British Universities Film & Video Council

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Uncle Sam - the Farmer


Series Name
The March of Time 5th Year


Issue No.
Date Released
Stories in this Issue:
  1. 1Uncle Sam - the Farmer


Story No. within this Issue
1 / 1
The March of Time synopsis: The March of Time devotes its latest issue ... to the problems of American farming and the various methods by which the Department of Agriculture in Washington is endeavouring to solve those problems. People of the U.S. Government today realise that in this Second World War neutral countries will suffer economically and socially with beligerent nations. The State Department is depriving American citizens of the right to journey abroad freely, in order to carry out their policy of strict neutrality, the War and Navy Departments are working to prevent any violations of that neutrality, and people of the U.S. will pay during this fiscal year along one and a half billion dollars to strengthen the nation’s defences. Next to the Army and Navy, the largest division of the federal government is the Department of Agriculture, whose task it is to improve and preserve the productiveness of the United States’ greatest single asset - its vast acreage of fertily land.

Taxpayers have paid heavily during the past few years so that the government could subsidise farmers and prevent them from adding to the already enormous surplus of grain, cotton, livestock and tobacco. For today in a land of plenty live millions of impoverished people. and this national problem of agriculture, it is agreed, is due to the mistakes made by the government and farmers duing the First World War. In the four years of that war, America provided tremendous supplies of foodstuffs to Europe. Spurred on by soaring prices, farmers ploughed up more and more land - land that should have been left for grazing. Then, after the boom years, post-war depression brought bankruptcy and fore-closure to hundreds of thousands. In addition, billions of tons of top soil were carried away by rains and floods which swept over the treeless, grassless acres. Finally came two years of drought, when winds stripped the idle farmlands and consequent dust storms made deserts out of once rich countryside, driving families from their ruined homes and creating the new problem of the migratory worker. The Department of Agriculture, employing 75,000 men and women, is trying to make every farmer co-operate with his state and local governments. Older even than the Department itself is the Bureau of Entomology, which has waged a ceaseless war on insect pests; the Forest Service and chemists, botanists and economists work for the one aim of restoring the farmer to his former prosperous place in the national scene.

To spread the doctrine of sound farming, county agents, usually graduates of their state agricultural college, travel from farm to farm in their own district, advising and watching the farmers of the county.
In this film a typical farmer (Farmer Witham) and his family are brought to the screen. It is explained that Farmer Witham has doubled his income in spite of the depression, he has learned new methods of caring for his crops and livestock, has co-operated with the Government in its scheme to conserve soil, restrict acreage and prevent surpluses of farm produce. He is, therefore, eligible for the Government’s subsidies and benefits. As the land is once again beginning to provide a good living for the families who depend on it, farmers’ children are taking a greater interest in agriculture, planning to make their own homes on the land. However, with the outbreak of the Second World War, in the United States prices began to rise as they had done twenty-five years before. Weary of low standards of living some American farmers now see the chance of profits, and in spite of Government warnings are determined to take the easiest way to a quick success. But the majority remember the results of their 1914-18 mistakes, and realise that the wealth of America’s land is their responsibility, a heritage not to be squandered or gambled away, but to be passed on for generations to come.
Researcher Comments
This story was included in Vol.6 No.3 of the US edition.
Politics and government; Agriculture
Written sources
Fielding, Raymond. The March of Time 1935-1951 (New York, 1978)   p252.
The March of Time Promotional Material   Lobby Card, Used for synopsis
Frank Follette
Jack Glenn
Production Co.
Time Inc.

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