Agriculture in Ancient Rome
Farmers could donate surplus crops to the government in lieu of a monetary tax. This system allowed both republican and imperial rulers to gain popularity with the masses through free grain distribution and also help to feed the legions at no direct cost. Unfortunately it also left farmers with little incentive to increase productivity or output, since more crop translated to more taxes and more free grain distributions.
It also meant that citizens grew dependent on free handouts and the need to provide a secure source of grain was one of the main reasons the Roman state had to expand and conquer new territories, notably in North Africa and Sicily.
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