FARMERS: Potatoes & Gravy

Maine's Aroostook County, dotted with neat white farmhouses and big gambrel-roofed barns, is the most northeasterly county in the U.S. Its richest farmers have become rural capitalists, with offices in town, four-hole Buicks in the garage, sons at Harvard, and winters in Florida. It was all thanks to potatoes—and, in recent years, to the wild generosity of the U.S. Government.

$15,000 Apiece. By the end of June, the Government had in one year poured a whopping $64 million into the pockets of Aroostook potato men, to buy up the surplus from Maine's biggest cash crop. Some of the takes were eye-popping...

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