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The Cost of Being Faithful: What do Farmers Give Up to Keep the Sabbath? – Rosburg, Griffin, and Coffey

FAITH & ECONOMICS
NUMBER 73, SPRING 2019

The Cost of Being Faithful: What do Farmers Give Up to Keep the Sabbath?

Britney Rosburg, Terry W. Griffin, and Brian Coffey
Kansas State University

Abstract: Judeo-Christian beliefs and tradition include observing a Sabbath, or day of rest, by abstaining from work one day each week. In modern times, followers of the Jewish faith mark the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening and Christians do so on Sunday. For both groups, this practice is firmly entrenched to the point that many contend that working on Sunday is morally wrong. For many Christian workers in the United States, this practice often fits with their work schedule as Saturday and Sunday are typical days off doe many schools, government organizations, and businesses. There are exceptions to this and farmers are one of the most obvious. The demands of managing a farm do not conform to uniform weekly work schedules. To meet labor requirements, many Americans family farms rely upon unpaid family labor to perform tasks such as conducting field operations. Reliance on unpaid labor is becoming more prevalent due to lack of available laborers in many locations in the United States. A whole-farm linear programming model was parameterized as a limited resource Midwestern USA crop-producing farm. Model results estimate the costs of shutting down farm operations for differing levels of Sabbath observation across peak and non-peak seasonal time periods. Results indicate substantial costs are likely to occur, indicating that Sabbath-observing farm operators must perceive at least a base level of perceived benefits. These results are of interest to multi-generational farms attempting to balance work-life issues, researchers evaluating economics of religion, and rural development labor economists studying impacts of decaying populations on rural communities.

Key Words: whole-farm planning; limited resource farms; labor; religion; network; community

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