What Was the Purpose of the Agricultural Adjustment Act?

Congress passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 to help stave off effects of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. The Act resulted in formation of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, a New Deal agency charged with controlling American crop yields to keep prices high enough to support farmers.

According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, farmers throughout the country were desperate by 1933 as plunging crop and livestock prices were ruining them financially. Following passage of the Agricultural Adjustment Act, however, farmers received payment to cut production of particular commodities until those commodities' prices returned to sustainable levels. The program tended to help those who owned and operated large farms more than those whose farms were small.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act was administered by agricultural engineers and economists who, after gathering input from farmers, established production levels throughout the nation. Critics of this centralized form of control decried the lack of relief for small farm owners. However, according to the North Carolina History Project, the program was generally a success. The income of the average farmer climbed by 30 percent during President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term. Many of those who had owned small farms left the industry to pursue other lines of work.