American Farm Policy, 1948-1973


Willard W. Cochrane and Mary E. Ryan

American Farm Policy, 1948-1973 was first published in 1976.

American farm policies have had a profound effect on the lives of millions of people, both in this country and abroad. This comprehensive account records and explains American farm policies and programs in the last quarter-century and provides a background and analysis as well.

The historical record describes in detail the farm policy legislation during the period 1948-1973 and the operations of the programs in those years. The program data are derived largely from materials published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which are now difficult to obtain. The organization of the data into extensive tables makes the work particularly valuable for reference. A final section presents an interpretation and appraisal of the policies and programs. Since the senior author, Dr. Cochrane, was deeply involved with the farm programs of this period as a critic, analyst, and planner, he has a unique vantage point for this analysis.

In discussing the contributions and achievements of the programs, the authors point out that shortcomings were numerous and impacts varied, but the programs may be summed into a concept of real social cost, and the contributions were essentially of one kind: the protection of the vital economic interests of producers of agricultural products and the consumer of those products. The authors conclude that the gains to society outweighed the costs.

Willard W. Cochrane is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of a number of books, including The City Man’s Guide to the Farm Problem and Farm Prices: Myth and Reality.

Mary E. Ryan was a research fellow in agricultural and applied economics at the University of Minnesota and a co-author of Soybeans and Their Products.

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