||Farmers sow by hand, cultivate with hoes, and reap with sickles, but John Deere
Company is manufacturing 10,000 iron plows a year. Iron plows cut plowing time
in half. Mechanical reapers are beginning to replace sickles, turning two
weeks' harvesting into a day's work.
||May -- President Lincoln signs legislation establishing the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. He called it "the people's department" since 90 percent of
Americans at the time were farmers. (Today only 2 percent are farmers.)
|May 27 -- Lincoln approves the Homestead Act of 1862, which granted full title of up to
160 acres of land to settlers after five years of residence. Although good in
principle, the act was badly administered, and as a result large amounts of
land passed into the hands of large corporations through "dummy"
||James and Agnes Jordan, filmmaker Jeanne Jordan's great-grandparents, migrate
to southwest Iowa in a covered wagon and build the family farm on the banks of
||The 1870 census shows that farmers, for the first time, are in the minority. Of all employed persons, only 47.7 percent are farmers. As farming becomes more mechanized, farmers rely more on bank loans for land and equipment.
||U.S. population reaches 50,155,783, with farm population estimated at
22,981,000. Forty-nine percent of all employed persons are farmers, and of
those, one in four is a tenant, despite the Homestead Acts. With the
development of barbed-wire fencing and windmills, plow farming reaches the
||U.S. experiences an economic crisis: 642 banks fail and 16,000 businesses
close. As produce prices plummet, tens of thousands of small farms go under.
||There are 5.7 million farms in the U.S., with an average size of 138 acres.
||The number of farms has grown to 6.5 million and is home to roughly 32 million
Americans, or 30 percent of the population. This would soon change. Migration,
mostly by young people who left for the cities, escalated over the next ten
||October -- Stock market crashes. The Great Depression begins.
||Warren Jordan, filmmaker Jeanne Jordan's grandfather, is farming at Troublesome
Creek when severe drought hits the Midwestern and Southern states. This area
is semi-arid, not fit for cultivating the wheat crops that were in high demand
during World War I. When the drought hit, bringing with it severe dust storms
created by the over-plowed land, the area became known as the Dust Bowl.
||May --With the Agricultural Act of May 1933, President Roosevelt sets up the
Emergency Farm Mortgage Act. This provided $200 million for refinancing farm
mortgages through federal land banks, reduced interest rates, gave farmers more
time to meet their obligations, and offered direct "rescue" loans to farmers in
trouble. The Emergency Farm Mortgage Act was followed by the Farm Credit Act of
1933, which established a central bank to assist farming cooperatives and set
up local credit associations for farmers.
|October -- The Federal Surplus Relief Corporation is created to divert agricultural
commodities for relief purposes. The Farm Credit Administration asks state
governors to establish committees to conciliate excessive and distressed farm
debts. The Commodity Credit Corporation is founded to support farmers and
maintain supplies of agricultural commodities by providing loans, price
support, export, and storage programs.