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Agriculture and state


The future development of Minnesota agriculture will be strongly influenced by new technologies and government policies that will alter prices for farm inputs and outputs. While some farm operations will fail under most expected price regimes, a loss of farmers will probably not have a significant impact on overall farm production. However, the new technologies and government policies could shift Minnesota farming into either a more intensive (less land, higher yield) or more extensive (more land, lower yield) mode of operation. A shift either way will have important implications for Minnesotans. Ownership and residence patterns, ground water quality, habitat and soil conservation efforts, and the overall character of the landscape all will be affected differently.

If policy makers could anticipate the directions of these shifts, the state might be able to plan for the new environment or at least buffer the inevitable disruptions. But analysts have not proven very good at predicting, both because of uncertainty as to which trends are relevant and because of unforeseen events that move the trends away from historic patterns. Consequently, policy makers need to design farm programs that are individually limited in scope and as a group are flexible and responsive to changing economic conditions.

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