Farm opportunities?


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Farm opportunities?
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United States -- Bureau of Agricultural Economics
United States -- Dept. of Agriculture
United States -- Bureau of Agricultural Economics
s.n. ( Washington, D.C. )
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Bureau of Agricultural Economics


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A Revision of the Report --
Prepared in May 1945 by Land Settlement Work Group
of the
Interbureau Committee on Postwar Agricultural Programs

Washington, D. C.
Revised September 1946

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Our country faces a huge problem today in the readjustment being
made by veterans and war workers as they return to agriculture
and other industries. It is an old problem. It has arisen
before after wars and during depressions. In such periods many
people go into farming sometimes with unfavorable results to
the families concerned and to the community at large.

After World 7iar I many veterans went on farms with high hopes,
but had difficulties in getting established. Their experience
suggests that it is wise now to take stock of the outlook for
farming, the farm opportunities and problems that are ahead, and
the policies that can be helpful.

To stimulate discussion and public understanding of the problems
connected with postwar farm settlement, the Bureau of Agricultural
Economics issues this revision of a summary report entitled,
"Farm Opportunities? Prospects, Problems, and Policies," released
May 1945.



What people are asking about farm opportunities ......... 1
Who and how many want farms? ........................... 1
What limits farm opportunities? ........................ 4
Outlook for farm opportunities .......................... 7
Long-term new-land development ........ .. .. ............ 15
Farm settlement experience .............. ........... .. 16

Prospects Problems Policies


Anyone who is interested in the subject of farming opportunities wants
to know, as accurately as possible, several things concerning the out-
look for farming during the next 5 to 10 years. First, who and how
many want farms or farm work? Second, what is the outlook for farms
and farming? Third, what are present public policies in regard to farm
settlement? And fourth, what private and public action is available
now to assist the individuals and communities who will be concerned?

These questions are important because the largest movement of people
from farms in the United States ever recorded in so short a time
occurred during the 5 years 1940 to 1945. More than 1,800,000 farm
people went into the Armed Forces and there was an additional migration
into cities and other communities away from the farms of nearly
5,000,000 civilians of all ages and both sexes. What these people and
others do now that the war has ended is of real concern to farmers,
industrial workers, and the Government.


No definite figure on the number who want farms in the next few years
can be given. But the Department of Agriculture has been studying the
probable demand for farms and farm work that is likely to come with
full peacetime conditions, and has some information on the subject. It
has estimates as to probable demand for farms as well as the probable
size of the groups from which the demand will mainly come.

A Million Veterans Back on Farm Jobs

The return of veterans to farms is not something that may happen in
the future a large part of it already has taken place. Available
information in July 1946 on the number of veterans returning to farms
shows that roughly over 1,000,000 were actually farming at the time, in
addition to returned industrial workers. Of the veterans farming in
1946, 700,000 were farm operators or members of farm operators' families,
and 500,000 hired workers. Veterans made up 9 percent of all persons
employed on the Nation's farms. The number of veterans working on farms
totaled about two-thirds as many men as had left farm work for the Armed
Services during the war. In the Northeast and on the Pacific Coast, the
number of veterans returning to farms was larger than the number who
entered the Armed Services. In some other sections the proportion was
two-thirds to three-fourths or less.


Some farm veterans have taken other work temporarily with plans later
to go to farming when land, buildings, and equipment can be obtained
more readily. Inquiries and other information received by the
Department of Agriculture during 1945 and 1946 show that veterans are
finding difficulties in locating suitable farms and farm equipment at
prices they can afford to pay. Some report they are unable to obtain
even enough second-hand machinery but are holding on expecting to find
what they need later from farm sales and new stock being made.

Ten Percent of Veterans Interested in Farming

An indication of the interest by servicemen in farming as an occupation
was given by a sample survey in the Army in 1944. This survey forecast
the return to farms of 10 percent of the veterans.* After considering
the survey data for soldiers expressing an interest in farming, the
number of men who served in all branches of the Armed Services up to
July 1946, and the proportions from farms, the best estimate of the
number of servicemen who plan to seek farms and farm employment in the
first few years after the war is from 1,100,000 to 1,200,000. Thus
there may be 200,000 additional veterans from those now in service
returning to farms in the next few years.

Again quoting from the survey, it showed that about 8 percent of those
interviewed had definite plans for full-time farming. An additional
2 percent thought they might farm full time, but were somewhat uncertain
about farming if they had prospects for other jobs. Another 6 percent
expressed interest in part-time farming. Thus, 16 percent of the men
in the sample indicated some interest in farming. But the replies
showed that only about one man in 10 would leave the Army definitely
expecting to farm.

Further conclusions as to veterans going into farming may be drawn from
the fact that two-thirds of the men interviewed in the Army in 1944 who
had definite plans to farm full time had been farming just before they
were inducted. And practically all who expressed interest in full-time
farming had had at least a year or more of full-time farming experience.
Nearly two-thirds of the men who planned definitely to farm said at the
time of the survey in 1944 that they had in mind the particular farm
they expected to operate or work on that is, they reported either
that they owned a farm or planned to return to the family farm, or knew
of a farm they expected to buy or rent. Another third reported they
would have to look for a farm or a farm job. It is significant that the
majority of the men interested in farming wanted to become farm operators.
Only 5 percent said they expected to work for wages, and 3 percent had
no definite plan as to a farm job. The Army survey in 1944 indicated
that as many as 300,000 men who definitely planned to farm did not have
specific locations or farms in mind and would look for farms to operate,
or farm jobs. Many others returning to the family farm or who said they
knew of a farm to rent or buy may need to seek farms or farm employment.
This will be particularly true of those returning to small, inadequate

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family farms, to tenant farms, or to farms on which conditions have
changed. Altogether, probably as many as half of the veterans who are
interested-in farming, or a total of 500,000 to 600,000, eventually
will need to rent or buy farms in the next few years if they are to
become farm operators.

Some Former Farmers Are Returning to Farms

In addition to the veterans who are returning to farms now that the war
is over, and who may still return, some part of the nearly 5,000,000
people who went into industry or into villages and towns are going back
to farming. The number who return, of course, depends upon the avail-
ability of work in the cities and on farms, as well as upon the plans
of some for farming as an occupation.

In all, about 3,000,000 workers in war industries were laid off at
least temporarily in the first few months after the close of the war
with Japan in August 1945. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in a study
of 2,000 former war plant workers 6 months after V-J Day, found that
only 5 percent were working on farms, although 15 percent had engaged.
in farming before the war. Of the war industry workers less than half
returned to places where they were living before going into war work.
Reports on same groups of former war workers for later dates in the
spring of 1946, for example, show in some cases that as many as 10 per-
cent had returned to farms. A larger part of the immediate migration
to farms incident to industrial reconversion appears to be finished,
provided peacetime nonfarm jobs stay plentiful.

Very little definite information is available on the number of men from
farms in nonfarm work who actually wish to return to farms. It is
known, however, that significant numbers of urban workers have bought
land, especially in areas near industrial centers. Some industrial
workers in several parts of the country have bought land, including land
in poor and cut-over areas. It is known, also, that in some instances
industrial workers have gone back to their home farm comnmUities since
the war ended. Thus, it is likely that a considerable number of urban
workers plan eventually to return to farms in case other jobs are not
available. Indications are that many also are thinking of part-time
farming and rural residences while keeping off-farm jobs.

Half of Farm Youth Likely to Remain on Farms

Farm families of the Nation have long produced more children than could
find good jobs in agriculture. During every year since 1920, with the
exception of 1952, the net population movement has been from farms to
towns and cities. For several years nearly half of the farm youth have
sought nonfarm work. Many farm youth have moved from the farms to urban
areas; many others took off-the-farm work while continuing to live on
farms; and still others did part-time farming with some nonfarm work.


In 1940, only three out of five young men who reached maturity while
on the farms were needed to replace .older men in the farm population who
died or retired. In spite of the heavy loss of young men from farms
because of the war, in 1944 there were still enough boys and young men,
15 to 24, if they all stayed on farms, to replace all of the older men
who will die or retire during the succeeding 10 years.

Many Farmers Need Better Farms

Many farmers are working farms on which they cannot make a living from
farming alone because the soil is too poor or the farms are too small
or too poorly located, or they lack necessary improvements and equip-
ment to make them productive. Of the approximately 6,000,000 farms
reported in the 1940 Census, not more than half were sending substantial
quantities of produce to the market. The top 2,000,000 farms marketed
84 percent of all farm products sold, the middle 2,000,000 about 13 per-
cent, while the bottom 2,000,000 sold only 3 percent. These figures
changed somewhat during the war, but it is safe to say in 1946 that
nearly half of the farmers do not have a chance to apply their labor
productively on their farms and to live well from farm income.


In the past the land was looked to by many people as a haven for those
who couldn't find jobs in cities. While there will still be many
chances to farm or work on farms in the future, there are, nevertheless,
more limitations now.

Present Farms Can Produce About All the Markets Will Take

At no previous time in this country was the number of workers on farms
so small compared with the number at work off the farms, yet never was
so much food produced as during the war years.

Agricultural production for the country as a whole was about one-third
greater in 1944 than the average for the period 1955-59, and more than
50 percent greater than the average for 1910-14. Technical improvements
now under way indicate that farm labor will become increasingly pro-
ductive in the future and possibly at a more rapid rate. This would
reduce the need for additions to the agricultural working force and the
farm acreage.

With the expanded use of labor-saving machinery, a farm, to be economic
in size, must be larger than the former average. This reduces the total
number of farms. A trend in this direction has been noticeable for a

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long time, and has speeded up in recent years. Moreover, with the use
of improved technology, the crop production that is likely to be needed
in the reasonably near future can be obtained from about the same
acreage now in cultivation.

Farmers Will Become M1ore Efficient and Produce More

Farmers will probably continue to improve their farming, using more
fertilizer, more and better machinery, improved seeds and livestock.
This will make their farmnning more efficient so that it will be possible
to increase production within the next few years by 10 percent or more
over our best previous farm year. This would be equivalent to adding
about 30,000,000 acres of land at the present rate of production. Then
if tractors continue to replace horses and mules at about the present
rate, another 10 to 15 million acres of land that have been used to feed
these workstock will be available for other crops by 1950. To this must
be added the 5,000,000 acres that might be developed by 1950 through
irrigation, drainage, and land clearing. That would make the equivalent
of an additional 50,000,000 acres that will be available for crops. In
* all, by 1950, important changes may increase agricultural output from
55 to 45 percent above the 1955-59 average.

Increased Efficiency Will Have Some Offsets

Some of the production on these acres will be partially offset. There
will be unfavorable weather in some years and much land now in culti-
vation should be diverted to pasture, summer fallow, and other less
intensive uses.* Maintenance of the soil will- require a shift to more
grass and legume crops. Some land areas that are not very good for
cultivation may be changed into grazing or forestry, or may be abandoned
for farmnning. In all, probably 40,000,000 acres of poor cropland should
be shifted, in the course of several years, to less intensive uses. In
addition, some farm land will be absorbed by growth of cities, residential
and industrial areas, and by such vital public uses as water supply and
watershed protective areas, parks, irrigation, power and flood control
reservoirs, and airfields. But, in general, the land we shall have for
crop production will probably be more than enough to produce all the food
and fiber that our postwar markets can buy and pay for through the usual

Expansion Is Limited by the Markets

Expansion in farm output in the next few years will be limited by the
size of the market outlets. Increasing population and better diets will
enlarge the farmers' market, but for many products farmers will be
dependent upon industrial and export outlets. Without such outlets,
farm income will contract. This means that successful new agricultural


development requires that there be (1) maintenance of large-scale nonfarm
employment and purchasing power, with better (diets and clothing among
many groups, both rural and urban; (2) increase in industrial use of
farm products; and (5) larger permanent export outlets.* In other words,
to be successful in the business sense, new agricultural development
and expansion should follow or be concurrent vdth industrial development,
rather than precede it.

Long-range planning in agriculture should continue, with the gradual
construction of such development projects as are justified to stabilize
and improve agriculture. Planning and construction of irrigation, drain-
age, and flood-control works and complete land development in extensive
projects normally require several years, often 20 or more. Therefore,
development of such projects should be looked upon not only in the light
of present agricultural competition, but also in terms of the long-time
social and economic conditions in the areas where the projects would be
located and the effect of such development upon the country at large.

A basic principle for sound land development is that it be socially and
economically desirable. Among the conditions under which it may be
justified are the followings (1) provision of supplemental water or
drainage to stabilize and improve agriculture in farm areas which should
remain permanently in agriculture; (2) encouragement of production of
certain fruits, vegetables, pasture, and feed crops that may be needed;
and (5) development of new and old land that may be necessary for
farmers who wish to continue farming but who have been displaced by
construction of public projects or by the retirement of submarginal
land, and including those for whom there is no room in overcrowded small-
farm areas*

Price of Land Is High

Land values have now risen more than three-fourths above what they were,
on the average, during 1935-39, and almost to the inflationary level of
1920. It now looks as though they may go still higher. The price of
land greatly concerns veterans and others who want to get established in
farming. If a man contracts to pay too much for a farm, it will be
difficult, if not impossible, for him to pay for it from farm receipts,
and at the same time maintain it, unless sacrifices are made in the way
the family lives.

Iany veterans who lack capital but who have had farm experience are likely
to find that renting a good farm is preferable to buying as long as land
prices are abnormally high. If limited funds are invested in essential
farm machinery and livestock, they will give a better return than if
tied up in land at inflated prices. Prices of livestock, equipment, and
farm supplies are also high. Purchases, after World War I, for large-scale


farming at prices above their earning value left thousands of farmers
and veterans in serious financial difficulties for many years. That
disastrous experience of farm foreclosures, deterioration of land and
improvements, and inadequate farm living is well known, and well
remembered. Emphatically, it should not be repeated after World War II.


Agriculture offers favorable openings on existing farms for many young
people who have been in the Armed Services if they are qualified by
experience and training to farm and if they know that they like farm
life. But beyond this there are not satisfactory opportunities for an
extensive back-to-the-farm movement. This is so because there are now
about as many farms and farmers in agriculture as are needed to produce
the agricultural products that are likely to be purchased through
normal trade channels in the next few years.

It is well to keep in mind that not all veterans who have farm back-
ground and not all young farm people who want farms will be ready for
them in the next two or three years, although demands for farms during
this period just after the war are likely to be heavier than usual.
Marny young people are returning to school, and others are taking Jobs
as hired men, or obtaining work elsewhere temporarily to save money for
getting started in farming or other purposes. The demand for farms will
no doubt be distributed over several years. The opportunities for the
next few years may be adequate to meet the demand of experienced young
farmers and farm workers. The outlook regarding these opportunities is
described below.

About 800.000 Farm Operator Openings in Next Five Years

Renting or buying farms from present owners in established communities
is the best way for veterans to become farm operators. This method
provides the most openings, too. Every year a good many farms change
hands through voluntary sale or lease. Nearly 50 percent of the farms
are rented and operated by full tenants. In the last 5 years, about
300,000 farms and farm tracts per year were transferred through
voluntary sale. Many of these farms were bought by tenants and other
farmers and thus did not give new farmers a chance. Many farmers have
reached an advanced age and wish to retire and rent or sell their farms.
Through retirement, death, and change to other work by older farmers in
the next 5 years, a total of approximately 800,000 farms, or 160,000
farms per year, will become available for sale or rent. But many of
these farms are too small or too poor in their present condition to pro-
vide a full-time farmer with an adequate living. Further, many farmers
and others are competing for these farm openings, thus reducing the
number available for veterans and farm youth.



Sources of Farm Operator Openings

An indication of the number of farms that will be for sale by retiring
farmers and others may be gained from the data collected by the Bureau
of Agricultural Economics on farm land transfers. The number of sales
has increased 50 percent in the last 5 years. Approximately 500,000
farms and tracts of farm land, or about 6 percent of the farms in the
country, were estimated to have changed hands by voluntary sale each
year from 1945 to 1945. Of the total sales per year for the last 3
years, about one-half, or 150,000, were by owner operators and one-half
by nonoperators.

Retirement from farming because of age, change to another occupation,
ill health, or other causes, were reported as reasons for selling by
slightly less than one-third of the farmer sellers. The remaining
farmer sellers, or two-thirds, expected to continue farming. The
largest group of the farmnner sellers, some with nonfarm income, will
operate reduced holdings, but many apparently are buying other farms.
Sales by farm operators who planned to continue farming by buying or
renting other farms would not afford opportunities to new operators.
However, those selling enough of their farm holdings to make a new
farm, and not planning to buy other land, would offer possibilities for
prospective farmers to acquire farms.

Of the 150,000 farm sales per year by nonoperating owners, that is,
owners who were renting their farms out to tenants who were operating
them, about one-third were sales by retired farmers, one-fourth by
corporations, and one-fifth each by estates and individual nonfarmers.
The farm sales by nonoperating individuals, retired farmers, and
corporations would offer some opportunities for new people to become
farm owners, but they would not afford places for additional fanners
where fully operated by tenants, unless the farms could be subdivided
into two or more farms. In the case of estates, there are some openings
for new operators, but the majority of such vacancies usually are taken
over by members of the family or by tenants.

Thus, the farming opportunities for new operators from the sale of
farms arise chiefly through sales by (1) farmers retiring, (2) farmers
changing to other occupations, (5) sales of vacant farms and large hold-
ings subdivided into two or more farms, and (4) sales of family-operated
estates where the operator discontinues farming. Thus, from the total
of 500,000 farm sales per year, it is estimated that the net number of
opportunities for new farmers to buy farms is probably not more than
60,000 a year.

In addition to the opportunities for new operators to buy farms, a con-
siderable number of farms are transferred without sale each year to new
operators by inheritance and gift. These new operators usually are
relatives of the former owners. Vacancies for new farm operators also
are left by retirements, changes to other jobs, and deaths among tenants.


Altogether the total farm-operator vacancies (both owner and tenant)
from retirements probably are 50,000 to 60,000, changes to other
occupations, 40,000, and deaths, 70,000, with a total average of about
160,000 to 170,000 a year, or a farmer replacement rate of 5 percent a
year. Estimates of farmer vacancies are based on information from land-
market and ownership surveys, farm population and labor studies, and
vital statistics.

Although openings for new farm operators are estimated at approximately
160,000 anrmaly, these vacancies will not create the volume of farms
for rent or sale that might be assumed, because nearly half of them
probably will be low-inccme farms which had a total value of production
of less than $600 in 1959. Moreover, farmer retirements on the half of
farms that had incomes of $600 and over in 1959 do not match the excess
of farmers' sons who reach maturity over deaths of active operators, so
they cannot be relied upon to offer opportunities to many persons not
now on farms, who are not heirs of farmers or persons who are financially
interested in farms. Many of these farms need improvement to fit them
for new and younger operators.* The farms with incomes of less than $600
especially would not be satisfactory for full-time farms unless greatly
improved. Some of these farms would need additional land or consolidation
with another small farm to make them adequate for a family.

Many inadequate farms could be improved and so provide better farms for
both present and new farmers Surveys indicate that improvement of
small farms is feasible in many cases. One or a combination of measures
would be needed, such as clearing suitable land, draining productive wet
land, irrigating dry land, adding more acreage, and adopting such good
practices as liming, fertilizing, seeding, and improving pastures.
Possibilities are great for improving present farms.

Perhaps 10.000 Farms From Itilitary Lands

A potential source of farms may be found on surplus military land that
is suitable for farming. If all the military land bought from private
owners since 1940, which is suitable for farming, were declared surplus
and were redeveloped into family-sized economic units, it is estimated
that about 8,000 to 10,000 farms and ranches could be made available in
the next few years. Settlement lands and individual farm tracts now
under liquidation by the Farmers' Home Administration (formerly the
Farm Security Administration) likewise can provide some farms for veterans.

SThe surplus military land disposal program is now under way. Surplus
military lands classified as available for sale to private individuals
are disposed of under a system of priorities provided for in the Surplus
SProperty Act. Priority is given to former owners, tenants, and veterans,
in the order named. Data released by the Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation,
Which has the responsibility of disposing of surplus military land


10 -

classified as farm and forest land, reveals that up to June 25, 1946,
about 460,000 acres of surplus military land had been assigned tc it.
Of this total it had sold 64,018 acres. Slightly over half the acre-
age sold went to former owners, about one-sixth to veterans, one-sixth
to other priority groups such as tenants of former owners, individuals
intending to become owner operators, State and local governments, and
nonprofit institutions, and the remaining one-sixth to nonpriority

In all, about 1-1/2 million acres had been declared surplus but not
yet taken over by the disposal agencies. The portion of this land
classified as agricultural will be available for sale to former owners,
veterans, and others. These lands, of course, do not include any of
the public lands transferred temporarily to the War and Navy Departments
during the war.

The War Department is leasing to farmers most of the open land not cur-
rently used for military purposes pending its further use or disposition.
In 1944, nearly 550,000 acres were leased to farmers and in 1946 it is
close to a half million acres.

Public Land Considered

In general, the public land that is easily adapted to farming in all
the States has been settled. What remains must await irrigation,
drainage, clearing, or other development. Public land is available in
Alaska, but opportunities for expansion of successful farming are
qualified by climatic conditions and are greatly limited at present by
lack of markets and roads. Moreover, most of this land is in undeveloped
areas and must be cleared and improved and farm buildings and community
facilities erected before farming is possible. Production of staple
crops and livestock products in Alaska for sale in the States is not
feasible now, either because they cannot be produced as successfully,
or they cannot compete in costs with those grown in the States. There-
fore, profitable farm production is restricted chiefly to perishable
products such as certain fresh vegetables and fruits, and to poultry
and dairy products, and meats for local consumption. Farm improvement,
maintenance and operating costs are high, especially the cost of farm
equipment, hardware for buildings, and hired labor.

As other industries expand mining, forestry, and fishing with an
accompanying increase in permanent year-round workers and population
within the Territory, and additional rural roads and- other public
facilities are constructed, opportunities for successful farm develop-
ment will increase. In 1959, there were 625 farms in Alaska, including
fur farms. There has been some increase since 1959, but any considerable
expansion must be preceded or accompanied by an increase in population
to provide markets. With expansion and stabilization of industries

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along permanent lines, many seasonal and migratory industrial workers
in Alaska probably will want small places for residential use and
part-time farming.

40.000 New Farms From Undeveloped Land

Another potential source of new farms is by irrigation and drainage
of land in public and private ownership by means of projects now under
construction or authorized for construction. The Columbia Basin,
Central Valley of California, and other areas in the WTestern States
are among them. Some new farms can be developed also by draining and
clearing suitable land in the Central, Southern, and Eastern States.
Some of this land is in organized drainage and flood-control districts
and already has some public facilities. Other limited areas in the
Lake States, the Southern Coastal Plain, and the Pacific Northwest are
suitable for development by clearing alone.

If construction of such facilities as reservoirs, ditches, and roads
is completed and funds are provided for farm development, from 40,000
to 50,000 new farms could be created in the next 5 years. Construction
of new drainage and irrigation facilities and repair and maintenance of
those now in use also will mean the improvement of many farms which are
now inadequate units. Stabilizing the farms and agricultural enter-
prises that are already in existence should be of primary concern in
any immediate farm-land development.

These estimates of sources from which farms may come are not forecasts
and they are not recommendations. They merely represent feasible
possibilities. They do not indicate what farmers and others who are
interested in going into farming will do. It appears reasonable,
however, that farm-land development and improvement will be continued
during the next few years where suitable land, equipment, materials,
and labor are available and public facilities have been installed or
authorized and public funds have been appropriated for construction of
necessary improvements. If so, land settlement will again require
public measures to guide it along sound lines. If, however, serious
shortages continue in building materials and labor, or construction of
necessary public works is deferred, then new farm development also will
be delayed.

Before additional new-farm development projects are undertaken, it
is important to consider carefully whether the costs are justified,
either by the need for crops or by the farmers' prospects of earnings
and family living. Any development of new-land projects immediately
will probably occur in a period of high costs, whereas the crops may
come later in a period of lower prices. This will mean that the repay-
ment of costs of construction and land improvement will be difficult
unless it is spread over many years. Often projects that are developed
to meet only temporary needs for land reach the production stage when
the products are no longer needed.


It might be better to make existing farms more productive by providing
better drainage "and more certain water supplies, and by improving farm

Part-time Farms

The outlook for part-time farming combined with a job off the farm
appears to be promising in many areas where steady industrial or other
nonfarm work is at hand. Thousands of families in the past several
years have lived on small farms near industrial centers. To their
wages from industrial work they can add some income by a little farming
and gardening. More factories may be located in small towns. Then if
there are good means of transportation and if suitable land is avail-
able in nearby rural areas there can be more part-time farms. Many
veterans who prefer rural life may find that it will be well to have
another job while living on a small farm that will provide healthful
surroundings, part of the family living in food or fuel, and perhaps
some additional income. Usually when the heads of families- have full-
time jobs off the farm it is not practicable for them to produce much
more than the garden vegetables, dairy products, fruit, pork, poultry,
and eggs used at home.

The amount of farm income that can be obtained from part-tine farming
depends upon the amount of farming that is done that is, the labor,
land, and capital goods that are put into the effort and the costs
of farming and the prices the farmer gets for his products. These are
much the same things as affect the income of full-time farmers. If
some members of the family can spend considerable time working the
farm or if the head of the family has only part-time outside work,
there can be a sizable farm production and income if the land is suit-
able and he has the necessary equipment. Nevertheless, a good source
of employment off the farm with its wages or salary is necessary if
the part-time farmer is to have an adequate income for his family.

Farms Will Need 1/2 to 5/4 Million Nonoperator Workers

In addition to 850,000 farm operator jobs, there probably will be a
half to three-fourths of a million hired and unpaid family worker
jobs in agriculture for returning veterans and others in the next few
years. These will be needed as women, youths, and even children who
worked on farms during the war return to their normal ways. Because
these temporary workers can generally do rather less than a young man,
the number of such people leaving farm work will be greater than the
number replacing them. In the year prior to July 1946, it appears
that veterans replaced over 300,000 other farm workers, many of whom
were not able to do heavy farm work. In many cases a returning son
is doing the work done during the war by the women and children of the
family. In other cases a man has been hired. These jobs include some

for skilled operators and repair men to work on farm machinery; some
to repair and construct farm buildings, fences, and make other improve-
ments; and some to enable elderly farmers to ease their war pace.

Placement of Farm Laborers

A farm-labor placement service is in operation by the Agricultural
Extension Service. Through it, war veterans who want work on farms are
being referred to placement opportunities. By arrangement with
Selective Service, each returning veteran who wants farm work is
referred by his local Selective Service Board to the county agricultural
agent for placement. During the spring of 1945, about 1,000 veterans
were placed as farm workers each month. In the last half of 1945 and
the winter and spring of 1946, an average of over 5,000 veterans per
month were placed in farm jobs. In May 1946, over 9,000 men were
placed and in June, 15,500. Most of these placements were in jobs of
a long-time nature.* Information about farm-work opportunities can be
obtained from county agricultural agents and the State farm labor
placement supervisors for specific areas in which persons may be

Probably Million and a Half Farmer and Farm Jobs Available

In all, probably as many as 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 million farmer and other
farm-worker jobs will be available in the first 5 years after the war.
These openings will come about through retirement, death, or physical
incapacity of about 600,000 elderly farmers, change to other jobs of
200,000 farmers, the sale of surplus military land, some new farm
development, and replacement of 500,000 to 750,000 women, children, and
others working on farms during the war years.

Comparing Demand for Farms and Farm Jobs with the Supply

The eventual demand for farms in the next few years very likely will
be materially greater than the supply of good available farms. This is
a normal situation. Indications are that there will be a demand in the
next 5 years or so for many more farmer jobs than for farm-laborer jobs.
On the supply side, the reverse situation is likely. That is, there
probably will be more jobs for farm laborers the first years after the
war than there will be chances for full-time farmers. However, the
total demand for farm employment of both classes, operator and non-
operator, and the total supply of men who want to engage in farming,
either as operators or nonoperators, appear to be closer together.

Estimates that have been made of the number of farms that will become
available to new operators during the first 5 years after the war are
as follows a

(1) Farms becoming available because of deaths and
men reaching retirement age 600,000

(2) Farms becoming available because owner-operators
and tenants change to other jobs 200,000

(3) Military land suitable for farming if declared
surplus and divided into adequate family-sized
farms 10,000

(4) New farms which are likely to be developed from
land in development projects already constructed,
undertaken, or approved 40.000

Total farms 850,000

In all, these estimates indicate that during the first 5 years or so
after the war, around 800,000 to 900,000 farms, including farms that
are now too small to be economic for full-time farming, will be avail-
able for new operators. Many farm boys will reach maturity in this
period and an unknown number of war workers will return to farming.
Then it has been estimated, based on the Army survey, that over
1,000,000 veterans will be seeking farms to operate on a full-time
basis and possibly 500,000 or more will want part-time farms.

This does not mean that there are not many farm openings for veterans.
Nearly two-thirds of the veterans who reported that they wished to
farm had farms in mind to which to return, while one-third reported
they would have to look for a farm or a farm job. Many fathers have
already arranged, or are planning for their boys to take over or to
have jobs on the home places; and veterans have as good, if not better,
chances than many others, because of Government loans, to get the farms
that are offered for sale.

In addition to farm-operator jobs, it is estimated that there will be
job openings for approximately 500,000 to 750,000 farm workers, as
women, children, and elderly workers leave farm jobs in the next few

The Army survey in 1944 indicated that relatively few veterans (perhaps
around 100,000) wanted jobs as farm hired men. But because of the keen
competition for farms, some veterans who hoped to become farm operators
are accepting jobs as hired workers for a time in order to find suit-
able farm openings. Then some veterans, of course, wish to work for a
year or two as hired men before they take on the expenses and responsi-
bilities of running farms for themselves. Surveys made in the spring
of 1946 have shown that 500,000, or nearly 50 percent of World War II
veterans who are working on farms are employed as hired workers.

-15 -


Considerable land-development work has already been started or
authorized; more has been planned or proposed which, if undertaken,
eventually will improve land for many inadequate farms and for an
additional 75,000 to 100,000 family-sized farms. This work involves
drainage, clearing, flood control, and irrigation systems. Fifteen
to twenty years or more may be required to get this job done. Funds,
materials, equipment, and labor will be needed to complete these
public works as well as for roads, schools, and farm improvements.

Over a similar length of time, some undeveloped and not fully occupied
land in existing large farms and undeveloped tracts in farm areas suit-
able for clearing, draining, or irrigating could be developed as these
properties come up for sale or rent. The acreage so improved for
farming, if made available in family-sized units, probably would pro-
vide about 50,000 farms in addition to enlargement of many small farms.

There are some other long-time new-farm possibilities. But their
development should be planned to occur along with future needs for farm
products and to provide openings for farmers who are now on inadequate
units and in poor farming areas. Future new farm acreage possibilities
just about equal the areas of poor farm land which should be changed
from cultivated cropland to more extensive uses such as forestry and

Part of the future new-farm development, especially that involving
drainage and clearing, now is primarily a matter for local organizations
and for individual initiative and enterprise, as there is no special
Government development program at present. However, public agricultural
programs, such as the soil and water conservation and agricultural
adjustment programs, provide some technical assistance and equipment
and in a few instances limited financial aid for land drainage and
clearing. In some river basins in the Mississippi Valley and Western
States, rather extensive farm and nonfarm delta areas will be drained,
or drainage improved, by work which the Army Engineers are now under-
taking in construction and improvement of stream channels. By 1947, it
is probable that a considerable number of new farming ventures may be
undertaken in these delta areas. Many existing farms also will be
improved by the drainage and flood-control work in progress and approved
for early action. The amount and the time of future new-land develop-
ment by public programs will depend on public policy, public funds, and
credit to aid in financing the costs.



Factors Which Make for Success

This country has wide experience from which to draw in guiding those
going into farming. The factors which make for success are well known -
selection of productive land, buying at a price which can be paid from
earnings, adequate financing, experience and aptitude of the farmer for
the occupation, and undertaking enterprises that are adapted to the
locality. Unless the location is favorable, the land productive, the
enterprise large enough, and the purchase price fair, there is not
sufficient opportunity for the farmer to make a good living. To pay
more than the normal income will warrant is likely to lead to financial
difficulty before the place is finally paid for. Thousands of new
farmers who were heavily in debt failed during the farm depression that
followed World War I. It is well to be wary of contracting heavy debt
when the general price level is high and talk of inflation fills the air.

It is possible to obtain rather extensive credit for buying a farm. But
there is no real substitute for one's own savings for investment in a
farm. Borrowed money has to be repaid, with interest. Such payments
sometimes are impossible if there is a crop failure, illness, or some
other unforeseen difficulty.

Successful farming today demands considerable technical knowledge as
well as certain indispensable skills in the handling of machinery,
livestock, and crops* There is no substitute for experience. If a
man knows little about farming he should take a job for a time on a
good farm before he tries to run one as an owner.

Some newcomers cherish the opinion that they can make more money by
doing something that has not been tried in the community. Sometimes -
rather rarely this may work out. In some areas shifts in production
are necessary to conform to market demands and to maintain the soil.
Bit it is well to remember that the prevalent general type of farming
in a given community has become such after long years of trial and
adaptation. Most successful farmers are following the neighborhood
pattern only they contrive to do it a little better than the average.

Farm work requires health. It is almost as essential that the house-
wife, too, be reasonably well and strong. A considerable part of the
work in the fields, and barns, and indoors involves marnal labor. Unless
the owner can stand a fair amount of such work it will be difficult for
him to make a financial success of farming. Those who are physically
handicapped will ordinarily fare much better in light jobs around a farm
or a suburban place, or in urban employment, where there are jobs suited
to all kinds of personal capabilities.

From the standpoint of agencies that are concerned with the settlement
of veterans or others on farms, some of the other prominent factors

-17 -

of success may be cited for considerations Lending money at reasonable
interest and with small or deferred principal payments while the farmer
is getting started, or in years of depression; requiring that settlers
have experience, aptitude, or adequate health; giving sufficient
assistance to new settlers in matters of purchase, land improvement,
credit, selection of equipment and livestock, and with management and
marketing problems; settling of individuals on farms available for
purchase or rent in old regions instead of colony settlement (because
of public services and overhead costs already provided), and placing
new land colonies near markets, in areas with good roads and other
facilities, or providing necessary community developments for successful
farming and farm life.

Emphasis on Family-Sized Farms

Most of our farm-settlement policies of recent years have grown up
around the idea of developing and encouraging family-sized farms -
farms that would provide the family with an adequate income. Throughout
many of the public land, homestead, and settlement programs of the last
century runs that central thread of public desire for a wide distribution
of ownership and operation of family-sized farms. Examples are in the
160-acre homestead provisions of the Act of 1862 and other similar
acreage limitations, depending on the character of the land, laid down
during the last several decades. The Federal Reclamation program,
inaugurated by Congress in 1902, continued the policy of the 160-acre
family homestead, by provision of water to new land acreage only up to
160 acres in the hands of one owner. This policy has been stated over
again by successive Congressional action.

Other governmental farm programs have had provisions aimed to encourage
family-sized farms. Examples are the limitations on amount of farm loans
under the acts governing the Tenant Farm Purchase and the Farm Credit
programs, and the provision for farm loans in the recently enacted
Servicemen's Readjustment Act. The conservation payments, and the
marketing and acreage quotas provided in the past under the Agricultural
Adjustment program, likewise accorded recognition to small farms. Several
States have discouraged large concentrations of land, especially in the
hands of corporations, through certain legislation and by tax exemptions
on small homestead farms.

As the policy of encouraging widespread ownership of family-sized farms
by their operators is generally accepted among nearly all groups of people
as being in the public interest, it should remain an important land policy.
Any retreat from that general principle of encouragement of family-sized
farms would undoubtedly be looked upon as a move directly against the
welfare of the mass of farmers and of the Nation. Strengthening of the
policies dealing with the family-sized farm, encouragement of ownership
and improvement of a large proportion of the farms by farm operators,
and improvement of landlord-tenant and farm-laborer relationships are
directly related to the job of providing good farm opportunities.

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