The United States, Agricultural Power

The granary of the world

American agriculture dominates the world by the volume and diversity of its productions. It is in the lead for many kinds of cereal: 2nd place for wheat, 1st for corn, soybeans; it ranks first for the rest of agricultural products: 1st for oranges, 2nd for pigs, cotton, tobacco, and 3rd for cattle.

farm view

Producing for a market with a high standard of living

The American domestic market represents considerable potential outlets for American agriculture: more than 270 million potential consumers with high purchasing power. We eat two to three times more meat in the United States than in Europe. This is why agriculture is largely oriented towards plant products intended for animal feed. The high standard of living also explains the development of delicate crops such as those cultivated in the subtropics (Hawaii, California, Florida, etc.)

tractor on the field

The evolution of agricultural geography

Until the twentieth century, herbal situations and the rural agreement records had resulted withinside the areas focusing on a sure form of manufacturing. These specialized areas recognized below the call of "belts,” every bore a call connected to the form of cultivation that turned into practice there: the Cotton Belt withinside the South East, the Corn Belt withinside the Great Lakes vicinity, and the Wheat Belt withinside the Great Plains.

Today, those belts have diverse; even supposing the principle way of life stays the authentic way of life. Only the Cotton Belt has, without a doubt, disappeared and has given manner to polyculture or woodland on exhausted soils. Two-thirds of cotton manufacturing now comes from irrigated fields withinside the West (Texas and California). Moreover, it's miles irrigation that constitutes the dominant reality of nearby evolution: the unfold of irrigation withinside the West has certainly enabled the improvement of extensive agriculture which locations states which include California and Texas at the vanguard of American agricultural areas. Technological opportunities consequently permit greater and greater.

combine harvesting wheat front view

Socially and economically contrasted agriculture

However, American agriculture is not a model in all its aspects: agriculture is indeed the branch of activity where the distribution of income is the most unequal. If farmers live on model farms, the average farm income is less than two-thirds of urban income, and that of the black farmer in the South is not one-third.

American agriculture is, therefore, dualist or two-speed agriculture: on the one hand, efficient farms managed by farmers (who often live in cities) as industrial companies; on the other hand, small farms with no large economic scope, designated victims of cyclical crises and whose farmers live on the edge of the poverty line.

The key success Factors of American Agriculture

The first asset of American agriculture lies first of all in the vastness of its territory, the layering of latitudes, and its climatic diversity. Of the 7.8 million km2 (if we exclude Alaska), the relief units and the various climates combine to form numerous natural regions, each offering particular agricultural aptitudes.

American agriculture is primarily agriculture with a very high technological level due to the sophistication of the equipment used. The very early use of mechanization and motorization has only grown since its origins. Thus, the American fleet amounts to approximately 5 million tractors. The consumption of fertilizers has more than doubled in twenty years, and even more, that of crop protection products (fungicides, herbicides, insecticides). Agronomic research is highly developed, particularly thanks to subsidies from the public authorities, and makes it possible to bring new varieties that are increasingly more productive to the market.

The farms are of an imposing size compared to the European average: 200 hectares, or more than 10 times the European average. Thanks to its very high productivity, this agriculture employs few workers.

combine harvesting wheat aerial view

Agricultural production is only the center of the huge American agro-industrial complex. Agribusiness refers to the integration of agriculture with industries (fertilizers, agricultural equipment, etc.) and services (banks, etc.) necessary upstream, but also with industries (packaging, storage, etc.) and services (transport, etc.) requested from downstream.

Industrial companies often own large estates and control all agricultural production; they produce feed for the cattle, own the land and the slaughterhouses, the meat distribution chains, and run huge "feed-lots,” veritable factories where the cattle are fattened.

Naturally, countrywide consumption, no matter its magnitude, isn't always sufficient to take in such abundance. The world's main exporter, especially of cereals, American agriculture, contributes appreciably to proscribing the country's alternate deficit. Exporting has to turn out to be a crucial necessity for American agriculture if it's miles to keep away from overproduction and the resultant fall in prices. While withinside the 1960s, exports in no way represented extra than 15% of agricultural production, this percent best elevated withinside the Seventies to attain a top of 29% in 1979. This ratio is maintained nowadays. Nowadays, around 20%. The United States is consequently the main actual alternate battle, particularly with the European Union. However, those alternate battles have become more and more fierce. The troubles of exporting American agricultural merchandise had been irritated via way of means of the sluggish territorial extension of the European, not unusual place market.


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