U.S. farming: 1920 and 1997
FARM SIZE (ACRES)
% OF U.S. POPULATION LIVING ON FARMS
almost none b
DRAFT HORSES & MULES
CORN YIELD (bushels/acre)
WHEAT YIELD (bushels/acre)
Sources: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. 1997 Census of Agriculture , United States Data, Chapter
1. Farms and farm size are in Table 1. Historical Highlights: 1997 and earlier census years, p. 10. The number
of tractors, grain combines and trucks are in Table 13. Selected Machinery and Equipment on Place: 1997 and
1992, p. 22. Corn and wheat yield are in Table 41. Specified Crops Harvested-Yield per acre Irrigated and Non-
irrigated: 1997, p. 38. The percent of Family farms is in Table 47. Summary by Type of Organization: 1997, p.
63. The farm population comes from USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. 1998 Agricultural Statistics .
Table 9-17. The Farm Entrepreneurial Population and Farm Operators and Managers, 1993-1995, pp. 9-12. The
U.S. population estimate comes from Population Estimates Program, Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau.
a Population for the year 1995.
b As of 1997 there are so few working animals on farms that the data is not collected in the Census of Agriculture.
c In 1960 there were over 1 million combines.
comprise less acreage but are more valuable per acre. In Louisiana crops such as cotton, rice,
and sugarcane dominate, although there are also substantial acreages of corn and soybeans.
Summary data for British Columbia farms are also shown in table 2.3. These farms tend to be
smaller than those on the Great Plains or American Corn Belt, because there are numerous
smaller farms specializing in fruit tree crops. Table 2.3 also shows summary statistics for
those farms selling over $100,000 worth of products each year, for the state of Louisiana,
Nebraska, and South Dakota. 11 These data are similar to the data from our farm surveys in
Ever since Adam Smith's writings in the eighteenth century, economists have studied the
choice among fixed rent (cash rent), fixed wage, and share (cropshare) contracts as possible
ways of combining land and labor through contracts. 12 In North America, however, the
relevant choice for combining land and farmers through contract is between cash rent and
cropshare. The fixed wage contract is not a contract between a farmer and a landowner.
Instead, it is a contract between a farmer and a relatively unskilled laborer for a specific