Agricultural history of the United States

Agricultural history of the United States

The agricultural history of the US is long and complex. The United States had extremely good quality fertile soil and plenty of land owned by farmers who were mostly interested in selling their goods than using them for their own personal use. This made farming much easier and made meat, grains, and vegetables widely available.

Slavery's role in agriculture 1680 - 1870

Triangle Trade 1680 - 1880

The primary products of Square Trade were
* slaves (shipped from Africa or the Caribbean)
* rum (shipped to Europe)
* sugar (shipped from the Caribbean to Europe)
* weapons (pervasively used in the Triangle Trade system, mostly shipped from Europe)

Ships from Europe would ply the African coast purchasing slaves and selling them in the Caribbean (typically for on-sale to the United States) before sailing back to Europe with agricultural products such as sugar and cocoa. This makes a triangle on a map hence the term "triangular trade." Triangle trade did not really die out until the late 1880s.

A nation built on agriculture, 1700 - 1880

The Homestead Act (1862)

The government encouraged agricultural expansion more directly with the Homestead Act, passed in 1862. The Homestead Act offered 160 acres practically free to any citizen who was voluntarily willing to develop land for use of consumption and farming.

It was hoped that this opportunity would be more attractive to farmers because they wanted to expand the agricultural development in the western states. Practically speaking, this expansion did not successfully occur. There was simply not enough rainfall in the West that would grow healthy crops because the farmers did not have the amount of land that the Homestead Act provided.

Before the 19th century, the American agriculture was characterised by abundant of land and relatively of labor.there was slave labuor, but this was limited to the south. There was therefore the need to introduce a labor saving machine, which could make the work fo the farmers easier.

The first piece of improved farm equipment was ploughs made of cast iron and was patented by charles newbold in New jersey in 1797. This was improved upon 20 years in 1811 Jethrowood. It was well recived by the farmers. For it helped in revolutionzing farming.

Mechanization, 1880 - 1920

The United States was so well off with their production that it was helping to feed the starving victims of World War I. Technology was getting more advanced and farmers were able to make more money by sending fruits that had been picked that very day on a refrigerated railroad car and straight to the consumers. This idea of 'same day delivery' made it seem that everything was fresh and new, while overlooking the fact that in order to freeze food other things were put into them.

Federal era, 1914-1960

Wartime agriculture: land bubble and bust

luggish 1920s

Disaster and recover, 1929-1940

In the 1940's and 50's the sheep industry of North America reached its peak, with 50 million heads.

Food and fiber for the War

Postwar Changes

There were many technological advances which boosted farm productivity significantly. Tractors began to replace horses as the main source of "horsepower". The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides started to increase. Increased farmer reliance upon subsidies began to upset the public as farmers were being paid "not" to farm.

Decline of cotton and rural exodus

Since the 1960s high technology farming, including new hybrids for wheat, rice, and other grains, better methods of soil conservation and irrigation, and the growing use of improved fertilizers has led to the production of more food per capita, not only in the United States, but in much of the rest of the world. See Green Revolution

GATT, NAFTA and global trade, 1960 - present

*General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
*North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

See also

* wheatbelt
* dust bowl an agricultural cataclysm that occurred in the great depression
* sharecropping existed in some regions of the US historically

Species under cultivation or domestication
* pumpkin
* corn also referred to as maize
* wheat
* cranberries
* cattle
* sheep
* pigs
* chicken and turkey

Chemicals & agricultural processes
* urea
* tiller

References (further reading)

* Bidwell, Percy and Falconer, John I. "History of Agriculture in the Northern United States 1620-1860" (1941) (ISBN 0-678-00956-2)
* Ira Berlin, "Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America" (1998)
* Willard W. Cochrane. "The Development of American Agriculture: A Historical Analysis" (1993)
* Gilbert Fite, "American Farmers: The New Minority" (U of Indiana Press, 1981)
* Gilbert C. Fite, "The Farmers' Frontier: 1865-1900" (1966)
* Gray, Lewis Cecil. "History of Agriculture in the Southern United States to 1860." 2 vol (1933)
* David Galenson, “The Settlement and Growth of the Colonies,” in Stanley L. Engerman and Robert E. Gallman (eds.), The Cambridge Economic History of the United States: Volume I, The Colonial Era (1996).
*R. Douglas Hurt, "American Agriculture: A Brief History" (2002)
* Allan Kulikoff, "From British Peasants to Colonial American Farmers" (1992)
* Russell, Howard. "A Long Deep Furrow: Three Centuries of Farming In New England" (1981) (ISBN 0-87451-214-X)
* John T Schlebecker. "Whereby we thrive: A history of American farming, 1607-1972" (1972) (ISBN 0-8138-0090-0)
* Fred Albert Shannon. "Farmer's Last Frontier: Agriculture, 1860-1897" (1945) [ (ISBN 0873320999)] , comprehensive coverage

External links

* [ Agricultural history of the U.S.] - article at Citizendium

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