Problems Of Plenty

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Overview

Great scientific and technological advances in the twentieth century enabled American farmers to produce bountiful harvests that ensured an abundant and relatively cheap food supply. But as farmers became more productive, surplus agricultural commodities, such as grain, milk, and cotton, drove prices down. With few exceptions, farmers found it difficult to earn an adequate standard of living. These are the fundamental developments that Douglas Hurt traces in Problems of Plenty, a compact narrative history of ...

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Overview

Great scientific and technological advances in the twentieth century enabled American farmers to produce bountiful harvests that ensured an abundant and relatively cheap food supply. But as farmers became more productive, surplus agricultural commodities, such as grain, milk, and cotton, drove prices down. With few exceptions, farmers found it difficult to earn an adequate standard of living. These are the fundamental developments that Douglas Hurt traces in Problems of Plenty, a compact narrative history of American agriculture over the last century. Mr. Hurt shows how farm men and women increasingly looked to the federal government—for technical information to help them become more productive and more profitable; for regulation of business practices to guarantee them equitable treatment in the marketplace; for intervention in the agricultural economy to support prices and protect their income. The course of farm policy is a basic theme in Mr. Hurt’s book. He surveys the major policy changes that helped shape farming both as a business and as a way of life. Perhaps inevitably, as he points out, farmers came to depend on the federal government for a wide variety of programs they eventually regarded as entitlements. But in return the farmers lost freedom of action, because the cost of participating in federal programs was compliance with a myriad of regulations that made the government an integral part of American agriculture. As the twentieth century ended, farmers remained divided over government’s role in their lives, just as they had been for most of the century.

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Editorial Reviews

Western Historical Quarterly
...This book delivers a tightly woven description of 'commercially oriented farmers.'
The Region
…A concise history of U.S. farming over the past 100 years.…A useful book for students and interested lay readers alike.
Choice
A very solid, readable history.
Midwest Book Review
An intriguing discussion.
Journal Of Economic History
Concise but rich portrayal.... I cannot think of a better or more accessible discussion of the changing political economy of U.S. agriculture during the twentieth century.
Journal Of The Illinois State Historical Society
This overview of the relationship between farmers and the government during the twentieth century deserves a wide readership.
CHOICE
A very solid, readable history.
The Journal of Southern History
…Masterful history…. Elegantly written synthesis…. An essential reference work…
Richard S. Kirkendall
Packed with information and insights and emphasizing the many roles of the federal government.
Allan G. Bogue
By far the best concise account of the American farmer's relation to the federal government in the twentieth century....Extremely valuable.
Peter A. Coclanis
Problems of Plenty is the best history of twentieth-century American agriculture I've ever read....A fine, fine book.
David Danbom
Well-conceived and executed...especially strong on the ambivalent relationship between farmers and the federal government.
The Journal Of Southern History
…Masterful history…. Elegantly written synthesis…. An essential reference work…
Choice Magazine
Hurt has produced a very solid, readable history.
WESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
...This book delivers a tightly woven description of 'commercially oriented farmers.
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
An intriguing discussion.
JOURNAL OF SOUTHERN HISTORY
...Masterful history.... Elegantly written synthesis.... An essential reference work...
DAVID DANBORN
Well-conceived and executed...especially strong on the ambivalent relationship between farmers and the federal government.
NORTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY
RICHARD S. KIRKENDALL
Packed with information and insights and emphasizing the many roles of the federal government.
PROFESSOR EMERITUS, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
PETER A. COCLANIS
Problems of Plenty is the best history of twentieth-century American agriculture I've ever read....A fine, fine book.
Journal of Economic History
Concise but rich protrayal....I cannot think of a better or more accessible discussion of the changing political economy of U.S. agriculture during the twentieth century.
Journal of Illinois State Hist. Society
This overview of the relationship between farmers and the government during the twentieth century deserves a wide readership.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566634625
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 10/1/2003
  • Series: American Ways Series
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Hurt has written widely about American agriculture, including American Farms, The Dust Bowl, American Farm Tools, and American Agriculture: A Brief History, among many other books. He is professor of history at Iowa State University and director of the graduate program in agricultural history and rural studies. He lives in Ames, Iowa.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Preface ix Part 2 THE PROGRESSIVE ERA 3 Chapter 3 A regional survey. Age of prosperity. The Country Life movement. Agricultural organizations. Reformers, farmers, and the regulatory state. Agricultural education. Expansion of federal power. World War I. Part 4 THE AGE OF UNCERTAINTY 41 Chapter 5 Postwar decline. Science and technology. The Farm Bloc. The McNary-Haugen plan. The Agricultural Marketing Act. Part 6 THE NEW DEAL 67 Chapter 7 The Agricultural Adjustment Administration. The Commodity Credit Corporation. Dust Bowl. Resettlement and Farm Security. Rural electrification. The farm lobby. Part 8 PROSPERITY AND DECLINE 97 Chapter 9 World War II. Postwar problems. Science and technology. Agribusiness. Agricultural organizations. Part 10 FALLOUT 124 Chapter 11 The policy of dependency. Collapse. Embargo. Agricultural organizations. Science and technology. Part 12 CENTURY'S END 154 Chapter 13 Farm subsidies. Genetically modified crops. Agribusiness. Environmental concerns. A new agricultural policy. Part 14 A Note on Sources 175 Part 15 Index 183

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