The Farming Problem

Troy Muenzenberger

Post WWI

Many of the returning soldiers from WWI were farmers. While most of America enjoyed the economic growth in the 1920's, most farmers were already experiencing the great depression. Much of the 20's was a continual cycle of debt for American farmers because of new machinery that needed to be purchased, and falling farm prices. When the actual great depression hit in 1929, many farmers were pushed even farther under.

Creation of the AAA

The first "Major Deal" aimed toward helping farmers raise prices to a 1909-14 level. For this the government created the "Agricultural Adjustment Administration" or AAA. One method the AAA used was artificial scarcity, which involved farmers producing less to drive up prices. Farmers were actually payed to farm less. The AAA then identified the 7 basic farm products which the AAA would pay farmers to create less of. These products were wheat, cotton, tobacco, corn, rice, hogs, and milk.

Contraversy

The AAA demands required farmers to plow over millions of acres of already planted crops and the slaughter of over 6 million young pigs. The AAA's practices immediately came under fire by the public and press calling foul over the disuse of land and farmers destruction of crops. While the practices may have been wrong, farm product prices increased steadily and wheat, corn, and cotton prices doubled in three years.

End of the AAA and the beginning of the Dust Bowl

The supreme court put an end to the AAA after they declared it unconstitutional in 1936. After years of constant farming, much of the soil was in poor condition. This led to the Dust Bowl in many southern areas. The Dust Bowl forced many land owners to move west in an attempt to find better land. The Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act paid farmers to plant clover and alfalfa to put needed nutrients back into the soil.

Other Problems

Many farmers were struggling from mortgage foreclosures because they could not meet monthly payments. While some banded together to help their neighbors, others responded violently by attacking bill collectors. To end the problem, the Farm Credit Act was passed which refinanced many mortgages. Also the Frazier-Lemke Farm Bankruptcy Act allowed farmers to buy back lost land and pay the cost over 6 years with only 1% interest. In 1933, only about 1 in every 10 American farms had electricity. The Rural electrification Authority was created to address the issue, and by 1950 9 out of every 10 farms had electrical power.

Work Cited

49c. The Farming Problem." The Farming Problem [ushistory.org]. Ushistory.org, 2008. Web. 15 May 2013.