Agrarian Structure and Performance

  • M. H. J. Finch


Because of Uruguay’s almost complete reliance on the agricultural sector for its supply of exports and raw materials for export industries the growth performance of the sector has great importance as a determinant of the long-run performance of the economy as a whole. It is still more significant because the argument made in Chapter 1, that a characteristic of the social system throughout this century has been the autonomy of the political system relative to the dominant class, might be taken to explain the way in which the rural sector has developed. Bluntly, responsibility for the weak performance of agriculture might be laid at the door of the batllistas and their political heirs. In this chapter the structure and growth record of the sector are examined in some detail leaving to Chapter 4 analysis of possible explanations of the sector’s problems and performance.


Political Economy Livestock Production Farm Size Natural Pasture Rural Sector 
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  1. 1.
    Preston E. James, Latin America, 3rd ed. (New York: The Odyssey Press, 1959), describes Uruguay as ‘a transitional land between the Humid Pampa and the hilly uplands and plateaus of Brazil’ (p. 367). For a detailed summary of the geological structure, based on the work of the Instituto Geológico del Uruguay, see CLEH-CINAM, Uruguay Rural, pp. 36–7.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    The data for 1913 was based on information relating to 1912–14. The degree of inequality it reveals is also analysed in Mercedes Quijano, ‘El Batllismo: Su Política Fiscal y la Burguesía Agraria Entre 1900 y 1930’, Enfoques Sobre el Período Batllista, Cuadernos de Ciencias Sociales, 2 (1972) 46–52, where it is presented as data for 1918.Google Scholar
  3. 17.
    On the early history of colonisation, see Isaac Morón, Problemas de la Colonización en el Uruguay (Montevideo, 1945); Carlos A. Viera, ‘La Experiencia Nacional en Materia de Colonización y la Ley No. 11, 029 de 12 de enero de 1948’, Revista de Economía, vol. II (1948);Google Scholar
  4. and María Teresa Montañes, Desarrollo del la Agricultura en el Uruguay, (Montevideo, 1948) pp. 110–14.Google Scholar
  5. 25.
    From 238,000 in 1951 to 200,000 in 1961: BROU, Producción Agropecuaria (Montevideo, 1966) p. 10.Google Scholar
  6. 29.
    The 1951 census found 138,000 employed in arable production, compared with the 1948 figure of 84,000 in MGA, Recopilación de la Estadística Agropecuaria del Uruguay (Montevideo, 1950).Google Scholar
  7. 31.
    A. Boerger and G. Fischer, ‘El Problema Agrícola de la República Oriental del Uruguay’, Revista del Ministerio de Industrias, X, no. 63 (1922) 3–115.Google Scholar
  8. 41.
    Marta Díaz Rebajoli, El Valor de Producción en el Sector Agropecuario, (Instituto de Economía 1966), p. 165. Similar figures are reported in CLEH-CINAM, Uruguay Rural, p. 109.Google Scholar
  9. 47.
    Criadores del Uruguay, Cincuentenario de la Fundación de los Registros Genealógicos de la Asociación Rural del Uruguay, (Montevideo, 1937), pp. 443–4.Google Scholar
  10. 48.
    MGA, Recopilación, pp. 127–8. Guillermo Vázquez Franco, ‘El Uruguay Entre la Convención de Paz y los Convenios de Ottawa’, in Uruguay: Las Raices de la Independencia, Cuadernos de Marcha, no.4 (Montevideo, 1967), estimates that by 1930 93 per cent of cattle contained Hereford or Shorthorn blood (p. 31).Google Scholar
  11. 49.
    UN ECLA/FAO, Livestock in Latin America; Status, Problems and Prospects. I. Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela (New York, 1962, E/CN. 12/620) p. 53; CIDE, Estudio Económico, vol. I, p. II 24; MGA-CIDE, Estudio Económico y Social de Agricultura, vol. II, p. 309. The observation of Martínez Lamas, that ‘according to experts, only 30 per cent of the cattle of the country have been satisfactorily improved in terms of yield’, appears to have been unduly pessimistic (Riqueza y Pobreza, p. 231).Google Scholar
  12. 52.
    For an early attack on the landowners as ‘an obstructionist and avaricious class’, see Luis E. Azarola Gil, La Sociedad Uruguaya y Sus Problemas (Paris: Liberia Paul Ollendorff, 1911), p. 95.Google Scholar
  13. 56.
    The justification for doing so is the difficulty of explaining the apparent net loss of 14.8 million sheep in the following eight years. Ruano Fournier explains it by higher rates of slaughter by frigoríficos and for consumption, by exports of live animals, and by disease: Agustín Ruano Fournier, Estudio Económico de la Producción de las Carnes del Río de la Plata (Montevideo: Peña y Cia., 1936) p. 46. However, even doubling the recorded slaughter leaves 6.9 million to die by disease.Google Scholar
  14. 57.
    Instituto de Economía, El Proceso Económico del Uruguay (Montevideo: Universidad de la República, 1969), p. 99.Google Scholar
  15. 60.
    Russell H. Brannon, The Agricultural Development of Uruguay (New York: Praeger, 1967), p. 109.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© M. H. J. Finch 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. H. J. Finch
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LiverpoolUK

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