The Agricultural Adjustment Act and Soil-Conserving Payments
The agricultural adjustment act (AAA) provides a wide range of subsidies to farmers to assist them in growing crops. These include non-recourse loans for cooperating producers of wheat, cotton, rice, and tobacco, as well as soil-conserving payments to shift acreage from soil-depleting crops to soil-building crops. The program also includes the Thomas Amendment, which allows farmers to receive payments for planting and cultivating soil-building crops on their own cropland.
Soil-conserving payments for shifting acreage from soil-depleting crops to soil-building crops
During the mid-century, the United States was facing a major crop surplus and depressed prices. This made farm policy a hot-button issue. Politically, President Eisenhower was on the ballot and Congressional Republicans were hurting from their mid-term losses in 1954. But, an innovative concept was on the table: payments to farmers to shift acreage from soil-depleting crop production to soil-building crops. The idea was originally put forth by Illinois farmers, and President Eisenhower pushed it into law.
The act established soil conservation districts at the county level. These districts are responsible for identifying the best agricultural practices and providing incentives for farmers to shift acreage from soil-depleting to soil-building crops.
Soil-building payments for seeding soil-building crops on cropland
Soil-building payments, like those offered by the state of Maryland, are intended to encourage farmers to plant crops that will restore soil health and reduce carbon emissions. Soil-building crops are plants that add organic matter to the soil and reduce the amount of nitrogen released into waterways. According to a global meta-analysis, about 15 percent of cropland can absorb between two and three percent of the world’s fossil fuel emissions. The Biden administration has proposed to fund farmers who seed soil-building crops on their cropland.
In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Thomas Amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act, extending the Farm Bill to include crop reduction policies and monetary inflation. Although this act was meant to stimulate American agriculture, it ended up disproportionately benefiting large farmers, food processors, and corporations, and deprived small farmers of their fair share of income. This prompted the spread of cotton-picking machinery from rural areas to cities, and to many smaller farms.
The Agricultural Adjustment Act sought to end overproduction and improve crop prices by providing financial aid to farmers. It was also designed to provide subsidies for unproductive land and livestock, and to reduce the surplus of agricultural products. Farmers who agreed to participate in this scheme would receive parity payments, based on their pre-war income levels.
Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service
The Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service is a part of the United States Department of Agriculture. Its programs and services focused on agricultural conservation and farm products. The service helped to protect and improve agricultural systems, and it helped farmers and ranchers produce more crops and livestock. In addition to agricultural conservation, the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service also developed programs to help people improve and preserve the environment.
The Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service is responsible for managing the USDA’s agricultural programs. The service has offices in each state, and it offers services to farmers through over 2,700 federally funded county offices. As a result of policy decisions and the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977, the department has increased its budget. Despite the budget increase, the agency has faced challenges implementing these programs. The GAO has conducted a series of reviews, and compiled a preliminary inventory of ASCS records.