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4050 BC
Agriculture arrived fully formed in Kent, Engalnd, about this time.
Links: Britain, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
4000 BC
People in the Yellow River Valley switched from hunting and gathering to agriculture.
Links: China, Agriculture, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
3800 BC
The Supe people, a maritime farming community, was established about this time along the coast of Peru.
Links: Peru, Agriculture, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
3600 BC
The Supe people, a maritime farming community along the coast of Peru, disappeared about this time. In 2009 researchers found their disappearance coincided with earthquakes and landslides followed by massive flooding.
Links: Peru, Earthquake, Agriculture, HistoryBC, Flood     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
3600 BC
In 2012 South Korean archaeologist Cho Mi-soon said that the nation’s archeological agency has found the remains of a farming field from the Neolithic period on South Korea's east coast and that the site may date to about this time.
Links: South Korea, Agriculture, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1601
Large portions of Russia received heavy rains in the summer of 1601, and by the end of the growing season it was clear that most crops would fail. This was later related to a major earthquake in Peru in 1600.
Links: Russia, Peru, Earthquake, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1602
1603
In Russia agricultural failure in 1601 led to widespread starvation in both 1602 and 1603. It claimed the lives of an estimated 2 million people, or about one-third of the population, and more than 100,000 died in Moscow alone. Government inability to alleviate both the calamity and the subsequent unrest eventually led to the overthrow of Czar Boris Godunov, a defining event in Russian history.
Links: Russia, Food, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1701
Jethro Tull (1674-1741), a farmer in Berkshire, England, created a horse-drawn mechanical drill to plant seeds in a row.
Links: Britain, Technology, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1818
1820
Cotton prices dropped by 50% during this period as world production exploded.
Links: Economics, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1830 Aug
The Swing Riots, a widespread uprising by English agricultural workers, began with the destruction of threshing machines in the Elham Valley area of East Kent in the summer. By early December the riots spread throughout the whole of southern England and East Anglia.
Links: Britain, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1835
The San Ysidro church was built on the outskirts of Santa Fe, NM. It was named after the patron saint of farmers.
Links: USA, New Mexico, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1853
The California Farmer magazine was founded by Col. J.L.L. Warren, a British immigrant who came to California in 1849. Its last issue was published in 2013.
Links: California, Magazine, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1859
The Shafter family of San Francisco bought 50,000 acres of West Marin pastures for dairy farms. The land was eventually divided into individual ranches, each designated by a letter. In 2009 the B Ranch shut down dairy production due to falling milk prices and rising costs.
Links: USA, SF, SF Bay Area, Agriculture, Real Estate     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1887 Feb 4
The US federal Interstate Commerce Commission Act was passed. It was enacted to restrict monopolies but did not have much power of enforcement. It regulated railroads and protected farmers from fees that it judged excessive. The US Congress designated rail a common-carrier service.
Links: USA, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1908 Dec 1
The US Dept. of Agriculture as of this day restricted opium imports to the US based on morphine content. Opium with under 3% morphine, which included opium for smoking, was restricted. This severely impacted the customs revenue in San Francisco and created an uproar in the city’s Chinatown. The law became effective as of April 1, 2009.
Links: USA, SF, Drugs, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
1911 Mar
The American Economic Review (AER) published its first article, a look at irrigation in the western United States.
Links: USA, Economics, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1912
Australian pioneers diverted the waters of the Murrumbidgee River to create one of the biggest irrigation projects in the country.
Links: Australia, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1914
The non-profit 4-H your organization (head, heart, hands, and health) went national. It was administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The foundations of 4-H began around the start of the 20th century, with the work of several people in different parts of the United States.
Links: USA, DC, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1921
Col. J.G. Boswell, a cotton farmer from Georgia whose business was ruined by the boll weevil, arrived in California and began to acquire land in the central valley. The Boswell family took advantage of federal programs to stop droughts and floods and helped get the Army Corps of Engineers to build Pine Flat Dam, which drained Lake Tulare. In 1952 his nephew J.G. Boswell II (1923-2009) took control of the company. In 2003 Mark Arax and Rick Wartzman authored "The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire."
Links: USA, California, Biography, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1922 Feb 18
Pres. Harding signed the Capper-Volstead Act. It exempted farmers from federal antitrust laws permitting them to share prices and orchestrate supply.
Links: USA, Food, HardingW, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1924
The Saskatchewan Wheat Pool was established as a grain handling, agri-food processing and marketing company based in Regina, Saskatchewan. In 2007 it became known as Viterra. In 2012 it was taken over by Swiss-based Glencore.
Links: Canada, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1928 Apr
In California Mexican workers formed "The Imperial Valley Workers Union" to try to challenge the wage abuses they had been experiences. In May the union sent out letters to all the growers respectfully asking for 15 cents a crate for picking cantaloupes or 75 cents an hour for the labor. In October of 1933 and June 1934 there were many strikes that resulted in violent reactions by the police and growers.
Links: California, Labor, Mexico, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1930 May 13
A farmer was killed in a hailstorm near Lubbock, Texas. His death became the only US death officially attributed to hail.
Links: USA, Texas, WeatherUS, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1930 Nov 13
In California the Fresno Bee reported that Al Capone, Chicago gangland leader, had banned the sale of grape juice concentrates in Chicago. The order was said to be a warning to California grape farmers that they need his approval to sell their products in certain markets.
Links: USA, California, Chicago, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1932
In Mali French colonial authorities planned a 2.47 million acre irrigation project to grow cotton and rice and to develop hydropower in the Mali desert. By 1982 only 6% of the region was developed. The World Bank took over in 1985 with some success in farming rice.
Links: Mali, France, World Bank, Food, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1933
The Minnesota Mortgage Moratorium Law of 1933 was enacted to help farmers hold on to their property during the Depression.
Links: USA, Minnesota, Agriculture, Real Estate     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1933
A Wisconsin milk strike began as a series of strikes conducted by a cooperative group of dairy farmers in an attempt to raise the price of milk paid to producers during the Great Depression. Three main strike periods occurred in 100933, with length of time and level of violence increased during each one.
Links: USA, Labor, Food, Wisconsin, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1935
In Australia cane toads (Bufo marinus) from Hawaii were introduced to wipe out beetles that were devastating Queensland's sugar cane industry. The beetles survived and the toads became a pest and a threat to the native quolls, small spotted marsupials. On March 28, 2009, a festive mass killing of the creatures began as “Toad Day Out.” The corpses were turned into fertilizer for the very farmers who've battled the pests for years.
Links: Australia, Food, Animal, Hawaii, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1937 Jun 3
The US Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 was signed. It provided authority for federal marketing orders, and also reaffirmed the marketing agreements provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933.
Links: USA, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1942
The US Dept. of Agriculture produced the film “Hemp for Victory,” which urged farmers to grow hemp after Japan’s seizure of the Philippines curtailed supply.
Links: USA, Japan, Philippines, Film, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1944
Dr. Norman Borlaug (b.1914), a microbiologist on the staff of the du Pont de Nemours Foundation, arrived in Mexico to deal with the failure of the wheat crop caused by stem rust. In 1970 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for developing new strains of wheat as well as systems for fertilizing and nurturing growth.
Links: Microbiology, Mexico, Food, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1946 Apr
The British Labour government authorized a mission to visit suitable sites in its Tanganyika colony to cultivate groundnuts. The British Labour government of Clement Attlee had come up with a plan to cultivate tracts of what later became Tanzania with peanuts in a plan that came to be called the Tanganyika Groundnut Scheme. It was abandoned at considerable cost to the taxpayers when it did not become profitable.
Links: Britain, Tanzania, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1950
A stem rust outbreak destroyed nearly 70% of North American wheat crops before a resistant wheat was developed. In 2005 a mutating strain dubbed Ug99 spread across East Africa and threatened crops worldwide.
Links: USA, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1952
In Egypt some 2,000 vast estates occupied half the country’s fertile land and millions of illiterate peasants toiled as sharecroppers.
Links: Egypt, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1953
Bolivia’s agrarian reform of 1953, born of the1952 revolution, was adversely affected by corruption and pressure groups. By 1996, 55 million hectares had been handed over to large landholders, and 45 million hectares to small farmers.
Links: Bolivia, Agriculture, Corruption     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
1953
1955
Bolivia’s President Paz Estenssoro established universal suffrage. The government reduced the size and budget of the armed forces. The three major tin companies were nationalized, to be run by the Mining Corporation of Bolivia (Comibol). Strongly influenced by peasants, the government enacted sweeping agrarian reform. Miners organized the Bolivian Labor Federation (COB).
Links: Bolivia, Labor, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1953
The Khapra beetle, one of the world's most tenacious and destructive stored-produce pests, first invaded California. It originated in South Asia. The California infestation was not eradicated until 1966, at a cost of $15 million.
Links: USA, California, Insects, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1954 Jul 10
Pres. Eisenhower signed Public Law 480, the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954, which later became known as the “Food for Peace” program.
Links: USA, Food, Agriculture, EisenhowerD     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1954
In Colombia fewer than 24,000 people, 3% of landowners, held 55% of all farmland.
Links: Colombia, Agriculture, Real Estate     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1963 Mar
Norman Borlaug, plant breeder, arrived in India and began testing new varieties of Mexican wheat, whose yields were shown to be 4-5 times better than Indian varieties. In 1970 he won the Nobel Prize for his development of high-yield wheat varieties for which he was dubbed father of the "Green Revolution."
Links: India, Food, BioTech, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1963
India’s huge Bhakra dam was built in Himachal Pradesh. It brought 7 million hectares of northwest India under irrigation.
Links: India, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1965
California State Assemblyman John Williamson (d.1998 at 85) authored the California Land Conservation Act that offered tax breaks to farmers who agreed not to sell their property for at least 10 years. In 1998 the Williamson Act was amended to increase the farm preservation contracts from 10 to 30 years.
Links: USA, California, Environment, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1965
International Harvester introduced its turbocharged Farmall 1206 tractor.
Links: USA, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1965
Israel’s Netafim began on a Kibbutz in the Negev desert as a firm selling drip irrigations systems. By 2011 it boasted sales of over $600 million.
Links: Israel, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1968
The Aral Sea between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan began shrinking about this time after Soviet engineers diverted water from its 2 feeder streams, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya. The water was diverted to a massive dam and irrigation system for cotton production.
Links: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Environment, USSR, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1969
Refco, a futures trading company, was founded as Ray E. Friedman and Co. and served as a middleman between farmers and food buyers. The company went public in 2005 at $22 per share and filed for bankruptcy 6 weeks later.
Links: USA, Food, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1969
1973
The US Air Force dropped 539,129 tons of bombs on Cambodia and killed some 700,000 people. The bombing drove rural people into the cities and caused a collapse of the agricultural system that contributed to the rise of the Khmer Rouge and a famine that was later blamed on the Khmer Rouge.
Links: USA, Cambodia, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1970 Apr 10
In California grape grower Lionel Steinberg (d.1999 at 79) signed the initial contract with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers.
Links: USA, California, Labor, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1970 Oct
The Nobel Peace Prize was won by Norman Borlaug (1914-2009) for his development of high-yield wheat varieties for which he was dubbed father of the "Green Revolution." In 2006 Leon Hesser authored ”The Man Who Fed the World,” a biography of Borlaug.
Links: Nobel Prize, Food, Biography, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1971 May 26
Juan Corona (b.1934) was arrested for 25 murders. The farm labor contractor from Yuba City Ca., had killed and mutilated 25 farm workers. He was convicted to life in prison.
Links: USA, California, Murder, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1971
The Consultative Group on Int’l. Agricultural Research (CGIAR) was founded.
Links: Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1971
Stephen Gaskin (b.1935) and some 300 hundred San Francisco hippies started the Tennessee rural commune called The Farm. It was located on a 1,750 acre property in Lewis County and based not on rules but on agreements.
Links: USA, Tennessee, SF, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1971
An Arizona law under Gov. Jack Williams (1909-1998) outlawed secondary boycotts and harvest-time strikes, tools used by the growing UFW.
Links: Labor, Arizona, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1971
Japan’s gentan policy began whereby the government began paying rice farmers to reduce rice crops. It was designed to shield farmers from short term price fluctuations. In 2013 the agricultural ministry said the policy would be phased out by 2018.
Links: Japan, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1972 Jul 8
The US signed an agreement to sell grain to USSR for $750 million. Soviet grain buyers over 6 weeks purchased the US grain. This was later called the "great grain robbery" and the privately-held agribusiness giant Cargill played a major role. The story of Cargill was told in the 1998 book "Cargill Going Global" by Wayne Broehl Jr.
Links: Russia, USA, USSR, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
1972
The US government outlawed the pesticide DDT. It followed the suit filed by Ralph Abascal (d.1997 at 63) of California Rural Legal Assistance on behalf of six farmworkers. The federal law prevented California’s Montrose Chemical Co. from dumping DDT into the ocean off the Palos Verdes peninsula.
Links: USA, Environment, Insects, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1972
In Britain environmental activists founded WWOOF, Weekend Workers on Organic Farms. Weekend was later replaced by Willing.
Links: Britain, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1973 Aug 21
Teamster's Union and AFL-CIO's United Farm Workers' union came to a settlement with regard to organizing grape growers in California. In response Cesar Chavez called an end to the UFW grape strike. A nationwide boycott of California’s non-union grapes, lettuce and Gallo wines was stepped up.
Links: USA, California, Labor, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1973
Oregon adopted “urban growth boundaries” (UGBs) setting rules limiting urban sprawl and preserving farmland.
Links: USA, Oregon, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1973
Brazil’s Agricultural Research Corp. (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquesa Agropecuaria, aka Embrapa) was set up as a public company by the ruling generals. It grew to become the world’s leading tropical research institution.
Links: Brazil, Agriculture     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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