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Historical Glossary

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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.

Agricultural Marketing Act

(15 June 1929) This law created an eight-member federal farm board. The board promoted organization of agricultural cooperatives that could stabilize farm prices. The cooperatives could win voluntary agreement from farmers to reduce commodity surpluses by reducing land under cultivation, or they could purchase large amounts of commodities and hold them from sale until market prices rose. The sum of $500,000,000 was appropriated to loan to cooperatives for such purposes. In 1930 the Federal Farm Board set up its own marketing cooperatives to buy and hold cotton, grains, and wool. By 1931 the US was holding large amounts of these commodities, which could not be sold without large losses, but had failed to halt the steady decline in crop prices because it could not prevent overproduction by the majority of farmers, since the act's crop-limitation programs were entirely voluntary.

Agricultural Trade and Development Act

(10 July 1954)    To reduce the cost of US storage programs for surplus farm crops, this law gave the president authority for three years to exchange $1 billion in surplus food stocks for foreign currency, and use the money to promote US trade, buy strategic materials, or assist friendly nations. The law also allowed up to $300 million in surplus food to be donated as emergency famine relief overseas. It was renewed several times until replaced by the Food for Peace Act.