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Patterns of Economic Development


Farming is relatively more important in Mexico than it is in the other North American countries and provides employment for 28 percent of the labor force (compared with some 3 percent in the United States and 4 percent in Canada). Subsistence farming is still important throughout Mexico, especially in the south; commercial agriculture is well developed in many areas, however, particularly in the central plateau and in the north. The leading commodities are corn, wheat, and beans, which are raised mostly for domestic consumption, and cotton, cattle, coffee, and sugar, which are produced largely for export.

Agriculture in the United States and Canada is dominated by highly mechanized farms, which produce immense quantities of crops, livestock, and livestock products. The Great Plains of the central United States and the Canadian Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan) are major world producers of grain (particularly wheat, but also barley, oats, rye, and grain sorghum), oilseeds, and livestock (dairy and beef cattle and sheep). Perhaps the world's finest large farming area is the Corn Belt, that part of the U.S. Middle West from western Ohio to eastern Nebraska, which is the world's largest producer of corn, as well as a major supplier of other grains, soybeans, cattle, and hogs. Farming in California yields a huge amount of high-value irrigated crops, notably fruits and vegetables. Florida and Texas also are great producers of fruits and vegetables, and potatoes are grown in vast quantities in Idaho, Washington State, Oregon, Maine, North Dakota, and southeastern Canada. Other outstanding agricultural products include cotton, broiler chickens, dairy products, and sugarcane.

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