1.3 Man and Land at Society Level

The shrinking number of farms and agricultural labour force, the ever decreasing share of agriculture in the national income, and the increasing penetration of industrialization into our life often lead to the notion that the importance of agriculture for economy and society is diminishing. Instead, it is suggested that the goals set by society for agriculture and the functions of land in the society are changing as compared to former times.

Providing food for the agricultural as well as non-agricultural sections of the society has always been one of the main tasks and plays an important role even in times of international trade. The latest events have brought to everybody's mind the importance of producing the basis of nutrition within the country, i.e., under its own control. But, in earlier times already, a number of other goals for agriculture have played an important role.

During the depression and again in 1945-53, it was important to provide a maximum number of job opportunities to guarantee subsistence for as many people as possible. From 1934-55, a maximum of self-sufficiency in food constituted the core of agrarian policy. As from 1956, the focus of attention was on reaping, for the agricultural population, an income comparable to that earned in industry. In 1958, other goals started to attract attention: agriculture was required to secure a beautiful landscape, a place where city dwellers could spend their vacation, and rest from the noise of the town. The last decade with its focus on pollution, the preservation of nature, etc. brought new goals set by society to agriculture.

The changes in the relation between man and land are manifold, but change is a natural thing in industrial society, and agriculture has to adjust to the norms of industrial society. While these changes have been a cause of friction for many families, for the first time in history, these very changes have demolished the barrier between city and country and made of the rural society an integral section of the society at large.