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Agricultural Adjustment Act

From Academic Kids

The United States Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) (P.L. 73-10 of May 12, 1933) restricted production during the New Deal by paying farmers to reduce crop area. Its purpose was to reduce crop surplus so as to effectively raise the value of crops, thereby giving farmers relative stability again. The farmers were paid subsidies by the federal government for leaving some of their land idle. The Act created a new agency, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, to oversee the distribution of the subsidies.

By the time the AAA began its operations, the agricultural season was already under way. In effect, the agency oversaw a large-scale destruction of existing crops and livestock in an attempt to reduce surpluses. For example, six million pigs and 220,000 sows were slaughtered in the AAA's effort to raise prices. Even some cotton farmers plowed under a quarter of their crop in accordance with the AAA's plans (Brinkley, 1999 "p. 879"). Due to the nature of the Great Depression, many United States citizens saw the AAA as cruel: while they were often hungering, the federal government was destroying crops and livestock.

The AAA was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the case United States v. Butler et al. (297 U.S. 1, January 6, 1936) because it taxed one group to pay another. Congress then achieved part of the original Act's goals with the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1936 until the enactment of a second AAA (P.L. 75-430) on February 16, 1938. This second AAA was funded from general taxation, and therefore acceptable to the Supreme Court.

The Soviet espionage ring commonly referred to as the Ware group originated among government employees in the AAA.

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