Cole Landgraf
ESPM 3241W
Alternative Bills and Policies
Several different bills were drafted similar to the 1936 Soil Conservation and
Domestic Allotment Act. One such act was drafted three years earlier known as the 1933
Agricultural Adjustment Act. This act was formed by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt
administration to try and help farmers receive more money from their crops. Farmers
during this time were struggling from the Great Depression. In fact, according to Cain
and Lovejoy (2004), rural income was only 40% as much as urban incomes in 1933. The
1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act set prices for crops so that they would never fall below
the set price (farmers would always receive the set price or more for their crops under the
act). The Agricultural Adjustment Act was financed by a tax placed on agricultural
commodities. While this particular farm bill was successful in increasing the incomes of
farmers, it was deemed unconstitutional in 1936 because it benefited farmers at the
expense of everyone else not involved in agriculture (Cain & Lovejoy, 2004).
Another farm bill that was established prior to the Soil Conservation and
Domestic Allotment Act was The Soil Conservation Act of 1935. The Soil Conservation
Act of 1935 created the Soil Conservation Service, now known as the Natural Resource
Conservation Service, to help farmers implement soil conservation practices (Cain &
Lovejoy, 2004). Unlike the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, the Soil Conservation
Act of 1935 was not challenged in court and it went on to become the foundation for the
1936 Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act.
The 1938 Agricultural Adjustment Act was drafted following the 1936 Soil
Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act to continue soil conservation. In addition, the
1938 Agricultural Adjustment Act was developed to assist in promoting agricultural
crops (such as corn, wheat, cotton, and tobacco), help regulate availability of such crops
using storage reserves and financial help, and aid consumers in finding fair priced
agricultural commodities (“Agricultural Adjustment Act,” 1938).
Bill Criteria and Enacted Policies
There are several criteria that may have been used to select alternatives in other
bills. During the 1936 Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act conferences to
enact the bill, there was disagreement between the Senate and the House of
Representatives to implement ‘temporary Federal aid to farmers’ and ‘permanent policy
of Federal aid to States’ for farm policy which can be used for conservation and increased
production of agricultural land (“Conference Report,” 1936). The conference report
shows a tendency to choose the most encompassing and environmentally protective
alternatives to include in the final bill.
Many revisions were made to the 1936 Soil Conservation and Domestic
Allotment Act which were adopted in the final bill. One of the revisions was to include
the Senate’s policy to promote conservation of the land instead of the House of
Representatives’ definition which excludes conservation. A second revision was to make
the governing agencies included in the bill responsible for the protection of rivers and
harbors from soil erosion and flood control aid.
Other alternatives that were elected to be put into the final bill were making funds
available to agencies in the Federal and State governments involved in implementing the
1936 Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act in their respective areas, allowing
apportionments to be made anytime in 1937, a focus on soil restoration practices instead
of encouraging the growth of crops that deplete soil, and limits be put on the number of
obligations—programs, field sites, financial support—to be fulfilled in the calendar year
(“Conference Report,” 1936).