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Egstad, H. M. (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 35, Number VII (April 1934)

Hobson, Asher
Agriculture and the New Deal,   p. 187


Page 187


IX riculture and
                           The New Deal
                  4y Asher Hobson, M. A., '15
                      Professor of Agricultural Economics
   A   GRICULTURE is all dressed up-going places. It
       has never before worn this sort of a costume. These
       are clothes purchased upon the installment plan.
The first payment is an expression of good will. The bal-
ance is discharged by cooperating in reducing production.  of the greatest
handicaps imposed by the allotment scheme
The outfitting firm is the Agricultural Adjustment Ad-  is the solidifying
of the "status quo." The young farmer
ministration operating under the Farm Relief Act. By this  who is just beginning
in a small way must continue to
act the administration is pledged to raise farm prices to  produce in a small
way under the adjustment program. It
pre-war purchasing power.                                    offers no possibilities
of growth.
  In other words, the government is attempting to boost   These considerations
bring up the all important ques-
the price of a bushel of wheat, a pound of butterfat, and a  tion, "What
is to take its place?" The usual answer is
hundredweight of hogs, for example, to a level that will  "National
Planning in Agriculture."  At present, this
enable these commodities to exchange for as much of the  program is somewhat
vague, but it leans pronouncedly to-
things the farmer buys as they did before the war. Since  ward the purchasing,
by the government, of marginal and
the things which farmers buy are now 17 per cent higher  sub-marginal lands
and the transfer of farmers from poor
than they were before the war, pre-war "parity" calls for  to better
lands. Few realize that the purchasing of the
prices which farmers receive for their products proportion-  1,7b)0,000 farms
having an income of less than $600.00
ately higher than they were, on the average, during the  per year would reduce
the commercial production of the
period 1909 to 1914.                                         nation by only
three and one-half per cent. If 48 per cent
  The securing of pre-war purchasing power (parity) for  of the farmers are
removed-those having an income of
the farmer is no small task. In December-the latest figure  less than $1,000.00
per year-commercial production would
available-farm purchasing power was 58 per cent of its  be decreased by only
13 per cent. What are we to do
parity level. The chief weapon of the administration in  with these farmers?
Certainly the cities cannot absorb them,
bringing about the desired end is the creation of value  at least present
prospects are not bright. To place them on
through the development of scarcity. The Secretary of   better land means
more rather than less production.
Agriculture operating under the supervision and with the  National planning
to the extent implied by such a move-
approval of the President is granted exceedingly broad  ment involves a procedure
and a government mechanism
powers. PracticalT-the-whole -of this- authority is- pointed  not - altogether
acceptable.--- How- does -a--government go
toward the restriction of production.                        about creating
a planned social and economic diet for its
  As an emergency measure, as a temporary expedient, we  people? The army
is, perhaps, the best example. Planning
may accept the adjustment program. But it is not conceiv-  to the extent
of moving deliberately a few million, or at
able that we will choose to pursue for any considerable  least, many thousands
of people, and to the extent of re-
period, a policy which takes out of cultivation the good  ducing production
in this country by 50 to 60 million acres
land with the poor land, which reduces operation on the  implies a form of
governmental action never experienced
low cost farms to the same extent it reduces operations on  by the American
people. Planning in this sense calls for
the high cost farms. Nor do I believe it to be to the   regimentation, dictation
from above, the will to be gov-
nation's advantage to continue a reduction program which  erned in our economic
and social activities and the ability
applies to efficient farmers in the same manner and in the  to govern. Russia,
Germany and Italy are the best examples
same degree as it applies to the inefficient farmers. One  of nations promoting
economic planning on a large scale.
                           The present agri-
                         cultural p r o g r a m
                         calls for a crop re-
                         duction of around 50
                         to 60 million acres.
                         This is roughly the
                         amount of land re-
                         quired to furnish the
                         normal volume of
  -                    ~~~~~~~agricultural exports.
                         During the decade
                                                                       -
                        ~~~~~~1919 to1928 we
                         exported roughly 13
                         per cent of our agri-
                         cultural production.
                             (Please turn lo
                             page 213)
                                                     Page 187


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