Collective Farm Puts Crop Into Distillery


POWER BY STEAM, on a collective farm on a state farm in former German East Prussia this steam equipment was providing power for some of the farm operations. The farm had over 2,500 acres in cultivation and specialized in raising hybrid grain seeds of rye,

George Embree

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(From the De Kalb Daily Chronicle, De Kalb, Illinois)

Of the 140 workers on this particular farm only eight are Communists two of whom are on the seven man board which, for all practical purposes, runs the farm.

The biggest and most important change for this farm during the last year was the revised system of planning production. Until last October the seven- man governing board had practically no authority to do anything but administer the orders of higher government officials.

This year the central government gave the farms in the district a general pattern of what it wanted produced. Then the administrative board on this farm and on the others each decided what they were going to produce.

This farm was told that it must be an independent economic unit which would have to meet all of its own costs from its own production and it could not look to the government for subsidies.

With this latitude the manager and his assistants worked out a plan for what they considered to be the best utilization of the farm's 2,000 acres under cultivation and its herd of 250 cattle which includes 100 dairy cows.

The decision was to raise hybrid grain seed (rye, oats and barley).

Another one of the farm's important crops are potatoes which are made into vodka in the farm's distillery.

It takes about a hundred pounds of potatoes to produce a gallon of vodka and the farm's annual output is 25,000 gallons.

To handle these operations the farm employs 100 workers the year-round who live there and an additional 40 during the summer harvest seasons. Its machinery consists of nine tractors, one combine, four harvesters, and one binder. None of this equipment is modern and the farm's 40 horses still play a significant role in its operation.

The overall impression is one of a large mid-western farm about the turn of the last century.

According to the manager's figures the men and women working on the farm have a nice life. He put the average monthly wage at 1,100 zloty which is slightly higher than the national average of 950-1,000zl. (The official and entirely unrealistic exchange rate is 24zl. to the dollar).

However, various workers privately indicated that life was not the glowing picture painted by the manager. They indicated that they received only 900zl. a month with a chance to purchase the farm's produce at a reduced rate.

These people, who were Germans rather than Poles, said they wanted to leave the farm because they were merely laborers and felt no attachment to the land. Now that it was again possible to emigrate to Germany they were planning to go as soon as possible.

For another workers the story was much different. Until last May he had been a private farmer but had given up his land because his 30 acre farm, which he owned with his brother, was too small for both families.

As a tractor driver, one of the elite among skilled farm workers, during the harvest season he received 2,500zl. a month in one of the best paid jobs on the farm. In addition, he owns three cows of his own.

He and his family of five have a small three room apartment on the farm for which he pays a token annual rent of 24zl. per year. His house was bare and quite plain but rather good by general Eastern European standards.

Considering everything, he felt he had made a wise decision.