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essential that the appalling soil erosion should be checked. For this
it was necessary to change the attitude and methods of the farmers.
Mineral fertilizers must be used; check-dams built; contour plough-
ing adopted to prevent run-off; new crops introduced; the erosion-
prone slopes put back to forest or laid down to grass.
The method adopted has been to persuade farmers to use their farms
as demonstrations of TV A fertilizers and TVA methods. The County
Agricultural Agent (who himself combines Federal, State, and County
functions, and whose assistant is paid by the TVA) calls together the
farmers of a community and explains the problem. The farmers
themselves then select the farm of one of their group to be used as a
demonstration unit. The work is done with the co-operation of the
local farmers' Committee and the County Agent or his assistant. In
return for this help and for the fertilizers provided by the TVA, the
farmer agrees to carry out the programme for a definite period, to
adjust his farming methods (for instance, by planting soil-protective
crops and using contour terracing where there is danger of erosion),
to keep records and report results, and to pay the freight costs of the
fertilizers provided.
In such cases the test-demonstration farm becomes a focal point of
community interest, a real community enterprise, carried on and to
a large extent planned by the farmers themselves. After six years
there were over 26,000 demonstration farms of this type in existence.
Sometimes a keen group will transform the methods of a whole
county in two or three years. But elsewhere there may be more re-
sistance. I was taken to one lone demonstration farm in an area
where an enterprising young man was the only farmer in the com-
munity willing to participate in the TVA's programme. Five years
ago he had bought his farm for $11200: as a result of TVA fertilizer,
TVA advice, and his own initiative, he improved it to such good
purpose that last year he was offered $4500 for it.
The neighbours had at first been wholly unco-operative, and his
successes had been sceptically dismissed as mere luck. Now, how-
ever, after five years, conviction was creeping in, and they too were
beginning to adopt the new-fangled methods. This is slow going;
but it is sure. It is exasperating to see old error persisted in so long.
But once the resistance is overcome, the new methods are taken over
with enthusiasm.
Administratively, too, the TVA is careful not to tread on the toes
of existing agencies. In agriculture, the TVA co-operates with
County, State, and Federal Agencies. It works mainly through the
"Land-Grant Colleges" of the region—State institutions backed by