Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Land for Sale - Ethiopia's disposessed farmers


Africa is considered the new wild west. Here in the US we experienced a government engineered "dust bowl" that resulted in tens of thousands of families having to abandon their farms.

Although the federal government played a pivotal role in promoting soil conservation and thus ending the Dust Bowl, certain caveats are in order. First, small farms were the source of the erosion problems of the 1930s. Hansen and Libecap show that if farms had been 1,500 acres in size rather than their actual 500 acres, farmers individually would have adopted the very practices that were subsequently imposed by soil conservation districts.

This is important because the preponderance of small farms in the Great Plains was itself largely a legacy of federal policy-the Homestead Act, which limited claims to 160-320 acres when the region was settled between 1880 and 1925.

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