MAY 22, 1939
WASHINGTON, Sunday—Dr. Louise Stanley of the Bureau of Home Economics, in the Department of Agriculture, invited the members of my press conference, Mrs. Wallace, Mrs. Morgenthau and me to visit Beltsville, Md., yesterday. We left the White House at 11:00 and I, for one, was completely surprised to discover what had been done in four years time.
Beltsville is the experimental farm for the United States. Those in charge hope to make it a place similar to the one in England, where people from all over the world interested in agriculture feel that they can go to learn many important things. In fact, they feel their education is not quite complete unless they have been there.
Beltsville is, of course, largely set up for research. They are not trying to serve individuals, their contact is primarily with the agricultural colleges and experiment stations set up by the States throughout the nation. These State units are busy answering questions which pertain to their own localities, so they have little time for the study of questions which are applicable to the whole country.
One of the first things we saw yesterday was a breeding experiment which resulted in the development of a small turkey. They have tried to produce a bird with as good flavor and as good meat as possible, but which weighs only about 8 1/2 pounds. In the cities, where families are not so large, and apartment house living has become almost universal, this will be a great convenience, for many people cannot get a 12 or 15 pound turkey into their ovens.
The studies at Beltsville are concerned with heredity in animals, soil and nutrition. One thing which particularly interested me, was a test now being carried on primarily with dogs, for the reproduction of the proper kind of temperament and intelligence. It is applicable to all animals. A steer, for instance, which is not nervous will put on more meat than one which wears itself out on the range. If this can be controlled by breeding, it will be valuable to many breeders.
Mrs. Wallace, Mrs. Morgenthau and I furnished our newspaper friends with amusement when we put on hats with veils to look at the bees. This was no new sight to Mrs. Morgenthau and me, but I learned something I never knew before, namely, that the lack of wild flowers is a great detriment to the bees' diet. At Beltsville, they have not as yet produced enough fields of cloverand wildflowers, so the bees are hungry and cross in consequence.
I had to leave a little early because two choruses were coming in to sing for me at 4:00 o'clock, one the A Capella Choir from Eau Claire, Wis., and the other a group which included an orchestra from the Stout Institute of Menomonie, Wis. A few friends came down to listen with me, and then we all had tea after a most enjoyable hour of music.