Problems of Plenty: The American Farmer in the Twentieth Century

Overview

In this 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, regulation of business practices, and intervention in the agricultural economy. He surveys the major policy changes that helped shape farming both as a business and as a way of life. The best history of twentieth-century American agriculture I've ever read. A fine, fine book. —Peter A. Coclanis

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Overview

In this 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, regulation of business practices, and intervention in the agricultural economy. He surveys the major policy changes that helped shape farming both as a business and as a way of life. The best history of twentieth-century American agriculture I've ever read. A fine, fine book. —Peter A. Coclanis

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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
Problems of Plenty is a concise bur rich portrayal of American agriculture during the twentieth century. . . It nonetheless has much to offer to scholars in agricultural history as well as the related fields of economic and political history. R. Douglas Hurt writes clearly and covers a wide range of material. ... [H]is sysnthesis is extremely valuable because so few scholars write about these important issues. . . . 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
The essence of Hurt's latest book n American agriculture is that farmers face the same fundamental issues the did a century ago: overproduction, low commodity prices couples with high production costs, and ineffective government intervention that often encourages rather than discourages overproduction. To the casual reader this may appear somewhat surprising when one considers the enormous technological and demographic shifts during the 10th century. However, as Hurt carefully details, agricultural policy continues to be partially based on a concept of rural life that had largely disappeared by the beginning of the 20th century. . . . Hurt has produced a very solid, readable history which should be useful for collections in general agriculture, agricultural economies and history, or rural sociology.
The Journal of Southern History
Masterful history…. Elegantly written synthesis…. An essential reference work on the complexities of evolving federal farm policy, this text provides clear, concise summaries of major legislation and regulation. . .[T]he book provides a finely honed introduction to the twentieth-century transsformation of agriculture and the role of the federal government in shaping that transformation.
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…
Booklist
American agriculture in the twentieth century is the story of farmers' dependency on the federal government. Hurt posits in this latest volume in the American Ways series. His book is divided into six segments. The first, on the progressive era, deal with the period between 1900 and the end of World War I in what Hurt calls the age of prosperity, a time in which farmers looked to the government to bring abusive corporate practices under control. The second, called the age of uncertainty chronicles the postwar era with its new technology and the creation of the American Farm Bureau Federation that pressured Congress for aid. Next came the Roosevelt era and the Depression, which brought about legislation that provided both immediate relief and long-term recovery. The three remaining segments examine post-World War II prosperity and decline; farm policy under President Kennedy and the era of subsides and genetically modified crops at the end of the century. A thorough treatment.
American Historical Review
This book is a fast-paced tour through the history of twentieth-century U.S. agriculture. It is dense with facts of an almost journalistic specificity and provides historical interpretations that are widely shared by scholars of the U.S. agriculture[.] ... This is a fine book for obtaining a quick review of mainstream U.S. farming in the twentieth century, especially of the pre-World War II period.
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: 9781566634632
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 9/28/2002
  • Series: American Ways Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2005

    Is there a Future in Farming?

    In his book, Problems of Plenty: The American Farmer in the Twentieth Century, R. Douglas Hurt explores the issues surrounding farmers¿ dependency on government subsidies to survive. I like the book because it is organized in an orderly, reader-friendly manner and Hurt also remains neutral while using the history of farming to raise many controversial issues, but he does not cover potential solutions and is lacking important information and data on non-agricultural issues. The book does a great job explaining why farm policy is what it is today. The book was a great source for my class work and helped me to understand how some of the current farming techniques and policies were developed.

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