In eighteenth century British America agriculture was more productive and profitable in the middle colonies than in New England. A. By the mid-eighteenth century shipping had become important to the economy of the middle colonies where farmers produced large surpluses of foodstuffs for trade with Europe and elsewhere. B. The labor provided by indentured servants allowed most New England farmers to raise enough food and livestock to earn a living and leave a comfortable inheritance for their children. C. Declining farm size forced farmers to greatly reduce the time fields were left fallow, and this more intensive use of relatively poor soil resulted in seriously decreased fertility and lowered crop yields. D. Land ownership was far more important to New Englanders than to people in the middle colonies because it was necessary for political rights and economic independence only in the North. E. Land ownership was widespread in the North but a shortage of farmland and the practice of dividing family farms among the sons had left the average farm barely big enough to support a family. F. The reduced size and productivity of northern farms forced many farmers to move to other regions or to take up other occupations at least during those periods when little work was required on a farm.