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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: April 2020

4 - Agricultural Growth, Regional Diversity, and Land-Tenure Regimes

from Part II - Spanish Agriculture, Economic Development, and Democracy


Although traditional Spanish farming was slowly being replaced by a modern, scientific agriculture dependent on industrial inputs, productivity remained low and living standards for many were poor and precarious during the first third of the twentieth century. Social problems were contained while surplus farm labour could easily find employment in the cities, but the limits of traditional agriculture to create employment became brutally exposed during the 1930s Depression. Unlike Northern Europe, the use of dry-farming techniques were required over much of the country, which created major obstacles to increasing output by employing more labour. The growing possibilities for mechanization by the interwar period offered benefits to the large cereal farms, but threatened to make small farmers, with their highly fragmented holdings, uncompetitive. Technological change also threatened to eliminate a significant source of seasonal employment for landless labourers, and force marginal cereal producers to sell their land.

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