Land Reform

   One of the most contentious measures introduced in the immediate postwar period, the 1950 land reform was a major step in the modernization of Italian agriculture and reduced the political power of the landowning class in southern and central Italy. Pressure for land reform arose after the death of Benito Mussoliniwhen peasants in Sicily and other parts of Italy occupied and began to cultivate land left fallow by absentee landlords. Fausto Gullo of the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party (PCI), as minister for agriculture in Allied-occupied Italy, introduced a series of decrees in 1944 that allowed peasant cooperatives to take over arable land left uncultivated by its owners. Over the next two years, tens of thousands of peasants formed cooperatives, and a considerable quantity of land was put to productive use. Gullo’s decrees met with uncompromising opposition from the Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy Party (DC), worried that the PCI would reap a harvest of votes among the rural poor, and from the Partito Liberale Italiano/ Italian Liberal Party (PLI).
   Under Antonio Segni, minister for agriculture in the cabinet formed by Alcide De Gasperi in July 1946, the legal balance was restored to favor the landowners. In 1949, grievances boiled over and all of southern Italy, save Calabria and Basilicata, saw mass occupations of private land. The police intervened to defend private property, and a number of people were killed. Such repressive tactics only exacerbated tensions in the Mezzogiorno and won the DC no friends in Washington. Starting in May 1950, therefore, De Gasperi and Segni promoted three laws (one for Sicily, one for Calabria, and one for the marshland areas near Rome and the Po River valley) that aimed to break up the great estates and redistribute the land among the peasants who worked it. State land development agencies were created to improve uncultivated terrain and to sell it, at discounted prices, to landless peasants. Generous land improvement grants were provided, and the Italian government made an expensive effort to provide infrastructure for normally neglected rural regions.
   Over the next two decades, agricultural productivity rose dramatically in Italy, and the net harvest of the main crops (grain, grapes, vegetables) increased despite a sharp fall in farm workers as peasants migrated to the booming factories of the industrial cities and to northern Europe. Such gains in production, however, were due less to the land reform, which affected only a few hundred thousand people directly, than to the huge investments poured into agriculture by the DC in the 1950s and 1960s. By the 1970s, more than one-third of the average farmer’s income came from state subsidies, and unsurprisingly, the agricultural producers’associations (consorzie) became a bastion of support for the DC.
   See also Cassa per il Mezzogiorno; Latifondi; Southern Italy.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Land reform — Land reforms (also agrarian reform, though that can have a broader meaning) is an often controversial alteration in the societal arrangements whereby government administers possession and use of land. Land reform may consist of a government… …   Wikipedia

  • land reform — land reforms N VAR Land reform is a change in the system of land ownership, especially when it involves giving land to the people who actually farm it and taking it away from people who own large areas for profit. ...the new land reform policy… …   English dictionary

  • land reform — land′ reform n. gov any governmental program involving the redistribution of agricultural land among the peasants or farmers • Etymology: 1840–50 …   From formal English to slang

  • land reform — n. the redistribution of agricultural land by breaking up large landholdings and apportioning shares to small farmers, peasants, etc …   English World dictionary

  • land reform — any program, esp. when undertaken by a national government, involving the redistribution of agricultural land among the landless. [1840 50, Amer.] * * * Deliberate change in the way agricultural land is held or owned, the methods of its… …   Universalium

  • land reform — noun a redistribution of agricultural land (especially by government action) (Freq. 4) • Topics: ↑government, ↑governing, ↑governance, ↑government activity, ↑administration • Hypernyms: ↑reform …   Useful english dictionary

  • land reform — UK / US noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms land reform : singular land reform plural land reforms a process in which land is given or sold at low prices to ordinary people, so that it is not owned only by a few rich people …   English dictionary

  • land reform — žemės reforma statusas Aprobuotas sritis žemės tvarkymas ir žemės reforma apibrėžtis Žemės teisinių santykių pertvarkymas – įstatymų nuostatų atkurti piliečių nuosavybės teisę į žemę, taip pat parduoti, išnuomoti ar neatlygintinai suteikti kaip… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • land-reform — See land reform. * * * …   Universalium

  • land reform — land re.form n [U and C] the political principle of sharing farm land so that more people own some of it …   Dictionary of contemporary English

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.