Boll weevils were a serious problem in cotton crops. The federal government had entered this battle, spending $110,668 in fiscal year 1932 to fight the problem. But that amount was dropping steadily and was just $48,000 in 1941. This prompted the following editorial in The Southern Planter, March, 1942 issue:
While the boll weevil is annually destroying from 10 to 30 per cent of the South’s cotton crop, Congress is constantly cutting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s appropriate for cotton insect investigations. Some farmers in Virginia and North Carolina last year lost over half of their cotton crop from weevil damage. The boll weevil is today, and has been for a generation, a burden of the first magnitude on the South’s living standard. Don’t Southern Senators and Representatives understand this fact, or is their indifference due to contempt for the farmer?
While Southern political leadership at Washington has orated on the “tariff,” “Southern womanhood” and “white supremacy,” the agricultural South has spent up to a third of its time working to feed the boll weevil and Got only knows how much time working to feed its politicians.
The insect control appropriation for the tobacco crop, another great Southern staple, has also been slashed in the budget now before Congress. What’s the matter Congress? Tobacco last year paid about 13 per cent of all Federal taxes and contributed heavily to state and local treasuries. It is the only agricultural commodity that pays a Federal tax. Tobacco taxes this year will amount to a billion dollars. Tobacco is a major source of cash income on 400,000 farms, and supports one of America’s greatest industries.
Southern cotton and tobacco are too important to the South, the Nation and the world, to be made the scapegoat of a bewildered Congress.
The Southern Planter also promoted the Food for Freedom campaign in an editorial entitled “The Little Man Holds the Key” in the same issue. In making his point, the editor referred to the success on demonstration farms in North Carolina:
The average hen in North Carolina lays 84 eggs a year. Yet 221 flocks containing 61,801 birds in North Carolina State College demonstrations, scattered all over the State, averaged 164 eggs per hen in 1940. Hens in the demonstration flocks were well-bred birds, they received a balanced ration and regular care, and were properly housed.
We said these things before Pearl Harbor and we repeat them now with detailed directions elsewhere in this issue for their execution. For the sake of yourself and your country, produce more “Food for Freedom.”