Cover

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Title page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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Contents

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Foreword

Marion Nestle

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pp. ix-xii

What a gift to have this new edition of Breadlines Knee-Deep in Wheat, too long out of print and badly missed. Janet Poppendieck and I exchanged books when we first met, in the late 1980s, and I still treasure the signed copy she gave me, even with its water stains from hurricane damage to my...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

A great many people have contributed in one way and another to the creation of this book. I want to thank the members of my dissertation committee at the Florence Heller School, Brandeis University, especially my chairman, David Gil, for encouraging me to turn my dissertation into a...

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Introduction: The Paradox of Want amid Plenty

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pp. xv-xxii

"For the American farmer, 1932 was a year of singular misfortune," reported the New York Times on New Year's Day, 1933. Between January and mid December, average farm prices had fallen by more than 18 percent, following a drop of nearly 50 percent in the two previous years. Two...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xxiii-xxiv

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ONE: The Plight of the Farmer

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pp. 1-15

The huge surpluses of food and fiber that caused so much consternation among those aware of the hunger of the unemployed did not begin with the Depression. In fact, surpluses had plagued farmers sporadically for half a century and had...

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TWO: Depression: Deprivation and Despair

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pp. 16-34

The stock market crash in the autumn of 1929 did not immediately cause grave apprehension among farm leaders. Some segments of the agricultural press, in fact, believed that the collapse of paper values might help to restore balance between the...

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THREE: The Politics of Wheat and Drought

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pp. 35-54

In keeping with the American tradition of local responsibility for relief, initial responses to the troubling juxtaposition of hunger and surplus were local and direct. New York and Illinois dairy farmers distributed surplus milk to needy families on a regular basis. In the...

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FOUR: Government Grain for the Needy

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pp. 55-72

When Congress adjourned on March 4, 1931, the wheat distribution plan appeared dormant if not dead. In view of his public statements on relief, the president could not be expected to initiate any distribution of federally owned...

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FIVE: The End of the Hoover Era

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pp. 73-87

The day before Herbert Hoover left office, he signed into law an act authorizing the Red Cross to exchange some of its Farm Board cotton surplus for articles containing wool, thus bringing down the curtain on his administration's response to the paradox...

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SIX: The Promise of the New Deal

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pp. 88-107

When Franklin D. Roosevelt took office on March 4, 1933, proclaiming that the nation had "nothing to fear but fear itself" and promising direct, vigorous action, the banking crisis had eclipsed both the relief and agricultural problems...

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SEVEN: The Little Pigs: The Genesis of Relief Distribution

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pp. 108-128

The contrast between burdensome supplies of agricultural products and widespread deprivation did not immediately provoke the new administration into arranging for distribution of surplus food to the hungry. The idea was certainly familiar from...

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EIGHT: The Federal Surplus Relief Corporation

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pp. 129-151

Pragmatic, appealing, improvised, and flexible, the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation (FSRC) was in many ways an incarnation of the experimental spirit of the New Deal. Conceived in an informal conversation among friends and hastily established...

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NINE: The Corporation in Conflict: Competition with Private Enterprise

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pp. 152-176

The corporation's troubles began even before the incorporation papers were filed. On October 3, the evening newspapers reported that the administration was considering extending the processing tax to pay for the expanded surplus distribution program...

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TEN: Transfer to the Department of Agriculture

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pp. 177-204

On November 18, 1935, the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation was transferred to the direction of the secretary of agriculture. The corporation's offices were moved to USDA, and its name was changed to the Federal Surplus Commodities...

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ELEVEN: Accommodation to Agricultural Priorities

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pp. 205-233

The immediate impact of the shift to Section 32 funding and USDA direction was an almost complete cessation of the flow of commodities. According to the "Memorandum of Understanding" worked out between Davis and Hopkins, the Commodities...

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TWELVE: Food Assistance: The Legacy of New Deal Policy Choices

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pp. 234-255

In June 1937, the Roosevelt administration, once again flirting with the seductive notions of a balanced budget and a restoration of business confidence, dramatically cut spending and sharply reduced the WPA rolls. As summer gave way to autumn, the stock...

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Epilogue

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pp. 256-312

In the years since Breadlines Knee-Deep in Wheat was first published in the mid- 19805, food assistance in the United States has expanded and diversified. The rate of participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, has nearly doubled, from just over 8 percent of the...

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Acknowledgments to the 2014 Edition

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pp. 313-314

I am immensely grateful to Daniel Bowman-Simon for proposing a second edition of Breadlines Knee-Deep in Wheat, to Marion Nestle for convincing UC Press to consider the project, and to Kate Marshall for accepting the challenge. I'd like to thank external reviewers Ken Albala and Parke Wilde, both for recommending...

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Sources

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pp. 315-318

The major sources of data for this study are the records of the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation and its successor, the Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation, which are part of Record Group 124, Records of the Surplus Marketing Administration, in the National Archives. They consist of correspondence, memoranda...

Notes

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pp. 319-364

Index

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pp. 365-376