Benham, Gene 1972-05-17

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In the first tape, Gene Benham reviews the purpose and practices of the Civilian Conservation Corps and Farmers’ Home Administration as they relate to the agricultural development of Cochran County and the South Plains. In the second tape, he discusses community growth, irrigation development and current cost-price squeeze and unfair competition related to farming.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Gene Benham

Additional Parties Recorded:

Date: May 17, 1972

Location: Morton, Texas

Interviewer: David Murrah

Length: 1 hour, 50 minutes


Tape 1, Side 1: Reviews family background and early life, Job with FHA explained, Moved to Cochran County, 1945, Re-employed with FHA, Arkansas CCC Camp, 1939, Comments on origin and purpose of FHA, Shelter belt program examined, Cites limitations and problems, Describes Cochran County CCC Camp, Academic program, students, schedule, and personnel discussed, Cochran County farming history related, Morton J. Smith: promoter, FHA purchased land from the Slaughters, Was a cooperative venture, Received good public criticism, FHA-Slaughter agreement mentioned, Cooperatives liquidated, Government report rejects cultivation, USDA appraisal noted, Bankhead-Jones Act explained

Tape 1, Side 2: Outlines subdivision of farms, Survey and provision explored, Recalls uniformity of housing, 1947-49, Costs listed, FHA borrowers purchase ranch, Survey conducted on basis of production, Notes lack of technological development, FHA loan process traced, Scrapeout reserved for veterans, Government given options on bids, Describes government use of land, Mentions existence of oil leases, Speculates on cultivating capabilities, Water and oil a factor in land value, Slaughter mineral reserve, Statement on extent of farm program.

Tape 2, Side 1: Explores population and community growth, Bale-to-the-acre plan for payment explained, Mortgage lease described, FHA-Slaughter agreement, Cites effort to improve tenant housing, Condition revealed of present-day tenant farming, Summary of land development, Irrigation's slow development noted, Commercial well drilling began in 1946, Irrigation techniques examined, Notes problem of inefficiency, World War II and steel shortage were factors, Present-day farming problems named, Markets and water depletion among the problems, Discusses farm program and labor strikes, Lack of profit kills rural towns, Speculation on disagreement on limited production

Tape 2, Side 2: Son is at University of Chicago, Dry-land farming profitable, Comments on risks of irrigated farming, Speculation of return to dry-land farming, Cost-price squeeze effects cited, Lists advantages of graduated land tax , Moral argument stated, Efficiency of large and small farms compared, Unfair competition emanates from large corporations, Mentions vale-tax deterrent, Doctors are a landed class, Tax loopholes criticized, Comments on unsubsidized farm exports

Range Dates: 1939-1949

Bulk Dates: 1939-1949

Access Information

Original Recording Format:

Recording Format Notes:


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