Business: Rural Luddites

Opposing farm mechanization

The 19th century English Luddites smashed machines in a doomed effort to preserve the jobs of textile workers. California Rural Legal Assistance, a federally subsidized antipoverty group, does not go quite that far. But last week it filed suit in a state court in Oakland seeking to enjoin the University of California from using state money to develop farm machines. The C.R.L.A. charges that the introduction of more modern mechanical tomato, grape and lettuce pickers will primarily benefit large growers and will cost 120,000 California farm laborers their jobs.

No question about it: the mechanization of farming does leave less...

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