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Prior to 1949, China’s agriculture operated on a basic operating system of private land ownership and household operations, suited to a natural economy based on sustenance farming. After the founding of New China, a basic agricultural operating system founded upon public land ownership and collectivized operations adapted to the state’s industrialization strategy and the ideology of the governing party was gradually established.
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Ministry of Agriculture Rural Cooperative Economy Guiding Bureau, Agricultural Collectivization in Contemporary China editing bureau: Materials on Rural Cooperative Economic Organizations and the Development of Conditions for Agricultural Production (1950–1991).
Family farms are a very broad concept. Even in the US, with its bountiful per capita allotment of arable land, family farms are defined as those for which production or sales of agricultural products exceeds USD $1000. At present in China, the family farms we advocate for are leading farms that correspond to the registered rural household system. To make this concept easier to understand and accept for foreign academics, I suggest replacing use of the term “family farm” with the term “leading farm”.
Existing research divides rural households engaged in multiple industries into two categories, with those earning most of their income from agriculture in category I and those earning most of their income from non-agricultural enterprises as category II. In truth, there is also a need to categorize specialized rural households, with those earning less per capita income than category I multiple-industry households as category I and those earning not less per capita income than multiple-industry rural households as category II. Category I specialized rural households are traditional rural households, and category II specialized rural households are leading households. Leading rural households from other nations or regions should be used to measure levels of agricultural development.
As urban reforms trailed rural reforms, and as there were many issues to be resolved regarding the tens of millions of educated youths returning to cities following the Cultural Revolution, it was nearly impossible for urban centers to absorb rural laborers during the mid-1980s. This gave rise to the state policy allowing rural citizens to engage in non-agricultural enterprises without leaving the countryside. This marked a major advance over the state policies during the era of the people’s commune, when rural citizens were forbidden to work at anything except agriculture. The state policies of the 1990s allowing rural citizens to both engage in non-agricultural enterprises and leave the countryside were an even bigger advance. All this demonstrates that reforms in China are enacted gradually.
Dong Jun, “Nationwide Leading Farm Total Now 877,000,” Xinhua Online, accessed June 5, 2013, news.xinhuanet.com/xiangtu/2013-06/05/c_124814602.htm.
Zhao Jie, “Amount of Corn Harvested by Machine in China Increased by Over Six Percent Over Five Consecutive Years,” Nongminribao, December 4, 2013.
Data from the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC).
Xu Mengqin, “A New Era for the Pork Raising Industry in China,” Zhongguoxumushouyibao, September 23, 2013, 9th edition.
Analysts have demonstrated that there are three reasons that a large number of American agricultural products still come from small farms with sales revenues of between USD $1000 and $10,000. The first is that many households owning small farms earn most of their income from non-agricultural work; in 2004 the per household non-agricultural income of such households was USD $74,000, several times their agricultural income. The second is the American income tax law that allows individuals to exempt losses from farm operations from their taxes. The third is support from such government programs as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). The data indicate that from 2002 to 2008, the CRP paid out a total of USD $12.8 billion, with over 80% of that total going to small farms. Over the same period, the WRP paid out an annual average of USD $180 million, with over 82% going to small farms.
In my opinion, socialization is not sufficiently accurate to express this concept; marketization is a better expression.
- China’s Agricultural Basic Operating System
- Springer Singapore
- Chapter 3
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