Agricultural Production Goals for 1942


By CLAUDE R. WICKARD, Secretary of Agriculture

On the National Farm and Home Hour, Speaking from San Francisco, California, September 8, 1941

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VII, pp. 764-766

I AM here today to make an announcement—probably the most important announcement I have made as Secretary of Agriculture. Now this announcement concerns national production goals for American agriculture in 1942. To reach these goals, our farmers must raise more than they have ever raised in any one year before.

The goals for 1942 call for sharp reduction in some crops, and for substantial increases in other crops and in livestock, dairy, and poultry production. Total farm production in 1940 was the highest on record up to that time, and production in 1941 is much higher still. The 1942 goal asks for a further increase over the record production of 1941; an increase in agricultural production for the third year in a row.

Meeting these production goals means shifting out of the production of things not needed—into the production of things we need. Milk production, for example, needs to be increased at least 8 percent over 1941.

Now this whole program is a difficult job of production expansion to put through in any one year. It will be all the tougher to make good on next year, because we are going to have to do it with less farm labor, not as much new farm machinery as we'd like to have, and possible shortages in things like fertilizer and spray materials and bagging. But, I am sure we will do it. American consumers and the defenders of democracy in Britain can depend on American farmers to turn out ample food supplies. If the transportation and distribution systems in the two nations hold up, workers and fighters and just plain people are going to be fed—and fed pretty well.

And that is all-important. Enough of the right food is the rock-bottom essential to war-time production and morale and fighting ability. This is OUR war. It is perfectly plain now that it's Hitler or us. We are on his list. Already they are attacking us by espionage and sabotage here; by incitement of trouble in our neighbor countries in the hemisphere; and by trade offensives. If Britain fell, the sly attacks would be multiplied many-fold, and finally would culminate in open military attack. We know that. And we have made up our minds nationally to bolster the British barrier against 20th Century barbarism.

Now we are up against a decision. Shall we content ourselves with continuing to talk about saving democracy and making gentle gestures toward that end? Or shall we act with force and speed, put all our production where it will count the most for victory, and really supply the needs of defense? I know what America's answer will be. We are going into defense production and let business as usual wait.

Defense production in agriculture means organizing now, this fall and winter, to reach the goals I am announcing today for 1942 crop and livestock supplies.

I think the Farm and Home Hour audience ought to know why we're asking for these goals—goals of increased production in some lines and decreased production in others. Perhaps the best way to explain is to tell you how we made up the goals. The goal for each product was set up by a committee of experts drawn from all agencies of the Department of Agriculture. First, the nutritionists, or others specializing in consumer needs, told the committees how much of the product under consideration the American people will need next year. They said America will need more of many products but less of a few products. The general situation is that Americans are working harder, they have more money to spend. They need more food of most kinds, they want it, and they can pay for it.

After the committee learned about the needs of this country, they next began to survey the needs of foreign countries. They called first, the people who could make a well-founded guess about the usual type of exports, and they guessed pretty small on every product for 1942. Next came the people who are conducting the negotiations with the British for lend-lease supplies of food. They didn't have to guess. They knew that British needs for meat and milk and eggs and certain vegetables and fruits would be large. We have already made commitments to furnish about one-fourth of the British needs for animal proteins for 1942. This constitutes a new market for enormous quantities of milk and meat and eggs.

So then the committees had estimates on the needs in this country and the needs for shipment out of this country. The next thing—and here's something brand new—the next thing was to figure out how much we needed to beginbuilding up a stockpile of foods. I mean a stockpile over and above the normal carryover. Of course we have these extra stockpiles already in things like wheat and cotton and tobacco.

But we need to build another kind of stockpile. Now that's a stockpile of finished foods like canned pork and evaporated milk and canned vegetables and dried eggs. These are things that will keep. They won't ever go obsolete. Good food is always going to be in style. We need these stockpiles for two reasons: the first is to insure that our own people have a more plentiful supply of these nutritious foods. Second is to give the starving conquered people of Europe something to hope for now; something that will spur them on in their resistance to the aggressor. I know that if I were a Frenchman or a Dutchman and I looked across the channel and saw that the British were still eating pretty well, eating good American food, while I was looking on cat meat as somewhat of a delicacy, I'd be inclined to rise up and try to get in on some of that American food. Especially if I knew that there was more where that came from. And let's not forget something more important to all of us. That is this: When the nations sit down at the peace table, a great big stockpile of American food, all ready to cook and eat, will greatly reinforce the American views on what arrangements are needed to make a just and lasting peace. I have said many times, and I now repeat, food will win the war and write the peace. But remember, we need reserves of food in order to exert the maximum influence at the peace conference table. By reaching the 1942 production goals, which include a start on these stockpiles, American farm families will help to write the history of the future.

Well, the committees making up these goals, after they had found out the needs for stockpiles and shipments abroad and use at home, next got estimates of the supplies already on hand. Then, for each product, they reached the ideal goal by subtracting supplies on hand from the figure for supplies needed. The final step was to figure out how close American agriculture could come to the ideal goal, taking into account of course the provisions of law concerning allotted acreages of some of the basic crops, and taking into account the labor supply, the machinery supply, the materials supply, the market outlook, funds available for price support, and so on. So the 1942 goals represent, first, a calculation of what we should produce and, second, a judgment on how close we can come to it practically. I am proud to say that the ideal and the practical fit pretty closely together in these goals. And I'm even prouder to say I believe American agriculture will reach the goals.

Now let me give a general summary of the goals themselves, and what they mean in terms of different commodities. We need more of practically all meats; we need more eggs, and, especially—we need more milk. We need more cheese, evaporated and dried milk to ship to the British, who have had to kill off large numbers of their dairy cattle because of a shortage of feed. We want to provide these essential dairy products for our friends abroad without lowering the nutritional standards of our own people. We can do this only if we produce more milk.

To make sure of the increased output of milk, we need more hay and pastures. We especially need more legume crops, some to be used as a substitute for nitrogen fertilizers which may be scarce next year.

From the point of view of nutrition, we need to consume many more vegetable crops, especially the green and leafy vegetables, so rich and important in minerals and vitamins. We need to eat more of certain fruits and more tomatoes. Our imports of fats and oils already have been reduced because of the shortage of shipping space, and even further reductions seem likely in 1942. We must make up the difference with oil crops grown at home, crops such as soybeans and peanuts, and perhaps castor beans.

Those are the principal commodities in which our needs are most pressing for 1942. There are a few crops which do not need to be increased; rather they should be reduced. In the case of cotton, we have a supply large enough for a year's needs stored in warehouses, and a 1941 crop just being harvested which will provide as much cotton as American mills will use this year. We have more wheat than we can store properly, enough to last this country for two years if we didn't grow a bushel in 1942. And we have huge quantities of tobacco stored in the United States, piled up because the export markets were lost when war began. On these commodities, the 1942 goals call for decreases down to the lowest limits provided by law.

Starting next week, we are to have a series of regional meetings in Salt Lake City, Chicago, New York, and Memphis. These meetings will be attended by the farm organization leaders of every state, by members of the State Planning Committees, the State Defense Boards, and by representatives of the Department of Agriculture, to discuss the goals and to lay plans for enlisting the participation of every farmer. The national goals will be broken down into state goals for each commodity; then the state goals will be broken down into county goals, and so on down to goals for every individual farm.

The State and County Agricultural Defense Boards will be the spearhead of the campaign. Representing, as they do, all the agricultural agencies of the county, state and federal governments, the Defense Boards provide a great force in organizing the drive for increased production.

Triple-A committeemen will visit every farm and work out a complete farm plan with the operator. Can you keep more chickens? Do you have a couple more heifers that will freshen next spring? Can you market more of your beef cattle during 1942? That's the sort of questions the farmer and the committeemen will answer together during this Food for Freedom mobilization. And when the first big push is over, the results will be assembled. Then we'll know where we stand. Before 1941 ends, we'll have a pretty good idea of how much we are likely to produce in 1942.

Now just a word on the income side. Reaching these goals will pay farmers. The demand for farm products in the United States is the highest it has been for at least 12 years. Added to the demand here at home, we have our commitments to the British, whose requests for food have increased greatly since last March when the Lend-Lease Act was passed. The purchases by this government for shipment to the British, under terms of the Lend-Lease Act, have served to put a flood under the prices of pork, dairy products, and eggs, and poultry. Since we announced the price-supporting program on April third, this year prices for these commodities have been well above the supporting level almost all the time.

The basic crops, wheat, cotton, corn, rice, and tobacco, have the stabilizing influence of the commodity loan, at 85 percent of parity. Add to the loan value, the benefit payments and conservation payments under the Triple-A program, and the producers of these commodities who cooperate in adjusting production to the goals are assured of parity prices.

Under recent legislation, the Secretary of Agriculture is ordered to use the machinery of the national farm program to maintain prices for non-basic farm products for which the Secretary finds it necessary to encourage expansion inproduction. These prices are to be maintained at a minimum of 85 percent of parity. The law also provides that notice must be given when it is found necessary to decrease the production of any such commodities, in order that farmers may adjust their production downward. I think this is a splendid law. Under it I have issued a proclamation covering pork, eggs, evaporated milk, dry skim milk, cheese, and chickens through the year 1942. Public proclamation covering other commodities will be issued as necessary to give special encouragement to expansion of production.

It is just simple arithmetic to figure out that any farmer will make more money if he increases his production of the right commodities. The demand is with us, and the farmer is protected against the danger of collapse when the emergency is over. From a dollars and cents point of view, there is every reason for a farmer to increase his production of the commodities which are needed.

And above the self-interest of the individual farmer, and agriculture as a whole, there is the compelling fact that we must produce more of certain foods if we are to protect ourway of life. We cant live in comfort or in dignity in a world dominated by Hitler.

The future of the entire civilized world is bound up in the success of our effort to produce more of the vital foods—rich, nourishing food that will keep up the strength of the industrial workers of two great nations—this country and Great Britain; food that will insure the efficiency of the fighting forces that are defending freedom; food that will keep the British people full of courage—so they can continue their dauntless symbol of "thumbs up"—food to make America strong by making Americans stronger.

That is the job confronting American agriculture today. We have the productive machine—the greatest agricultural plant in the world. We have the most skillful farmers. Our nation is headed by a great leader who always has been a friend of the farmer, and we have the machinery of government to protect the security of farm families. And we have the greatest cause for which the agricultural resources of any nation ever were mobilized—the preservation of freedom.