The New Deal: The National Level

By John Braeman; Robert H. Bremner et al. | Go to book overview

Richard S. Kirkendall


The New Deal and Agriculture

THE NEW DEAL FOR AGRICULTURE ILLUSTRATED THE ROOSEVELT administration's commitment to capitalism and its determination both to preserve and to change the system. Farming was extremely depressed in 1933, and New Dealers worked, with some success, to raise farm prices and restore profits to the farm business. They tried to do even more: to fit the farmer into a collectivist type of capitalism. Again, their efforts succeeded. The federal government became more important in American agriculture, seeking among its objectives to regulate farm production, and farm organizations grew in membership and importance. The individual farmer came out of the 1930s less independent than he had been before the New Deal. Some New Dealers also hoped to serve more than the business interests of the commercial farmer. Although their efforts were partially successful, they encountered major obstacles that limited their accomplishments. Farm politics during the 1930s was dominated by men interested, first of all, in higher farm prices.

American capitalism had been moving in a collectivist direction for more than half a century before 1933. Large organizations, both public and private, had been taking shape and gaining power in the economic system. Businessmen had moved first, breaking with individualism and forming giant organizations before the end of the nineteenth century. Antitrust laws had been passed in hopes of restoring the old system, but they had failed. Somewhat more successful efforts had been made in pre-New Deal days to bring government and various economic groups into harmony with the collectivist trends. Government regulatory agencies, such as the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, had been

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