This film is part of Free

Uncle Sam - The Farmer

A hard day’s work in the fields and rolling hills of Iowa’s fertile farmlands is followed by barn-dancing and cider-drinking in this tribute to the farmers of America’s Corn Belt.

Documentary 1939 18 mins


This March of Time film shows the efforts of the US Department of Agriculture to modernise American farming techniques. Desert-like landscapes, showing the effects of wind erosion and drought in the Dust Bowl era of the early 1930s, contrast with footage of modern farmers, still reliant on horse-power and making a precarious living but whose prudence, with government help, was necessary for the future of the country’s greatest national asset: one billion acres of fertile soil.

Future Vice-President Henry A. Wallace presided over the US Department of Agriculture’s efforts to prevent a recurrence of the agricultural disasters which followed the farming boom occasioned by World War I. Nearly one billion dollars of aid went to pay farmers for storing their surplus crops under government seal, in order to prevent a glut (illustrated here by scenes of farmers shovelling corn cobs into bins). Shots of scientists peering into test tubes and analysing soil samples puts a modern gloss on the sequence showing the daily life of Farmer Witham and his family, whose reliance on a horse-drawn plough and other traditional methods, shows a way of life worth preserving but in need of improvement.