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The Political History of American Food AidAn Uneasy Benevolence$
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Barry Riley

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190228873

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190228873.001.0001

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The American Farmer, 1924–1939

(p.77) 5 Interlude
The Political History of American Food Aid

Barry Riley

Oxford University Press

Modern American food aid cannot be understood without understanding the plight of the rural farmer between the two world wars. At the end of World War I, these farmers, responding to Hoover’s call to “plow to the fences,” were suddenly producing far too much for a world rapidly returning to peacetime. Farmers had bought additional land on credit. Now they lacked sufficient income to make payment of the loans. Defaults mounted; rural banks padlocked their doors by the thousands. Presidents Coolidge and Hoover sought private rather than public remedies, but without success. Bills sent to the White House to provide relief to farmers were vetoed. When Roosevelt arrived in the White House, millions of tons of grain were rotting in storage across the country because consumers were too poor to pay enough for basic foodstuffs to enable farmers to earn enough to survive.

Keywords:   American farmer, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, farm crisis, bankruptcy, McNary-Haugen, Federal Farm Board, Agricultural Adjustment Act, AAA

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