Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Montage of images and link description. Troublesome Creek Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience


Timeline of farming in the US (1850 - 1996)
1945 Due to a constant cost-price squeeze, farmers have no control over the cost of necessary goods or the price of their produce. Most small and poor farms are taken over by bigger operations. The income from cultivating 50 to 100 acres of land is not enough to provide the amenities of modern life.
1955 The Rural Development Program is founded to offer assistance to rural communities in poverty. A departmental study at the time found that 2,849,000 farmers out of a total of 5,370,000 earned less than $1,000 per year.
1966 September 1966September -- President Lyndon B. Johnson establishes the President's National Advisory Committee on Rural Poverty to study rural poverty in-depth and to raise the standard of living in rural communities. The committee's 1967 report, "The People Left Behind," recommended expansion of food stamp programs, improvement of education, and the construction of community health centers and low-cost housing in rural areas.

Control of overproduction became a primary goal in farm policy under the Johnson administration. Farmers were subsidized to take a portion of their land out of production and the Department of Agriculture worked to expand the export market. Farmers' income increased to about 75 percent that of non-farm workers.
1970 Many large commercial farms have incorporated land from smaller farms, and farmhouses and barns are torn down to make room for more crops, changing the face of rural America. However, most farmers retain traditional agrarian values, according to informal surveys. As the cost of modern farming rises, farmers buy more land and equipment on bank loans.
1971 December -- A new Farm Credit Act is approved, establishing a Farm Credit System incorporating federal land banks and banks for cooperatives. Provisions of the act allowed for greater flexibility in consolidating bank securities and coordinating rural credit activities.
1972 August -- A new Rural Development Act is signed by President Richard Nixon, authorizing financial and technical assistance to farm areas and small communities. The amount authorized was much less than amounts authorized by his predecessors. Nixon also phased out subsidies for non-production of agricultural goods. Net farm income grew during this period to $33.3 billion in 1973.
1974 Farm size has almost doubled since 1940. The average farm is 385 acres, compared to 174 acres in 1940. The average cost of running a farm has increased almost 300 percent since 1950. Most farmers cannot pay the high production costs out of their yearly earnings and need to borrow.
1976 1976The demand for U.S. grain, which had increased during the 1970s due to poor grain harvests abroad, particularly in the U.S.S.R, falls dramatically. As a result, prices dropped, and annual farm income plummeted to $18.7 billion.


This Web site was produced for PBS Online by WGBH.
Web site ©1999 WGBH Educational Foundation. | Web Credits