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Research Bulletin (Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station)

Abstract

American agriculture has been and continues to be an industry with a changing structure. The amount of farm labor declined steadily over the 1950-1970 period as competitive forces in farming resulted in capital being substituted for labor and land. One factor in this decline has been the increased productivity resulting from technological improvements in capital inputs and the greater "know how” in the use of these inputs. A second factor has been the decline in prices of capital inputs relative to the prices of land and labor.

As farms have become larger and more capitalized, decision making has become more complex. The level of skill needed by farm labor also has increased as the size of enterprises and the complexities of equipment have increased.

This study examines the employment conditions of full-time hired farm labor in an effort to resolve a farm-labor paradox. The paradox results from full-time job positions in farming going unfilled in the late 1960s, at a time when labor was being "freed” from farming as a result of the decline in farm numbers and the substitution of capital for labor.

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