Franklin D. Roosevelt photo

Letter on Modernization of Farm Machinery.

October 13, 1944

(To the Chairman of the War Production Board)

I am sure that in your plans for the reconversion of industry to civilian production you will want to give strong recognition to the needs of many American farmers for increased supplies of farm machinery. I know that there has been a substantial increase in the production of most types of farm machinery during the past year which has made it possible for the War Food Administration to eliminate most of the rationing of farm machinery. It is necessary, however, that we further assist the farmer along these lines during the critical production period which yet lies ahead.

During the war we have called upon American agriculture to produce food in unprecedented quantities. To these calls the American farmer has responded with patriotic fervor.

Agricultural production has reached new high levels through the hard work of our farm people. In achieving the production of more than one-third more food than in the prewar period, our farmers have had to overcome the handicap of shortages of labor and of farm machinery. Our farm working population has been diverted to war jobs in industry and to the armed forces to the extent of more than 4,000,000 workers. Farm machinery has been scarce because of the fact that the materials and facilities which would otherwise have gone into the production of farm machinery have been needed for military trucks, tanks, planes, landing craft, guns, and other urgent war purposes.

Our unprecedented war production of food has, therefore, been accomplished by harder work and longer hours on the part of our farm people, by more intensive use of farm machinery, and by the seasonal use of many workers untrained in agriculture. The Nation will always be grateful to the American farmer for this achievement.

In this period of high production and intensive use of agricultural machinery, many farmers have not been able to fill their normal replacement programs for their farm machinery. They now find themselves in the position of conducting their farming operations with farm machinery and equipment much of which is obsolete or depreciated beyond the point where it can be used with maximum efficiency.

Wartime experience has demonstrated that a fully employed America will consume food in quantities substantially in excess of the prewar period. Our plans call for maintaining full employment at home. The consumption of food at home, and hence the production of food for consumption at home, must remain at high levels to satisfy the needs and demands of a fully employed America.

In the immediate future we will be exporting substantial quantities of food, some of it to aid directly in achieving military victory, some of it through the United States contribution to U.N.R.R.A. so that the liberated peoples can soon help themselves, and much of it through commercial channels. With the restoration of foreign trade throughout the world, and the removal of many trade barriers, it is to be expected that this country will remain a substantial exporter of agricultural products.

American agriculture must be prepared for these demands upon its productive capacity. To this end it should be given all possible assistance in modernizing and maintaining its farm machinery.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter on Modernization of Farm Machinery. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/209935

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