CHAPTER XI
DISTRIBUTION OF SURPLUS COMMODITIES

In the preceding chapter it was noted briefly that among the programs adopted by the national government to sustain the price of agricultural commodities was the purchase with public funds of so-called surplus commodities. Theoretically the surpluses thus purchased were given away to persons in need, not as a substitute for other forms of relief but as additions to what they were receiving from other sources. Actually, however, the availability of such commodities was taken into account in many localities in determining relief needs. In some states, notably in the South, surplus commodities constituted the only form of general public assistance available.1

The present chapter will be concerned primarily with those aspects of the program that relate directly to relief. No attempt will be made to consider the effectiveness of the program in achieving its basic purposes of sustaining the price of the commodities affected, promoting orderly marketing and attempting to give to primary producers and necessary processors a fair return for their labors. These aspects will be touched upon only incidentally.

Since our interest centers in the parts of the program that relate to relief, we shall not go into its history after the economy felt the impact of preparedness and the war. Briefly the activities were transferred in 1942 to the Agricultural Marketing Service, which later became part of the Food Distribution Administration of the War Food Administration.2 We shall confine ourselves to the period from 1933 to 1940, giving first a brief statement of the legislative history, second, summary statistics to indicate the nature and extent of the activities, and then in greater detail a consideration of the issues presented from the standpoint of relief.

____________________
1
Works Progress Administration, Average General Relief Benefits, 1933-1938 ( 1940).
2
United States Government Manual, 1945, First Ed., p. 610.

-327-

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