Preserving Small While Strengthening Large Farmers In The Usa And Oecd
Facing the general trend towards larger but fewer farms since 1935, the US government implemented a protective safety net for small farmers during 1933-96 which did not halt it but incurred market distortions and other drawbacks. It then switched to market oriented measures in 1996 which have made small farmers more exposed to market risks. A suitable solution to both preserving small and strengthening large farms has not been found. This paper provides a proposal not included in the 145 recommendations in the report `A Time to Act' by the National Commission on Small Farms of the USDA in January 1998: to promote part ownership of land by encouraging small farmers to develop off-farm activities and lease the land beyond self-need to part owners (including competent small farmers) to boost large farmers. In this way, while part owners could achieve economies of scale, small farmers would be boss of self-used land and landlord of rented-out land, integrated with large farmers, gain more income from rent, increase time for and earnings from off-farm activities, so that small farmers, rural communities, democracy roots and landscape could be conserved. It shows an example of how some black farmers who were small in terms of owned land but became large after renting in land achieved success in farming. Although part ownership has been increasing, it has never been promoted as a policy direction and even be neglected. This proposal may be relevant to other OECD countries with a large versus small bimodal farm structure.
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