Franklin D. Roosevelt

White House Statement on the Establishment of the National Resources Board.

July 03, 1934

In order to grapple on a national scale with the problem of the millions of farm families now attempting unsuccessfully to wrest a living from worn-out, eroded lands, the President today issued an Executive Order creating the National Resources Board. The Board will study and plan for the better utilization of the land, water, and other national resources of the country.

The personnel of the Board includes the Secretary of the Interior, chairman; the Secretary of War, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Labor, the Federal Emergency Relief Administrator, Mr. Frederic A. Delano, Mr. Charles E. Merriam, and Mr. Wesley C. Mitchell. The last three named also constitute an Advisory Committee, of which Mr. Delano is chairman. The order at the same time abolished the National Planning Board, transferring its personnel, duties and records to the new organization. The relationships with State planning agencies heretofore established by the National Planning Board will be continued and developed by the new National Resources Board. The order provided for a Technical Committee as well, with no fixed personnel or tenure.

The Board will prepare a program and plan of procedure to be submitted to the President dealing with all aspects of the problem of development and use of land, water and other national resources, in their physical, social, governmental and economic aspects.

A report on land and water is called for in the order, to be submitted before December 1, 1934. The program and plan will include coordination of projects of Federal, State and local governments, defining the division of responsibility and costs among the various governmental authorities.

The new Board which will coordinate the diverse efforts of several government agencies in attacking the problems, supersedes the Committee on National Land Problems, which is abolished by today's order.

As an example of the major problems facing the new Board, there is the imperative need of saving those lands of the country now being rapidly turned into virtual deserts through wind and water erosion, and the relocation of those who are trying to wrest a living from this rapidly deteriorating land. Such lands include the flat prairie lands of the West where drought and wind combine to carry away the remaining fertile top-soil, and hill land where, after land has been cleared, rain has washed the formerly fertile hillsides clean of productive soil, with consequent gullying and virtual ruin of the land for productive purposes. Such lands can be saved by returning them to forest, or utilizing them for grazing rather than attempting to raise clean-tilled crops, which induce rapid erosion.

Coupled with this problem, of course, is that of relocating those farmers and their families on better land, where their efforts will bring them a better living and more certain economic security.

The program will be prepared with more in mind than better land utilization. It will give consideration to the better balancing of agricultural production and the solution of human problems in land use. It will aim to point the way to correction of the misuse of land and water resources, thereby improving the standards of living of millions of impoverished families.

Many agencies of the Federal Government will cooperate in this broad program, including the following:

Interior Department: National Park Service, Office of Indian Affairs, the General Land Office, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Geological Survey, the Subsistence Homesteads Division and the Soil Erosion Service.

Department of Agriculture: Bureau of Agricultural Economics, the Forest Service, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the Farm Credit Administration, the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, the Biological Survey, the Bureau of Agricultural Engineering and the Extension Service.

Relief: The Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation.

In matters affecting navigable waters, the War Department will cooperate with the National Resources Board. Likewise, the Bureau of Fisheries of the Department of Commerce will cooperate in matters affecting that national resource.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, White House Statement on the Establishment of the National Resources Board. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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