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The Exodus of Small Farmers. The history of farmers and the continuing affects of the displacement of small farmers. The Roots of the Present Crises.

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the exodus of small farmers

The Exodus of Small Farmers

The history of farmers and the continuing affects of the displacement of small farmers

the roots of the present crises
The Roots of the Present Crises
  • The People’s are an African American family of the late nineteenth century who attempted to make their way in farming after the Emancipation Proclamation. Due to unequal access to loans and the high cost of mules forcing them to sell their land as collateral in exchange for a team of mules is one example of a family who tried to continue family farming.
  • In 1920, there were one million African American farmers, now there are 18,000.
  • Poor whites, minorities, African Americans and Native Americans were share croppers or tenant farmers who farmed, but rarely become landowners. They are often the people with the knowledge of farming.
  • Today, due to the high cost of machinery and control on the farming industries by large industries, independent farmers who are capable and knowledgeable about farming are not able to farm independently.
timeline of changes in farming
Timeline of changes in farming

 *Post WW2-Soldiers came back from the war and instead of continuing to farm, they worked in factories and manufacturing jobs. The family farm was not used for sustenance any more, rather for means of profit.

-fertilizers and mechanization of cropping systems changed the rural economy.

*1960’s & 70’s-farmers were considered “cash poor but land rich.”

The government encouraged small farmers to cease producing food and grow pine trees, prices fell, making farm work difficult to make a living on and farmers began growing grass and pasturing a few cows. This resulted in farmers having to leave farming.

*Farm Crises-Began in 1980 and continues today.

Small farmers turning to poultry production.

The people that worked for the poultry industry were either un-employed farmers or un-skilled labor workers or migrant workers. Companies would manipulate them with low wages .

why did a switch from local to corporate farmers occur
Why did a switch from local to corporate farmers occur?
  • Depopulation of small farmers
  • High cost of farms and production is almost impossible to make a living off of for small, independent farmers. (Labor, machinery, land and interest).
  • The cost of a medium-sized dairy farm costs 500,000 dollars.
  • Federal government policy (NAFTA, “Soil Banks”)
  • Rise of agribusiness
  • Droughts and Floods
affects abroad
Affects Abroad

 *Often the migrant workers who come to the US have hopes of returning to their homeland to farm and live with their family. This is often not possible due to the loss of knowledge and power that they once had about their farmland in their homeland while they were in the United States.

*A tradition is also lost in their family-the tradition of farming. As small Mexican or Central American farmers come to farm in the US, they are unable to teach their children about farming.

*Vertical Integration-company owns all facets of production and sale of food.

-poultry, beef, dairy, fruits, vegetables and some organic foods

*Thompson makes the point: “Our system of agriculture is still fueled by the losses of the underprivileged as much as by the successes of the wealthiest landowners.

*NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) took away trade barriers. Small farmers and large private US farming interests were in competition.

*Contract farming-Farmers do not receive the profit and they are normally forced to stay with the company.

what can w e d o
What Can We Do?
  • “Structural changes in agriculture are much more difficult to attain than individual ones.”

-Charles D. Thompson Jr.

Layers of Loss