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Over the last century, the United States has seen dramatic consolidation of its agricultural lands despite a century’s worth of research that demonstrates lower productivity of large farms. Using Veblen’s Absentee Ownership as a starting point, this paper follows the politics of agricultural policies and subsidies for capital and energy use, which have encouraged the concentration of agricultural landownership. Economies of scale in agriculture are dissipated sooner than expected, and most of the existing scale economies arise from the fixed costs of labor-replacing technologies, which have been favored by such policies and R&D. Shifts in tax policies, as well as increased agricultural R&D and extension services that support alternative technologies, would allow small-scale operations to gain a competitive advantage over industrial farms, mitigating the ecological and social costs of the current farm structure.
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Seltz, Hanna Louise, "Industrial agriculture and Veblen’s theory of absentee ownership" (2016). Senior Projects Spring 2016. 55.