Ownership of the Land
No adequate analysis of the present use of land, or of past changes in use, is possible apart from knowledge of the ownership of it, whether public or private, resident or nonresident, operator or landlord, individual or corporation, commercial or noncommercial, in single or several tracts, in large holdings or small ones. But the data for such an analysis have never been assembled. What follows consists of scattering items of information pertaining to the subject, plus data from several area studies that may serve as samples.
All of the land in farms is owned by its resident operators except that which is rented. And New England has a smaller proportion of rented farms than has any other census division, 7.4 per cent in 1940 compared with 27.9 per cent for the East North Central states, and 42.4 per cent for the West North Central states. This proportion has changed little since the first census in 1880 reported 8.5 per cent of the land rented. In the same period, the percentages for the East and West North Central divisions had risen by 8 and 22 respectively by 1940. Vermont, the most agricultural of any New England state, had only 9.5 per cent of rented farms, which may properly be compared with 12.8 for New York and 16.0 for Pennsylvania.
One forms the general impression in many parts of New England that a good deal of pasture and hay land on farms in process of being "abandoned" is being rented by the neighbors. The 1940 census recorded only from 5 to 11 per cent of the owner farmers in the six states as following this practice. Most of this type of "renting" probably was not reported to the enumerators. The hay is commonly cut on shares or bought standing. Also much of the