Effects of the Great War upon Agriculture in the United States and Great Britain

By Benjamin Hibbard H. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
Crops: Production, Prices and Exports for 1914 to 1918

From the time of the outbreak of the war in August, 1914, to the entrance of the United States into the war in 1917, there intervened two crop years. During these years there were, with few exceptions, sharp increases in prices, and increase in price is undoubtedly the most universally effective force in stimulating greater production. The most remarkable exception to the increase in prices in August, or almost immediately thereafter, was the opposite movement in cotton prices which almost immediately fell, the November price being but slightly over half that of the August price. While the governmental action for stimulating crop and animal production came only after the entrance of the United States into the war, there is so much continuity of influence of the war on agriculture from 1914 on that it seems best to deal with the whole war period as a unit, noting the modifications that occurred after April, 1917, in connection with each topic.


THE LEADING FOOD CROPS

At the outbreak of any war there is an immediate, abnormal demand for food crops and such feed grains as are of use in the army. It is much as though a new group of men and animals were brought within the market influence. Both men and horses do much additional work and therefore consume more. Much is destroyed, used lavishly, or perhaps captured by the enemy. At the same time the productive power of the belligerent nations is reduced in proportion as its man and horse power are withdrawn from peaceful pursuits and used in the armies. Moreover, where several countries which have previously traded among themselves are divided into two belligerent groups the course of trade must

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