COMMODITIES: Bright Hope

Behind locked doors and drawn shutters in a Department of Agriculture room one day last week, farm experts totted up figures. Outside stood armed guards. Promptly at 2:56 p.m., after six hours of work, the experts rose. Flanked by Secretary of Agriculture Clinton P. Anderson, and police, they marched down the hall to the waiting reporters and laid their reports face down on a table. On the stroke of 3, after U.S. commodity markets had closed for the day, the reporters turned over their copies and flashed the first official estimate of the size of this year's U.S. crops.

The big...

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