As we celebrate another Memorial Day holiday, I thought about all of the wars that have taken place over the years and how agriculture might have been affected. As war progressed in the 1940′s, farmers were being asked to produce more food with fewer workers. During the course of the war, 15 million men and women were called to serve in the military – at a time when the entire workforce consisted of only 73 million people. Factories and defense plants were enticing farm workers with attractive wages, and farmers coped by putting their wives and children to work. Interestingly enough, many men took jobs in shipyards and airplane factories thinking they could be exempt from war because of these essential operations, but they found out that country leaders considered them more easily replaceable than farmers and their expertise. Farmers played a vital part by furnishing food for the people!
Farmers and Ag organizations complained about the work shortage issue, and because of this, farm deferments during World War II were established. I found some of the guidelines for these deferments rather interesting:
1. A farmer who resided on his farm and operated it alone was required to have at least eight milk cows.
2. f both a farmer and his son lived on the farm together, 16 animal units were required for the man to obtain deferment.
3. By February 12, 1943, in order to get deferment, the farmer had to raise at least 10 animal units.
4. By May 12, 1943, the farmer had to have at least 12 animal units. Feed for the stock had to be produced on the farm where the resident lived.
Guidelines were often flexible considering the variety of animal types:
For one milk cow there had to be three beef cows; or four two-year-old steers; or four fed lot cattle; or 16 ewes; or 80 fed lot lambs; or flock of 75 hens; or 250 chickens raised; or 500 broilers; or 40 turkeys raised; or nine hogs raised. Breeding herd was not considered at all.
A typical example if a farmer lived on a farm alone, and had the following stock, he would meet the requirement of eight animal units and would be entitled to deferment: 2 milk cows…2; 18 hogs raised…2; flock of 150 hens…2, raise 250 chickens…1; 16 ewes…1; Total animal units = 8
I’m thankful for all of our country’s men and women who fought and are currently fighting bravely to protect our nation, and I’m certain that many farmers during wartime would serve in the military as well. But I appreciate the fact that they were assigned another daunting task – feeding us all!
-Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team