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Wisconsin Agriculture in Historical Perspective: Economic and Social Changes
ATFFI Publications No. 4 technical report, June 1996
by Douglas Jackson-Smith

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The report is organized into two main sections. Initially, a wide range of indicators of economic performance in Wisconsin are summarized. These include measures of the physical scale of agricultural production in the state (numbers of farms, acres of farmland, and the volume of farm products sold), as well as a host of financial indicators of the aggregate economic health of the state's farm sector. The data focuses on the period from 1960 through the mid-1990s. The second section summarizes long-term patterns of change in the structure of agriculture in Wisconsin.

Finally, while university and government researchers have spent significant effort documenting the measurable dimensions of change in rural Wisconsin, farmers and rural residents experience these changes first hand. Quite often, important aspects of social and economic change go unreported in official statistics - either because they were not measured as part of official record keeping efforts or because they reflect "quality of life" issues that are not amendable to statistical documentation. As a result, the information included in this report reflects a necessarily incomplete summary of the long-term trends in Wisconsin agriculture. Its use and interpretation should be tempered by an appreciation for the real-life experiences of Wisconsin's farming population.

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