This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech exists in the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers at the John F. Kennedy Library.
The growth and greatness of our Nation is rooted deep in its soil. Our farms have provided us with the abundance and the resources we have needed to support our rise to our present position of world leadership.
But there is reason to be concerned about the future of agriculture. Farm income dropped 20 percent last year. There is evidence that this trend will continue. In spite of unprecedented expenditures, Government-held surpluses continue to increase. During 1959 the farmers of this country made less money than in any year since 1942. Here in Maryland, you have seen at close range the effect of present agricultural policies upon your wheat, your corn, your tomatoes, and your dairy products. The Administration solution is lower and still lower prices. Thus far this has resulted in higher and still higher surpluses.
I suggest that our farm program should be based upon three fundamental principles:
First, we must provide for adjustment between supply and demand. Any effective farm program must be based upon sufficient control over farm production to prevent it from over-reaching its possible market. But this should be done by farmer committees elected by the farmers themselves.
Second, any national farm program should be based primarily upon the promotion and preservation of the family farm. That is the basic unit here in Maryland - that is the way it must continue to be. We have no wish to become a nation of giant commercial corporation farms and absentee landlords. Our whole vitality as a nation depends upon a contrary course.
Third, farm income should not be permitted to lag behind the income of other parts of the economy. In the past eight years, we have watched the steady decline in farm income while all other prices and almost all other wages have spurted upward. The farmer has been steadily squeezed between declining income and mounting costs. Farming must again offer opportunities that measure up to all other occupations. Young people must again be attracted to farming.
I am convinced that the farmers of this country themselves- particularly if they are given a major voice in shaping and administering our agricultural program- have the vision and the will to help restore prosperity to our farms.