*** American agriculture boom and bust economies United States America

American Agriculture: Bust--The 1920s

American agriculture 1920s
Figure 1.--This boy is Allen Miller on the family farm in South Dakota about 1922. Notice the steel wheels. America had the most mechanized farms in the world, but the equipment was still mostly involved horsepower. The conversion to tractors was only beginning, slowed down by the farm depression of the 1920s and the Great Depression of the 30s. And of course this image explains why even today, engines are measured in horsepower.

American farmers continued to feed Europe in the early-1920s. American food not only saved defeated Germans from starving, but people in most other European countries. This included the new Soviet Union. As Europe recovered from the Great War, agricultural production throughout the Continent gradually recovered and returned to more normal levels. In fact because of the World War I food crisis, many Governments wanted to promote added agricultural output in case of any future emergency. This left American farmers who had so significantly expanded production without the markets needed for their significantly expanded output. Farm prices thus declined precipitously. The U.S. Government which encouraged farmers to expand production did not plan how to help farmers adjust to a more normal demand structure. There was simply no need for the huge harvests that American farmers were now producing. Thus the American farmer came on hard times almost a decade before before the Wall street crash (1929). As urban Americans reveled in the Roaring Twenties, an unprecedented economic expansion occurred creating unrivaled prosperity. American farmers experienced, however, an economic decline which reached depression levels. The reluctance of power companies to run lines into rural areas impeded needed efforts to modernize farm life and operations. Congress passed the Capper-Volstead Act which gave cooperatives legal standing (1922). The abundance of land gave many American farmers that they could practice destructive farm practices and just move on. The impact of plowing up the Great Planes was given little thought. The 1920s was an era of abundant rainfall. At the end of the decade, as drought descended on on the Great Plains, the environmental impact of poor farming practices would result in an environmental nightmare. American farms even before Henry Ford's Model-T Tin Lizzy were the most mechanized farms in the world. The internal combustion engine would only expand that mechanization. The Model-T helped helped connect farms to the the urban society. And soon tractors would begin to increase farm productivity. Tractors appeared in the 19th century with steam engines, but they made no real impact until the perfection of the internal combustion engine. Companies began making tractors powered by the internal combustion engine after the turn of the century, but for a time the horse was more practical. This began to change in the 1910s as various companies began making tractors. John Deere had created the first steel plow (1837) and was a leader in farm equipment. They produced the first combine (1927). The first General Purpose Tractor was introduced (1928).


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Created: 1:53 AM 6/26/2022
Spell checked: 2:09 AM 7/2/2022
Last updated: 2:09 AM 7/2/2022