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Hugh Hammond Bennett and the Creation of the Soil Erosion Service

This article discusses the establishment of Soil Erosion Service demonstration projects by Hugh Hammond Bennett and colleagues between 1933 and 1935.

By Douglas Helms

The article discusses the events of September 19, 1933, to April 27, 1935, during which time Hugh Hammond Bennett and colleagues in the Soil Erosion Service established demonstration projects. The young agency weathered questions about their authority to work on private lands. The U. S. Department of Agriculture and state agricultural institutions argued that this work belonged in USDA. Throughout the controversies the cadre of soil conservationists won approval in the countryside and thereby built support in Congress for expansion of the soil conservation work on a permanent basis. The pending expiration of SES’s emergency employment funding in June 1935 gave an air of urgency to legislation for a permanent agency. Finally, drought in the Great Plains and dust clouds sweeping eastward to the federal city dramatically demonstrated the need for soil conservation.

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