An act of Congress made a farm labor program possible for rural areas which included Daviess County, MO. One step of the plan was for the Farm Security Administration to bring in south Missouri farm hands. In 1943, nine workers were brought to Daviess County. But it wasn’t a satisfactory arrangement to many because the workers didn’t have previous farm experience and didn’t know how to do things.

Still, it was believed full-time work was critical as the time for preparing the ground, haying, planting, etc., neared.

Yesteryear farm scene in Daviess County, MO (date unknown)

The school’s summer months would provide some farm labor. Volunteers also were available to help with the labor shortage. Several businessmen went to the farmer’s fields in order to prepare the ground for planting and seeding. One man worked 28 hours which was almost equivalent to three, eight hour days. Other store owners went and helped three and four hours at a time.

The government started a farm department designed to keep dairy, livestock and poultry farmers working. The department did this through draft deferment, wage stabilization and banning employment in other work. Some of the objectives were:

  1. Local draft boards would grant occupational deferment to necessary men on essential dairy, livestock and poultry farms. The agreement would be withdrawn if they ceased to perform the work for which it was granted.
  2. The army and navy would refrain from recruiting such workers or accepting them for voluntary enlistment.
  3. All other employers would refrain from hiring skilled workers who’d been engaged in these three types of farm production.
  4. The agricultural department would move toward stabilizing wages on dairy, livestock and poultry farms with a view to assisting those farmers in securing and maintaining an adequate supply of labor.
  5. The department would take necessary steps to control the sale of dairy cows for slaughter so as to check a trend which was threatening to reduce dairy production.

In addition, the program for building dairy, livestock and poultry production included plans for aiding producers in building up livestock, training unskilled workers, buying or renting more productive farms, and job placement service for unskilled farm operators and laborers along with aid in transporting them to farms where they were needed most.

Another factor of the labor shortage occurred when the men and boys who’d served their time in the war returned home to find there weren’t any jobs for them to do.

— researched, written and presented by Wilbur Bush of Gallatin, MO, 9/30/09