“Are You Farming For Your Country?” an Editorial From the April 1944 issue of The Southern Planter
The wave of alarm that is sweeping the rural South as a result of the Selective Service order to local boards to reopen and review all deferments in agricultural occupations does not appear justified. Agriculture, like industry, will have to give up more manpower to the armed forces if victory is to be achieved. That is agreed. It is further understood that agricultural workers making maximum contribution to the production of farm products most needed in the war effort, producing at least 16 war units, are eligible for deferments of 6 months. And that “until a satisfactory replacement in such agricultural occupation or agricultural endeavor can be obtained, the registrant shall be continued in Class II-C at the end of each successive period for which he has been deferred in such class.” The law is clear on that point. There is no need to worry over the possibility of a farm work once deferred, being called into service in the midst of the crop year.
Even where a registrant does not produce sufficient number of war units on a particular farm for deferment, he can work on other farms in the community and aggregate enough units to be given “consideration for classification in Class II-C. That provision enables the little farmer, who lacks capital or land resources to step war food production to a point that warrants deferment, to employ himself fully on other farms where such production is possible.
The new ruling does not mean, as many have construed it, the wholesale induction of deferred agricultural workers. It does mean the strict tightening up on agricultural deferments to compel farm workers to use their time fully in the production of crops and livestock needed most in the war effort, or enter the armed forces. County Agricultural War Boards may file requests for deferment of farm workers and appeal from local Selective Service boards denying such registrants classification of Class II-C. That the new order may work a hardship on the small, live-at-home farmer of the South who produces little foodstuff for sale, few will deny. But from a war standpoint, Selective Service is asking every worker in agriculture, “Are you farming for yourself or for your country?”