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The Agricultural Adjustment Act

New Deal Legislation

May 12, 1933


[A] Declaration of Emergency

SEC. 1. That the present acute economic emergency being in part the consequence of a severe and increasing disparity between the prices of agricultural and other commodities, which disparity has largely destroyed the purchasing power of farmers for industrial products, has broken down the orderly exchange of commodities, and has seriously impaired the agricultural assets supporting the national credit structure, it is hereby declared that these conditions in the basic industry of agriculture have affected transactions in agricultural commodities with a national public interest, have burdened and obstructed the normal currents of commerce in such commodities, and render imperative the immediate enactment of title I of this Act.

[B] Declaration of Policy

SEC. 2. It is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress --

(1) To establish and maintain such balance between the production and consumption of agricultural commodities, and such marketing conditions therefor or, as will reestablish prices to farmers at a level that will give agricultural commodities a purchasing power with respect to articles that farmers buy, equivalent to the purchasing power of agricultural commodities in the base period.  The base period in the case of all agricultural commodities except tobacco shall be the prewar period, August 1909 - July 1914.  In the case of tobacco, the base period shall be the postwar period, August 1919 - July 1929.

(2) To approach such equality of purchasing power by gradual correction of the present inequalities therein at as rapid a rate as is deemed feasible in view of the current consumptive demand in domestic and foreign markets.

(3) To protect the consumers' interest by readjusting farm production at such a level that will not increase the percentage of the consumers' retail expenditures for agriculture commodities, or products derived therefrom which is returned to the farmer, above the percentage which was returned to the farmer in the prewar period, August 1909 - July 1914.

SEC.6. (a) The Secretary of Agriculture is hereby authorized to enter into option contracts with the producers of cotton to sell to any such producer an amount of cotton to be agreed upon not in excess of the amount of reduction in production of cotton by such producer below the amount produced by him in the preceding crop year, in all cases where such producer agrees in writing to reduce the amount of cotton produced by him in 1933, below his production in the previous year, by not less than 30 percentum, without increase in commercial fertilization per acre.

(b) To any such producer so agreeing to reduce production the Secretary of Agriculture shall deliver a nontransferable‑option contract agreeing to sell to said producer an amount, equivalent to the amount of his agreed reduction, of the cotton in the possession and control of the Secretary.

(c) The producer is to have the option to buy said cotton at the average price paid by the Secretary for the cotton procured under section 3, and is to have the right at any time up to January 1, 1934, to exercise his option, upon proof that he has complied with his contract and with all the rules and regulations of the Secretary of Agriculture with respect thereto, by taking said cotton upon payment by him of his option price and all actual carrying charges on such cotton, or the Secretary may sell such cotton for the account of such producer, paying him the excess of the market price at the date of sale over the average price above referred to after deducting all actual and necessary carrying charges:  Provided, That in no event shall the producer be held responsible or liable for financial loss incurred in the holding of such cotton or on account of the carrying charges therein:  Provided further, That such agreement to curtail cotton production shall contain a further provision that such cotton producer shall not use the land taken out of cotton production for the production for sale, directly or indirectly, of any other nationally produced agricultural commodity or product....


[C] General Powers

SEC. 8. In order to effectuate the declared policy, the Secretary of Agriculture shall have power --

(1) To provide for reduction in the acreage or reduction in the production for market, or both, of any basic agricultural commodity, through agreements with producers or by other voluntary methods, and to provide for rental or benefit payments in connection therewith or upon that part of the production of any basic agricultural commodity required for domestic consumption, in such amounts as the Secretary deems fair and reasonable, to be paid out of any moneys available for such payments....

(2) To enter into marketing agreements with processors, associations of producers and others engaged in the handling, in the current of interstate or foreign commerce of any agricultural commodity or project thereof, after due notice and opportunity for hearing to interested parties.  The making of any such agreement shall not be held to be in violation of any of the antitrust laws of the United States, and any such agreement shall be deemed to be lawful....

(3)  To issue licenses permitting processors, associations of producers and others to engage in the handling, in the current of interstate or foreign commerce, of any agricultural commodity or product thereof, or any competing commodity or product thereof.  Such licenses shall be subject to such terms and conditions, not in conflict with existing Acts of Congress or regulations pursuant thereto, as may be necessary to eliminate unfair practices or charges that prevent or tend to prevent the effectuation of the declared policy and the restoration of normal economic conditions in the marketing of such commodities or products and the financing thereof.  The Secretary of Agriculture may suspend or revoke any such license, after due notice and opportunity for hearing, for violations of the terms or conditions thereof….

[D] Processing Tax

SEC. 9. (a) To obtain revenue for extraordinary expenses incurred by reason of the national economic emergency, there shall be levied processing taxes as hereinafter provided.  When the Secretary of Agriculture determines that rental or benefit payments are to be made with respect to any basic agricultural commodity, he shall proclaim such determination, and a processing tax shall be in effect with respect to such commodity from the beginning of the marketing year therefor next following the date of such proclamation.  The processing tax shall be levied, assessed, and collected upon the first domestic processing of the commodity, whether of domestic production or imported, and shall be paid by the processor....

(b) The processing tax shall be at such rate as equals the difference between the current average farm price for the commodity and the fair exchange value of the commodity; except that if the Secretary has reason to believe that the tax at such rate will cause such reduction in the quantity of the commodity or products thereof domestically consumed as to result in the accumulation of surplus stocks of the commodity or products thereof or in the depression of the farm price of the commodity, then he shall cause an appropriate investigation to be made and afford due notice and opportunity for hearing to interested parties.  If thereupon the Secretary finds that such result will occur, the processing tax shall be at such rate as will prevent such accumulation of surplus stocks and depression of the farm price the commodity....

(c) For the purposes of part 2 of this title the fair exchange value of a commodity shall be the price therefor that will give the commodity the same purchasing power, with respect to articles farmers buy, as such commodity had during the base period specified in section 2....

(d) As used in part 2 of this title --

(1) In case of wheat, rice, and corn, the term "processing” means the milling or other processing (except cleaning and drying) of wheat, rice, or corn for market, including custom milling for toll as well as commercial milling, but shall not include the grinding or cracking thereof not in the form of flour for feed purposes only.

(2) In case of cotton, the term "processing” means the spinning, manufacturing, or other processing (except ginning) of cotton and the term "cotton” shall not include cotton linters.

Sec. 12. (a)  There is hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, the sum of $100,000,000 to be available to the Secretary of Agriculture for administrative expenses under this title and for rental and benefit payments made with respect to reduction in acreage or reduction in production for market under part 2 of this title.  Such sum shall remain available until expended.

Sec. 15. (d)  The Secretary of Agriculture shall ascertain from time to time whether the payment of the processing tax upon any basic agricultural commodity is causing or will cause to the processors thereof disadvantages in competition from competing commodities by reason of excessive shifts in consumption between such commodities or products thereof.  If the Secretary of Agriculture finds, after investigation and due notice and opportunity for hearing to interested parties, that such disadvantages in competition exist, or will exist, he shall proclaim such finding.  The Secretary shall specify in this proclamation the competing commodity and the compensating rate of tax on the processing thereof necessary to prevent such disadvantages in competition.  Thereafter there shall be levied, assessed, and collected upon the first domestic processing of such competing commodity a tax, to be paid by the processor, at the rate specified, until such rate is altered pursuant to a further finding under this section, or the tax or rate thereof on the basic agricultural commodity is altered or terminated.  In no case shall the tax imposed upon such competing commodity exceed that imposed per equivalent unit, as determined by the Secretary, upon the basic agricultural commodity.

Sec. 16. (a) Upon the sale or other disposition of any article processed wholly or in chief value from any commodity with respect to which a processing tax is to be levied, that on the date the tax first takes effect or wholly terminated with respect to the commodity, is held for sale or other disposition (including articles in transit) by any person, there shall be made a tax adjustment as follows:

(1)    Whenever the processing tax first takes effect, there shall be levied, assessed, and collected a tax to be paid by such person equivalent to the amount of the processing tax which would be payable with respect to the commodity from which processed if the processing had occurred on such date.

(2)    Whenever the processing tax is wholly terminated, there shall be refunded to such person a sum (or if it has not been paid, the tax shall be abated) in an amount equivalent to the processing tax with respect to the commodity from which processed.

(b)  The tax imposed by subsection (a) shall not apply to the retail stocks of persons engaged in retail trade, held at the date the processing tax first takes effect; but such retail stocks shall not be deemed to include stocks held in a warehouse on such date, or such portion of other stocks held on such date as are not sold or otherwise disposed of within thirty days thereafter.  The tax refund or abatement provided in subsection (a) shall not apply to the retail stocks of persons engaged in retail trade, held on the date the processing tax is wholly terminated.




SEC. 43. Whenever the President finds, upon investigation, that (1) the foreign commerce of the United States is adversely affected by reason of the depreciation in the value of the currency of any other government or governments in relation to the present standard value of gold, or (2) action under this section is necessary in order to regulate and maintain the parity of currency issues of the United States, or (3) an economic emergency requires an expansion of credit, or (4) an expansion of credit is necessary to secure by international agreement a stabilization at proper levels of the currencies of various governments, the President is authorized, in his discretion --

(1) To direct the Secretary of the Treasury to cause to be issued in such amount or amounts as he may from time to time order United States notes, in the same size and of similar color to the Federal Reserve notes heretofore issued and in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, $1,000, and $10,000; but notes issued under this subsection shall be issued only for the purpose of meeting maturing Federal obligations to repay sums borrowed by the United States and for purchasing United States bonds and other interest-bearing obligations of the United States:  Provided, That when any such notes are used for such purpose the bond or other obligation so acquired or taken up shall be retired and canceled.  Such notes shall be issued at such times and in such amounts as the President may approve but the aggregate amount of such notes outstanding at any time shall not exceed $3,000,000,000.  There is hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, an amount sufficient to enable the Secretary of the Treasury to retire and cancel 4 percentum annually of such outstanding notes, and the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby directed to retire and cancel annually 4 percentum of such outstanding notes.  Such notes and all other coins and currencies heretofore or hereafter coined or issued by or under the authority of the United States shall be legal tender for all debts public and private.

(2) By proclamation to fix the weight of the gold dollar in grains nine tenths fine and also to fix the weight of the silver dollar in grains nine tenths fine at a definite fixed ratio in relation to the gold dollar at such amounts as he finds necessary from his investigation to stabilize domestic prices or to protect the foreign commerce against the adverse effect of depreciated foreign currencies, and to provide for the unlimited coinage of such gold and silver at the ratio so fixed, or in case the government of the United States enters into an agreement with any government or governments under the terms of which the ratio between the value of gold and other currency issued by the United States and by any such government or governments is established, the President may fix the weight of the gold dollar in accordance with the ratio so agreed upon, and such gold dollar, the weight of which is so fixed, shall be the standard unit of value, and all forms of money issued or coined by the United States shall be maintained at a parity with this standard and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury to maintain such parity, but in no event shall the weight of the gold dollar be fixed so as to reduce its present weight by more than 50 percentum....

SEC. 45. (a) The President is authorized for a period of six months from the date of the passage of this Act, to accept silver in payment of the whole or any part of the principal or interest now due, or to become due within six months after such date, from any foreign government or governments on account of any indebtedness to the United States, such silver to be accepted at not to exceed the price of 50 cents an ounce in United States currency.  The aggregate value of the silver accepted under this section shall not exceed $200,000,000....

SEC. 46. Section 19 of the Federal Reserve Act, as amended, is amended by inserting immediately after paragraph (c) thereof the following new paragraph:

"Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, the Federal Reserve Board, upon the affirmative vote of not less than five of its members and with the approval of the President, may declare that an emergency exists by reason of credit expansion, and may by regulation during such emergency increase or decrease from time to time, in its discretion, the reserve balances required to be maintained against either demand or time deposits.”