1938

Foreward to the 1938 USDA Yearbook of Agriculture, Soils and Men. I sure wish our current USDA secretary would say something like this.

“The earth is the mother of us all — plants, animals, and men. The phosphorus and calciul of the earth build our skeletons and nervous systems. Everything else our bodies need except air and sun comes from the earth. Nature treats the earth kindly. Man treats her harshly. He overplows the cropland, overgrazes the pastureland, and overcuts the timberland. He destroys millions of acres completely. He pours fertility year after year into the cities, which in turn pour what they do not use down the sewers into the rivers and the ocean. The flood problem insofar as it is man-made is chiefly the result of overplowing, overgrazing, and overcutting of timber.

This terribly destructive process is excusable in a young civilization. It is not excusable in the United States in the year 1938. We know what can be done and we are beginning to do it. As individuals we are beginning to do the necessary things. As a nation, we are beginning to do them. The public is waking up, and just in time. In another 30 years it might have been too late.

The social lesson of soil waste is that no man has the right to destroy soil even if he does own it in fee simple. The soil requires a duty of man which we have been slow to recognize. In this book the effort is made to discover man’s debt and duty to the soil. The scientists examine the soil problem from every possible angle.

This book must be reckoned with by all who would build a firm foundation for the future of the United States. For my part I do not feel that this book is the last word. But it is a start and a mighty good start in helping all those who truely love the soil to fight the good fight.”

-HENRY A. WALLACE, Secretary of Agriculture.

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