JUNE 28, 1946
HYDE PARK, Thursday—I wonder how many of my readers know about the very practical cooperation which the National Farmers Union and the National Cooperatives members have undertaken as a gesture of real help to the farmers of Europe. Less than a week ago, there arrived in this country a first contingent of 40 French farm boys who are going to spend several months learning how to farm in the American way on farms in Montana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.
Farming in France is very different from that in this country. Nevertheless, there may be many things we have here which, while they might change the methods and sometimes even the products in a European country, might be of great benefit to the people.
This is the first time in the history of American agriculture that a private farm organization has undertaken an educational experiment in collaboration with a European country. This experiment grew out of discussions between the officers of the French Farmer Cooperatives and our own two groups mentioned above, at the Food and Agriculture Association meeting in Quebec last fall. It was doubted whether such an experiment could be carried on without government sponsorship and direction. Nevertheless, it was done.
The French farm organizations played an important role in the resistance movement against the Nazis, and they are a democratic force in their country, just as the National Farmers Union and the National Cooperative members are in our country.
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The French organization bears the expenses of transportation over and back for their young students, who are between the ages of 18 and 25 and who will remain about six months. Over here, the organizations collaborating will provide the boys with farm homes, farm food and modern farming experience. In addition, the members accepting the boys will pay the $25-a-month spending money which conforms with a provision in the statute governing the admission of trainees to the United States. One of the important things they will learn is the use of our modern agricultural machinery, since it is hoped that, when our farm-equipment plants get into full swing, France will be one of our big markets.
Modern machinery and cooperation among farmers are, of course, the one hope for the small family farm. There is no other way of competing with the factories-in-the-field type of food production of which our big Western farms are the best example. These large farms will, of course, be duplicated in many Latin American countries in the future.
There are many facets to this plan. From my point of view, one of the most important results will be the raising of living standards on farms in other countries as well as in our own, and also the friendships which will grow up among the young men who come here and those whom we may eventually send abroad.