Date: August 2014
Creator: Ruffing, Jason L.
Description: American agriculture in the twentieth century underwent immense transformations. The triumphs in agriculture are emblematic of post-war American progress and expansion but do not accurately depict the evolution of American agriculture throughout an entire century of agricultural depression and economic failure. Some characteristics of this evolution are unprecedented efficiency in terms of output per capita, rapid industrialization and mechanization, the gradual slip of agriculture's portion of GNP, and an exodus of millions of farmers from agriculture leading to fewer and larger farms. The purpose of this thesis is to provide an environmental history and political ecology of overproduction, which has lead to constant surpluses, federal price and subsidy intervention, and environmental concerns about sustainability and food safety. This project explores the political economy of output maximization during these years, roughly from WWI through the present, studying various environmental, economic, and social effects of overproduction and output maximization. The complex eco system of modern agriculture is heavily impacted by the political and economic systems in which it is intrinsically embedded, obfuscating hopes of food and agricultural reforms on many different levels. Overproduction and surplus are central to modern agriculture and to the food that has fueled American bodies for decades. Studying ...
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