Agricultural Adjustment Act


Farm Workers in California

The Agricultural Adjustment Act was designed to address the ongoing crisis in American farming. Its key feature included a plan to reduce the supply of certain crops.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act was a radical enactment designed to reduce the surplus of food being produced. The excess of available crops in the market caused produce prices to remain too low to sustain farmers. The Agricultural Adjustment Act called for the government to pay farmers not to plant certain crops, thereby reducing the supply and leading to higher produce prices. The Agricultural Adjustment Act also included an allocation of federal funds to help farmers refinance farms that were in danger of being foreclosed. Funding for the new agricultural act was to come from special taxes levied on the distribution of the agricultural products.

The Agricultural Adjustment bill represented the most profound involvement of government in the lives of a large number of Americans– i.e., farmers– who had always been the most fiercely independent Americans. However, they were desperate times, and desperate times required extraordinary action. In submitting the bill, President Roosevelt admitted the grand scale of this experiment. The President stated: “I tell you frankly, that this is a new and untried path. However, I tell you frankly that an unprecedented condition calls for the trial of new means of rescuing agriculture”. The size, together with the unprecedented nature of the bill created strong opposition inside Congress– both from the special interests and from Congressmen who opposed the massive scope of the law. Roosevelt used all of his powers of persuasion and political manipulation to get the Senate to pass the bill. In the end, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 64–20.