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Does Farming Pay?:The Debate Over the Value of Agricultural Work in New England

Does Farming Pay?:The Debate Over the Value of Agricultural Work in New England

Does Farming Pay?:The Debate Over the Value of Agricultural Work in New England
Cody Miller

New England’s agricultural community was involved in numerous debates in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth.  One debate was over whether one should abandon diversified mixed-husbandry for specialized farming.  Mixed Husbandry was comprised of livestock and tillage, in which the farmer was able to raise meat, dairy, vegetables, and fruits, ultimately using the livestock to fertilize crops through nutrient-cycling, whereas farmers in a specialized system focused on the intensive growing of specific crops.  Linked to this debate was the question of does farming pay?  This question, both about political economy and culture, was peppered throughout the pages of farm journals like the Maine Farmer, Massachusetts Ploughman and New England Journal of Agriculture, and the New England Farmer.  One reason for the debate’s pervasiveness was linked to urban agricultural pundits, who saw New England agriculture in a state of deep trouble and sought to reform it.  If a farmer did not augment acreage or attempt to specialize the farm, that farmer was seen as checking progress itself. Read More.

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