Friday, May 25, 2012

Preparing for War, 1940-1942

From Knowledge Is Power, a history of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, N.C. State University, written Dr. William L. Carpenter, head of the Department of Agricultural Sciences, and Dr. Dean W. Colvard, Dean of the School of Agriculure. The rest of this chapter is online at

Wartime activities started considerably ahead of the Japanese invasion of United States territory in December, 1941. In the United States a military draft went into effect in October, 1940. Young men were called up for a one-year period of military service. "I'll be back in a year little darling," was a popular song that fall.

Special Programs

"Farm Folk of North Carolina," stated the extension annual report, "answered the rumblings of war in 1940 with a preparedness program which included: Livestock expansion to counteract loss of world markets for other commodities; cooperation in agricultural adjustment; conservation and planning programs; canning for home security; and mattress-making for comfort and for physical and mental strength."

In 1941 agents in eight southeastern counties near Fort Bragg became involved in army maneuvers. Their assignment was to contact farmers, explain the situation, and help secure maneuver rights on their farms. Some 18,217 landowners granted rights on 2,556,000 acres of land. That fall 400,000 troops trained across the fields and among the longleaf pines.

To conduct a program of "Citizenship Training for Democracy" was another assignment handed to the extension service in 1941. This assignment was carried out through 952 discussion groups; at 570 patriotic programs, pageants, and ceremonies; and at 8,927 meetings of farmers, home demonstration and 4-H clubs, local leaders, and discussion groups.

In April, 1941, came word on a state food and feed production drive, with extension assigned a key role. It was called the "Food and Feed for Family Living" campaign.

Despite previous efforts to encourage food production, the 1940 Census of Population revealed that of the 278,000 farms in the state, 31,000 had no garden, 86,000 were without hogs, 33,000 were without a chicken of any kind, and no cows were being milked on 98,000 farms.

In October came a national campaign, with the announcement that an old campaigner, dressed in a natty new outfit, was making his rounds of every North Carolina farm home.

Often turned away, when he was known as "Live-at-Home," his rejuvenated appearance together with more power and political and economic crisis at hand, will gain him entrance into practically every home.
Now labeled "Food-for-Freedom," a campaign has been launched which will enlist the aid of farm families the country over in meeting the increasing needs of both people of the United States and Great Britain.l

The government was asking for increased production of milk, eggs, beef and veal, lamb and mutton, corn, oats, barley, rye, hay, soybeans, peanuts for oil, and vegetables. State and county goals were established and "Extension agents led AAA committeemen in a house-to-house canvass of every farm, and the result was that every goal, with the exception of that for peanut-production-for-oil, was overpledged."

The nation's farmers were called on to produce the greatest amount of food, feed, fibers, and other vital farm materials ever taken from the land. They were called on to feed the nation and, to some extent, the people of its allies.

"As the nation slips rapidly into high gear in its all-out production effort, a clear plan is slowly coming to the front for farm people's part in the war," declared the editor of Extension Farm-News in January, 1942. "Food, fats, feed, and fiber" were the extension goals for 1942. The weather was good and acreage and yields were up. All livestock showed an increase over the year before, with milk production 21 percent greater than in 1941.

Director I.O. Schaub designated February 9 to 14, 1942, as "Victory Garden Week" in North Carolina. Throughout the war, gardens sprang up on fa!ms, along roadsides, on vacant city lots, and in front yards. For 1944 the value of home gardens in the state was estimated at $68 million.

A drive to collect iron and steel scrap came along just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and was renewed several times during the war. By the end of the war, extension-led scrap drives had contributed millions of pounds of scrap metal, rubber, paper, and fats and grease to the war effort.

In 1943 the extension service was assigned operation of the farm labor program. Fred Sloan, promoted from district agent to state program leader in 1941, headed up this activity. It consisted of urging farmers to cooperate with each other and share their labor and machinery, recruiting migrants, and putting prisoners of war to work on the farms. In 1943,1,500 Italian prisoners harvested peanuts on 541 farms in eight North Carolina counties.

To make the labor more efficient, farmers were urged to keep their machinery in good repair, and special machinery dinics were held.

At a five-state regional conference on May 8, 1942, in Asheville, extension was given the assignment of acquainting rural people with President Roosevelt's seven-point program to control the cost of living, to be completed by June 7.

Extension's job will be to see that every rural citizen fully understands the philosophy of the program and the dangers of inflation. We will be expected to explain to farm people the situation with respect to rising prices; how the control of living costs affects them personally and limits the cost of the war; and the ways that the cost of living may be stabilized through bond-buying, taxes, price regulation, rationing, and by other measures.2

District conferences of county farm and home agents were held between May 13 and 22. The next two weeks were allotted for the completion of the educational setup in the counties and neighborhoods.

A new concept -- neighborhood leaders -- was put to use.3 Development of the concept started in September, 1941. By the end of the war, a total of 55,000 volunteer leaders had served in the state. The idea was to have one leader for every 10 farm families, or a leader within walking distance of every farm in the state. Two percent of the leaders were appointed, 55 percent were selected by farm people at county and community meetings, and 43 percent were actually elected. They were credited with leadership in the scrap metal, garden, farm machinery repair, and 4-H enrollment campaigns.

The experiment station also went "all out" in an effort to find the facts and design the specifications that would make the maximum contribution to food production in the war effort. Ninety percent of the projects were revised to answer some wartime problem. L.D. Baver, station director from 1941 to 1947 (Chapter 12), likened the farmer to the soldier and the experiment station to the designers of guns and other weapons of war. "The job of farming in war time, like the job of war itself, consists in making the most effective use of all available means -- labor, machinery, fertilizer, facts."4
  1. "Food for Freedom Campaign," Extension Farm-News, November, 1941, p. 1. For other stories detailing extension responsibilities and activities, see Extension Farm-News from November 1941 through the war years, and the extension annual reports for 1941-1945.
  2. "Extension Given Big War-Time Job," Extension Farm-News, May 1941, p. 1.
  3. "Study of Two Counties Reveals Effectiveness of Neighborhood Plan," Extension Farm-News, June, 1942, p. 1; and "Final Tabulation Shows 27,281 Good Neighbors," Extension Farm-News, August, 1942, p. 1.
  4. "Your Experiment Station Goes To War," Research and Farming, N.C. Agricultural Experiment Station annual report, 1942, pp. 11-13. See also "Agriculture and the War," 1943 annual report, pp. 9-11.

No comments:

Post a Comment