Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview

peasants were eventually driven into the collective farmers since they could not fulfill the delivery requirements.

In 1949, the drive for collectivization began in earnest. The scant agricultural machinery in possession of the peasants was confiscated, Small rural credit institutions were nationalized and closed down. Mills and oil presses also became state property. Monetary "reform," introduced in 1950, confiscated the savings of peasant families. In spite of all the pressure, only 2.5 percent of the lands were in the hands of collective farmers by 1950. By 1957, however, 13,065 collective farmers existed. Surprisingly, they controlled only about 25 percent of the arable lands. By 1960, however, about 80 percent of the lands were cultivated by collective farms. In 1962, the government announced that the goal of collectivization had been achieved and that 96.5 percent of the lands were now worked collectively.

But collectivization by itself did not help the Romanian economy. Although about one-third of the working population was still engaged in agricultural production, they produced only 14 percent of the national income. The peasants hated the collectives, they considered the loss of their implements and animals to the state as robbery, and they worked as little as possible. In addition, the state levied heavy taxes even on the collective farms, syphoning off the resources for the benefit of industries.

Since the peasants hated the collectives so much, the government tried to assuage their hostility by establishing several types of collective farms. The state-owned collectives were usually large and were directly administered by the ministry of agriculture. They were, on the whole, better supplied with instruments than other collectives. But most of these farms were located in hilly regions, and their aggregate size came to about 5 percent of the arable lands. Most of them were farmed extensively, producing bread grains. During the 1970s and 1980s, there was a constant drive to turn collectives into state farms. But the numbers of these farms increased slowly, and they did not affect production volumes in a major way.

In 1970, a new law on agriculture was passed. Collective farm members were permitted to have small private plots. They were allowed to sell their produce from these plots on the open market. Even this did not solve the problem of the food supply. In 1981, agricultural councils were created in order to control land in parcels of 20,000 acres each. In the next year, investments in agriculture were increased. The International Monetary Fund helped out with a $75 million loan for agricultural machinery, and the following year another loan in the amount of $80 million was issued for the development of Romanian animal husbandry. All this was to no avail. The interests and needs of individual peasant families continued to be neglected. By the early 1980s, the collective farms were worked mostly by old men and women, under such conditions that even increased mechanization would have been ineffective.


Bibliography

Crowther William E., The Political Economy of Romanian Socialism ( New York, 1988); Montias John M., Economic Development in Communist Romania ( Cambridge, MA, 1967); Shafir Michael, Romania: Politics, Economics and Society ( Boulder, CO, 1985); StahlHenry,

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