Honored Advisor
Posts: 7,659
Registered: ‎07-18-2011

Re: The Dust Bowl and the Government

[ Edited ]

The book concentrates on the disaster, and leads one to believe that the government programs implemented were not effective in changing the ongoing weather problem or the economic crisis.  I would say that is true.  

But,        what the movie shows( missed in the book) is that the government programs were effective in pumping a little survival money and encouragement to fight the mental battle for survival.  I also appreciated the movie mentioning the the university research leadership done at panhandle state and other schools which were probably funded or at least supported by federal funds.

IMO-- This was more of a FEMA type disaster than an ag department issue.


The land center of the film can be very misleading.  In the 20's, just as the 60's, can go for years at 28-32 inches of rain with moderate wind, humidity, and water fowl migrations.  Then suddenly 4 years of less than 10 inches.  You always farm for the "what ifs"----What if it doesn't rain.  

Example for your last questions

In 1996, in mid December, the wind blew 65+ miles per hour for 72 continuous hours---------------------- It happened two more times,  the static electricity killed a beautiful wheat crop by the third blow in February, in March the 4 th time the wind only lasted 50 hours.  Spring brought a little moisture and a great milo crop was raised on those acres that were formerly wheat.  BECAUSE of much better farming practices( crop rotations, residue management , better planting options), better equipment, and wise management------ 1996 was a non-event to those of us not in the middle of those winds.

The work programs like wpa were in fact "welfare with dignity".  They had positive mental and economic value in such an extreme diseaster.

Are government programs vital without the extreme diseaster?  Do we need to encourage each other when disaster overtakes us? ABSOLUTELY----in whatever way we can.  BUTTTTTTTTT

Keep in mind that a government program, right now---- in that same area, is paying farmers to bail their precious residue and sell it !!!



The greed issue, or high priced land probably don't cause poor stewardship as much as investment ownership and desperation farming.