(DBQ) To what extent did Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policies benefit the lives of farmers during the Great Depression?

Essay by JohnGoodmanHigh School, 11th gradeA, March 2006

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Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal benefited the lives of most farmers in many different and powerful ways. The combination of the "alphabet soup" acts and the long lasting effects that they produced transformed the modern individual farmer of the late 1920's and the entire 1930's from the down and out, could barely survive "Okie" farmer, as depicted in John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath", to a more uniform, government backed, stable farmer that still exists today. Many reasons as to why agricultural recovery and reform were put at such high priority have been suggested. In particular, there are two very compelling and logical reasons. One, farmers were the most in need - as "dust bowls" were hovering over towns like the second coming of Jesus and droughts, especially in the south west, were becoming more devastatingly common. The second reason is that many believed that agriculture was the root of the United State's economy.

The idea being that the agricultural depression from the droughts and windstorms led to bank closures, business losses, increased unemployment, and other physical and emotional problems. As Franklin Roosevelt once said, "if the farm population... suffers, the people in the cites in every part of the country suffer with it." With the same thought of mind, the Democratic party believed, and Roosevelt emphasized through his "fire-side chats" that "true prosperity would not return until farming was prosperous."

So with this popular sense of importance and urgency spread from poor, rural, farm areas to the political capital of Washington, Congress expediently passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act on May 12, 1933. With this new law, which many critics deemed fascist, the government created enforced limits to how much of a certain crop a farmer could produce, and in many cases, even had farmers burn crops and slaughter livestock to waste.