The Emergence of Agricultural Regionalism
DURING THE HALF-CENTURY between the close of the War Between the States and the outbreak of the First World War American agriculture changed from an occupation that was still largely primitive in its technique and organization and to a considerable extent self-sufficing in its economy to a modernized business, mechanized, standardized, and commercialized.2 These changes, interrelated with those in other divisions of the national economy, made the farmer a direct participant in modern industrialism. Agriculture, like the nation, was coming of age. The modernizing of the basic interest was due to the same underlying influences that were leading to national consolidation and the emergence of the United States as a world power.
The period was marked by the occupation and utilization of the country's remaining land resources. In 1860 two-thirds of the public domain was still in the possession of the Government; by the first decade of the new century all of the cultivable and most of the grazing areas had passed to private ownership. Additional acres for farming were to be had only by costly irrigation and reclamation projects. The opening of Oklahoma to settlement in 1889 inspired the last great rush of homeseekers into an area relatively suitable for homesteading. From 1860 to 1910 the number of farms was tripled and the number of acres brought into cultivation was more than doubled.____________________