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Multiple succession and land division on family farms in the South East of England: a counterbalance to agricultural concentration?

By Rob J.F. Burton and Nigel Walford


One of the main indicators of industrialisation in agriculture has been the increase in farm sizes as farms are amalgamated to form larger, more economically efficient units. While the processes of farm amalgamation are relatively well understood, the processes by which large farms may be dispersed are less well understood. In particular, while multiple succession is relatively common in other European countries, in the UK the Common Law rule of primogeniture has meant that multiple succession as a means of land dispersal has rarely been considered. This study uses a sample of 154 historically large farms in the South East of England and traces multiple succession over the last 40 years, making observations on possible impacts on average farm size and the social processes by which farms are divided. Almost one-third of the farms were found to have divided through multiple succession between 1960 and 1999. While the farms surveyed in this study were large and thus theoretically more likely to be able to divide, there was no substantial evidence to support farm size as a limiting factor, suggesting that multiple succession as a process may be more widespread than previously thought. This has consequences for our current understanding of the concentration of agriculture in the UK

Topics: geography
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2005
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2005.04.004
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