Franklin D. Roosevelt

Statement on Signing the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938.

February 16, 1938

Today as I sign the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 my mind goes back five years to the day in March, 1933, when I recommended to the Congress the passage of the original Adjustment Act to rescue farmers from the intolerable plight of the depression. At that time I recognized frankly we were taking "a new and untrod path." But events have shown that in rejecting inaction at that time and in determining to face the problem and meet it directly with a farm program which could be improved as circumstances required, we chose wisely. Great progress has been made since the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 went into effect.

Gradually, through these years, the basic principles of national farm policy have become clear. By experience we have learned what must be done to assure to agriculture a fair share of an increasing national income, to provide consumers with abundant supplies of food and fiber, to stop waste of soil, and to reduce the gap between huge surpluses and disastrous shortages. The Nation is now agreed that we must have greater reserves of food and feed to use in years of damaging weather and to help iron out extreme ups and downs of price. We are agreed that the real and lasting progress of the people of farm and city alike will come, not from the old familiar cycle of glut and scarcity, not from the succession of boom and collapse, but from the steady and sustained increases in production and fair exchange of things that human beings need.

A year ago, a national conference of farm leaders in Washington advocated federal legislation to serve these ends. During the recess of the Congress, committees were at work. The task was complex and difficult. In order that the Congress might have opportunity to complete legislation in time to meet this year's farm problems, I summoned the special session last November. This Act is the result.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 represents the winning of one more battle for an underlying farm policy that will endure. Therefore it is historic legislation. It is not perfection, but it is the constructive product of the able and sincere work of many men. I believe the overwhelming majority of the people will commend members of Congress and others who have devoted themselves to the making of this law. As we go ahead under the new Act, let us resolve to make it an effective instrument to serve the welfare of agriculture and all our people.

It will be put into operation as quickly as possible, and in the meantime I ask that all those who are doing or will do spring planting govern their operations in the light of this new law.

While the new Act makes many important changes in the existing plan for the benefit of agriculture, it is to be noted that, with one exception—the provision for "parity" payments—the improved plan for agricultural adjustment does not entail any greater annual cost than the sum authorized under the present one, which is known as the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act. Parity payments would increase the present authorized cost, and in order to make such payments it would be necessary to provide additional revenue needed to finance them.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Statement on Signing the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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