Farm Issue in National Politics
Conflicting Party Views on Farmers' Plight
Continuing declines in prices of farm commodities and in farmers' incomes assure early action by Congress on farm policy and will probably make government dealings with agricultural problems a leading issue in the 1956 campaign. President Eisenhower announced, Oct. 29, that he would submit new recommendations for farm legislation soon after Congress meets. Meanwhile, the Senate and House Agriculture committees have been holding grassroots hearings throughout the country to get farmers' views on means of redressing their present grievances.
Democratic spokesmen blame policies of the Republican administration for most of the decline in farm prices and have offered a variety of plans to enlarge farmers' incomes. Administration leaders blame farmers' difficulties on conditions inherited from the Truman administration. They maintain that the Eisenhower policies are putting agriculture back on a sound basis; that all that is needed is continued adherence to those policies, with some elaboration of current programs.
Democrats play up the fact that since 1951 farm prices have dropped about 27 per cent and farm income more than one-third. They say that the flexible price support program put through the Republican Congress in 1954 has neither curtailed production nor eliminated farm surpluses; that its only effect has been to reduce farmers' earnings. Chairman Butler of the Democratic National Committee said, Aug. 31, that the Eisenhower farm policies were “operating for the benefit of the big farmer” and were “designed to eliminate the little farmer.” Gov. Harriman of New York told a meeting of Midwestern Democratic leaders at Des Moines, Oct. 22, that the Republican party was treating American farmers like “economic delinquents.” Other prominent Democrats have said that the farm economy is “collapsing,” that Republican policies are “destroying farmers,” that there is a “farm depression.”