Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation (FSCC)

views updated


The famous "slaughter of the innocents" (the slaughter of some six million piglets to prevent a surplus of pork in the market) that took place during the early months of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration's (AAA) surplus reduction program led to a public outcry against the emergency purchases. The idea of government-sponsored waste at a time of intense need nationwide led to a redirection of federal policy, and the creation of a new division, the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation (FSRC), within the country's primary relief organization, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA). The mission of the FSRC was to divert surplus agricultural commodities from the open market to state and local relief administrations for the use of destitute families, thus redistributing products as it removed price-depressing surpluses from the market. The original members of the FSRC were Henry A. Wallace, the secretary of agriculture; Harold L. Ickes, the emergency administrator of public works; and FERA head Harry L. Hopkins. The governor of the Farm Credit Administration was later added to the group. Thus, some of President Franklin Roosevelt's top aides were involved with this aspect of federal relief.

The commodities that the FSRC accumulated for redistribution came from the Agricultural Adjustment Administration's crop adjustment program purchases, as well as from state relief purchases. The FSRC was responsible not only for processing the commodities, work that was often contracted out, but also for initial storage and distribution of the surplus goods. Once the FSRC received surplus crops it passed title to the states; thus state and local relief agencies were directly responsible for distributing the goods under the regulatory control of the federal corporation.

Between October 1933 and October 1935, the FSRC distributed to the states a variety of surplus commodities with a value totaling $265,271,056. In November 1935, the program was transferred to the AAA and renamed the Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation (FSCC). The corporation was reorganized again in 1937, though it still retained its function as a purchaser and distributor of surplus agricultural commodities.

The FSCC sought to encourage consumption, and its primary function was to distribute products to relief clients "over and above" the aid they received based upon need. Thus the FSRC and FSCC augmented relief benefits, while avoiding direct competition with private industry. Among the foods the corporation distributed were beef, pork, sausage, mutton, lard, rice, fruits, eggs, and cereals. The corporation also handled various processed goods that had been produced by state work relief industries, including clothing, mattresses, bedding, and towels from textile factories, and preserved meats, fruits, and vegetables from canneries. In addition, the FSCC coordinated a state-level school lunch program from 1936 to 1940; in 1939 it initiated an experimental Food Stamp Program, the precursor to the modern food stamp program. The corporation was abolished in 1940 and its functions were reorganized into the Surplus Marketing Administration, with duties shifting to meet wartime demand.



Watkins, T. H. The Hungry Years: A Narrative History of the Great Depression in America. 1999.

Williams, Edward Ainsworth. "Federal Aid for Relief." Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1939.

Sara M. Gregg

About this article

Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation (FSCC)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article


Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation (FSCC)