United States. President's Commission on Immigrati.

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hiter supervised tlie design and construction of the first i)ile using lieavy water
as the moderator." — Rubinsou, G. O. The Oiik Kidge Story. Kingsport, Tenn.,
Southern Publishers, 1950, page 178.



INFORMATION PROVIDED BY UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF
AGRICULTURE CONCERNING AGRICULTURE: YESTERDAY, TODAY,

AND TOMORROW

United States Department of Agrictji.ture,

Washington 25, D. C, December 1, 1952.
Mr. Harrt N. Rosenfield,

Executive Director, President's Commission on
Immigration and Natiinilization,

Washington 25, D. C.
Deiar IMr. Rosenfii-:tj) : The special study, Agriculture : Yesterday, Today, and
Tomorrow, prepared by Mr. Clarence Herdt of the Department, who is now on
loan to the Commission, has been reviewed by several of our people, as you re-
quested. We consider the study appropriate for inclusion among the special
studies provided the Commission by various Federal agencies.
Sincerely yours,

Herbert J. Waters,
Assistant to the Under Secretary of Agriculture.

Agricxjlture Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Since any study of immigration involves factors of increasing population, it
is quite proper that consideration be given to the ability of the receiving country
to produce commodities required by its gross population which will result from
the population increase plus persons added as a result of immigration.

An examination of the capacity of American agriculture to produce and keep
producing the food and fiber required by our growing population as well as our
expanding industrial plant should provide informaticm which is useful in deter-
mining whether we possess the production potential to supply the long-range
requirements that likely will be needed.

In Older to place the situation with respect to agriculture in the United States
in its proper perspective, it seems desirable to give some attention to where
we now are and where we came from. By projecting the ascertainable trends
of the past, we can on the basis of certain assumptions arrive at a reasonable
prediction of our future position. Several studies, covering this sub.iect, liave
recently been made. The land-grant colleges cooperating with the United States
Department of Agriculture produced a report published as Agriculture Informa-
tion Bulletin No. 88 by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics dated June 19;")2.
The United States Department of Agriculture during November 1952 released a
report on United States production prepared in response to a resolution passed
at the sixth session of the conference of the FAO of the United Nations seeking
information on the productive capacit.y of member nations. The I'resident's
Materials Policy Commission in its 1952 report, Resources for Freedom, contains
several chapters on agriculture. The Subcommittee on Labor and Labor-Manage-
ment R:'lations of the Conunittee on Labor and Pulilic Welfare, United States
Senate, Eighty-second Congress, issued a staff report title "Manpower, Chemistry,
and Agriculture" also contains considerable material dealing with attainable
teclinological advancement.

We have drawn freely upon these Government studies as well as information
presented to the Commissioners in the hearings which they held.

The assurance of an adecjuate food supply to insure a well-fed nation has for
the last 20 .vears been recognized as a iiroper concern of public policy. The
Government as a result of the great depression and two world wars has played
a more active role in the development of agricultural programs. As expressed
by the USDA in its report to the FAO.

"The current objectives of agricultural policy include ])rovisions for:

"1. Adequate supplies of food and liber to provide our domestic population
with the kinds and amounts needed for progressively inqirovcd levels of nutrition
and better living standards and to meet the prol)able industrial and export
demand including provisions for commitments entered into in defense of the
free world.



1994 COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION

"2. Prices and returns to producers at levels comparable to those in other
fields of endeavor who make a commensurate contribution to the general welfare.

"3. Progressive improvement in efficiency of both production and distribution
for the benetit of producers and consumers.

"4. Maintenance and improvement of our physical resources on a sustained
and gradually increasing yield basis.

"5. Parity of facilities and services between farm and nonfarm groups."

To implement these policies, the United States Department of Agriculture
develops each year production guides for the immediate year ahead. These
goals are arrived at after an appraisal of domestic requirements including de-
sirable levels of reserves, and export demand and of production possibilities
within the United States. Through the County and State committees of the
Production and Marketing Administration of the United States Department of
Agriculture, the Nation's farmers are apprised of these goals and efforts are
directed toward their realization.

Generally farm output is geared to the individual decisions and actions of
the Nation's five-million-odd farmers.

The niiinr.er in which they use the farm land, the rate at which they
accept and put into practice the finding of research and technological iniprove-
nient, the increased use of mechanical power, machines, fertilizer, pesticides,
and improved seed will have considerable bearing on the total output achieved.

At this point it f-eems desirable to examine the plant available for agricultural
production in the United States as well as the material and manpower resources
which are utilized in the production of the output from our farms. We shall
look back several decades, state our position in 1950 and set forth the conclusions
reached in the studies previously mentioned as they relate to the prol)able food
requirement and achievable output by 1975.

The essential base for agricultural production is land. In the United States,
our total land area is 1.905 million acres of which 1,1,59 million acres were in
farms during 1950. The major iises of this land base by farmers since 1910 as
estimated by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics from United States Bureau
of the Census and otlier data are as follows :



Total land in farms (million acres)

Cropland - - - -

Plowable pasture

Pasture not plowable

Pastured forest and woodland

Forest and woodland, not pastured -

Farmstead^, roads, wasteland, and ether nonprodue

tive land

Pasture and grazing land not in farms.



1910


1920


1930


1940


1945


879


gsT


987


1,031


1,142


347


402


413


399


403


■)5


105


109


111


109


189


223


270


350


420


68


77


85


100


95


93


91


65


57


71


57


58


45


44


44


600


502


437


382


292



1950



1,159
409

485

135

85

45
280



The trend in land utilization is also indicated graphically on the attached
cliart of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. In addition, this chart con-
tains a projection of the possible situation by 1975. This projection according
to BAE is based on data in the President's Water Resources Commission Report
of 1950 (vol. 1, pp. 159-1G6). The net projected increase in cropland is 25
million acres above the 1949-50 figures. In addition, it is estimated that 25
million acres of permanent pasture will be transfered to rotation from pasture
and that the establishment of 50 million acres of new improved pasture is
possible. They go on further to state, "The above estimates of possible develop-
ment over the next 20 to 25 years do not represent the total potential development
that is possible if economic and other conditions were compelling enough to war-
rant sucli development. Estimates Itased on soil and land use capability surveys
indicate, for example, that 85 million acres of presently undeveloped lands are
suitable for use as cropland if improved by drainage, irrigation, clearing, and flood
protection. Additional pasture improvement on some 100 million acres of present
pasture land also would be desirable and could he done if conditions warranted."

That tliere is considerable cushion in quantity of land which could be shifted
to cropland under the pressure of need is indicated by the discussion of land use
contained in vol. 5, pages 70-72 of the President's Materials Policy Commission.



COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION 1995^



TREND IN LAND UTILIZATION

1909-49, and Projections to 1975
MIL. ACRES




; 1919 ; 1939 ;
909 1929 1949



I



/^N^Graiing land
not in farms



Special use and —
-^ other areas

^Forest not grazed



^Farm pasture



—Cropland



1975



S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE



NEC. 48769-XX BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL ECOF«OMICS



"On the other hand, there are ahout 285 million acres now in grass and wood-
land that could be planted to crops. Most of these 285 million acres of grass
and woodland would indeed be planted, to crops if they wei-e in Western Europe."
Tliey go on to point out, however, that this estimate is tlie full potential based
upon the physical capability of the land and that the Soil Conservation Service
does not reconuiiend that all of the land physically suitable for cultivation should
be used for cultivated crops since a balanced enteri)rise on most existing farms
requires use of some of the lands referred to above for pasture and woodland.
They further qualify this estimate by pointing out that approximately 75 million
acres of the 285 million should l)e cultivated only occasionally and its conversion
to crophind is not recommended by the Soil Conservation Service. They conclude
that very little of this conversion to more intensive use will occur by 1975.

The T'nited States Department of Agriculture in the report to the Food and
Agricultui-e Organization jioints out the two significant things to note about the
changes in land use since lilO!) are the rather steady shift in the pasture area from
grazing land not in farms to farm pasture and the relative consistency in the total
acreage in crojiland. Approximately .'iH5 to .'5S5 million acres of the total cropland
area were planted and fallowed annually from lillO to 1050. The acreage culti-
vated each year thus ranged from 92 to !)5 percent of the ai-ea readily available for
cultivation * * * th^i remainder being in soil-improvement crops and in land
temporarily idle. They suggest further that the extension of the trend of the
past few years in the increase of croivhuid area to 1975 would mean an increase
of oidy slightly over 6 percetit above the jiresent acreage cropped and con-
sequently any substantial recjuired addition in production must come primarily
from an increase in yield and improvement in efficiency with which labor and
other factors of production ar«^ used. What are the possibilities for increasing
croj) yields, for imi)roving the effic-iency of livestock jiroduction, and for increas-
ing the efficiency with which labor is used? Over-all crop yields per acre were
relatively constant from 1910 through 1930 except for the years 1984 and 1936.
Expres.sed as a iM'rcentage of the 1935-39 avei-age to which the Department of
Agriculture has assigned an index of 100 the yearly index fluctuated within
a 10-point range from about 90 to 100. Beginning with 1937, the index shows a
steady rise reaching a high of 137 attained in 19-18 with a subsequent sul)si(l(nce
to 128 in 1950. Tills movement is plotted on the attached chart prepared by the
BAE and is al.so projected to 1975 at which time it indicates an index of about 161.

25356—52 126



1996 COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION



TOTAL CROPLAND

1910-51, and Projection to 1975*



MIL.

Ann


ACRES'















300

200

100
n ,


; — ^


— .—




'"^"^^


_




































-




1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1














1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970

*TOTAL CROPLANO IS THE SUM OF THE ACREAGE OF LAND FROM WHICH ONE OR MORE CR0P5 ARE HARVESTED
PLUS ACREAGES OF CROP FAILURE AHD SUMMER FALLOW. I»7S PROJECTIOH IS 2S MILLION ACRES ABOVE );S0.



U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE



NEG. 48755-XX BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS





CROP PRODUCTION PER ACRE
OF CROPLAND

1910-51, and Projection to 1975




7o0


F IV35-:


\9














150














-'-'










/^


!• ' '


.-•''''


100

50


AA:^-i


ii„-.#-^V


fC^


^













V"'^

,,,,!,,,,


1 , , 1 1 1 , , ,


,1 1 1 1 , , , ,


1 1 1 . 1 1 1 t ,


. 1 1 J 1 1 1 1 J






19


10 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970




U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE NEG. 4B758-XX BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS



COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION 1997

In oommcntinK on this eliiirt, tho USDA in its FAO roi)ort statos "With average
weathor and continued stronj: demand for farm products an upward trend in
the production of crops per acre is likely to continue. If the trend in produc-
tion of crops per acre under way during the past 15 years were projected into
the future, it would mean an increase in crop yields of approximately 2.1 percent
over the next 25 years. The possibility of attaining such an increase over this
period is supported by the results of a recent study of productive capacity of
agriculture in the United States. Productive Capacity Committees set up in each
State estimated that, under the stated assumptions of the study, fiirmers could
adopt improved practices which would raise crop yields by 17 percent between
1050 and li)o5. High-level economic activity and favorable cost-price relation-
ships in agriculture were assumed, and only presently known improved practices
were considered in making these estimates of attainable yields." They then
point out that these increased yields will not occur automatically. "However, to
achieve the increase projected in the chart or any other increase that market
denuind may dictate, will require considerable effort. It will be noted, for
example, that it was only during the last 15 of the 40 years shown on the chart
that yields have .shown an upward trend. Prior to that time they were prac-
tically stationary. It should also be observed that the upward trend took place
during a period of favorable weather and with demand and prices at relatively
profitable levels. Even if these relatively favorable conditions were to continue,
it will take considerable effort just to maintain the high yields shown, to say
nothing of increasing them still more. To attain the large increase in yields
over the past 15 years. United States farmers 'cashed in' on results of funda-
mental research that had been accumulating over a long period. To assume a
continuation of this upward trend, it is imperative that further emphasis be given
to such research since it is so basic to the development of new techniques for
bringing about expansion of production. It also must be recognized that
research usually bears fruit quite slowly, sometimes over a period as long as 10,
15, or 25 years. This emphasizes the importance of adding continuously to our
reservoir of technological knowledge which can be drawn upon in years ahead.
It also emphasizes the importance of continued and even increased emphasis
upon education and extension programs to get such research results into
farm use."

The President's Materials Policy Commission also addressed itself to this
problem of projecting increased yield i>er acre to 1975 and in considering the
theoretically possible as distinct from the probable achievable, came up with
the striking conclusion that production from present acreage might be increased
200 percent by 1975 if every farmer used fertilizer up to the economic limit and
em[)loyrd every other known good farming practice (p. 4(5, vol. 1). They also
observe "The gains from fertilizer use are so striking, however, and call for so
litt'e additional labor, that fertilizer may well play a larger role in attaining
highfT yields in the future than in the past. If the rate of use were to increase
10 percent each year to 1975. as it has in more recent years, fertilizer alone would
boost yields by 75 percent, and this by no means is the limit. But such sustained
increa.ses in rates of application are not to, be expected although a few of the
more progressive farmers may go well beyond a doubling of current use" (p. 72,
A'ol. 5). In addition to the increases which are being achieved in croj) yields,
farmers in the United States are getting myre and more production per miit of
livestock. Greater milk production per cow and more eggs per hen have been
important factors in the long-time increase in output of dairy and poultry
products. Productivity of other farm animals also has increased. Livestock
production per breeding unit has risen more than 50 jiercent since 1920. An
increase of nearlv one-fourth has occurred since 19.3.5-39.

Heavier feeding of better balanced rations, improved strains of livestock
increased sanitation and disease control, reduced death losses, better care, and
other improved practices have contributed to the upward trends in production
l>er bi-eedinu- unit. I'.AE indicates this upward trend, which by 1975 will be
about 17 ix^-ceiit above 1950 and 40 percent above the 19.3.5-.39 average is
expected to continue if the demand for livestock production continues strong.

Farm labor input has shown a steady decline since after the First World
War. Millions of man-hours used anually have decreased from the average of
23.278 in the years 1925-29 to 17.354 in 19.50. A corres|)onding reduction in the'
nunibut economic incentive alone will not insure meeting the
needs for food and fiber. As noted previously, intensive research and educa-
tional efforts will l>e required. Special efforts also will need to be devoted to
maintenance of soil resources so that higher crop yields can be sustained." Ade-



2000 COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION

quate credit, fertilizer, and other chemicals essential to production as well as
increasing supplies of machinery, equipment, and electric power will also need
to be available to farmers.

The President's Materials Policy Commission prepared two estimates of prob-
able over-all output of United States agriculture by 1975. One, which they call
their A estimate, results in a projected total increase of 86 percent over 1950,
and the other, their B estimate, indicates a 33-percent increase for the same
period. The A projection is based upon the assumption "that all commercial
agriculture is oi'ganized and managed so as to make full use of all available tech-
nology where such use would add more to farm receipts than to expenses." In
defining their use of the term "available technology," they state, "It means tech-
nology which is now fully available, or which, it is predicted with some assur-
ance, will be available to farmers for ready api)licatiou to their farms in 1975.
Most of the technological practices taken into account in these projections of
yields are already well beyond the experimental stage. These practices include
a much greater use of fertilizers with closer and better spacing of plants, breed-
ing for larger yields and faster growth in both plants and animals * * * and



Online LibraryUnited States. President's Commission on ImmigratiHearings → online text (page 26 of 35)