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Thunder from the RightEzra Taft Benson in Mormonism and Politics$
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Matthew L. Harris

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042256

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042256.001.0001

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Ezra Taft Benson and the Family Farm

Ezra Taft Benson and the Family Farm

(p.23) 1 Ezra Taft Benson and the Family Farm
Thunder from the Right
Brian Q. Cannon
University of Illinois Press

Many small farmers charged that Ezra Taft Benson’s farm policies were driving them out of business. The fact that the countryside was hemorrhaging population during the 1950s seemed to support their contention. Indeed, the largest wave of farm abandonment and out-migration in the nation’s history occurred in those years. This chapter explores Benson’s agrarian polices while he was the secretary of agriculture in the Eisenhower administration. In specific, this chapter explores the following questions: What did he say over the course of his career about the moral and spiritual values and the economic costs of family farming? How did he respond to criticism of his policies by small farmers? How did he justify his policies and what advice did he offer? Did he regard the exodus of Americans from small farms as lamentable but inevitable? To what degree did he recommend educational opportunities or rural development policies to ease the transition from farm employment to non-farm work and urban lifestyles?

Keywords:   Dwight D. Eisenhower, Great Depression, Agricultural Adjustment Act, Republicans, Midwest, New Deal, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Utah

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