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Agricultural Industry
Agricultural Industry
  1. Who Farms in the United States?
  2. Farm efficiency in the United States
  3. Agricultural Subsidies
  4. Minorities as Farm Operators
  5. Food for Peace Program
  6. Biotechnology and Farming in the United States
  7. Growth of Large Corporate Farming
  8. Farm Aid
  9. Factory Farming
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A large yellow machine piles large red potatoes.
Throughout the West, there are many large-scale farms.
Photo Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture. Photo by Gene Alexander.
Agricultural Subsidies
In the early 1950s, American farms produced huge crop surpluses. This drove down the prices farmers could get for their crops. In order for farmers to sell their crops at a profit, crop surpluses had to be eliminated. Subsequently, the Soil Bank program was created in 1956 to pay (subsidize) farmers not to grow certain crops. In theory, as crop supplies dwindled, the price farmers got for their crops would increase. In reality, due to improving farm efficiency the subsidy program had little effect. Even though less land was being used for some crops, the yield on cultivated land increased dramatically. Direct payment to farmers continued to increase in the 1970s. The main crops farmers were paid not to grow were feed grain, cotton, and wheat. By 2000, annual subsidies to farmers had swelled to over 22 billion dollars a year.
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