Kenneth E. Boulding, Ag Economist with the Department of Economics at the University of Michigan and member of the research advisory board for the CED stated the following: “The only way I know to get toothpaste out of a tube is to squeeze, and the only way to get people out of agriculture is likewise to squeeze agriculture. If the toothpaste is thin, you don’t squeeze very hard, on the other hand, if the toothpaste is thick, you have to put real pressure on it. If you can’t get people out of agriculture easily, you are going to have to do farmers severe injustice in order to solve the problem of allocation.” Although this quote does not appear in the text of An Adaptive Program for Agriculture, the sentiment is still evident. The sentiment expressed by these distinguished experts was that farmers were merely disposable pawns in an economic plan. If the inefficient farmers would just leave farming, the farmers who are left will prosper. Efficient farmers will produce food more cheaply, people will spend less money for food, leaving more disposable income to spend on consumer goods, which will cause economic growth and increase income for all, or so the theory goes. Of course, consumer food prices have continued to rise even as farmers get less and less of the retail dollar. I guess there is a fly in the ointment somewhere.
There were 1.1 million farms with dairy cows in the United States in 1964, 600,000 in 1969, and some 40,000 today, so those who are left are really prospering, right? Oh wait, they are struggling more than ever before. Obviously there are still too many. You get the point.