Wessels Living History Farm - York Nebraska Farming in the 1940s
Farm LifeMaking MoneyWaterMachinesCrops Pests & WeedsWorld Events

Food for Peace

  Ad from Nebraska Farmer  
In 1945, the Allies won the war. They still had to win the peace, and food became one of the major weapons they used.

First, farmers were concerned with finding ways to avoid the horrible recession that hit them after the First World War. In the 1920s, demand for food had plummeted as formerly warring nations began to produce again. Prices for ag commodities dropped, and American farmers struggled throughout the decade. Then they went into the Great Depression. No one wanted to repeat that history.

To avoid the recession, the government's controls on agricultural prices were extended for two years. Farmers were guaranteed the same relatively high prices that they got during the war. At the same time, the price controls at the grocery store were removed. During the war, consumers had saved up money. When the war ended, they wanted to buy things they had been going without, including food. The farm economy at home soared.

Also, over the next decade, several programs began that cemented the role of agriculture in world politics.

  • Immediately after the war, private relief efforts and the new United Nations began shipping food and ag products to help Europe and the Orient rebuild their war-ravished economies and agricultural systems.
  • The U.S. government then stepped in with the massive Marshall Plan. Fully 48 percent of the economic assistance it supplied to Europe was in food and fiber with tobacco and agricultural machinery accounting for additional significant contributions.
  • When the Soviet Union tried to cut off Berlin from western supplies, the Berlin Airlift hauled in massive amounts of food and fuel and brought a halt to the expansion of Communist influence in Europe.

The events of the immediate postwar years shaped the future of export and import markets along with the politics of tariffs and trade.

Food became a weapon in the arsenal of capitalist and communist countries, and because of that, farmers were able to avoid the severe recession within the agricultural economy that plagued the 1920s.

Written by Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. A partial bibliography of sources is here.


UNRRA & Private Relief

Go to:
Farm Life Making Money Water Machines Crops Pests & Weeds World Events
Wessels Living History Farm
Farming in the 1920s
Farming in the 1930s Farming in the 1940s
Farming in the 1950s Farming in the 1970s Teacher Resources
Media Resources
Our Founder
About the Farm
Visit the Farm
Contact For photos and primary sources, Nebraska Studies web site.
Search Media

Farmers graphic