On August 24, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Potato Control Law, which led to the creation of short-lived Potato stamps.
The Potato Control Act was an amendment of the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA). The AAA had been passed in 1933 by President Roosevelt to help boost agricultural prices by decreasing surpluses. The AAA also created the Agricultural Adjustment Administration to oversee the grants given to farmers.
The Potato Control Act was first brought before the House on June 15, 1935, by John M. Jones and was signed into law two months later. The goal of the law was to help the nation’s 30,000 potato farmers. They were concerned that new farmers who had to abandon their land due to other AAA stipulations might overburden the potato market.
The law went into effect on December 1, 1935. Part of the law restricted potatoes from being exported, instead providing that they be supplied for relief to those in need. The act also included a crop-adjustment program of plowing under every fifth row of potatoes to prevent a surplus. Each farmer was given a quota of production and for any excess had to pay a ¾ cent per pound tax. All the potatoes that were sold under the allotments were tax-free and for this, a tax-exempt stamp was used.
Under this law, people and companies were not allowed to buy or offer to buy any potatoes that were not packed in containers approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and sealed with the official stamps. If anyone was found in violation of the law, they could be fined $1,000 for their first offense and $1,000 and a year in jail for their second offense.
Many saw the act as radical and unconstitutional because the federal government was directly involved in the economic affairs of potato growers. Many were outraged. A group in New Jersey issued a statement, “That we protest against and declare that we will not be bound by the ‘Potato Control Law,’ an unconstitutional measure recently enacted by the United States Congress. We shall produce on our own land such potatoes as we may wish to produce and will dispose of them in such manner as we may deem proper.”
The outrage over the law brought it before the Supreme Court. On January 6, 1936, the US Supreme Court declared that the AAA was unconstitutional. And a month later, the Potato Act was repealed on February 10. Few farmers used the stamps because they were only on sale for less than two months. Potato stamps were the only US stamps valued in an edible commodity.
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17 responses to "Potato Stamps "
17 thoughts on “Potato Stamps ”
amazing piece of history
Leave it to the Democrats to create an unconstitutional
Stamp history, not politics. Especially right now. Thanks Mystic.
Interesting story. Just because congress enacted a law doesn’t mean it is right. Thanks to supreme court overseeing govt.
Every day Mystic Stamps offers me the opportunity to learn something interesting and new. Thanks!
So interesting. Another piece of history from Mystic that I am hearing for the first time.
I read your article first thing every morning. Thanks.
Shouldn’t the last line read “edible commodity”?
I wonder who the lady is on the potato tax stamps. Anybody out there know???
Very interesting and informative article! Thanks, Mystic!
Never heard of this. Wow.
I see the first set of Stamps spell “POTATOES”. Wasn’t Vice-President Dan Quayle
put through the wringer because he spelled it that way. He was corrected by some
smart alec grade school student and the press went wild. Seems Quayle used
a pelling that was used by the Federal Government in 1935.
An interesting read as always. Thank you Mystic…
As I recall V.P. Quayle was visiting an elementary school when he interjected a comment to a student who was spelling the word “potato” and insinuated an “e” at the end of the word. The plural of the word does end in “oes” but as far as Mr. Quayle’s singular potatoe, that is a matter of history. Oops! Spellcheck caught me on that one.
No. The kid spelled potato and Quayle added an e.
“The group from New Jersey” were from West Amwell Township (Hunterdon County), New Jersey.
As usual, very interesting historical information. I, too, wondered about the person on the stamp. Thanks for another history lesson.