History of Agriculture in The United States - Crops - Wheat - Exports


Wheat farmers have always produced a surplus for export. The exports run a small scale until the 1860s, when bad crops in Europe, and lower prices due to cheap railroads and ocean transport, opened the European markets. The British in particular depended on American wheat during the 1860s for a fourth of their food supply. By 1880, 150,000,000 bushels were exported to the value of $190,000,000. World War I saw large numbers of young European farmers conscripted into the army, so some Allied countries, particularly France and Italy depended on American shipments, which ranged from 100,000,000 to 260,000,000 bushels a year. American farmers reacted to the heavy demand and high prices by expanding their production, many taking out mortgages to buy out their neighbors farms. This led to a large surplus in the 1920s. The resulting low prices prompted growers to seek government support of prices, first through the McNary-Haugen bills, which failed in Congress, and later in the New Deal through the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 and its many versions.

World War II brought an enormous expansion of production, topping off at a billion bushels in 1944. During the war and after large-scale wheat and flour exports were part of Lend Lease and the foreign assistance programs. In 1966 exports reached 860 million bushels of which 570 million were given away as food aid. A major drought in the Soviet Union in 1972 led to the sale of 390 million bushels and an agreement was assigned in 1975 under the détente policy to supply the Soviets with grain over a five-year period.

Read more about this topic:  History Of Agriculture In The United States, Crops, Wheat

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