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* HI GHER CITY EARNINGS
The long arm of war has already reached into the pockets
of the American farmer.
Foreign countries, once the best customers for his surplus,
have been shut off one by one. Even before the invasion of
the Low Countries and France, the farmer had lost one-fifth
of his export trade, excluding cotton. Peace, assuming a
Nazified Europe with high walls to keep out American goods,
will bring no relief.
The complaint of a farm surplus will probably grow. It
is a strange complaint in a land which is often called the rich-
est on earth, but in which many millions of people almost
never get enough to eat from one year's end to the other.
What can be done to solve the problem of this surplus?
What can be done to increase the farmer's income? What
can be done to get the hungry millions properly fed and
First, farmers and their families must themselves be well fed.
Second, farmers must find a better market for their produce
among their fellow citizens who do not live on farms.
The vast majority of America's nonfarm families are wage
earners. They work in factories-textile mills, shoe and
clothing factories, canning and packing plants-and in the
transportation, communication, and wholesale industries.
One-third of all American families and single individuals in
1935-36 had to live on less than $780 a year.1 They could
spend for food on the average only 6 cents per person per
meal. If they could have spent 8, or 9, or 10 cents a meal
per person, hundreds of millions of dollars would have been
added to farmers' incomes.
When earnings of city workers rise, farm incomes also
go up. Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace recently
Report of National Resources Committee, 1938.
RAISE FARM INCOME E S
pointed out that in 1929, when pay rolls were 12 billion dollars
a year, farmers' incomes also totaled about 12 billion dollars.
During the depression farm incomes and pay rolls went down
together until in 1932 both stood at about 5 billion dollars
for the year. By the end of 1939, both had climbed back to
a level of between 8 and 9 billion dollars.
Farmers' incomes and industrial pay rolls rise and fall
The Wage and Hour Law helps farmers by requiring em-
ployers (if engaged in interstate commerce or in the produc-
tion of goods for interstate commerce) to pay their workers
not less than 30 cents 2 an hour for their work. In 1939
many millions of dollars were added to workers' incomes.
Also, in 1939 cash farm income totaled half a billion dollars
more than the year before, when there was no Wage and
Some farmers have feared that wage increases for certain
kinds of workers, especially those employed in processing
agricultural commodities, would mean lower incomes for the
growers of those commodities. That didn't happen in 1939.
A survey made by the United States Department of Labor
of canning factories in eight States showed that if all the
employees of such plants earning less than 30 cents an hour
had been raised to that figure, the increases would have
amounted to only three-fourths of 1 percent in the canners'
total costs-such a negligible increase that it should not be
passed on to the consumer.
Secretary Wallace also said: "I think the Wage and Hour
Law is a decided benefit to farmers *. Changes in
the ability of consumers to buy have much greater effects on
2 For the greater part of 1939 the minimum wage was 25 cents. The 30-cent
rate did not become effective until October 24.
farm prices than do marketing costs *. If profits are
increased at the expense of pay rolls, farmers suffer along
with labor. A very large share of the pay received by those
with low incomes goes to buy food and clothing. Workers
receiving 30 cents an hour or less spend almost half their
incomes for food and clothing. If their pay is cut, half of
that cut must come out of their expenditures for farm
products." UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
*I II I I HI l llll H III I i II llll l ll 111
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NOTE.-Under the Wage and -Hour Law all labor employed by .a
farmer on the farm in conjunction with or incidental to farming
operations is exempt from both the minimum wage and maximum
hour provisions. In addition, many thousands of employees working
on farm products in cotton gins, grain elevators, dairies, fruit and
vegetable packing plants and similar establishments are exempt from
either the hour requirements or from both the minimum wage aind
maximum hour requirements.
For further information as to how the Wage and Hour Law affects
you, write to the Wage and Hour Division, United States Department
of Labor, Washington, D. C., or to any of the Division's regional or
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
WAGE AND HOUR DIVISION
2A9989--U. S. GOVERNMEtNr PRINTING OFFICE 1940
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