By Bruce L. Gardner
American agriculture within the 20th century has given the realm one among its nice luck tales, a paradigm of productiveness and many. but the tale has its darkish facet, from the plight of the Okies within the Thirties to the farm difficulty of the Eighties to modern matters approximately low crop costs and the effect of biotechnology. U.S. farming over the last century, Bruce Gardner searches out factors for either the amazing development and the continual social difficulties that experience marked the heritage of yankee agriculture. Gardner files either the commercial problems that experience faced farmers and the technological and fiscal ameliorations that experience lifted them from relative poverty to financial parity with the nonfarm inhabitants. He presents an in depth research of the factors of those tendencies, with emphasis at the function of presidency motion. He stories how commodity aid courses, pushed by means of interest-group politics, have spent hundreds and hundreds of billions of greenbacks to little objective. still, Gardner concludes that by way of reconciling competing fiscal pursuits whereas fostering productiveness development and financial integration of the farm and nonfarm economies, the final twentieth-century position of presidency in American agriculture within reason seen as a triumph of democracy. (20030101)
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Additional info for American Agriculture in the Twentieth Century: How It Flourished and What It Cost
The economic beneﬁt lies in the lower costs of producing agricultural output and the possibility of achieving a larger national income with given resources. Technological change also has social costs, which have caused some to question its overall beneﬁt, both to farmers and to society generally. Probably what swings the argument largely in its favor (expressed as public willingness to support and subsidize the development and dissemination of agricultural technology) is the belief that a growing population will, in the absence of technological progress, soon place intolerable pressure on the world’s farmland resources.
Economic conditions change, as when the demand for soybeans, and therefore its price, has risen relative to wheat. This creates a further difﬁculty in aggregating soybeans and wheat to obtain a crop-output index. Consider the facts about wheat and soybean output in 1940 and 1970. S. production ﬁgures are as follows:3 Million bushels Year Wheat Soybeans Total 1940 1970 % change 800 1,400 100 1,100 900 2,500 94 Consider just adding the bushels of wheat and soybeans. A consequence of our nation’s spirited resistance to the metric system is that one must ﬁrst take care to determine what a bushel is.
Agriculture remains much less productive than countries such as Japan. 8 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 Labor productivity. S. Department of Commerce (1975). United States as in New Zealand. S. grain and New Zealand is a low-cost exporter of dairy products. Something is going wrong analytically. Which indicator is the right one? The answer is that all partial productivity measures are wrong and are liable to mislead. The reason is easiest to see in the case of labor productivity. S. agricultural labor productivity index is plagued by a fundamental problem: it rose not only because of technical progress but also because of an increase in the quantity of other inputs per worker.