The Disappearing American Farm

Overview

Thomas Jefferson declared that the small independent farmer who was not beholden to an overlord was the basis of democracy in the new republic, the United States. Under the farming system of Europe, which had originated in the feudal period, most land was controlled by an aristocracy, making it impossible for many agricultural workers ever to own their land and be their own masters.

Describes the problems in American agriculture due to technological innovation, gives...

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Overview

Thomas Jefferson declared that the small independent farmer who was not beholden to an overlord was the basis of democracy in the new republic, the United States. Under the farming system of Europe, which had originated in the feudal period, most land was controlled by an aristocracy, making it impossible for many agricultural workers ever to own their land and be their own masters.

Describes the problems in American agriculture due to technological innovation, gives a history of American agriculture to explain the origins of the crisis, and outlines the limitations of government farm programs and policies to cope.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 9 UpGoldberg has done an exceptional job of describing the history of farming in this country, explaining the complex problems of the farm economy and relating why and how subsidies were initiated. He also describes the ways various government programs operate and illustrates how many of the policies that were designed to be beneficial only served to make situations worse. Too often, the rules were used by some to an unfair financial advantage. The constantly increasing cost of the subsidies to the taxpayer is also discussed. Both sides of this controversial issue are addressed. The author points out that while the abolition of subsidies might reduce federal taxes, it might also increase the prices of food by as much as 20 percent. Although no real solutions to the vanishing farm and its way of life are offered, the book does provide food for thought. This title may be of limited appeal to young people beyond those writing reports, but it should be required reading for all educated consumers.Eldon Younce, Harper Elementary School, KS
Chris Sherman
Goldberg traces the history of farming, focusing largely on the economic aspects of U.S. farm policy. Touching only briefly on environmental issues, he explains how technology and agricultural research have changed the nature of the business and led to government intervention and a host of thorny issues. In discussing the problems facing farmers and the nation today, Goldberg tries to maintain a neutral position. He makes it clear, for example, that although entitlement programs are expensive and ineffective, their removal could lead to the complete loss of small family farms. The information presented is pretty heavy stuff. At one point, Goldberg even commends readers for having stuck with it, "mastering the concepts behind parity ratios, target prices, loan rates, deficiency payments, purchase agreements and market orders." But what's here will certainly be useful for students in government classes and for teens preparing informative or persuasive speeches.
Kirkus Reviews
This book begins strongly, with a good history of farming in the US, but soon moves into a confusing discussion of the farm "problem"—farmers continue to outproduce the needs of the country, causing the federal government to step in with subsidies that now comprise the third largest entitlement program after Social Security and Medicare. The farm problem is a social and economic one, but Goldberg does little to clarify the issues. He appears not to understand fully some of the terms he uses, e.g., the definition of non-recourse loan misses the mark. Midway through the book, he acknowledges the inadequacy of the presentation: "Before moving on, the reader deserves a word of encouragement. If you have stayed with the narrative this far, mastering the concepts behind parity ratios, target prices, and market orders, you probably have a better understanding of government agricultural policy than most of your fellow citizens."

Despite the promising topic, most readers will be bored by the less-than-focused discussion of how farming has been transformed into the business it is today.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780531112618
  • Publisher: Scholastic Library Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/1/1996
  • Series: Impact Books Series
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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