Reason, Christopher M. (1983)
M.Soc.Sc. thesis, University of Birmingham.
The aim of this thesis is to examine aspects of the food production campaign of 1917 - 18, and to test the strength of existing conceptions about its methods, problems and results.
Histories of the period regard the campaign as a significant success at all levels and tend not to delve too deeply into the mechanics of food production. As a result, little detailed investigation has been made of the degree to which compulsion was needed to ensure the co-operation of farmers; there is still considerable confusion surrounding the question of labour shortage and supply; and a somewhat limited appreciation of the contribution made by new machinery, especially tractors.
These issues are discussed with reference to both national and local experience, drawing in particular upon the surviving records of various War Agricultural Executive Committees. Evidence from these sources suggests that compulsion was far from sparingly used, that the shortage of labour was less than contemporary writers believed but subject to significant local variation, and that the tractor programmes may have been of greater value in some cases than is generally supposed.
The final chapter assesses the overall impact of the campaign and argues that the uncertainty surrounding the government's long term plans for agriculture, and the resentment engendered by the methods employed to achieve success, resulted in the food production drive having a negligible influence on the immediate post-war period.
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