American Association for Agricultural Legislation / Papers on tenancy. I. The agricultural ladder. II. Tenancy in an ideal system of land ownership. III. Discussion
Bulletin No. 2 (March 1919)
Spillman, W. J.
The agricultural ladder, pp. 1-10 PDF (2.2 MB)
No. II-I THE AGRICULTURAL LADDER BY W. J. SPmut Aanociate Editor of the Farm Jownl The first rung of the agricultural ladder is represented by the period during which the embryo farmer is learning the rudiments of his trade. In the majority of cases this period is spent as an unpaid laborer on the home farm. The hired man stands on the second rung, the tenant on the third, while the farm owner has attained the fourth or final rung of the ladder. This paper deals with the rate at which men climb this ladder, and the means used in making the ascent. We shall find that many men are able to skip some of the stages above enumerated. There are also various intermediate stages. Thus the hired man may assume some of the responsibilities of manage- ment and receive part or all of his pay as a portion of the pro- ceeds. Under this arrangement he usually makes a larger income than a mere hired man, but less than a full tenant. Some men pass from the stage of hired man or from that of tenant to the position of hired manager, but these are relatively few. The stage of owner is usually divisible into two periods, the first being the early period when there is still a mortgage on the farm. Mort- gages may, of course, persist indefinitely, but in the later stages of ownership mortgages frequently represent obligations incurred in extending the holdings of the farmer. Table I shows the stages passed by 2112 present farm owners in the states of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota-' Twenty per cent of the number climbed the entire ladder, omitting none of the steps. Thirteen per cent skipped the tenant stage, 32 per cent the hired-man stage, and 34 per cent passed directly to ownership from their fathers' farms, omitting both the stages of hired man and tenant. Later it will be seen that a large pro- portion of this last group inherited their farms, or bought them from near relatives who presumably allowed very easy terms of payment. Table II shows the methods by which the men in these various groups acquired ownership. Taking all the groups together, it is to be noted that just two thirds of these men acquired their farms IThe daft on whed this paper is basd were collected by Mr. H. H. Clark, of the Ofe of Farm Mamaement, under the joint direction of Mr. 15 H. Tuoa &ad the riter.
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