The Federal Food Administration
No sooner had we formally entered the war than it was recognized by the governmental authorities that the exigencies of the case with respect to a continuance of food supplies at prices within reach of the people demanded prompt action.
The President was not willing to trust to a laissez-faire policy, believing that the laws of competition would be so hedged about by the affairs of war as to prevent their free play. The experience of Europe already in its third year, in dealing with the food situation, showed plainly that the occasion for concern in the matter of both the supply and the cost of food was very real. The imagination of the speculators was clearly capable of prompting them to take hazardous chances on purchases at high prices. This was illustrated in the rise in wheat prices to $3.45 a bushel within a few weeks after war was declared, flour at the same time reaching $17.00 a barrel at wholesale.
The President asked for legislation giving him extraordinary power over the food supplies of the country.1 These powers embraced the taking of censuses of stock on hand, questions of hoarding, of manufacture, sale and use. Nothing could be more comprehensive. He asked for supreme authority over the whole category of foodstuffs from the raw state to the finished article, covering all business relationships, and likewise the kinds and amounts of foods that should be consumed. The latter question had almost never been viewed by the American people as anything which the State could control; it was looked upon as a per____________________