Research Bulletin (Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station)


This bulletin summarizes over 11,000 records kept by Iowa farmers from 1920 to 1940. It shows the reactions of a group of relatively efficient farmers to changes in prices and in weather during a period that begins at the end of one great war, includes the reconstruction period that followed, the secondary Great Depression, followed by a period of serious drouth, economic recovery, and finally some of the initial impacts of another major war.

It is estimated that from 1920 to 1940 gross sales on these farms were 140 to 190 percent of those on the average Iowa farm. The record keepers also put more into their farms than did the average farmer, and operating expenses exceeded the average by about 60 percent.

Trends of income and organization have varied between type of farming areas. Since the late 1920's the acreage of corn in the cash grain and the eastern livestock areas has declined about 10 percent. In the dairy area the decline was relatively minor; but in the western livestock area it amounted to nearly a fifth and in the southern pasture area to nearly a third because of advancing erosion and a series of drouths. The southern pasture area has shown a pronounced general reduction in production and income as compared to other sections. Gross income recovered rapidly after 1921 from the low level of the primary post war depression, rising from $1,700 per 100 acres to $3,000, a level which was held from 1925 to 1929, declined to about $800 in 1932; and then recovered to $2,800 by 1940. Net income followed the same general course, but fluctuation was not so great because of adjustments in expenses.



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