William H. Benjamin is best known for his publication, National Farm News. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Virginia E. Jenckes, a congresswoman from Indiana writes ( 20 Jan 1936 ): The National Farm News published at Wisconsin Avenue and M. Street, N. E., Washington, D.C., by Mr. William H. Benjamin, has been rendering a real and genuine service to farmers throughout America for the past ten years. About a year ago Mr. Benjamin acquired the ownership of this publication, and since then it has made great progress in the connection of service rendered to farmers, and in its influence as a national farm publication.
At the height of the era of New Deal legislation, when the nation's farmers were beginning to recognize the need for political organization in an effort to ensure receiving their fair share in an economy already stretched to the breaking point, the National Farm News led a vigorous campaign for the improvement of rural roads which would enable farmers to more easily transport their goods to markets. In a nod of recognition of the animosity between his urban and rural constituents, Governor Wilbur L. Cross of Connecticut quotes from his 1931 inaugural address ( 23 Jan 1936 ): The time has come to lift the farmer out of the mud! During the winter months many of the rural roads are impassable by automobile and very few of them are ordinarily in good condition. The ideal towards which we should strive is a complete network of good roads from all villages and outlying districts, tied in with the state roads and trunk [sic] lines, so that all parts of the State may be readily accessible to farmers and city dwellers alike.
Recognizing a forum in which to cite his political accomplishments and demonstrate his good will toward farmers, Congressman John W. Gwynne of Iowa offers this typical response ( 31 Jan 1936 ): One of the outstanding accomplishments of my State of Iowa in the past fifteen years has been the building of good primary roads. Due to the splendid efforts of the State Highway Commission, our County Boards of Supervisors and our County Engineers, we now have a network of hard surfaced roads second to none in Union.In the development of farm-to-market roads, however, we have not made the progress which is to be desired. It would seem that a larger percentage of the federal aid money should go to these roads. Money should not be used for expensive diagonal roads or cutoffs (except in the interest of public safety) until the roads the farmers now use are brot [sic] to a higher degree of usefulness.
In a similar vein, Congressman William Lemke of North Dakota offers this optimistic if irreverent observation ( 1 Mar 1936 ): There is a brighter future ahead for agriculture. The dumbbells in Congress will finally wake up to the fact that the farmer must be refinanced, that he must get cost of production, he must have farm to market roads and that all of these are part of the national welfare and national defense.
From the guide to the William H. Benjamin Letters, 1935-1936, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)