Geographia Polonica (1989) vol. 58

The regionalization of rationalization in US agricultural production

Howard F. Gregor

Geographia Polonica (1989) vol. 58, pp. 69-80 | Full text

From the very beginning of modern agricultural geography in the United States, macroscale studies of U.S. agricultural regionalization have concentrated almost exclusively on land use types and farming systems. Smith, Baker, and Hainsworth first set the pattern with their map of the "agricultural provinces" (1916), while one of the most recent presentations, though covering just the seventeen conterminous western states, has carried the effort to a new level by using a detailed farming classification devised by the past IGU Agricultural Typology Commission under the leadership of Prof. J. Kostrowicki (Gregor 1975).1 Yet during all this time and particulary since the last world war, another set of regional patterns has been developing, one outside the traditional geographic view but reflecting an aspect of farming with many more implications for economic and social welfare: the rationalization of productivity. In no other country has the use of capital to enhance the productivity of land and labor in farming been more influential, or fateful. Productivity has reached levels hitherto unknown, but this has been bought at the expense of physical and human resources, particularly the smaller and capital-poor farmers who no longer can resist the "price-cost squeeze" and hence become victims of a growing contradiction in the American rural ethic: freedom of entreprise vs. equality of opportunity (Gregor 1982). A survey of the basic regional patterns of rationalization of agricultural production therefore seems more than due.

Howard F. Gregor, Department of Geography, University of California, Davis, California, USA