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(caption title) Food Production and Conservation in North Carolina
John Paul Lucas
Greenville, N. C.
East Carolina Teachers Training School
Call number C370.5 T76 v.4 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Appears in Training school quarterly. Vol. 4, no. 3 (Oct.-Dec. 1917)
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BY JOHN PAUL LUCAS, Executive Secretary, Food Administration
IN few, if any, States has the Government's appeal for increased production and conservation of foodstuffs met a readier and more telling response than in North Carolina.
Even before the American nation was definitely engaged in war with Germanic Allies North Carolina's foresighted Governor had issued a formal proclamation calling upon the people of our State to double the number of their home gardens. When war had become an actuality instead of a strong probability the Governor was prompt to take steps looking toward increasing the acreage and production of food and feed crops in the State.
With this idea in mind he appointed a State Food Commission, consisting of Maj. W. A. Graham, Commissioner of Agriculture; Mr. B. W. Kilgore, Director of the Agricultural Extension Service; Dr. W. C. Riddick, President of the State College of Agriculture and Engineering; Dr. H. Q. Alexander, President of the Farmers' Union; Mr. John Paul Lucas, President of the State Farmers' Convention; Mrs. Jane S. McKimmon, Director of the Home Demonstration and Canning Club Work in the State; Mr. C. R. Hudson, Director of Farm Demonstration Work in the State, and Mr. James H. Pou.
The commission met in the Governor's office April 17th, and determined that a vigorous propaganda for increased production of food and feedstuffs and for the conservation of foodstuffs should be conducted during the planting season, and Mr. Lucas, because of his combination of training as a newspaper man and farmer, was requested to direct and conduct such a campaign.
Every one realized that time was short, the planting of spring crops being already under way. The campaign began actively the following day. The newspapers of the State, realizing the gravity of the situation, coöperated liberally and the newspaper propaganda was especially effective. A State-wide organization, however, was also effected and invaluable work was accomplished in every section of the State by active local workers. A County Food Commission was appointed in each county, consisting of the chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, the farm demonstration agent, the home demonstration agent, and three or four others selected by them. This commission brought into active coöperation those forces which were already interested in crop production and others who turned their time and energy toward this end. Under the auspices of these commissions, mass meetings were held in every township and community of many counties and wonderful
results were secured. The coöperation also of chambers of commerce, boards of trade and other organizations was enlisted.
The people of North Carolina had been importing into this State food and feed products to a value of $80,000,000 a year, this total being based on normal prices of these products. Among other items 25,000,000 bushels of corn had been imported yearly. The quantity of canned vegetables and fruits brought in was prodigious.
As a result of the work of the North Carolina Food Commission during its campaign of a little more than four months, with the coöperation, of course, of the other effective forces of the State working along the same lines, the value of the production of North Carolina gardens was increased by $12,000,000 to $15,000,000, The corn crop was increased from less than 55,000,000 to 70,000,000 bushels, an increased value, at $1.50 a bushel, of $22,500,000 in this one crop alone. There was a tremendous increase also in the acreage and production of Irish and sweet potatoes, sorghum for syrup, soy beans, cowpeas, and hay. The increase in the value of the hog crop which will be finished and slaughtered this winter and spring is probably not less than $20,000,000. All crops considered, it is estimated that the increased value of this year's production of food and feedstuffs in North Carolina above the production of last year is not less than $80,000,000, while it may be considerable in excess of these figures.
During its campaign the North Carolina Food Commission attempted to bring our people into a realization of their personal responsibility in the War and to make them see how vital their active coöperation is to the Government. It is a notable fact that in those counties where an active
The State Food Commission was without authority and without funds, and necessarily it was handicapped to a considerable extent, but it filled the field effectively and prepared the way for more effective work by the Federal Food Administration under State Food Administrator Henry A. Page, who promptly annexed the executive secretary of the State Food Commission as the executive secretary of the Food Administration in North Carolina.
The Food Administration is charged with the duty not only of seeing that our own people are supplied with foodstuffs at as reasonable prices as conditions warrant, but also of providing from the country's resources of foodstuffs a sufficient quantity of wheat, beef, pork, fats, and sugar to keep the armies of our Allies in good fighting trim and the civilian population of our Allies from starvation. Several hundred thousand people in neutral nations of Europe are threatened with starvation also, and our best information is that, despite the very most that the American people can do, tens of thousands of innocent people will die from
starvation and exposure during the next five months. Thus, the American people are confronted not only with a problem of patriotism and self-defense, but with a humanitarian problem as well.
In order to meet the situation the American people individually are requested to substitute the products of corn and other cereals for wheat; to substitute fish, poultry, game, and nitrogenous vegetables, such as beans, for beef and pork products, and to exercise the most rigid economy in their consumption of sugar and fats. It is not necessary that any American should go hungry. We have ample foodstuffs of a nature that makes them unsuitable for export which may be substituted for the products which, because of their concentrated nature and keeping qualities are suitable for export.
The success of the War and the fate of tens of thousands of women and children and old men in Europe depend upon the actions of the individual consumers of foodstuffs in this country. The food is needed NOW.
Will our people meet the situation? Will they wake up in time?