When the price of cotton soared as high as 46¢ a Ib. last January, its peak since the Civil War, U.S. cotton growers were all free-enterprisers to a man. Government interference in the cotton market was the last thing in the world they wanted to hear about. Price Boss Mike Di Salle's insistence on a 45.77¢-a-lb. ceiling, they said, would "upset the delicate mechanism of the market."

But the ceiling was nevertheless set, and the price looked good enough to cotton men for them to rush out and plant the biggest crop in 15 years. Last week, when the Agriculture Department...

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