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Veteran Advisor

A name from the past.

Dad and I were talking about some former dairy programs and He told me about the guy who was sec of ag under Carter. his name was Robert Selmer BerglandHe had many of the sme challanges that are facing ag right now John Block had the farm crisis to deal with but Bob was at the helm during the run up.  

 

74-76 where horrible dairy years they are very similar to today dairy situation.  77 -80 he raised the support price every 6 months. I have been trying to find some answers but I haven't found any thing else out about this guys policies. He still lives on a farm in Minnesotta.

Anybody have any recollection of this guy?

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3 Replies
Senior Contributor

Bergland's Legacy

I think Bob Bergland was a fine secretary of Agriculture that tried hard to create a balance in agriculture between insuring an adequate supply , and a safety net price program. His method was through the use of a government reserve, released at "trigger prices"  which prevented run-ups in prices during shortages, and through support prices that put a floor under prices.

 

As someone that believes in letting the free markets work, I probably disagree with most of what Mr. Bergland attempted to do, but not with his concerns and thought process. The problem with his attempt, and other attempts like his, is that markets work best when left alone. So many unintended consequences emerge, in his day it was  huge piles of reserve corn without buyers. The support price had been set too high, and there was not a mechanism to lower it fast enough.

 

Bergland authorized a study, and a book called "A Time to Choose" which had a nice history of government involvement with agriculture, and the vast sums that had been spent. His conclusion was that enough money had been spent, and would be spent, to create virtually any time of farm ownership structure we wanted. His book warned against the consolidation that was going on in Agriculture, and the trends that would acceletate this. I am basing this on long ago memory, as I was really young when I read it...I wrote in for a copy after reading about the study.

 

The incoming republican administration at first suppressed the printing of the study, but then relented and authorized it to go foward. My copy was destroyed in a fire a long time ago, I wish I still had it just to read the interesting history up to the date it was written. Someone should write a similar book now, with PIK, PCP, DCP, LDP, and all the other programs that have followed Bergland.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Bergland's Legacy

http://www.downtoearthbooks.com/bob_bergland.shtml

 

Check college libraries. They may have a copy to check out.

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