Abstract The federal government began to manage American agriculture in the 1930s as a way of alleviating the economic plight of farmers during the Great Depression The various programs of the New Deal set up the mechanism for both curtailing production and storing agricultural surpluses During World War II, these same mechanisms were used to increase the supply of food and fiber Before 1948, the Truman administration sought to cut back federal subsidies, but reversed this policy due to campaign promises The Eisenhower administration initiated a change m farm policy aimed at promoting a free market orientation Subsequent Republican presidents have built upon this by seeking the free trade of agricultural commodities on a world scale