A Revolution Down on the Farm: The Transformation of American Agriculture since 1929

A Revolution Down on the Farm: The Transformation of American Agriculture since 1929

by Paul K. Conkin
     
 

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Agriculture is the most fundamental of all human activities. Today, those who till the soil or tend livestock feed a world population of approximately 6.5 billion. Fifty years ago, the planet could not have sustained such a large population, and according to present projections, farmers will have to feed nine billion people by 2050. The greatest agricultural

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Overview

Agriculture is the most fundamental of all human activities. Today, those who till the soil or tend livestock feed a world population of approximately 6.5 billion. Fifty years ago, the planet could not have sustained such a large population, and according to present projections, farmers will have to feed nine billion people by 2050. The greatest agricultural revolution in history has occurred in the last fifty years, with farmers in the United States leading the way. America's declining number of farms, however, comes as a surprise to many and may have dramatic implications. Paul K. Conkin's A Revolution Down on the Farm: The Transformation of American Agriculture since 1929 charts the profound changes in farming that have occurred during his lifetime. Conkin's personal experience growing up on a small Tennessee farm complements compelling statistical data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Using economic and historical analysis, Conkin assesses the skills, new technologies, and government policies that helped transform American farming. He clarifies the present status of a subsidized, large-scale, mechanized, and chemically supported agriculture, evaluates its environmental and human costs, and surveys alternatives to a troubled, widely challenged system.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Author and Vanderbilt University history professor Conkin (The State of the Earth: Environmental Challenges on the Road to 2100) grew up on a subsistence farm in Tennessee, working summers as a harvest hand, and members of his family still farm. As such, he's personally witnessed many of the radical changes he covers in this practical, thorough and clearly-written story of the American farm's 20th century transformation into the world's breadbasket. Along the journey from family homestead to hyper-efficient industrial farm, the most useful chapters explain the origin and development of convoluted federal and state farm policy (and why attempts at reforms so often fail) for both rural and urban taxpayers. Throughout, Conkin documents from all sides the clever advances that began mechanizing agriculture right after the Civil War, driving spectacular improvements in efficiency, but also a complete dependence on cheap oil and a cycle of debt many farmers cannot escape. A final chapter examines even-handedly various types of "alternative" farming, proving Conkin no dreamy devotee of "organic" trends. This cogent, thorough history should prove fascinating for anyone interested in the changing landscape of American agriculture. 198 photographs.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
"Conkin provides an original twist by narrating his own experiences of farm life as a youth in eastern Tennessee…he manages to personalize his tale without letting nostalgia blind his scholarly critical eye."— Journal of American History" —

"Historian Paul K. Conkin provides an interesting examination of the transformation that has occurred in American agriculture over the last eighty years."— Kentucky Ancestors" —

"This book provokes thought, and ideally it will provoke reflection and a study that addresses the social costs as well as the industrial gains made during the greatest industrial revolution in the history of the United States, the agricultural production revolution."— Ohio Valley History" —

"For a generation of students who know little about the agricultural past, Conkin's book will provide an important and well-rounded overview."— Agricultural History" —

"An accurate and straightforward account of agriculture in America down through the years, spiced with the on-farm experiences of the author himself. Perfect for the new student of agriculture who needs a quick but detailed introduction to farming history in the United States." —Gene Logsdon, author of The Mother of all Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse" —

"Conkin cogently describes agricultural life with particular attention to changes wrought by the world beyond farmyard and fields... about lost American country life."— Indiana Magazine of History" —

"Conkin provides a masterful survey of the major agricultural legislation of the 1930s, noting that the long-term effect of these programs continues to invite curiosity.... a friendly, approachable work on agricultural history... a map to new ways of thinking about the past and planning for the future."— Arkansas Historical Quarterly" —

"Clearly written and organized, Conkin's book will appeal to anyone interested in farming and the agricultural economy."— Book News" —

"Conkin's latest book — or perhaps, as he predicts, his final book — is a thoughtful and elegantly written survey of American agriculture since the 1930s."— Business History Review" — Sarah Phillips

"Revolution clarifies an immensely complex topic, not only changes in American agricultural practices and technologies, but also the politics of definition and the long term repercussions of what many might simply ignored as banal."— Southeastern Librarian" —

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813138688
Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
Publication date:
09/05/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
899,638
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Paul K. Conkin is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of numerous books, including The State of the Earth, The Southern Agrarians, and When All the Gods Trembled.

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