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Historical Glossary

There are 116 entries in this glossary.
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Agent Orange

The US military used this herbicide to defoliate jungles and deny cover to Communist forces in the Vietnam War. In 1962–9, the defoliation program sprayed almost half (7,800 square miles) of the country's rain forest and contaminated 800 square miles of farmland. US veterans alleged that agent orange, which contained dioxin, caused many service-connected disabilities; they filed a class-action suit in 1979, and in 1984 accepted an out-of-court settlement creating a court-administered fund of $180,000,000 to pay $3,200 to each veteran injured by exposure to the chemical.

Agricultural Adjustment Act (1933)

(12 May 1933)    This law created the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) to stabilize farm income by setting price supports and capping crop acreage. Its provisions were eventually extended to cotton, tobacco, beef, pork, wheat, corn, barley, rye, potatoes, grain sorghum, flax, peanuts, sugar beets, and sugar cane. It was supplemented by the Jones–Connally Farm Relief Act, Jones–Costigan Sugar Act, Bankhead Cotton Control Act, Kerr–Smith Tobacco Control Act, and Warren Potato Control Act. The AAA operated the Commodity Credit Corporation. By spring 1934, 3,000,000 farmers had joined 4,000 local AAA marketing associations to set limits on output. The law inadvertently led to large-scale dispossession of tenants, especially cotton sharecroppers, who were evicted so that landlords could receive AAA stipends for taking land out of production; it consequently stimulated the migration of southern blacks to northern cities. The law was held unconstitutional on 6 January 1936 in United States v. Butler. Congress satisfied the Court's objections by passing the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act (1936) and another Agricultural Adjustment Act in 1938.

Agricultural Adjustment Act, second

(16 February 1938)    Congress revived the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) because the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act failed to keep an imbalance of supply over demand from depressing farm prices in 1937–8. To satisfy constitutional objections raised in United States v. Butler, Congress financed its operations from general revenues instead of taxes on food-processing companies; it also required compulsory crop-limitation programs to win two-thirds approval from affected farmers in special elections. The law used subsidies, loans, and soil conservation stipends as incentives for farmers to accept government limits on acreage in production; it established a permanent federal storage program to take surplus commodities off the market; it authorized the Commodity Credit Corporation to value surplus crops used as collateral on loans to farmers at parity; and it created the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to insure wheat crops, and capitalized it at $100,000,000. It was held constitutional in Mulford v. Smith (1939).

Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA)

This agency supervised marketing agreements between farmers and local associations that attempted to raise commodity prices by restricting crop acreage and livestock production. To compensate farmers who agreed to limit output, the AAA paid them a fixed price for their reduced output until their commodities attained parity. The AAA also managed the Commodity Credit Corporation. After the Agricultural Adjustment Act (1933) was ruled unconstitutional, the AAA was continued under the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act and the second Agricultural Adjustment Act (1938).

Agricultural Credits Act

(4 March 1923) Because falling commodity prices cut farm income sharply, Congress funded relief through short-term credit for crop financing. This law created 12 federal intermediate credit banks, capitalized with $60,000,000, to lend to farm cooperatives, which would reloan the money to farmers.