NEW YORK (Mar. 5)
Reporting settlement on farms of 158 families, 91 of them refugees, last year, the Jewish Agricultural society, in its report for 1940, issued today, stresses the importance of increasing the Jewish agricultural population in the United States as a measure to correct the present economic disproportion.
“The greater significance is being brought home today more forcefully than ever before,” declares Dr. Gabriel Davidson, general manager of the society, whose title was recently changed to managing director. “Whatever the reason, the fact is that there are by far too few Jewish farmers in the United States or elsewhere.
“Whether a larger Jewish farm population in Germany would have had an antidotal effect on the poison of Nazism is a matter of conjecture. But certain it is that, had more German Jews been farmers, more would have been able to find havens in countries which welcome farmers and bar others.
“In the United States, Jewish vocational composition is woefully out of balance. Earlier, when frontiers were limitless and opportunities abundant, occupational disparity made little difference. But, with frontiers gone and opportunities restricted, it does make a difference. The contract is unhealthy, not conducive to good will. We cannot through magic efface the disproportion but we can by effort lessen the gap. To the extent that we correct the unbalance, to that extent we build for better corporate health and for better human understanding.”
The society gave special attention to refugees. serving 15,000 of them directly or indirectly in 1940. The 91 families established on farms in seven states during the year brought the total since the beginning of refugee activity to 226. During the year 103 loans totaling $96,664 were approved for refugees, A training farm at Bound Brook, N.J. had admitted 106 trainees by December.
The society, however, avoided “hastily conceived” plans for rapid settlement of refugees, Dr. Davidson declares. “The society prefers to plod the less spectacular but safer and saner path of establishing refugees on individual farms, each on a place of earth which he can call his own.”
Altogether, during 1940, 1,450 persons consulted the society about the advisability of settling on farms and 158 families were placed on 139 farms in seven states representing a total of about 750 souls.
A study made to determine how many families settled through the society’s efforts remain on farms shows that 95 per cent of those settled in 1936, 92 per cent of those in 1937, 95 per cent of those in 1938, 97 per cent of those in 1939 and 97 per cent of those in 1940 are now on their farms. The percentage for the five years is 96.
The society’s farm loan department has granted, since its founding 40 years ago 13,467 loans aggregating $8,144,000 to farmers in 40 states, including 401 to farmers in 12 states last year.