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Trade agreements and the evolution of British agricultural policy in the 1930s

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The plight of the farming community during the depression was an important element in the protectionist campaign gathering momentum in the UK from 1929 onwards. Britain was caught up in the world crisis of primary producers. With her open market, she became a dumping ground for surplus world food production. Imports of commodities also produced by British farmers increased in volume by as much as seventeen per cent between 1927-9 and 1931. In the three years from September I929, farm prices fell by thirty-four per cent, and by June 1933 were back at the level they had been before the First World War. Although touching the sympathies of successive Ministers of Agriculture in the minority Labour administration of 1929-31, and of Ramsay MacDonald himself, proposals for assistance foundered on the rock of Snowden's opposition. The Conservatives, however, fully pledged to agricultural protection from October 1930, were a dominant force in the National Government which came to power in the autumn of 1931. When, in the winter of 1931-2, Britain abandoned free trade, an era of protection and subsidized support for farmers was inaugurated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-190
Number of pages18
JournalAgricultural History Review
Volume33
Publication statusPublished - 1985

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