American Agriculture in the Twentieth Century: How It by Bruce L. Gardner

By Bruce L. Gardner

American agriculture within the 20th century has given the area certainly one of its nice good fortune 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 drawback of the Nineteen Eighties to cutting-edge issues approximately low crop costs and the influence of biotechnology. U.S. farming over the last century, Bruce Gardner searches out causes for either the impressive development and the power social difficulties that experience marked the background of yank agriculture. Gardner records either the industrial problems that experience faced farmers and the technological and monetary changes that experience lifted them from relative poverty to financial parity with the nonfarm inhabitants. He presents an in depth research of the motives of those traits, with emphasis at the position of presidency motion. He stories how commodity aid courses, pushed by way of interest-group politics, have spent 1000s of billions of bucks to little function. still, Gardner concludes that via reconciling competing fiscal pursuits whereas fostering productiveness development and monetary integration of the farm and nonfarm economies, the general twentieth-century position of presidency in American agriculture within reason considered as a triumph of democracy. (20030101)

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The decline in price (adjusted for inflation) is an indicator of capital used up, and this plus the cost of funds tied up in the equipment constitutes the relevant economic content of the rental price of capital. The practical problem—obtaining appropriate depreciation measures from used equipment markets—remains. The most carefully and fully developed information available at present is that made available by Timothy Cross and Gregory Perry (1995) for tractors, plows, certain planters, com- 42 42 American Agriculture bines, balers, and other harvesting and cultivating equipment.

Biotechnology has also created new problems, however, two of the most notable being consumer resistance to the products (without apparent foundation, but nonetheless the consumer must be obeyed—or the producer loses a market) and the enforcement of property rights in the products (if farmers reproduce the seeds rather than buying them anew each year, the seed producer loses a market). A feasible technological solution to this latter problem exists and has been implemented for some seeds, namely a “killer gene” that makes the seeds of genetically engineered crops sterile.

Rapid expansion in the use of inorganic nitrogen fertilizer in the 1950s and 1960s was not so much a matter of a new, improved input as a large reduction in the cost of manufacturing an old one. The development of economical processes for making NH4 (ammonia) from natural gas caused the price of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer to fall by about one-half in nominal terms between 1960 and 1970, and fertilizer prices generally declined in real terms throughout the post–World War II period until the energy crisis of the mid-1970s.

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