Meat butchering was commonly done on farms throughout rural America. These hogs are cooling on an unidentified farm in Daviess County, MO. (date unknown; courtesy Jack Tingler)

In March 1942, the armed forces and the fighting allies were using about one-fourth of all the meat our country produced. Rationing became necessary on the home front. Civilians would have available only a little more than half of the amount they had consumed in recent years.

Everyone wouldn’t get as much of every kind of food as they wanted and their diets might not be as pleasant to eat, but there’d still be enough for everyone to have a healthy and adequate diet.

Meat butchering was commonly done on farms throughout rural America. These hogs are cooling on an unidentified farm in Daviess County, MO. (date unknown; courtesy Jack Tingler)

On March 28, 1943, the O.P.A. (Office of Price Administration) became involved in the rationing of meats, edible fats and oils (including butter), cheeses and canned food. From then on, a War Ration Book No. 2 had to be used. In the first month, each card holder, regardless of age, would have a basic allotment of 16 points a week to spend. If all the points weren’t used in the same week, they could be held a week or longer.

The B.C.D. and E. red stamps became valid in alphabetical order. As such series of red stamps became valid they could be used with complete freedom of choice to buy any one of the rationed products. The new program permitted the dealer to give change in ration stamps, using only 1-point stamps. Surrender of stamps had to be given in the presence of the merchant, clerk or deliveryman.

Some items covered were: (1) All fresh, frozen, cured meats and meat products derived from beef, veal, lamb, mutton, and pork, as well as variety meats such as sausages, canned fish and canned shellfish. (2) The most important natural and processed cheeses and their derivatives, but not the cottage type and cream cheeses. (3) Most edible fats and oils, including butter, lard, margarine, shortening, salad oils and cooking oils.

All restaurants, hotels and other institutional users were to be allowed supplies of the rationed foods on the same basis that would reduce their use to approximately the same level as that of the private individual who ate at home. None of the rationed foods could be used in the manufacture of dog foods.

Point values for the entire list of the rationed foods were to be posted just as if they were canned goods. There would be approximately 150 meat items with about 60 types and cuts made monthly as well as a separate chart for each store.

The new plan didn’t place any restriction on any of the foods raised by the farmers if they were used for themselves. Farmers and their families were given a full quota of points. If a farmer sold any of his home-produced meat, butter, or other rationed foods, he had to collect ration stamps, checks or certificates when making a sale and surrender the collected points to the OPA.

All county livestock slaughterers, butchers and resident farm slaughterers who sold meat after April 1, 1943, had to obtain a permit from the local USDA War Board. Farm slaughterers included all individual killing and selling any meat. If they slaughtered exclusively for home consumption on their farms they weren’t covered by the order. Livestock dealers and agents were required to register and obtain permits partly for the reason of stamping out black markets, providing adequate meat supplies for military and lend-lease needs, and to guarantee sufficient coupons issued by OPA.

Each individual was required to show on his application for a permit the number of each type of livestock which he slaughtered in 1941 and the total live weight of the livestock. Quotas were the applicant’s choice of (1) the number of livestock which he slaughtered in the corresponding period in 1941; or (2) the total live weight of the animals which he butchered and sold during the base period.

Any farm slaughtered who applied for a permit and was unable to furnish data showing his slaughter in 1941 received his choice of (1) 300 pounds of meat; or (2) the meat from three animals including not more than one head of cattle. Anyone who didn’t obtain his permit before April 1 was required to suspend operation until the proper permit was obtained.

In early 1944, the government issued red and blue ration tokens for buying meat and some types of processed products. Each token was worth 10 points each. Blue tokens were to be used when the prices of the processed food was less than 10 points. Red tokens were to be used for meat purchases.

— researched by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin