Farm Manpower

April 4, 1951

Report Outline
Production Goals and Manpower Requirements
Current Drains on Farm Labor Supply
Means of Expanding Farm Labor Supply
Special Focus

Production Goals and Manpower Requirements

Concern of Farmers Over Short Labor Supply

The government's call upon American farmers to bring in during 1951 the largest quantities of food and fiber ever produced in the United States in a single year has raised the question whether at the end of the growing season enough farm workers will be available to harvest expanded crops. As sons are taken into the armed services and hired farm hands are attracted in increasing numbers to better paying jobs in the cities, farm operators are showing reluctance to assume the costs of putting additional land under cultivation without assurance of adequate labor supplies.

The anxiety of individual farmers over the present short supply of year-around farm workers and over prospects of a far more serious shortage of seasonal hands at harvest time is reflected in complaints voiced mainly by their representatives in Congress and by spokesmen of the leading farm organizations. Four or five farmers are after every farm worker at present available, according to Rep. Shafer (R., Mich.), who said, Feb. 19, that the impact of the government's call for increased production had not been felt yet on the farms. “But the impact of the farm-labor shortage … is being felt already.” Sen. Thye (R., Minn.) directed attention to one pressing aspect, Feb. 28, when he said: “Some older farmers have had to liquidate their operations because they have been deprived of the services of an only son and have been unable to get skilled help in their area.” An open letter by Leland Melrose, editor of the Minnesota Farm Bureau News, Feb. 6, told Selective Service Director Hershey: “There will be idle land and vacant dairy barn a unless some semblance of judgment is applied by local draft boards.” And Lauren Soth wrote in the March issue of Successful Farming:

America's No, 1 farm problem today is not fair prices for farmers. Neither is it adjustment of production, soil conservation, nor any of the other perplexing questions -which have bothered the farmers and the government for years. It is manpower.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Farm Labor
Oct. 08, 2004  Migrant Farmworkers
Jun. 03, 1983  Migrants: Enduring Farm Problem
Feb. 11, 1959  Migratory Farm Workers
Apr. 04, 1951  Farm Manpower
Apr. 19, 1950  Migrant Farm Labor
Oct. 13, 1948  Collective Farming
Jan. 23, 1943  Farm Labor and Food Supply
Mar. 14, 1942  Farm Labor Supply
Farm Produce and Commodities
General Employment and Labor