Andrew Schmitz and Charles B. Moss
University of Florida

Mechanization in such countries as the United States and Canada has dramatically reshaped the agricultural landscape since the time of early settlement. The introduction of new technologies— such as the mechanical tomato harvester, grain combines, and large four-wheel-drive tractors—has resulted in an increase in both farm size and agricultural output, a decrease in the demand for farm labor, and the demise of rural comunities. The adoption of new technologies results in losers and gainers; a debate centers around whether losers should be compensated. Agricultural labor includes workers that are employed in packing and processing plants in which wages are generally low (somewhere near the minimum wage) and working conditions are less than desirable.

Key words: Labor demand, technical innovation, rural communities.