Collective farming

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Collective farming is an organizational unit in agriculture in which peasants are not paid wages, but rather receive a share of the farm's net output.

The process of establishing collective farms is called collectivization. The Soviet Union undertook the world's first [citation needed] campaign of mass collectivization from 1929-1933. Soviet peasants in collective farms received a type of dividend after compulsory deliveries were made to the state. However, this was an example of forced collectivization, and should not be confused with voluntary collectivization, such as the one that takes place in a Kibbutz. Forced collectivization historically had dire results, often causing famine and mass starvation when implemented on a large scale.

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[edit] Communist Collectivisation

[edit] Soviet Union

In the Soviet Union, collectivization was introduced by Stalin in the late 1920s as a scheme to boost agricultural production through the organization of land and labor into collectives called collective farms (kolkhozes) and state farms (sovkhozes). At the same time, it was argued that collectivization would free poor peasants from economic servitude under the kulaks. It was hoped that the goals of collectivization could be achieved voluntarily, but when the new farms failed to attract the number of peasants hoped, the government blamed the oppression of the kulaks and resorted to forceful implementation of the plan.

Due to unreasonably high government quotas, farmers often got far less for their labor than they did before collectivization, and some refused to work. In many cases, the immediate effect of collectivization was to reduce grain output and almost halve livestock, thus producing major famines in 1932 and 1933.<ref>Eric Hobsbawm: Age of Extremes, 1994</ref> In one extreme episode, several million peasants, mainly in Ukraine, died in a famine during the drought of 1932-1933 after Stalin forced the peasants into the collectives (this famine is known in Ukraine as Holodomor). It was not until 1940 that agricultural production finally surpassed its pre-collectivization levels.

[edit] Hungarian People's Republic

In the Hungarian People's Republic, agricultural collectivisation was attempted a number of times in the late 1940s and 50s (with disastrous results), until it was finally "successful" in the early 1960s under János Kádár.

[edit] Czechoslovakia (1948-89)

In Czechoslovakia, land reforms after World War I distributed most of the land to peasants and created large groups of relatively well-to-do farmers (though village poor still existed). These groups showed no support for communist ideals. In 1945, immediately after World War II, new land reform started. The first phase involved a confiscation of properties of Germans, Hungarians and collaborants of Nazi regime (Beneš decree). The second phase, promulgated by so-called Ďuriš's laws (called after communist minister of agriculture), in fact meant a complete revision of the pre-war land reform and tried to reduce maximal private property to 150 ha of agricultural land and 250 ha of any land (forests etc.). The third and final phase forbade possession of land above 50 ha for one family. This phase was carried out in April 1948, two months after communists violently overtook power. Farms started to be collectivised, mostly under threat of sanctions. The most obstinate farmers were persecuted and imprisoned. The most common form of collectivization was agricultural cooperative (in Czech Jednotné zemědělské družstvo, JZD; in Slovak Jednotné roľnícke družstvo, JRD ). The collectivisation was implemented in three stages (1949-1952,1953-1955,1955-1960) and officially ended with implementation of the constitution establishing the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, which illegalized private ownership.

Many early cooperatives collapsed and were recreated again. Their productivity was low, since they provided tiny salaries and no pensions, and they failed to create a sense of collective ownership (small scale pilfering was common). Food became scarce. Seeing the massive outflow of people from agriculture into cities, the government started to massively subsidise the cooperatives in order to make the standard of living of farmers equal to that of city inhabitants (this was the long term official policy of the government). Funds, machinery and fertilizers were provided, young people from villages were forced to study agriculture, and students were regularly sent (mandatorily) to help in cooperatives.

Subsidies and constant pressure destroyed the remaining private farmers (only a handful of them remained after the 1960s). The lifestyle of villagers had eventually reached the level of cities and village poverty was eliminated. Czechoslovakia was again able to produce enough food for its citizens. The price of this success was a huge waste of resources - the cooperatives had no motivation to improve efficiency. Every piece of land was cultivated regardless of the expense involved and the soil got heavily polluted with chemicals. Intensive use of heavy machinery damaged topsoil. The cooperatives were infamous for overemployment.

In the late 1980s the economy of Czechoslovakia stagnated and the state owned companies were unable to deal with advent of modern technologies. A few agricultural companies (where the rules were less strict than in state companies) used this situation to start providing high-tech products. For example, the only way to buy a PC compatible computer in the late 1980s was to get it (for an extremely high price) from one agricultural company acting as a reseller.

After the fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia (1989) subsidies to agriculture were stopped, with devastating effect. Most of the cooperatives had problems competing with technologically advanced foreign competition and were unable to obtain investment to improve their situation. Quite a large percentage of them collapsed, the others remaining typically insufficiently funded, lacking competent management, without new machinery and living from day to day. Employment in the agricultural sector dropped significantly (from approx. 3% of the population to approx. 1%). Contrary to expectations, few people decided to be private farmers - the competition is heavy, access to investment hard and only a few are willing to work very hard on a farm.

[edit] People's Republic of China

Collective farming began in the People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong. It was further pursued during the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to rapidly mobilize the country in an effort to transform China into an industrialized communist society. The policy mistakes associated with this collectivization attempt during the Great Leap Forward resulted in mass starvation. According to various sources, the death toll due to famine was most likely about 20 to 30 million people. The three years between 1959 and 1962 were known as the "Three Bitter Years" and the Three Years of Natural Disasters.

[edit] North Korea

While Hungary arguably provides the best positive example of collective farming in a communist state, North Korea provides its negative counterpart. In the late 1990s, the collective farming system collapsed under the strain of droughts. Estimates of deaths due to starvation ranged into the millions, although the government did not allow outside observers to survey the extent of the famine. Aggravating the severity of the famine, the government diverted international relief supplies to its armed forces.

[edit] Israel

The neutrality of this article is disputed.
Please see the discussion on the talk page.

Collective farming (of the completely voluntary kind) was also implemented in Kibbutzim as a unique combination of Zionism and socialism. The concept still faces occasional criticism as inefficient and over reliant on state subsidies, but debates tend to be highly politicized.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] References

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de:Kollektivierung it:Collettivizzazione he:קולקטיביזציה nl:Collectivisatie pl:Kolektywizacja ro:Agricultură colectivizată

Collective farming

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