This book deals with the ways in which farmers in West Zeeland Flanders, a region in the south west of the Netherlands, reacted to adverse economic circumstances, especially during the first half of the eighteenth century, and the effects their decisions had for society as a whole. Between 1700 and 1750, when prices for agricultural products were low, farmers extended wheat cultivation and cut down labour costs by replacing local labourers with migrant workers. Farmers who were successful in adjusting to the adverse circumstances were able to enlarge their holdings and become landowners. They became a rural elite that was able to maintain itself by way of a system of inheritance that ensured the existence of large holdings. Farm labourers, however, became impoverished, because there was not enough employment in agriculture. This caused social problems, resulting in mass emigration around the middle of the nineteenth century.