No. 2, June 1998
by Douglas Jackson-Smith and Frederick Buttel

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One of the most dramatic trends in American farm-structural change over the past several decades has been the industrialization of livestock production. Many now expect that dairying in the United States will be the next major livestock sector to succumb to the industrialization trend. This paper utilizes a multidimensional definition of industrialization to critically examine evidence for and against the dairy industrialization hypothesis. The authors find that while there is a persistent trend toward larger units of production, and a geographical shift towards states with more industrial-like farm operations, the penetration of industrial relations of production has occurred more slowly and incompletely than many have assumed. The paper concludes by noting how unique characteristics of the dairy sector help explain the uneven character of the industrialization process in the United States.

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