Never before in the history of war has the food question played so large a part as in the present world war. This is true both because a larger area was cut off from production on account of the draft of laborers into the armies, and also because transportation has been probably more difficult than ever before. Undoubtedly, there was a time within the past three years when a large part of the world was on the verge of starvation because of shortage of supplies. Owing to heroic measures adopted by warring countries, and more especially by our own, we avoided this catastrophe.
Of course, the difficulty was seen early by the countries at war and measures were taken not only to increase their own production, but to reduce consumption as far as possible. Before we entered the war we had become, in a large degree, the source of the world's food supply. On our entry the duty of feeding the world lay upon us still more heavily, for we had not only to care for our people at home, but for our soldiers abroad, and supply a large part of the food of our allies. Here, as in Great Britain, the measures were of two kinds, the stimulation of production and conservation in consumption.
At the opening of the war we had no patent plan or policy of national scope with reference to agricultural production nor, indeed, have we developed one. A great deal has been said and written on the subject since the spring of 1917, but much of it was beside the mark and really little has been done to organize our agricultural resources in a large way. Indeed, the matter was one of great difficulty because of the rapid draft of labor from the field. Notwithstanding these difficulties, however, the farmers and other food producers of the country responded nobly and produced results which, under the circumstances, have been very remarkable.