The 1970 Farm Bill
On this date in 1970, the House Agriculture Committee reached agreement on a Farm Bill. Representative Thomas Kleppe said the Nixon Administration would support the bill. He expected it to be voted out of committee on the following day, and was sure the House would promptly take action on it. He was confident that the bill would pass in the House.
The Farm Bill was of great interest to North Dakotans. Representative Arthur Link of North Dakota wrote a letter to Representative Robert Poage, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Link stressed the need for immediate passage of a farm bill. He said failure to pass the bill would result in a $100 million loss in wheat payments. This would add yet another burden to the already depressed farm economy. Combined with high interest rates and inflation, Link said it could mean economic disaster for farmers and their families across the state as well as the small town business that relied on them. Link called on Congress and the Administration to “take responsible action immediately.” He said if “leaders in Washington fail to act, it can only mean the migration of thousands of rural people to the already overcrowded urban enters of our nation.” He charged that the Administration was purposely letting the farm program die.
State Agriculture Commissioner Arne Dahl urged state Democrats to “quit playing politics” with the Farm Bill. He said that Democrats had spent ten years spending money on the cities while ignoring the needs of those who lived in rural areas. He said everyone in North Dakota understood the need for a comprehensive Farm Bill, and he urged every farmer to write letters to Congress demanding action.
Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture, Clifford Hardin, was the architect of the bill. The bill protected and improved farm income. It allowed farmers to be more flexible in making decisions and reduced their dependency on government programs. Nixon signed the bill as soon as Congress passed it. However, there were unforeseen problems that the bill did not address. Inflation was becoming a greater and greater problem, and the Farm Bill could not relieve farmers of that stress. It also could not address problems brought on by transportation strikes. Nonetheless, the 1970 Farm Bill made great strides in addressing the needs of North Dakota farmers.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Nebraska University Collaborative History. “1970 Farm Bill.” "http://unlhistory.unl.edu/exhibits/show/hardin-exhibit/agriculture/farm%20Accessed%206/22/16" http://unlhistory.unl.edu/exhibits/show/hardin-exhibit/agriculture/farm Accessed 6/22/16 .
Bismarck Tribune.. 21 July, 1970:
“Farm Bill Agreement Reached.”
“Link Writes Poage Asking for Quick Farm Bill Passage”
“Demos Are Urged to Curtail Farm Plan Politiking”