The structure of U.S. agriculture changed dramatically over the past 100 years, and these changes coincided with large increases in agricultural productivity. Revolutionary technological advancements transformed inputs such as seed, fertilizers, and agricultural chemicals, and the quality of agricultural inputs—notably capital, labor and land—increased generally, especially during the latter half of the 20th Century. The apparent decline in the use of conventional agricultural inputs, particularly over recent decades and especially labor, is offset somewhat when we account properly for the changing composition and quality of inputs over time. For example, farmers are much better educated and more experienced on average compared with 50 years ago, and a higher proportion of cropland is irrigated. Identifying these important structural changes in the nature of inputs helps in constructing an informative picture of U.S. agricultural production and the sources of output growth during the 20th Century; particularly developments during the post-1948 period, which is the subject of more detailed analysis in this volume.
KeywordsCost Share Agricultural Input Conservation Reserve Program Farm Operator Northern Plain
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