Economies of Size and the Future of Black Farmers




Marshall, Ray
Thompson, Allen

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Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources


This paper attempts to assess the options available to blacks in agriculture by examining the existence of economies of size in agricultural production and the importance of these economies in (a) explaining the past declines and (b) in predicting the future survival of small farmers in general and black farmers in particular. (It should be remembered that the problems faced by small farmers apply to. most black farmers. In 1969, only two percent of Southern nonwhite farmers had sales of $20,000 or more.) There are two essential questions that must be answered: (1) Are there economies of size which place small operators in a disadvantaged position and (2) Are the problems of black farmers more severe than those faced by small farmers in general because of race.


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