Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
as employer of labor is minor relative to his other functions” (518). In the U.S. Census a farmer is called an
“operator.” An operator is “a person [who] operates a farm/ranch, either doing the work or making day-to-day
decisions about such items as planting, harvesting, feeding, and marketing. The operator may be the owner, a
member of the owner's household, a salaried manager, or a tenant.” See U.S. department of Commerce, Bureau
of the Census (1999), 1997 Census of Agriculture, Vol. 3: Agricultural Economics and Land Ownership Survey
(AELOS) (1999), Appendix A, p. 3.
2. In the United States, 1997 is the most recent census year, while in Canada the most recent census year is 1996.
3. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, (1999), Table 47, p. 63. The most recent agricultural
census available is 1997. The census definition of a farm is “any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural
products were produced and sold or normally would have been sold during the census year.” The U.S. Census uses
the following categories: (a) individual or family, (b) partnership, (c) corporation (family held or nonfamily held),
and (d) other (trusts, municipalities, and so on).
4. U.S. Department of Agriculture (1920), Table 229, p. 701. In 1860 there were just over 2 million farms in the
United States comprising about 400 million acres (less than half the current farm acreage). Not until 1950 did
tractors outnumber draft horses and mules on U.S. farms.
5. U.S. Bureau of the Census Department of Commerce, (1976), Part 1, pp. 457-62 and U.S. Department of
Agriculture, Agricultural Statistics (1994), Table 536 p. 330.
6. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of the Census (1999), Table 13, p. 22.
7. This underestimates the change, of course, given the changes in quality of fertilizers over time.
8. See Kislev and Peterson (1982) for an analysis of the economics of farm technology.
9. See table 2.3. In both states, farms tend to be larger in the western counties where the land is less valuable. Since
1986, the year for our Great Plains data, average farm size in the United States has increased by about 10 percent.
10. All figures from U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Table 9.
11. This information is not available for British Columbia.
12. Smith (1776), Book 3, Chapter 2.
13. As noted at the beginning of this chapter, farmers are defined as individuals with control over production,
and who make farming decisions over several margins. Still, at some level these distinctions become blurry. For
instance, Alston and Higgs (1982) made a distinction between “sharecroppers” and “share tenants.” Croppers are
farm laborers without capital who are paid with a share of the crop. Tenants are farmers who own capital and lease
land by paying a share of the crop. By their definition, we consider only share tenants. As we show in chapter 9,
true farmers tend not to be hired on a fixed wage basis because of the severe incentive problems that would arise
if the farmer's wealth did not depend directly on the value of the harvested crop. Having said all this, is a custom
harvester hired on a wage basis a farmer? Probably, but for the our purposes we will call him a hired worker.
14. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Chapter 1, Table 16, p. 24.
15. The idea that share contracts are a primitive form of organization in agriculture is found in Bardhan and
Srinivasan (1971), Deininger and Feder (2001), Eswaran and Kotwal (1985), Newberry and Stiglitz (1979), and
Otsuka and Hayami (1988). Eswaran and Kotwal argued: “As markets develop,...sharecropping will give way to
fixed rental contracts....Sharecropping would dominate when markets are either absent or undeveloped and the
class structure is polarized” (360). The conventional wisdom of the extinction of the cropshare contract probably
stems from Day (1967), who presented evidence from the Mississippi Delta cotton belt. Day's study was of
sharecroppers, along the lines of Alston and Higgs (1982), who owned little capital and lived on the landowner's
farm; they were ultimately replaced by seasonal wage laborers. Still, there is some evidence that the frequency of
cash renting is on the rise. In Iowa, Pieper and Harl (2000) find 48.8 percent of leased acres under cash renting in
1987, and 57.1 percent of acres under cash renting in 1997 (23, Table 5.1). They also find that nonresidents are
more likely to use cropshare contracts (26, table 5.10).
16. The Great Plains region extends from Texas to Montana and North Dakota and north into the Canadian provinces
of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
17. Only a small fraction of land contracts are combinations of cash and share arrangements. For example, the
aggregate U.S. data show just over 10 percent of all land lease contracts not categorized as cash or share because
Search WWH ::

Custom Search