As soon as humans began to form permanent settlements and gave up wandering in search of food, agriculture was born. The Latin roots of the word agriculture mean "cultivation of the fields." From the beginning, agriculture has included raising both crops and livestock. At first, this new way of providing food and other raw materials developed slowly. But, because it made life much easier for many people, it became the preferred way of supplying a basic human need. The people who worked at agriculture came to be called farmers.
Society was different before there were farmers. Nearly everybody devoted much time to gathering plants for food or to hunting or fishing. When food was abundant, there were feasts; when it was not, there was famine. Gradually people discovered the advantages of caring for animals in flocks and herds. They learned to grow plants for food, medicine, clothing, and shelter in areas set aside for that purpose.
As the food supply became more reliable and raw materials became more abundant, some people were free to do other things besides farming and hunting. Many of them chose to live in towns and cities, using their talents in various ways, including becoming expert in different trades
Support prices are based on parity, which is the ratio between the prices farmers receive for their crops and the prices they must pay for things they need. The government selected the period from 1910 to 1914 as a time when farm prices were in a fair ratio with farming costs. This is the base period now used to determine parity prices.
In general, the world is no better fed today than decades ago. The world's population is growing at an alarming rate, and agriculture has just barely kept up with it. Despite overproduction in some nations, perhaps one out of six persons throughout the world is undernourished. Some studies show that as much as half of the world's population may be suffering from malnutrition or starvation.
Various measures for...