Maine ERA Monthly Volume 1 Number 1
Rural Rehabilitation in Maine
By Richmond H. Sargent
Rural Rehabilitation in Maine started in June, 1934. The purpose of this program, as in other states, was to restore or establish a standard of living for our rural people.
During this economic depression, many of our Maine farmers had been forced to deplete their capital goods so as to create an income as well as suffer from the effects of marketing conditions. This naturally lowered their standard of living. It is the function of the Rural Rehabilitation Division to remedy this condition.
The real purpose therefore of the Rural Rehabilitation Division is to replenish those rural people with such rehabilitation goods as necessary to establish this standard of living and regulate and supervise their farm operation.
This replenishing had to be in the form of a loan, repayable from the farm and family cash income received over a period of from one to three years. As every rural families problem was different, it was necessary to deal with each case individually. In getting at the status of the individual it was necessary to create some method of gaining this information. A farm management plan was drawn up, which when properly filled out by the rehabilitation worker in the the field, gave a complete inventory of the individual both physical and financial, his prospective farm operating expense, cash living expense, anticipated farm and family income for the year and his crop and livestock products. This latter had to correspond with the other items in relation to how much was to be used on the farm and how much was to be sold.
This, when compete, tell us the feasibility of this particular farm operation. In performing this operation according to the principles set forth by the Extension Service and United States Department of Agriculture, it is found that there are some items such as capital goods, operating expense and subsistence goods that will have to be advanced to the client.
The Farm Rehabilitation Corporation of Maine is a State Corporation set up for the purpose of financing these advances. This Corporation consists of seven directors representing the State Emergency Relief Administration, Extension Service, Federal Agencies, State Department of Agriculture and one business man. This Corporation applies on a regular form, for funds from the Federal Government for carrying on this rehabilitation. This application must contain information such as the items on which advances are to be made, the number of families to receive assistance, the administrative costs and the financial status of the corporation. This application is made monthly.
Before the Corporation approves or accepts a client, the client must agree to follow out the plan outlined by the Rehabilitation Worker, the Worker must prove that the client has no other source to obtain this assistance, the Worker signs plan only when he thinks client is morally sound, and will attempt to work out a plan signed by local advisory committee which is a character reference, approved by the farm management specialist and agent of the Corporation and finally approved by the Loan Committee of the Corporation and written into the minutes of said Corporation.
The Majority of our rehabilitation work is centered in Aroostook County. This County has suffered the last five years due to the potato market, remoteness from market, high freight rates, and improper farm operations. By the latter we mean that they have laid too much stress on the potato crop and neglected the basic principles of agriculture.
The problem in the southern part of the state does not localize but is one of correcting farm practices and replenishing their capital goods. We have also in the southern part of the state the problem of supplemental income and we are in hopes that means may be derived to assist stranded rural industries so as to provide employment.
We have approximately 600 accepted clients involving advances have been made, it is the job of the rehabilitation workers to follow up by seeing that those plans are carried out and render certain agricultural information that will benefit the client.
We are now in the process of being transferred from the Emergency Relief Administration to the Rural Resettlement Administration. This will give us closer coordination with the Extension Service and prevent any duplication of Agencies.
In brief, Rehabilitation is making progress in Maine and our object is to make the rural population of Maine self-supporting from the income derived from the farm.