View original document

The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.

AGRICULTURAL
N E W S LETTER
THE

Vol. 11

FEDERAL

RESERVE

BANK

Dallas, Texas, February 15, 1947

A LOOK AHEAD AT FARMING
OPPORTUNITIES
During the period of readjustment now
confronting agriculture, as in other similar
periods of our history, many people doubtless
will consider returning to farms or investing
funds in some type of farm operations. Past
experience suggests that it would be wise for
those who contemplate either of these steps to
take stock of the outlook for farming to
determine so far as possible the opportunities
and problems that lie ahead. A recent study,
entitled "Financial Prospects in a Changing
Agriculture,” written by Lawrence A. Jones
of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, and
appearing in the latest issue of the Agriciilfural Vinane e Re view, suggests some of the
factors to be considered before investing
funds in an agricultural enterprise in the
period immediately ahead when agriculture
still will be adjusting itself to peacetime con­
ditions. According to this writer, any con­
templated investment in agriculture in the
next few years should meet certain tests be­
fore it is made. The first of these is the secu­
rity of principal or, if the investment does
not promise such security, the sufficiency of
future income to offset the risk. This test is
particularly important for those contemplat­
ing the purchase of a farm or the expansion
of existing facilities. A second suggested test
of soundness is whether the investment re­
sults in continuing costs that arc fixed even
though incomes may decline. Mr. Jones points
out that fixed charges in periods of low in­
comes in the past have contributed directly
to lowered standards of living, widespread
deterioration of lands and buildings, and loss
of farms through inability to meet tax and
debt payments. He emphasizes the wisdom
not only of refraining from incurring exces­
sive debts at the present time but of making

OF

DALLAS

Number 2

every effort to reduce existing obligations to
safe levels.
The author notes the current improved
condition of agriculture, but points out that
in the past farming has undergone a series
of financial ups and downs and that prices
of farm products have always been subject
to rapid changes, the most violent fluctua­
tions occurring during and immediately fol­
lowing war periods. The historical perspec­
tive, which shows, in particular, price reces­
sions following major wars, gives consider­
able backing, in the author’s opinion, to the
rather widespread belief that the current high
level of farm prices cannot be.maintained in­
definitely. It is pointed out that, though the
present situation differs somewhat from those
following other wars, it is probable that short­
term fluctuations in prices of agricultural
commodities will be with us for some time
to come, due to the biological nature of agri­
culture and its dependency on weather which
make it extremely difficult to control pro­
duction quickly and easily.
This article concludes with the thought
that many persons not at present operating
farms who may be contemplating the invest­
ment of funds in farm land might better
retain their savings in the form of United
States Savings Bonds, since conditions for
purchasing a farm several years hence may
be much more favorable. In the meantime,
valuable experience may be gained by rent­
ing a farm or by working as a hired farm
laborer. Investments by present farm opera­
tors which will improve the efficiency of their
farms may be desirable, as the resulting in­
crease in output per man is one means of
meeting the problem of lower prices. Invest­
ments made to secure a better balance in
farming through the addition of livestock
enterprises, however, might lead to heavy

2

AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

losses of value, for prices of most livestock
classes are now very high and appear partic­
ularly vulnerable to severe price declines.
Finally, the report suggests that from a longrange viewpoint it appears desirable for farm
families to maintain sizable reserves, if pos­
sible. Such reserves may be urgently needed
to cover the extra risks in the downward
phase of the business cycle when farm prices
and incomes may be declining.
Another phase of future agricultural
opportunities, namely, the outlook for the
demand and supply of farm, land, farmers,
and farm workers, is discussed in a report
released by the Bureau of Agricultural Eco­
nomics, entitled Farm Opportunities: Pros­
pects— Problems—Policies. This report states
that more than 1,800,000 farm people went
into the Armed Forces during the war and
an additional 5,000,000 civilians left the farm
during the war period to work in defense
plants or for other reasons. A considerable
number of these former rural inhabitants of
both groups have returned to the farm s
already, but many more are likely to return
to farming in the next few years, especially
if employment, opportunities in industry
should contract. The gradual termination of
veterans’ periods of subsidized training may
contribute to the same result. In addition to
these groups, a large number of youths now
on farms will also be attempting to find
opportunities in agriculture. The report also
points out that the present number of farms
can produce about all the farm commodities
that the market is expected to absorb, and
that technological improvements now under
way will expand the output of existing pro­
ductive units and thus reduce the need for
additions to the agricultural working force
and the acreage devoted to farming.
Regarding openings for new farmers, it
is estimated that in the next five years be­
tween 800,000 and 900,000 farms will be
available to new operators because of death
and retirement of present farmers, shifting
of some farm operators to other jobs, and
development of new farm land. Thus it ap­
pears that agriculture offers favorable oppor­
tunities for a large, but not unlimited, num­
ber of young people, including veterans, to

become farm operators, if they are qualified
by experience and training. Beyond this,
however, there are not sufficient opportuni­
ties for farm operators to support an exten­
sive back-to-the-farm. movement.
In contrast, the demand for hired farm
workers is expected to exceed the supply. It
is estimated that between 500,000 and 750,000 jobs will be available in agriculture for
hired and unpaid family workers in the next
few years. These openings will result as
women, youths, and even children who
worked on farms during the war period re­
turn to their normal activities. A survey con­
ducted by the Army in 1944 indicated that
relatively few veterans wanted jobs as farm
hired men. However, many veterans have
found it necessary to take jobs as farm w ork­
ers since openings for new farm operators
have been limited. Nevertheless, the larger
than expected movement of veterans into jobs
as farm workers has not equaled the demand,
and it is expected that shortages of such
workers will persist.

FARM MANAGEMENT
Artificial Breeding for Increased Milk
Production
The announcement by the Department of
Agriculture of a 1947 goal for Texas of only
1,320,000 dairy cows, or 14 thousand less
than in 1946, and of a goal of milk produc­
tion of 4,225,000,000 pounds, or 90 million
pounds more than the indicated 1946 produc­
tion, poses an interesting question. Fewer cows
and more milk? Obviously, those who set the
goals count upon a sizable increase in the
average milk production per cow. If one con­
siders the relative position of Texas among
the states with regard to the average milk pro­
duced per cow, the need as well as the oppor­
tunity for considerable increase in this aver­
age becomes apparent. While eight states have
an average annual production of over 6,000
pounds of milk per cow, and 19 states, of
more than 5,000 pounds, Texas ranks 46th in
the Nation with 3,040 pounds (1945) per
cow. The national average in 1945 was 4,789
pounds, or 58 per cent above the Texas figure.
One should probably not expect Texas or
any of the states of this district to have an

AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER
average milk output per cow equal to that
found in the so-called dairy states, but it is
important that an increase be made. But how?
I here may be several ways, but certainly one
of the most promising is improvement in
quality of the dairy herd. To improve the
quality of a herd requires primarily the use
of high grade bulls for breeding, but to main­
tain such bulls has not been possible or finan­
cially feasible for many dairymen in this area,
[he same results can be achieved, however,
through organization of breeding associations
like the recently organized Dallas County
Artificial Breeding Association. Through par­
ticipation in such an organization, dairymen
are able to eliminate certain cattle diseases
normally spread by natural breeding and to
build a better herd of cows than they can buy
on the open market, and at less cost than if
they maintained their own bulls. With a
gradual increase in the quality of dairy cows,
increased milk production in Texas with
fewer cows can be achieved, whether or not
the specific goal for 1947 is reached. Such
programs as that undertaken by the Dallas
County Artificial Breeding Association should,
in the long run, bring greater profits to milk
producers and at the same time lower-priced
milk to the public.
Complete information concerning the or­
ganization and operation of artificial breed­
ing associations may be obtained from Mr.
A. B. Jolley, County Agent, Records Build­
ing, Dallas, or from Texas A. & M. College,
College Station.
Farm Supply Shortages to Continue
Because of reports from the United States
Department of Agriculture and other sources
indicating that this year’s farm operations
may be hampered by shortages of a number
of important farm supplies, the Extension
Service in the various states is urging farmers
to make their farming plans as far ahead as
possible and to try to secure needed supplies
in advance of the growing season. It is pointed
out that, if it is impossible to secure the seed
and supplies necessary to produce a particu­
lar crop, plans made now can still be changed
to substitute other crops for which necessary
supplies can be secured. Scarcities of good

S

quality cottonseed, sudan, and hybrid corn
seed are expected to develop during the
spring planting season. Some important items
of farm machinery and repair parts will con­
tinue scarce. Supplies of some of the new and
improved insecticides also will be short this
year. Fertilizer supplies, though double the
amounts available in the years immediately
preceding the war, will not be adequate to
meet the greatly increased demand.

COMMODITY NOTES
Dairy Products
Prices received by dairy farmers through­
out the Nation are likely to be higher through
the first half of this year than prices and sub­
sidies of a year earlier, according to the D e­
partment of Agriculture. Favorable dairy
product prices compared with feed costs and
improvement in the farm labor situation are
expected to halt the downward trend in milk
cow numbers for the Nation as a whole and
to diminish the rate of decline in this dis­
trict. Milk production for the first half of
1947 probably will be maintained at near
1946 levels. Consumption of fluid milk and
cream continues to decline more than sea­
sonally, but the amount of milk used in man­
ufactured products is increasing.
Hogs
The more favorable hog-corn ratio that
resulted from increased hog prices and re­
duced corn prices last fall prompted farmers
to feed the hogs they had on hand, and will
probably increase spring farrowing. An in­
crease in next fall’s crop also is anticipated,
as corn supplies are expected to be large. Hog
prices, however, are likely to remain relatively
high through next summer because of an an­
ticipated high demand and because of the
shortness of the 1946 fall pig crop.

TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOP­
MENTS

Grub Control Recommended
The time to attack cattle grubs, which
annually cost livestock growers millions of
dollars through reduced cattle weights and
damaged hides, is shortly after the grubcaused bumps begin to appear on the backs
of cattle, according to a warning issued by

4

AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

the Agricultural Extension Division of Lou­
isiana State University. The first treatment
should be given shortly after the first bumps
appear, with two more treatments at 30-day
intervals. There will be few heel flies to bother
cattle in the spring and few grubs next win­
ter if the full schedule of three treatments is
used.
At each application a dusting preparation
containing one to five per cent rotenone
should be applied to the animal’s back. This
can be done with almost any type of sprinkler,
for example, a fruit jar with several holes
punched in the lid. After sprinkling, the dust
should be rubbed in thoroughly. One pound
of the dust is enough to treat from 10 to 2 5
head, depending upon the number of grubs
and thickness of hair. This method of grub
control is easy and relatively cheap. Appli­
cation of a solution containing one per cent
rotenone with a high-pressure spray pump is
effective when a large number of cattle are
to be treated.
______
Sulfa Treatment for Scours
Preliminary results of experiments by the
United States Department of Agriculture in­
dicate that sulfa drugs can be used to reduce
calf losses from scours and from pneumonia
which often occurs in connection with scours.
Since March 1945, calves in the herd main­
tained by the Bureau of Dairy Industry have
received daily for at least 30 days from birth
two grams of either sulfaguanadine or sulfathiazole. Results so far have been largely suc­
cessful, but experiments with the sulfa treat­
ment are being continued to check the re­
sponse.
—
Control of Ticks on Sheep by Spraying
Sheep raisers will welcome the report that
sheep ticks can be controlled by spraying. Joe
Whiteman, assistant livestock specialist of the
New Mexico Extension Service, reported an
experiment with spraying which was con­
ducted in Idaho. In this experiment each ani­
mal was driven through a chute and sprayed
with a D D T solution. Compared with dip­
ping for ticks, says Mr. Whiteman, the spray­
ing method is faster, cheaper, and much easier
on the sheep. If sheep are sprayed before
shearing, the spraying will moth-proof the

wool and at the same time prevent ticks from
moving onto the lambs.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Exposition and Stock Show
The Southwestern Exposition and Fat
Stock Show will be held in Fort Worth,
March 5-16. Choice livestock from through­
out the Southwest will be on exhibit.
Louisiana Cattlemen to Meet
The Louisiana Cattleman’s Association will
hold its annual meeting at the Jung Hotel
in New Orleans, February 20-21, according
to Flarry Gayden, associate livestock special­
ist, Louisiana Agricultural Extension D iv i­
sion, and secretary of this group.
Recent Publications
Division of Agricultural Extension, Louisiana
State University and A. & M. College,
Baton Rouge:
A Handbook for Professional Workers and
Farm Leaders in Louisiana, Extension Bulle­
tin Number 6, by R. A. Wasson.
Pasture and Feed for Profitable Beef, E x ­
tension Circular 267, by R. A. Wasson.
A gricu ltu ral Experim ent Station o f the
New Mexico College of Agriculture and
Mechanic Arts, State College:
Maintaining Cotton Yields through Ferti­
lizer and Legume Rotation, by D. H . Hinkle.
Division of Agriculture, Oklahoma A. & M.,
Stillwater:
Chemical Composition of Juices and Sirups
Grown at Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1943,
1944, and 1945, by James E. Webster and
others.
Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas
A. & M. College, College Station:
Defoliation Studies as a Basis for the E sti­
mation of Hail Losses, Bulletin No. 682, by
Leslie R. Hawthorn.
Brush Control on South Texas Pasture
Land, Progress Report 1034, by R. A. H all.
A Summary of the 1946 Texas Corn P er­
formance Tests, Progress Report 10 51, by
J. S. Rogers and others.
Notice of Termination— A Farm Lease
Problem in Texas, Progress Report 105 3, bv
Joe R. Motheral.
Copies of these bulletins may be secured
by request to their respective publishers.