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Regulation and the Revolution in United States Farm Productivity

Regulation and the Revolution in United States Farm Productivity


Part of Studies in Economic History and Policy: USA in the Twentieth Century

  • Date Published: July 2002
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521528450

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About the Authors
  • Since the 1930s when the government began active regulation, US agriculture has undergone a revolution in productivity. Sally Clarke explains how government activity, from support for research to price supports and farm credit programs, created a climate favorable to rapid gains in productivity. Farmers in the Corn Belt delayed purchases of the tractor, the most important agricultural technology, despite the cost savings it promised. Tractor purchases required large sums of cash at a time when families faced unstable prices and unattractive credit markets. The New Deal inadvertently changed this investment climate. Regulation stabilized prices, introduced new sources of credit, and caused tool manufacturers and private creditors to revise their business strategies. Competitive farmers took advantage of these new conditions to invest in expensive technology and achieve new gains in productivity.

    • Author argues - against the prevailing conceptions of scholars, politicians, and the public - that government regulation actually promoted productivity in this sector of the economy
    • Offers a comprehensive analysis of the revolution in US farm productivity
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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2002
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521528450
    • length: 328 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • contains: 26 b/w illus. 45 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Regulation and Productivity:
    1. Introduction
    2. Agriculture and the organization of knowledge in the early twentieth century
    3. Accounting for the slow rate of productivity growth
    Part II. 'Power Farming' in the Corn Belt, 1920–40:
    4. The tractor factor
    5. Depressed markets and market regulation
    6. 'If you'll need a tractor in 1936 you ought to order it now'
    Part III. A Legacy for New Deal Regulation:
    7. Regulation, competition, and the revolution in farm productivity
    8. Conclusion
    Epilogue: The credit crisis of the 1980s
    Appendix A. The tractor's threshold, 1929
    Appendix B. The tractor's threshold, 1939
    Appendix C. Sources of preharvest and harvest labor productivity, 1929–39.

  • Author

    Sally H. Clarke, University of Texas, Austin

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