DATAREV, Leading the first data revolution in European agriculture

Farm accountancy data and their impact 1870-1945

The sub-projects

DATAREV consists of 5 sub-projects:

SP.0 Database (team, 5 years) 

SP.0 creates a database of historical farm accountancy data that will be one of principal deliverables of the project and requires the collaboration of the whole team. The database is essential for the three other subprojects, SP1 and SP2 in particular. It shows us a key component of the knowledge held by agrarianist groups about the world.

SP.1 Farm accountancy data in the German-speaking world (Ph.D. student, 4 years) 

SP1 takes up the challenge of tracking the entire lifecycle of data, from data gathering to actual governance of economic and social phenomena, by focusing on the case of farm accountancy data of three German-speaking countries. 

SP.2, Agriculturalists and the Great Depression (Post-doc, 3 years) 

In recent years, economic historians have used accountancy data from families and business in ambitious new ways. Between 1930 and 1940, the IIA published the series Recueil de statistique basées sur les données de la comptabilité agricole, which collected data for the agricultural years 1927-1928 to 1936-1937 from 15 to 19 countries depending on the years. The data include indicators of input costs and their weight on the final results (including labour, industrial inputs, capital) and various indicators of profit and profit rates. For certain countries the sample is divided by size, region and farm type. These data represent an invaluable source for wages, worked hours, employment, the terms of trade of agriculture, the cost of credit and farm productivity. They will enable the researcher to address from a European perspective questions that have been haunting the debate on the Great Depression since the 1930s. SP2 will exploit the IIA series to track trends in the cost of inputs and capital and in the success of farmers by specialization and region.  

SP.3 Farm accounting as managerial innovation (PostDoc, 1-2 years) 

SP.3 will investigate the business history of farm accounting techniques, including how the innovation was spread, what motivated its adoption or its refusal by farmers and what was the impact of managerial innovation on other innovations processes that took place at the same time, namely the spread of chemical fertilizers, new machines, hygenic norms, and genetic selection of races through nationwide registers. They will also address the question whether accounting did indeed improve the final results of farming businesses.

SP.4 European agrarianism as epistemic community and policy paradigm (PI, 5 years) 

Most studies treat agrarianism as a cultural phenomenon or an ideology and a political movement. But agrarianism remains insufficiently defined. By looking at accounting offices in Europe, sub-project 5 investigates the epistemic communities that underpinned the international connections and thus benefit from research on expert governance and on international agrarianism. 

SP.4 focuses on the interaction between accountancy data and agrarianism, by looking at the Europe-wide spread of farm accountancy offices in connection with agrarian associations.

The sub-project will follow the group of agricultural experts and agrarian leaders who engaged in the creation of farm accounting offices and analyse their transnational connections. It will look at the sites of transnational debate in the late 19th  and early 20th century, until the Second World War, namely the Congrès International d’Agriculture, the International Institute of Agriculture, the International Institute of Statistics and the League of Nations.