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Significant improvements in agricultural education, agricultural credit facilities, and an internal transportation network had brought Sweden into a competitive position with other European states. Lindberg has argued that it is necessary to distinguish between the early migrations and those that came after 1860. Among those emigrants in the 1840s was a group of Pietists who developed a community Page 22 around Galesburg in western Illinois, which subsequently produced a new generation of Swedish pioneers for the settling of Kansas in the 1870s.
Some butter and cheese were sold in the distant towns of Berdiansk, Sebastopol, Evpatoria, and Ekaterinoslav, but the dominant pattern of Mennonite agriculture was subsistent, with a small income from the sale of wool. The leadership provided by the Agricultural Union also contributed to the revolution in Mennonite agriculture. Union officers appointed by the Russians were usually the most enterprising farmers in the district and set an excellent example for their fellow Mennonites. 14 Despite the technical advances in agriculture, an ingrained conservatism to social change persisted in the Mennonite communities, and this eventually produced a crisis.
In the early 1840s a blight appeared on the crop (and later spread to Europe), greatly reducing yields and acreages. Despite the fact that the acreage of all other crops, except barley, continued to increase during these disastrous decades, the ravages caused by the wheat midge and the potato blight were sufficient to plunge Quebec into a severe agricultural depression and even famine during the latter part of the 1830s and 1840s. In livestock farming, the habitant had not made any significant improvements in breeding animals since the days of the French regime.