Farms and Farmers in an Urban Age

Farms and Farmers in an Urban Age

Farms and Farmers in an Urban Age

Farms and Farmers in an Urban Age

Excerpt

American agriculture never had it so good -- but a lot of farmers were never so scared. The fast growing population in cities and suburbs is buying more than ever before and farmers are knocking each other out in a scramble for the market. In 1935 there were 6.8 million farms. Now there are less than 3.7 million. By 1980 there may be less than 1 million. As poorer farmers drop out of the race for survival their lands are consolidated by a smaller, abler group of operators who spend more money to buy more machinery to raise bigger crops. The fate of the displaced losers is for the congested city to worry about for that is where most of agriculture's cast-offs are going. The winners are taking the wide open country to themselves and are living higher on the hog.

Today the top 3 per cent of all farms produce more than the bottom 78 per cent. In between these extremes is a group of 19 per cent whose owners are in good shape. Farms of 1,000 acres and over possessed only 28 per cent of all agricultural land in 1930. By 1959 these big units, which were only 3.7 per cent of all farms, had acquired 49 per cent of all the land and their average size had reached 4,048 acres -- more than 6 square miles apiece. America's 100,000 top-drawer farms produce 31.5 per cent of all crops and livestock. In real estate alone these enterprises are worth, on the average, nearly a quarter of a million dollars each ($220,000) and the average annual value of their sales is $94,000.

At the other end of the production line there are 2.9 million farms which have an average annual value of sales of $3,000. The . . .

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