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Metayer

system, land, midayage and capital

METAYER, au'tnyer, farmer who tills the land for half the produce). An agricultural tenant who works the land with capital owned by the landlord, and pays as rental a fixed proportion of the crop. It may in general be said to be the resource of a community where cultivators are without capital. In the United States such a system of renting land on shares ; prevails tnainly in the South, but as time pro gresses money rents are subst it uted more and more for share rents, and this seems to be the natural tendency where the ecomanie position of the ten- I ants improves. The system of mr-tayage is still very common in Italy. parts of Austria and Ilus sia, and in Portugal and in the West Indies. It is, however, less eommon at present than it was formerly, the system of leasing laud for a cash rental tending to displace it as agricultural capi tal becomes more plentiful. Witayage is a sys tem which possesses nun rked social advantages. hut equally marked economic disadvantages. The midayer cannot be rack-rented; bad seasons can not drive hint into bankruptcy; the increase in value of produce due to improved means of trans portation redound to his advantage as well as to that of the landlord. Midayage, therefore. tends to create a class of peasantry who are in large measure independent of the price movements which are so great a source of anxiety to the small farmer who is compelled to make periodic money payments for rent. But. on the other

hand. there is slight inducement for either mtMa yer or landowner to make improvements. since one-half of the resulting increase in product goes to the other party on the division of the crop. Midayage has for this reason tended to perpetu ate primitive conditions of agriculture. This evil is, however, not neeessarily inherent in the system, since it, would be quite possible for land owner and to toyer to unite in making improve ments, and this practice is not uncommon in France. It is also possible to make an agree ment as to a separate return for the capital in vested. The coulomic disadvantages of divided responsibility would still remain. and for this reason midayage can hardly survive in highly ad- ' vanced economic conditions. Its existence in se large a part of Europe is probably to he ex plained by the persistency of custom among the agricultural population. See Cruveilhier. Etude stir be me ayage (Paris, 1894). An excellent ac count of the system in practice is to.he found in "Midayage in Western France," in Era- ?tom le Journal 1594). See also art He on "31M a ge" in Pa 1 g ra ve. Dictionary of Political Economy. The standard works on political econ omy usually devote some attention to the merits of inetarag,e. Consult: Especially. Adam Smith, Wraith of Yotion.q; Mill. Political Economy.