As with so many other official statistics, the first half of the nineteenth century saw the beginnings of those relating to agriculture in most of the countries of western Europe, and the second half saw their extension to eastern Europe. In some ways it is surprising that Britain, which during the Napoleonic Wars was the first country to face difficulties in feeding itself without substantial imports, was not the first to collect statistics of farm use. However, despite some attempts at that time,1 it is clear that the necessary administrative machinery was lacking until around the middle of the nineteenth century when there was a good deal of opposition to the principle of government inquisition. This was not overcome where Great Britain was concerned-it had not applied to the gathering of statistics in Ireland-until the late 1860s or even, so far as output statistics were concerned, until the 1880s. Meanwhile, official agricultural statistics had begun in almost every other country in Europe, though not always on a regular annual basis.


Sugar Beet Official Publication Early Statistic Early Figure Subsequent Statistic 
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© B R Mitchell 1992

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  • B. R. Mitchell

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