Farmland tenure policy

Patrick H. Mooney, Jess Gilbert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Over 40 years ago land economist Leonard Salter (1943:317-320) raised the question: “Do we need a new land policy?” He pointed to some of the mistaken assumptions about the “colossal experiment” of land policy in U.S. history. He argued that the mistake was not in “trying to establish a system of independent land ownership with a high degree of freedom for the owners of land.” Rather, the mistake was to assume that the system would work automatically, without state intervention. Salter also pointed out that “when the ownership of land is purely a commercial transaction,” we do not have “a self-perpetuating system, but a self-destructive system” in which farmers lose equity in the land they work, as well as security in the society in which they live, while the wealth of the soil itself is continually depleted. He argued that the real question is whether we can find ways to assure farm people of the “right to find economic opportunity and equality and security in the holding of their land.” At the same time, we must also find devices “that will protect our land and the people who work it from these cumulative and self-destructive tendencies which operate when private ownership of the soil is interpreted to mean the right to use land titles as financial playthings.”

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRural Policies for the 1990s
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781000238570
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)


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