Letters to the Editor

A progressive socialist once saved the farming industry in SLO County

Henry Wallace’s policies to save farmlands in Arroyo Grande, the Central Coast and elsewhere in this nation were pivotal in preventing total disaster even though, by many, he was considered a socialist, writes Steve Lacki of Nipomo. Here, Wallace drives a tractor in 1950.
Henry Wallace’s policies to save farmlands in Arroyo Grande, the Central Coast and elsewhere in this nation were pivotal in preventing total disaster even though, by many, he was considered a socialist, writes Steve Lacki of Nipomo. Here, Wallace drives a tractor in 1950. Associated Press file

A very interesting column (“FDR helped save Arroyo Grande Valley in his first 100 days in office,” April 22) by Dan Krieger was intriguing. I would add one more bit of history. The secretary of agriculture at that time was Henry Wallace. Wallace was a registered Republican and would remain so until 1936, but he belonged to the progressive wing of the party. He was, according to John Kenneth Galbraith, “second only to Roosevelt as the most important figure of the New Deal.”

Wallace had a great passion for what was then called “scientific agriculture” and a talent for agricultural research. His policies to save farmlands in Arroyo Grande, the Central Coast and elsewhere in this nation were pivotal in preventing total disaster even though, by many, he was considered a socialist.

How ironic it is that a progressive socialist saved the farming industry in San Luis Obispo County and yet today COLAB, which claims to represent agriculture, stands in stark opposition to all things progressive. Further, FDR reluctantly allowed the party’s conservative, pro-business and segregationist wing to replace Wallace with Sen. Harry Truman as the vice presidential candidate in 1944, a move that many call the “greatest blunder” of Roosevelt’s career. Pro-business and conservatives abandoning the common man. What’s new?

Steve Lacki, Nipomo

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