"Prosperous farmers," says Harry Truman, "make for a prosperous nation, and when farmers are in trouble, the nation is in trouble." The Brannan Plan—a bid for a prosperous nation—was the boldest, most far-reaching agricultural program in recent American history.
Farm policy is the cornerstone of our economy. Brannan's program to stabilize farm income not by price supports, but by direct federal payments to farmers, was the most hotly disputed proposal for dealing with the farm problem in our time. When it was first put forward in 1949, the Brannan Plan provoked vitriolic political battle, a first-class row in Congress, and a raging national debate.
Reo M. Christenson's book is an appraisal of the Brannan Plan, its economic and political consequences, and its potential value. He examines past farm policy, the power of the farm organizations, and the partisan passions that destroyed the Plan. More broadly, he analyzes the roles of Congress, federal agencies, and political parties in making farm policy, and their responsibilities to the farmer and to the country at large.
Despite the defeat of the Plan in 1950, proposals much like that of Secretary Brannan crop up in Congress and elsewhere with a persistence that pays tribute to the hardiness of his vision. In sum, Christenson says, "it seems a safe bet that the direct payment-free market system has more of a future than a past on the American farm legislative scene."