The Farm Culture Ownership Patterns

Patterns of ownership and control of farm resources vary around the world depending on the philosophy and activity of government, stage of economic development, type of agriculture engaged in, and practices of inheritance and tradition. Farming in the United States, Canada, and most Western countries was founded on the family-farm concept. The head of the family is the head of the farm. The farm is large enough to provide most or all of the family income but small enough to be operated largely by members of the family. In the United States the concept of the family farm was supported in government policy (homesteading, squatter's rights, etc.) that encouraged settlers to take up farming on plots of land that were "family-farm sized."

In Latin America, family farms exist, but a larger proportion of land is concentrated in large holdings, and as a result there are a large number of very small farms and relatively poor farmers. Land reform (more equitable distribution of land resources) is one of the recognized needs for farm progress and for development in this region. The tropical (or sub-Saharan) portion of Africa is, for the most part, agriculturally backward. Farms are most often very small and primitive and a large part (80% or more) of the total population is engaged in farming. Much of this region is a pattern of shifting, "bush-fallow" agriculture, where land is farmed for a few years, then allowed to return to bush for a few years. Intermixed among these millions of small farms are plantations and large farms, many operated by Europeans, producing specialized commodities (cocoa, coffee, peanuts, palm oil, tobacco, etc.) mostly for export. The temperate part of Africa is a mixture of large and small farms that emphasize grains and grass/livestock.

In Asia, farm organization varies from the nomadic agriculture of the Arabian desert, to the traditional peasant economies of India and Southeast Asia, to the post-Communist economy of the People's Republic of China.

In Western Europe, farms are generally smaller than in the United States, Canada, and Australia, but productivity per acre is high, and land resources are intensively farmed. In Eastern Europe, the fall of the Soviet Union has left agriculture in disarray, but the possibility of westernization exists and has begun to a limited extent.

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