Battle for Land
The Battle For Land, started in 1928 in Italy by Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

, aimed to clear marshland and make it suitable for farming, as well as reclaiming land and reducing health risks.


  • To increase the land available for cereal production and help the Battle for Grain
    Battle for Grain
    The Battle for Grain was an economic policy undertaken by the Fascists in Italy during the 1920s as a move toward autarky.-Background:When Benito Mussolini took over as Prime Minister of Italy in 1922 the economy was in a bad state following World War I...

  • Provide more jobs, reducing unemployment, stimulating demand
  • To improve health by reducing malaria therefore improving living standards
  • To show dynamic government in action, impressing foreigners
  • To revive rural Italy by altering the pattern of small farmers at the expense of large estates.


  • Expanded previous government’s schemes of providing money to drain or irrigate farmland (laws passed in 1923, ’28 and ’33)
  • The Pontine marshes, only 50 km from Rome and thus easily accessible by foreign journalists, were the showpiece; by 1935 they provided land for settlement
  • Malaria swamps were drained and a network of small farms were set up, owned by ex-servicemen
  • Large subsidies were given to private landowners who were encouraged to cooperate with drainage schemes and administer the schemes
  • Fascist propaganda stressed the need to revive the rural areas and to build up a strong peasantry.


  • Public health was improved
  • Provided thousands of jobs during the depression
  • New towns – Latina and Sabaudia
    Sabaudia is a coastal town in the province of Latina, Lazio, central Italy. Sabaudia's center is characterized by several examples of Fascist architecture.-History:...

    – created as show pieces
  • Between 1928 and 1938 80,000 hectares were reclaimed.


  • The 80,000 ha reclaimed was only one-twentieth of the propaganda claim which was one-sixth of Italy’s land
  • Three quarters of land was in the North; the South was neglected which needed improving the most
  • Ambitious plans were blocked by southern landowners
  • The Fascist regime achieved nothing in the way of land redistribution, which was, in any event, inconsistent with the central thrust of the more high profile Battle for Grain
  • Subsidies benefitted large landowners rather than peasants; fewer than 10,000 peasant families were re-settled on reclaimed land, because the desire for increased wheat production called for large scale, machine based farming methods, not hand labour on peasant plots.
  • The scheme was abandoned in 1940.


The Battle for Land was, again, more style than substance. Propaganda enlarged the realities of the amount of land reclaimed – a mere 80,000 hectares compared to the claim of 1,600,000 hectares. It was successful in improving public health and had a great impact on jobs which was not to be underestimated given the depression. However, farming was not particularly boosted – the beneficiaries largely the large landowners and the North rather than the needier South. Its publicity value and role in supporting the Battle for Grain, however, should not be underestimated.
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