Friday, December 9, 2016

Friday Farming: New York Times, December 7, 1916: High Cost of Living Laid to Farm Methods

A big item in the news in 1916 was the price of everything, which was going up.  That included food, and hence the article:
High Cost of Living Laid to Farm Methods
It was correct, as the article pointed out, that new and improved farming methods, amongst other things, would raise yields enormously in the future. What probably wasn't equally obvious is that farm families would have their best year economically in 1919, the last year that agricultural families had economic parity with urban families.

Also less obvious would be that while those improved methods would enormously boost productivity, that same productivity would mean the massive reduction of farmers and farm families.


Well, say what they might, and American food did become amazingly cheap, but the big price problem of 1916 was World War One.  Indeed, loss of farming acreage in Europe combined with loss of farmers would combine to create a rather desperate food situation world wide which also saw an expansion of farming acreage in the US during the war, much of it in wheat, and much of it farmed by people who had never farmed before.


Wheat speculators, basically.

Indeed, their were wheat boosters, it seemed like such a sure market.

It wasn't.  It collapsed after the war with a farming depression that proceeded the Great Depression.

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