MAY 3, 1955
NEW YORK—I read the other day that Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson feels that the drought in the Midwest is largely due to the Democrats, because they were responsible for the program of price supports.
This interests me very much since, of course, price supports are only there to maintain prices so that the farmers will not lose on their crops.
The real reason the farmers planted wheat where they should have left the land in pasture and cut down trees to increase their acreage where they should have kept the trees as wind barriers was because the price of wheat was so good that it tempted them to make more money.
The real reason why we are turning areas of our country into a desert is human greed and lack of knowledge. Campaigns among farmers to educate them to the ultimate value of their land costs money, and these campaigns have not been carried on, at least not successfully, by the present Administration.
It seems to me there are economies in many areas being made today that are really not economies at all but just a disregard for the values of education. We are living in a more complicated world and people need expert information; and they need it in simple terms so that they can understand it and act on it.
Another economy in the Department of Agriculture has been the liquidation of some of the best-known functions of the former Bureau of Nutrition and Home Economics. It was decided, evidently, that research should be narrowed down to food and nutrition. Also, that there should be a few texts on the wearability of fabrics and some research on farmhouses—but nothing else.
This would result in the dismissal of a number of people, it was apparently reasoned, and would be a saving. But, on the other hand, it would mean that people on the farm would be deprived, particularly the women, of booklets that have been of great value in farmhouses everywhere in our country.
Some of the staff, of course, may have been transferred to other positions in the Department of Agriculture. Among them are some scientists of 25 years' seniority in the department. They would be qualified for other work, but there seems to be less and less consideration of the things that actually lighten the burden of women on the farm.
Many of these Department of Agriculture bulletins informed women about the tests made on commercially produced household equipment and appliances and told them how to care for and use these appliances. With the discontinuance of these bulletins, however, all work on the selection, design, construction, maintenance and reconditioning of clothes and textile articles is wiped out. Yet, this is the type of thing very much used in almost every farm home.
There was an old saying when I was a child that one could be penny wise and pound foolish. That, perhaps, is what the Department of Agriculture is at present suffering from.
(Distributed by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)