War in the Fields and Villages: The County War Agricultural Committees in England, 1939–45

War in the Fields and Villages: The County War Agricultural Committees in England, 1939–45

  • Author: Brian Short
  • Date: October 2007
  • Source: Rural History / Volume 18 / Issue 02 / October 2007 pp 217-244

article button on computer keyboard keyState intervention in the United Kingdom’s farming industry was necessitated by the problems of the interwar depression and the lead up to World War Two and the emergency wartime food programme. This brought the need for greater bureaucratic machinery which would connect individual farmers and their communities with central government. Crucial from 1939 in this respect was the formation of the County War Agricultural Executive Committees, which became the channels through which English farming was propelled into postwar productivism. Using relatively newly-available documentary material, this article demonstrates the role the committees played in the transmission of national policies down to the local level, their composition and membership. In so doing it also places the economic changes within farming into the vital but under-researched context of their rural social relations during the Second World War.

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