The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark—I was told that the government in Denmark is trying to induce more people to go into farming. Only 20 percent of the people are engaged in farming but about 60 percent of the return on export income comes from farm products.

The amount of land a small farmer and his wife can work and care for themselves, rarely with outside help, has been carefully worked out.

The small landholder whom we visited has 16 acres, of which .7 acres is in woodland, which is cut only for firewood.

The agricultural area is divided into seven fields. Two fields are for growing grass, one for mixed grain, three for barley, one for sugar beets. The entire crop output is used for feeding purposes.

The vegetable garden is for home consumption only, as are the products of the few fruit trees and the berry bushes that are on the place. They have two farm horses, but not of the heavy draft variety, seven cows, two calves, 10 hogs, one sow and about 40 chickens.

The emphasis is, of course, on the production of milk and hogs, which represent the money income of the farm. A small farmer usually shares his machinery with another farmer.

The government will loan 8,000 kroner for the purchase of land and 14,000 kroner for the erection of buildings. The particular farmer we visited had borrowed this money in 1940 and moved onto the land on April 1 of that year. The Germans occupied Denmark on April 9. What a hopeless situation it must have seemed to him, and for some time afterwards he certainly paid no four percent interest on his land!

But while the Germans took most of the products from the farmers, they realized farm production had to be kept up for the good of the occupation soldiers. So the farmers fared better than most people.

By 1950 the government of Denmark was willing to loan this small farmer an additional 7,000 kroner to build a barn and he seems to be doing well.

Our next visit was to Mr. and Mrs. A. Pilegaard Larsen. He is a tenant farmer and rents his farm on an eight-year lease. He has a hundred acres of good clayey soil and the use of his acres is carefully plotted out. He has 38 cows and 25 heifers. He also raises the particular Danish breed of pink hogs which produces the kind of bacon liked in England, and he keeps 250 chickens.

He employs a married herdsman, who has his own house on the place, and two farmhands. Mrs. Larsen, who takes care of the chickens, the garden and the house, has a maid to assist her.

This farmer does not share his farm machinery but owns two tractors, one combine and a threshing machine with straw baler. Much of this machinery is bought in the U.S. It is very expensive and American dollars are hard to come by, so no carelessness is tolerated in caring for the machines.

The Minister of Agriculture said to me that, while he admired the farms he had seen in the U.S. in the states of Washington and Minnesota while visiting many farmers there of Danish extraction, he was saddened to see that those who had come from Denmark became so careless about their machinery.

"Why," he said to me, "they even leave their machinery out in the rain!"

The owner of this land and of much land in the neighborhood which went with a castle, which we glimpsed in the distance, is an organization called the Vemmetofte, a convent for the unmarried daughters of the nobility. Here they live in comfort and are well cared for in a beautiful countryside looking out on broad and rolling acres, extremely well-farmed by their tenants.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about the third and last farm we visited.


(Copyright, 1956, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Copenhagen (Denmark) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 28, 1956

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.