The Agrarian Revolution in the United States of America
The United States of America is in North America which covers the USA, Canada and Mexico. It is home to many popular crops including maize, potatoes, tobacco and pineapples, among others. These were cultivated by the indigenous American communities, the Red Indians.
From the 16th century Europeans from different parts of Europe migrated to North America to escape religious and political persecution. These early settlers founded various colonics on the east coast of America and learnt to cultivate the indigenous crops from the native Americans.
Following the Agrarian Revolution in Britain, agriculture in the USA developed due to influence from Britain.
Factors that led to Agrarian Revolution in the USA
As a result of the enclosure system many poor people lost their land. Some of them moved to North America. They carried the new skills and knowledge that they had gathered from the Agrarian Revolution in Britain. They also took cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, fowl and seed, and improved them as they moved to the new world with a lot of enthusiasm and zeal to succeed.
The agriculture that developed in the USA was originally a blend of the old and the new. The modern plantation and estate farming, the crop-zoning, the use of hybrid seeds and farm machinery, the teaching of agricultural economics and extension education, and the increased use of fertilisers transformed agriculture into a big industry.
Availability of Suitable Land
Due to its size, the USA covers several climatic zones and so a wide variety of crops can be grown and many different kinds of livestock can be kept. This coupled with the fact that the USA was a vast country inhabited by few people meant that there was a lot of land available for all kinds of agriculture.
This led to the creation of specialised agricultural zones. The most prominent zones are the cotton and corn belts, the wheat, the dairy, the range and livestock areas, and zones for crops like rice, potatoes, citrus fruits, etc. Large-scale agriculture in all these areas is practised.
Availability of Labour
With the development of plantation farming a lot of labour was required. Thus, from the 18th century many slaves were transported to the new world including the USA in the Trans Atlantic trade. These provided cheap labour especially in the cotton, sugar and tobacco belts.
Development of Machinery
The invention and use of new machinery was also a characteristic feature of the Agrarian Revolution in the USA as it was in Britain. John Deere invented the steel plough in 1831 as an improvement to the iron plough that was in common use.
Cyrus McCormic invented a reaper in the same year. Later on, American scientists developed the refrigerator which preserved food by keeping it at low temperatures. These methods of preserving food and improved transportation encouraged farming.
The American government supported the agricultural sector. In 1862 the Homestead Act was passed. This legalised individual land ownership. It also authorised the Federal Government to grant financial assistance and loans for the purchase and development of land. With the capital availed to them, many farmers turned to large-scale farming or ranching.
In later years the government granted subsidies to the farmers and introduced tariffs on imported agricultural produce. These measures were put in place to protect the farmers against competition from imported agricultural produce.
The development in the transport and communication network in the USA especially the roads, railway and waterways enhanced and facilitated the advancement in agriculture. This made it possible for inputs to be transported quickly to the farms, and farm produce reach the market fast and in good condition.
USA crop zones
Large-scale farming/Estate farming Large plantations were established that initially used slave labour before the introduction of machinery.
Use of Fertilisers
To improve soil fertility, artificial fertilisers was used. Pest controls were invented that curbed spread of crop/animal diseases.
Effects of Agrarian Revolution in USA
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