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The Farming Problem Years of plowing and planting left soil depleted and weak. As a result, clouds of dust fell like brown snow over the Great Plains. Farmers faced tough times. While most Americans enjoyed relative prosperity for most of the s, the Great Depression for the American farmer really began after World War I.
Much of the Roaring '20s was a continual cycle of debt for the American farmer, stemming from falling farm prices and the need to purchase expensive machinery.
When the stock market crashed in sending prices in an even more downward cycle, many American farmers wondered if their hardscrabble lives would ever improve. The first major New Deal initiative aimed to help farmers attempted to raise farm prices to a level equitable to the years Toward this end, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration was created.
One method of driving up prices of a commodity is to create artificial scarcity. Simply put, if farmers produced less, the prices of their crops and livestock would increase. The AAA identified seven basic farm products: Farmers who produced these goods would be paid by the AAA to reduce the amount of acres in cultivation or the amount of livestock raised.
In other words, farmers were paid to farm less! Adolph Johnson, a farmer in Rutland, Oregon, poses in front of his tobacco crop.
The Agricultural Adjustment Act provided much needed relief for farmers by paying them not to grow crops, thus helping to adjust prices. The press and the public immediately cried foul. To meet the demands set by the AAA, farmers plowed under millions of acres of already planted crops. Six million young pigs were slaughtered to meet the subsidy guidelines.
In a time when many were out of work and tens of thousands starved, this wasteful carnage was considered blasphemous and downright wrong.
But farm income did increase under the AAA. Cotton, wheat, and corn prices doubled in three years. Despite having misgivings about receiving government subsidies, farmers overwhelmingly approved of the program.
Unfortunately, the bounty did not trickle down to the lowest economic levels.
Tenant farmers and sharecroppers did not receive government aid; the subsidy went to the landlord.American Farmer RIB Implement FI I I-1 Multi Ribbed Farm Equipment Implement tire for Agricultural Towed Highway Service.
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