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American Farm Policy, 1948-1973

American Farm Policy, 1948-1973

Willard W. Cochrane
Mary E. Ryan
Copyright Date: 1976
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 448
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  • Book Info
    American Farm Policy, 1948-1973
    Book Description:

    American Farm Policy, 1948-1973 was first published in 1976. American farm policies have had a profound effect on the lives of millions of people, both in this country and abroad. This comprehensive account records and explains American farm policies and programs in the last quarter-century and provides a background and analysis as well. The historical record describes in detail the farm policy legislation during the period 1948-1973 and the operations of the programs in those years. The program data are derived largely from materials published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which are now difficult to obtain. The organization of the data into extensive tables makes the work particularly valuable for reference. A final section presents an interpretation and appraisal of the policies and programs. Since the senior author, Dr. Cochrane, was deeply involved with the farm programs of this period as a critic, analyst, and planner, he has a unique vantage point for this analysis. In discussing the contributions and achievements of the programs, the authors point out that shortcomings were numerous and impacts varied, but the programs may be summed into a concept of real social cost, and the contributions were essentially of one kind: the protection of the vital economic interests of producers of agricultural products and the consumer of those products. The authors conclude that the gains to society outweighed the costs.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5510-6
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Willard W. Cochrane, Mary E. Ryan and St. Paul
  4. Glossary of Terms
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    • CHAPTER 1 The Agro-Economic Setting
      (pp. 3-20)

      American farm policy developments in the post—World War II period can be understood and rationalized only in terms of the agro-economic conditions of that period. It was a highly dynamic period, a wondrously productive period, but most often an economically painful period for farmers. Let us, therefore, explore the period in some detail in order to provide perspective for the policy development that occurred.

      The yields per acre of the nation’s three major crops, wheat, corn, and cotton, increased as follows over the period 1945-73:

      The yield increases for most of the lesser crops were as great as, or...

    • CHAPTER 2 Policy Goals and Directions
      (pp. 21-71)

      Although it is widely agreed, and has long been held, that the fundamental goal of farm policy is to maintain a prosperous, productive farm sector with a family-farm type of organization, differences arise — important differences — with regard to the means for achieving that broad policy goal. Should equitable farm incomes and the family-farm structure be obtained solely through the marketplace or through direct governmental assistance, or by some combination of the two? This question is at the heart of most farm policy debates and influences the selection and evaluation of particular policy proposals. Moreover, responses to this question have changed...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Evolution of Policies and Programs
      (pp. 72-102)

      The ideas and goals that entered into the farm policy debates in the period 1948–73 were reviewed in the preceding chapter, and the broad directions in which farm policies moved were sketched. In this chapter we seek to describe more specifically the policies and programs that evolved, the nature of policy struggles that took place, and the content of the program compromises that emerged. The main steps in the evolution of programs are traced as key program features were introduced and modified during the 1948–73 period. The policy and program formulation process is viewed by examining the efforts...

    • CHAPTER 4 A Look at the Legislative and Administrative Processes
      (pp. 103-128)

      It is our purpose in this chapter to examine and gain an appreciation of the legislative and administrative processes that produced the policies and programs that are the subject of this volume. We cannot in this volume, for reasons of space, review the legislative history of each piece of farm legislation or detail the many reorganizations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the period 1948–73. Further, the central focus of this volume is not on public administration or the legislative process. It is on the substance of farm policy — the intent of policies, the content of programs, and...


    • CHAPTER 5 Farm Price and Income Legislation
      (pp. 131-174)

      Objectives and provisions of the major farm legislation effective at the beginning of 1948 and enacted in the ensuing 25 years are summarized in this chapter. This compilation is intended to provide a compact, objective reference to laws directly affecting (1) the demand and supply of farm products, (2) commodity prices, and (3) the incomes of farmers in the post-World War II period. For readers who wish to examine the legislation, citations are included to the U.S. Code (U.S.C.) for laws applying in 1948 and to the U.S. Statutes at Large (Stat.) for acts passed since then.¹

      New legislation most...

    • CHAPTER 6 Program Operations: Major Commodities
      (pp. 175-255)

      Legislation authorizing government programs to support farm prices and incomes or to curtail planted acreage usually provides some range within which annual programs are formulated. Actual program provisions are framed for one year at a time depending upon the expected supply and demand situations and other considerations. This chapter relates chronologically the key features of annual commodity programs for the major crops, dairy products, and wool; conservation and land retirement programs, food programs, and foreign food aid and export programs are surveyed in the next chapter. For the purpose of exposition, each of these groups of programs is described separately....

    • CHAPTER 7 Program Operations: Land Retirement, Exports, and Food
      (pp. 256-294)

      Some programs or price and income support cut across commodity lines. Among these are conservation and land retirement programs, intended to curtail aggregate farm output, and export, food, and Section 32 programs, designed to expand demand for food and other agricultural products. The impact of these programs on farm prices and income is less direct than that of commodity programs, but curtailing supply and expanding demand had indirect effects both real and important in 1948–73. Moreover, the costs of these programs were substantial, as the next chapter reveals.

      Most of these programs had dual goals. Export and domestic food...

    • CHAPTER 8 Program Interrelations and Costs
      (pp. 295-356)

      The presentation of program operations treated the various commodity, export, food, and other programs individually. But to imply that one program was unrelated to the others belies the reality. In some cases programs were created and administered with full knowledge of their interaction; in other instances programs caused unforeseen consequences that required further attention. But whether the spillover effects among programs were anticipated and planned for or not, they were nonetheless real. It is these spillover effects — the interrelationships among programs — that are addressed first in this chapter. Then, and of paramount concern to all students of farm policy, we...


    • CHAPTER 9 Program Analysis and Consequences
      (pp. 359-382)

      We turn in this chapter to a discussion of the principal consequences, or effects, of the programs of price and income support. We will inquire into and discuss the consequences of those programs under five categories: (1) farm prices and incomes; (2) the distribution of producer incomes and wealth; (3) resource allocation, efficiency, and output; (4) foreign trade; and (5) consumer welfare. As is well understood, these categories are highly interrelated. But, as is equally well understood, any effort to analyze them in one closed system would be extremely demanding in terms of modeling, estimation, and data, and probably destined...

    • CHAPTER 10 Program Appraisal and Implications for the Future
      (pp. 383-400)

      If one takes the view that the government programs of price and income support were designed, or should have been designed, to correct the excess production capacity problem confronting commercial agriculture in one year, or even several years, then the programs obviously failed and the money costs involved were exorbitant. But if one takes the view, which we do, that there was no course of action socially or politically acceptable to the American people for correcting the excess production capacity problem in one year, or even several years, then one’s perspective on the programs — what they did and what they...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 401-416)
  9. Index
    (pp. 417-431)