The Impact of the First World War on Agriculture. Agriculture during the Great War. Food became increasingly scarce and more expensive as the war progressed. Government promoted self-sufficiency by introducing measures to make more farmland arable.
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Food became increasingly scarce and more expensive as the war progressed. Government promoted self-sufficiency by introducing measures to make more farmland arable.
Attempts to grow more in Scotland not very successful as amount of suitable land was limited; many were hill farms. Only 5 out of 19 million acres were under crops.
Labour shortage as many had volunteered to fight in the war; more men in this industry than elsewhere. Number of farm workers dropped by 18,000 over the course of the war.
Main contribution from farming in Scotland was from sheep farming: wool and meat.
“The Defence of the Realm Act plus the inflation surrounding prices for agricultural goods does change agricultural practices and does change the Scottish landscape. It pushes more land into cultivation, into cereal cultivation, and one crop that really comes to the fore is oats, there’s a 25% increase in the acreage devoted to oats. Of course this is to feed the horses on which the British Army still relied.”
1920 Agricultural Act was introduced to maintain prices and production.
However, by 1921 this Act was abandoned because of the poor state of the economy causing hardship for many farm workers who lost jobs or had wages cut.