Are Part-Time and Absent Small Farmers Rational? - Questioning Nobel Economics Laureate Theodore W. Schultz

Contrary to Theodore W. Schultz’s assertions that part-time farming is efficient and economies of scale have no logical basis and have not stood the test of time and empirical findings, this paper presents that in (1) the low income countries still saddled with traditional agriculture, (2) the low income countries developing towards the high income economy, and (3) the high income countries, numerous part-time and absent farmers earning higher off-farm income tend to underutilize or idle fragmented small farms without selling or leasing them to full-time farmers to achieve economies of scale which do have logical basis and have stood the test of time and empirical findings, and points out that this is a global problem without solution under private land ownership. The paper also indicates that under private land ownership or possession many farmers voluntarily remain in collective land operation which perpetuates the low individual incentives just as under the public land ownership of the former centrally planned economy in the transitional countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The EU candidates have relied on trade-distorting agricultural subsidies higher than the WTO standards, which would add burdens on the EU once joined, thus impeding EU enlargement. The paper thus proposes the establishment of a law to oblige the lease of unused land to full-time farmers with a minimum lease term so as to solve land waste and fragmentation and enlarge full-time farm sizes; allocation of land to families for operation in the current collectively operated large farms; improvement of services to full-time family farms; transformation of the trade-distorting to nontrade- distorting agricultural subsidies; and promotion of off-farm activities, so as to sustain land use under private land ownership and boost EU enlargement.

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Paper presented at the International Farming Systems Association IFSA European Group 5th IFSA European Symposium on Farming and Rural Systems Research and Extension Local Identities and Globalization Florence, Italy 8-11 April 2002

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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