Chapter 8: A future for small farms
The small farmer is today an endangered species. In the industrialized countries of the global North, the number of farmers has been dwindling for generations. In the United States, for example, the total number of farms fell from 6.8 million in 1935 to fewer than two million today (Stam and Dixon 2004). Referring to trends in Europe, where the farming population is declining by 3 percent annually, a New York Times editorial derides the idea that ‘every village that was inhabited in Charlemagne’s day must be sustained,’ and declares that ‘more consolidation, in the form of larger-scale farming and an abandonment of absurdly inefficient production, is inevitable.’ In the developing countries of the global South, governments and international agencies alike appear to be intent on following the same path. Fifty years after the publication of Sir Arthur Lewis’s (1954) dual economy model, in which economic development was identified with the transfer of labor from the ‘subsistence’ agricultural sector to the ‘capitalist’ industrial sector, the assumption that small farms are destined for the dustbin of history remains conventional wisdom. ‘Those indios,’ a Guatemalan government official told me, referring to the country’s indigenous majority. ‘As long as they grow maize just like their grandparents, they’ll be poor just like their grandparents.’
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.