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November 1986, 
Vol. 68, No. 9
Posted 1986-11-01

The Farm Sector in the 1980s: Sudden Collapse or Steady Downturn?

by Michael T. Belongia

Michael T. Belongia shows that such an interpretation is unwarranted. Instead, the elusive gains in asset values during the 1970s masked a continuation of the long-standing downward trend in the profitability of farming. Moreover, the author demonstrates why low and declining returns to farming are the natural result of market forces attempting to move marginal land, labor, and other resources to nonfarm employment. Despite various programs designed to help the “family farm,” the author argues, a continuing decline in the size of the U.S. farm sector is likely.