APRIL 15, 1957
LOS ANGELES—I was interested in the story and picture in the New Orleans Times-Picayune recently which told of three ministers and a priest presenting a statement to the New Orleans Public Service, Inc., and the City of New Orleans asking for a positive program to bring about desegregation on the city buses and streetcars.
The statement was signed by 41 ministers and priests, most of them white, and the total signers numbered 125.
It is encouraging to see these little straws in the wind coming up from the South. It may well be that something will be done more quickly in the South in the matter of complete desegregation than in some of our Northern states.
An excellent article on the increase in urbanization in our country appeared in one of our metropolitan newspapers and to this was added some pertinent information by D.A. Williams, administrator of the Soil Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Mr. Williams said that an estimated one million acres of productive land are converted to non-agricultural uses every year. The Soil Conservation Service has estimated that in the last 15 years more than 17 million acres of the best farm lands have been converted to such use.
"The projection of the present rate indicates that an additional 27 million acres of productive land will be withdrawn from agriculture by 1975," it was pointed out. "Once buried under steel or concrete, productive land, for all practical purposes, is never again available for agricultural production."
Mr. Williams points out that it is impossible to stop urbanization but we must be concerned as to where urbanization takes place. He feels that "the growth of our cities, our highways and our industries should be directed away from our most productive lands."
There often are alternative areas to be considered for urban development, and if we do not choose the least productive areas for this purpose, we will find ourselves at some time in the future unable to produce sufficient food for our increasing population.
Because we have farm surpluses now does not mean we will have them forever, particularly since our population is growing so rapidly.
We have had, comparatively speaking, cheap food in our country. The average family spends about one-fourth of its income on food, whereas in some other countries 40 to 80 percent of income goes into food. The availability of relatively inexpensive foods has been one of the greatest factors in our industrial growth.
This is a note of warning to which we should now pay attention.