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77 4 4.World War II and Its Aftermath A Family Report Like World War I, the Second World War meant higher prices for almost all farm products.A high demand for food crops, based largely on events in Europe, quickly used up all the surpluses held by the Commodity Credit Corporation.The acreage controls and price supports of the 1938 Agricultural Adjustment Act were largely unneeded. Enforced acreage controls remained only for tobacco. Agricultural prices remained at or above parity, and net farm income soared. Although the federal government did not place controls on farm prices, it enforced rigid price controls on all consumer goods. Food rationing prevented severe shortages. These controls indirectly limited what farmers received and prevented a speculative bubble in rural America. Thus, the value of farmland rose only moderately during the war.Yet the war brought enormous change to rural America and reinforced trends already under way that would allow a steady and rapid growth in farm productivity and, more important in the long run, opportunities for off-farm employment for members of farm households. Wartime Changes in My Village I was twelve years old in 1941, old enough to participate in most farmwork . I helped milk the four or five cows that allowed our family to sell milk in Greeneville, our only assured biweekly income from the farm. I helped set out tobacco plants in May, hoed and wormed the growing plants, and participated in the cutting and barning of tobacco in August. 78 A Revolution Down on the Farm By the next year, I was able to drive horses and guide a three-foot cultivator through the rows of corn and tobacco. By 1943, I was almost grown and considered myself a full hand on the farm, and thus I often worked for other farmers for the standard $1 a day (the standard did not go up during the war). In September 1943 I entered high school and began four years of course work in vocational agriculture. In 1944, as my first farm project to meet these course requirements, I rented our one acre of tobacco from my father and took responsibility for the three or four acres of corn we grew for use on the farm. I also worked, as a matter of course, in making hay for winter feed for our cows. Briefly, I was a farmer and looked forward to a career in agriculture. Since my father worked at Eastman Kodak in Kingsport, he had little time for extra farmwork. During the war he often had to work overtime, so my mother and I largely ran the farm, with my father lending a hand at harvest time. My father had taken his factory job in 1936, but for three years he continued to run the farm on a reduced scale. He grew the full tobacco allotment, as did all the local farmers with off-farm employment. By 1937, we grew only enough corn to feed our chickens and hogs, and by then we had stopped growing wheat. In 1937, with a sharp downturn in the economy, Eastman Kodak placed most employees on part-time hours, which meant more time for my father to work on the farm. But in 1939, with full employment restored and a new house to live in, my father sold his horses and largely gave up farmwork. For the next two years, we had a sharecropper living in our old house. He and his family did all the farmwork except for milking the cows, which my mother would not relinquish. But the farm was not large enough to provide a decent income for the renter, and when the war began he found outside work. This meant that I had an opportunity to take over much of the farmwork and earn some good money. By the time I graduated from high school in May 1947, I had slightly more than $2,000 in the bank, almost all from my share of the tobacco crop. It may not seem like very much today, but at the time it was exceptional (comparable to at least $22,000 today). I used it, plus what I earned doing summer work, to pay my way through college. An observer would not have noticed many overt changes in the local farm economy during the war. One or two large farmers had bought tractors just before the war. A few lucky farmers along the state highway (including our family) gained electricity in 1940.This...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813173153
Related ISBN
9780813125190
MARC Record
OCLC
262840971
Pages
240
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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