How Successful Were The Agrarian Reforms of Stolypin 1906 – 1914? Paper
During the years 1906-1914, Stolypin introduced many agrarian reforms some, like the implementation of a new farming method and the creation of a new type of farmer, saw more success than others, like the reform to establish independent land ownership. Mostly though, Stolypin’s reforms had little success due to the short time span, resulting from his assassination in 1911 and the outbreak of WW1. Despite this, some success was evident and if more time had elapsed, maybe more success would have been imminent. The most successful reform was the creation of a new farming method and two new types of farmers.
Firstly, Russia was still using the traditional three-field system in which each farmer had on or two strips in each of the three fields. Each field had a designated crop which was rotated each year- this included resting one field each year. This meant each peasant farmer had no choice in selecting the crops to grow. Stolypin changed this and introduced the method of consolidating the land which was used in the western world. Each farmer could consolidate any three strips and choose what they would farm. This then created the two new pes of farmers- Otrub and Khutor.
Otrub would not live on the farm whereas the Khutors would this would then lead to the creation of the wealthy middle class- the Kulaks. The Kulaks then had enough money to buy out poorer peasants who would then move to urban cities which then improved the industry. This also meant the Kulaks could afford to buy more modern farming machinery which created a consumer demand for products. Also through the creation of the Kulaks, there was more support for the Tsar because the Kulaks didn’t want their wealth to disappear through the communist revolution.
However, there were also significant failures with this reform. Firstly, the reforms didn’t address the key issue –the redistribution of noble owned land; a land hunger still remained. This meant there was still an unfair balance between the peasants and nobles. Secondly, most peasants were reluctant to change from the old, traditional methods and therefore by 1914, 90% of peasantry holdings were till based on the three-field system. Anther reform which saw reasonable success was the aim to improve agriculture through the consolidation land.
This reform would rid Russia of its traditional three-field system and replace it with a new system. This would then create an incentive to work and to do well as success depended on the peasant farmers and not other people like the mirs. Through the new farming method, the larger strips would allow for more modern farming machinery to be developed as peasant farmers and Kulaks would create a consumer demand. One of the successes with this reform was that grin production rose annually from 56 million tons in 1900 to 90 million tons in 1914.
This meant that more peasant farmers saw more success after the introduction of this farming method which then directly improved the economy meaning Russia started to depend less on foreign financial aid. Another success which improved was due to the expansions within Siberia which led Russia to becoming the world’s leading cereal exporter. This was not possible before Stolypin’s reforms and therefore, it is obvious that Stolypin’s reforms had a positive effect on Russia. Despite this, there were some failures. He improved harvest were largely due to unusually good weather conditions which created the record harvest in 1913.
Also, only 10% of land was consolidated meaning the good harvest were not a direct result of Stolypin’s reforms. With the aim to improve agriculture, Stolypin brought in the reform which took land away from struggling, poorer farmers and granted the land to those who looked stronger and more likely to be successful. This legislation encouraged more land transfers and the development of larger farms. This enhanced the Kulaks power which improved the economy through a higher rate of production and through the Kulaks ability to demand newer and more modern farming machinery.
Also, by giving land to more successful farmers, it would then result in the gaining more power which meant if there was another revolution, Nicholas II believed that the farmers would support him as they wouldn’t want their status to change or for their wealth to decrease. One of success within this reform was that the Kulaks consolidated their land which meant land was more likely to be awarded to them as they were seen to be more likely to succeed. Also, as the Kulaks wealth, they began to ‘buy out’ poorer peasants in order to create a larger, more compact, profitable and, efficient farm.
Another success of this reform was a direct effect of the other reforms as kulaks bought out poorer peasants who then moved to urban cities looking for work. This improved the industry as Russia financially able to support itself with enough food for every Russian without everyone being a farmer. However, as a result of the Kulaks ‘buying out’ poorer peasants, many peasants could afford to move to urban cities and often fell into deeper hardship. Within this group, there were also those who were too old or to rooted to seek alternative work which meant the toll rose, along with unemployment rates.
Overall, Stolypin’s reforms aw mixed success due to Stolypins assassination and the outbreak of WW1 as Stolypin himself stated that the reforms would need at least 20 years in order for success to be evident. This meant the focus from improving and modernising Russia moved towards the victory with the war. Despite the short time span, there were small improvements within Russia which were a direct result of Stolypin’s reforms. This also meant that if Stolypins time allocation had taken place then much larger improvements would probably have been made.