The lessee, or farmer, tills the soil at his own risk; usually he provides live stock, implements and capital, and has no right to compensation for ordinary improvements, nor for extraordinary improvements effected without the landlords consent.
In Latium leasehold and farming by landlords prevail, but cases of, nezzadria and of improvement farms exist.
Large landlords are usually represented by ministri, or factors, who direct agricultural operations and manage the estates, but the estate is often let to a middleman, or mercante di campagna.
The strikes and other economic agitations at this time may be divided roughly into three groups: strikes in industrial centres for higher wages, shorter hours and better labor conditions generally; strikes of agricultural laborers in northern Italy for better contracts with the landlords; disturbances among the south Italian peasantry due to low wages, unemployment (particularly in Apulia), and the claims of the laborers to public land occupied illegally by the landlords, combined with local feuds and the struggle for power of the various influential families.
The landlords on their part organized an agrarian union to defend their interests and enrolled numbers of non-union laborers to carry on the necessary work and save the crops.