From the nation's farms last week came good news for consumers but bad news for the Agriculture Department. Despite last year's droughts and heavy slaughter of cattle, the cattle population has risen instead of dropping as expected. The U.S. cattle total, said the Agriculture Department, is up to an estimated 97.5 million head, the seventh consecutive increase since 1949's 76.8 million.

The rise, forecasting further price drops for farmers, was caused largely by the Agriculture Department's price-support operations on other fronts. In the years 1953-55, some 29 million acres were taken out of wheat and cotton production under the crop quota...

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