In the early 1940s there was a shortage of farm workers and many people stated that replacing these workers was hard to do.

Thousands of our men took jobs in shipyards and airplane factories thinking they could be exempt from going to war and seek deferment because they had essential operations. However, many of the “higher ups” were under the impression these workers could be replaced far easier than the farmers and their “expertise.” These men played a vital part in the army by furnishing the “bread and butter” for the people.

Some guidelines for deferment for farmers were:

    1. A farmer who resided on his farm and operated it alone was required to have at least eight milk cows.
    2. If both a farmer and his son lived on the farm together, 16 animal units were required for the man to obtain deferment.
    3. By Feb. 12, 1943, in order to get deferment, the farmer had to raise at least 10 animal units.
    4. By May 12, 1943, the farmer had to have at least 12 animal units. Feed for the stock had to be produced on the farm where the resident lived.

Since there was a variety of different types of animals on different types of farms, guidelines were often flexible. For example:

For one milk cow there had to be three beef cows; or four two-year-old steers; or four feed lot cattle; or 16 ewes; or 80 feed lot lambs; or flock of 75 hens; or 250 chickens raised; or 500 broilers; or 40 turkeys raised; or nine hogs raised. Breeding herd was not considered at all.

A typical example if a farmer lived on a farm alone, and had the following stock, he would meet the requirement of eight animal units and would be entitled to deferment: 2 milk cows…2; 18 hogs raised…2; flock of 150 hens…2; raise 250 chickens…1; 16 ewes…1; Total animal units = 8.

By May 1943, there was desperate need for farm workers as farming season approached and seed bed preparation and planting was needed and past due because of the wet weather. Year-round farm hands and seasonal workers could be secured from other sections of the state by making application at the county office or with the volunteer workers in the towns.

Volunteer workers were also needed to fill requests and place workers in as many cases as possible. Also available for summer jobs were the high school and college students.


Do you remember….

  • when service stations filled your gas tank for you, checked the oil and the air in your car’s tires, and washed the windshield
  • when ice was sold in large cubes for the ice boxes
  • when grocery stores delivered groceries to your home
  • when you used red and green mills to pay sales tax
  • when farmers took eggs to town in 36-dozen wooden cases
  • when farmers purchased baby chicks in the spring and raised them in the brooder house
  • when many farmers took their grain to the elevator in their pickups and wagons
  • when you couldn’t go to town when the roads were muddy without putting chains on your car
  • when cars had mud flaps and running boards
  • when hogs were found on most small farms and were called “mortgage breakers”
  • when soot had to be cleaned from the flues
  • when vinegar was shipped in large barrels and used to fill the containers the people brought in
  • when flour was sold in cloth bags and women used the empty sacks to make a dress, shirt, etc.

— researched and presented by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin