Overall farm income jumped along with grain prices, from $2.3 billion in 1972 to $19.6 billion in '73. Farm income stayed high for most of the decade. Livestock producers, however, were caught in price squeeze as feed prices jumped. Millions of hogs, cattle and chicken were sold for slaughter as producers reduced their inventories.
In addition, consumer food prices jumped.
In order to "plant fence row to fence row," farmers tore out shelter belts and other conservation land uses. They went heavily into debt to finance their expanded operations. For a few years, those actions seemed like a good business decision.
Earl Butz stayed on as Secretary of Agriculture after Nixon was impeached and engineered legislation sharply reducing federal subsidies for farmers. He believed that a free, global market would bring higher prices, and for the few years that Russian agriculture struggled, he was right. Then, during President Ford's election campaign of 1976, Butz told a racially offensive joke, and he was forced to resign.
At that time, the Russian grain purchase of 1972 was the largest grain deal between two nations in history, and it set in motion a host of changes that would dominate agricultural history for at least the next two decades.
Written by Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. First published in 2009. A partial bibliography of sources is here.