COTTON: Turnabout

Washington, which arbitrarily cut cotton acreage 20% only a year ago, abruptly changed its policy. Secretary of Agriculture Charles Brannan, who had once loudly pleaded with farmers to stop raising cotton and diversify their crops, last week asked them to increase cotton production as much as possible. To help them out, Brannan took off all planting and marketing controls on cotton—which was already selling at its highest price in 30 years.

The turnabout was caused by an impending worldwide cotton shortage—and the leanest U.S. cotton crop in four years. Bugs, bad weather and...

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