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By announcing the two-price system by which farm surpluses will be distributed to undernourished Americans, Secretary Wallace has produced a plan in which farmers are no longer the main beneficiaries. Timed to forestall the mounting criticism of the AAA, the program presents a poser for die-hard critics, for it includes the good points of every sound program suggested in recent years.
The program of production control cannot be blamed for this year's low prices, except insofar as it was not drastic enough in the face of huge carry-overs from the bumper crops of 1937. The necessity of some sort of reduction was recognized even by Hoover's Farm Board in the waning days of McNary-Haugenism. So far, the AAA has operated to the direct advantage only of the nation's farmers. Much has been said of the indirect advantages to the nation as whole; recovery was to arrive on the wings of higher farm buying power. Whatever the validity of this argument, high food costs have consistcutly held down the living standard of our lowest income classes. Surplus distribution through State relief agencies handled negligible quanties of goods from local markets temporarily glutted. The Secretary's scheme will involve nation-wide distribution of farm products ear-marked for poor persons at greatly reduced prices.
This plan was undoubtedly announced before the last details were worked out, due to the pressure of criticism and approaching Congressional elections. Recognizing the shortcomings of the price system as a method of distribution, it retains production control to maintain the price structure as far as possible, but goes further to resolve the anomaly of want in the midst of plenty.
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