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War Economy



Some of the extra burdens on farming in time of war have been mentioned in this chapter. The fortunes of war brought sharp changes in the intensity of demand for particular products. The supply and shipping situation varied, both for the food items the farmers produced and for the materials and equipment they required.

page 219

Frequent modifications of objectives and methods were made to meet these changes.

The greatest achievement was the production of considerably increased quantities of meat from the very first year of war. Butterfat production was disappointing, showing a declining tendency after the 1940–41 season. Output of the other major product, wool, had by 1944–45 increased more than had the output of meat, but most of the increased wool output was surplus to wartime requirements and was stockpiled.

Chart 48 shows changes in output of the three major farm products.

chart of agricultural statistics

Chart 48
Index Numbers: Base Average 1936–37 to 1938–39 (= 1000)

Between 1938–39 and 1944–45, the volume of total farm output increased 13 per cent. This increase was achieved with a declining labour force on farms, and in spite of shortages of fertilisers and other farm requirements. It was made possible by improved methods and a continuation of the trend towards increased mechanisation of farming. In all the circumstances, the wartime increase, equivalent to a rate of 2·1 per cent a year, compares not unfavourably with the long-term average of about 2 1/4 per cent a year.