Government Intervention in U.S. Agriculture: Part 4

Bad soil

Having looked at the biggest farm program of Hoover’s administration in Part 3, we’ll move on now to some of the policies of Franklin Roosevelt.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1933, much like Hoover’s AMA, would prove to be yet another version of government-assisted monopoly. By decreasing the supply of food and related goods, subsidized farmers were encouraged to raise prices, thereby spurring supposed “economic growth” (I use this term loosely) within their given sector.

In the same way that Hoover had used the Federal Farm Board to forcibly prevent an “overabundance” of goods and increase prices, FDR’s Agricultural Adjustment Administration would be a monopoly-encouraging agency that mainly served the interests of privileged landowners. Editorialist George Pyle describes this very arrangement, in which the biggest producers of crops benefited over smaller producers. The same situation would continue through the end of the 1930s and still remains today – the legislation has never been repealed.

Understandably, because of its considerable expansion of federal government power, the AAA would quickly be criticized on the grounds of being socialistic, radical, and even un-American! What else is new?

On March 22, 1933, the Public Ledger of Philadelphia released a bold editorial column denouncing the new bill. The column called it “the worst farm bill ever written,” considering it an unwarranted institution of a new bureaucratic layer and a novel intrusion of government into private, agricultural business practices.

Tomorrow, we’ll look specifically at what farmers themselves said about the AAA. They were certainly a minority, but they weren’t at all lacking in some strong and valid points of criticism.