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  2. - Document - This Land, This Nation: Conservation, Rural America, and the New Deal
  3. Sarah T. Phillips
  4. Site Index
  5. ACLS Humanities E-Book

President Teddy Roosevelt advocated public ownership, mainly in the West, as the remedy for resource abuse. New Conservationists appealed to multiple interests by advocating an array of conflicting programs. They promoted: multi-purpose water projects, reclamation programs, rural electrification, industrial decentralization, subsistence homesteads, land retirement, soil conservation, reforestation, park expansion, and the back-to-the-land movement.

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The Hoover administration supported , albeit tepidly, oil and timber conservation, outdoor recreation and federal outlays for flood control. However Hoover opposed government ownership of electrical power and he opposed forcing utilities to provide rural coverage. Gray dwelled on an alleged over investment in large cash crop farms. Between and , after lumber companies cleared the forests of northern Wisconsin and Michigan, colonizing companies welcomed settlers.

Wisconsin enacted a Forest Crop Law to subsidize reforestation and a act designating farming, forestry and recreation zones. The Great Plains witnessed waves of farmers enticed by large homesteads. Consequently, in the s, increased harvests lowered prices. Plains farmers in particular, accustomed to farming large spreads with gasoline tractors and combine harvesters, made up for declining prices by breaking more sod. Bennett co-authored Soil Erosion: a National Menace for the Agriculture Department and penned scary articles for magazines.

In , using figures on lost farm income, he pried congressional funds for erosion surveys and experiments. By , eight soil research stations were operating and ten more were in the works. The frontier settlement era was pronounced dead. America could no longer trust private enterprise. Policies should stabilize agricultural prices, preserve natural resources and repair rural society. They also contended rural stakeholders deserved primary claim to local forests and streams. Norris, an advocate of state-run resource projects, courted controversy by opposing privatization of nitrate-explosive plants and a hydro-electric dam built on the Tennessee River Muscle Shoals, Alabama by the federal government during WWI.

Electricity regulation was another New Conservationist policy tributary. The case for government control of electricity was partially made on the grounds the industry was being monopolized.

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Chief Giant Power bureaucrat, Morris Cooke , believed the state had to provide electricity to rural areas to decentralize industry, restore country life, and putfarmers on an equal footing with townsmen. A state constitutional amendment permitted a bond issue to fund reforestation. He reduced rural taxes by shifting school and road costs from local to state government.

He promised urban amenities for farmers and lavished attention on rural electrification. The Depression fit their theory that economic discord was rooted in the countryside and would persist as long as rural living standards lagged urban ones. I believe we can look forward to three rather than two types, for there is a definite place for an intermediate type between the urban and rural, namely, rural industrial group.

He promised farm aid without being specific, sketched a quota plan without calling it such, and never mentioned acreage reduction. Rural electrification, soil conservation, and reforestation were not rewards for after the economic recovery but tools to lift America from Depression. New Conservationism New Deal. AAA Agricultural Adjustment Administration fixed prices for cotton, wheat, corn, hogs, rice, tobacco, and milk.

To ensure farmers received these prices, AAA gave Agriculture Secretary Wallace options including direct payments for acreage reductions. His main tools were loans given to farmers at spring seeding. The farmer agreed to limit acreage and pay back the loan with his harvest.

CCC Civilian Conservation Corps was an army of men employed to reforest public lands, prevent soil erosion, and improve national parks. Wilson as director. I believe that for the present we must keep a much larger number of people on the farms than many agricultural economists would advise. There are values in rural life without rich material returns, which in my estimation are superior to maximum commercial productiveness. New Conservationists wanted reduced acreage. Wallace, the Department of Agriculture, FDR and numerous others viewed the Great Plains in terms of lowering expectations to save the soil, Harold Ickes and his allies viewed his domain largely in terms of expanding horizons, chiefly through the development of water facilities..

- Document - This Land, This Nation: Conservation, Rural America, and the New Deal

Why bring more farms into production, they argued, if overproduction already plagued markets? Gray collided with ambitious Reclamation Bureau officials who planned massive irrigation projects. But this rule was flaunted. The Colorado-Big Thompson Project est. Applications poured in for flood control, irrigation, improved navigation, and electric power. SES also funded tree-planting and supplied farmers with shrubs and saplings.

Drought appeared in An additional , farm families went on relief. USA v.

Sarah T. Phillips

The crops causing the glut were conveniently the ones causing soil erosion. Reducing production was reframed as soil conservation. To stop gullies, we shall need to examine the philosophy of human relations. Federal cash poured into schools and hospitals. This outraged southern congressmen. Secretary Wallace rescinded the decree and began purging agrarians. Drought reduced production but yields rebounded with the rains of Restricting food supply struck farmers as counter-intuitive, un-American.


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The Farm Tenancy Report drew attention to the poverty of small farmers and rural tenants. FSA promoted stability, not cash-crop expansion. There were three general camps: pro-market businessmen; pro-conservationist Ivy League Northeasterners; and midwestern farm boys wishing to restore the middle-sized farms of their youth. Tugwell thought rural poverty solvable only by land retirement. They purchased blocks of farmland, restored it and then tried to resettle displaced families. By , land utilization projects covered parts of almost every state. In North Carolina 15, acres of cotton land became the William B.

Umstead State Park. Around Milk River, Montana a million acres were purchased and restored to grass. On the plains and the Southwest alone, the federal government acquired and restored nine million acres of mostly tax delinquent farmland. In , when Congress halted the practice, 11 million acres of farmland had been restored.

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Such projects were criticized by landowners who feared a loss of seasonal labour. Plains farmers did not take to sermons on how the prairies should never have been ploughed. Wallace admitted good land had been purchased with the bad. The solution was land retirement, not large-scale irrigation. Finally, Phillips illustrates the transformation of this New Conservation from a focus on Author: Neil M.

Date: Dec. From: Journal of Social History Vol.

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