A 1950 Farmers Home Administration report showed that “about 100,000 of the largest units – fewer than two percent of all farms are selling products valued at nearly one fourth of all the farm products marketed in this country. This is more than is sold in total by two-thirds of all farms, including half of our family farms.” In response to this situation, President Harry Truman’s Secretary of Agriculture Charles Brannan developed a comprehensive farm policy that would not “encourage the concentration of our farm land into fewer and fewer hands,” and thus “suggest[ed] that the production of a farm in excess of a predetermined amount be not eligible for price support.”
The Brannan Plan proposed, among other things, the establishment of a common unit of measurement equal to 10 bushels of corn, almost 8 bushels of wheat, or a little more than 50 pounds of cotton. Under the Plan, no more than 1,800 comparative units per farm would be eligible for government support payments. At the time, the Plan would have excluded part of the production on approximately 2 percent of the largest farms in the U.S. The Brannan Plan was bitterly debated both in Congress and among farmers in the late 1940’s to early 1950’s and was ultimately defeated.
- Farm Programs: Information on Recipients of Federal Payments – Report to the Chairman, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, U.S. Senate, General Accounting Office, June 2001
- Don’t be Down on the Farm: How to preserve a national treasure – by Senator Byron Dorgan. The Washington Monthly, Jan/Feb. 2000
- “Charles F. Brannan and the Rise and Fall of Truman’s ‘Fair Deal’ for Farmers.” Agricultural History, Winter 1995.
- “Why not the Brannan Plan?” Dean, Virgil W. Agricultural History, Spring 1996.