This film is part of Free

Farming Pays Off

Bumper crops, shiny new cars and enormous kitchen appliances. America’s farmers enjoy their new prosperity in a film which hints at the worries beneath the confident exterior.

Documentary 1949 17 mins


From the farms of Nebraska to the cotton fields of Louisiana, this film shows farmers enjoying the results of nine years of bumper crops: from wheat and corn to tobacco and rice. But for all the gleaming tractors and the sleek Buicks parked in the farmyard, America’s farmers were worried about the future. Footage of potato mountains and huge piles of surplus wheat, together with political disagreements about farming subsidies, show a few bumps ahead on the road to prosperity.

The centrepiece of this March of Time film focuses on the Walker family: hard-working dairy farmers from Lincoln County, Ohio, who are the definition of wholesome Midwestern values. Although this film lacks some of the gritty investigative qualities of the series at its peak, the film does a nice job of confounding prejudices about sophisticated urbanites and unrefined country folk. The sequence which explains that families like the Walkers - with their giant freezer, new kitchen range and washing machine - now spend 20% more on electrical equipment than their city-dwelling counterparts, embodies not only the March of Time’s democratic impulse but also its ability to surprise and entertain at the same time.