Farming and Agriculture

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Men harvesting sugar beets, 1942. Courtesy of the University of Southern California Libraries.

Under internment, evacuees planted and harvested crops and raised animals as another way to be self-supporting. By the end of 1943, the camps produced eighty-five percent of their own vegetables, all of the camps raised hogs, and several of them raised chickens. In addition, four of the camps produced their own beef by raising cattle, and the Gila River camp in Arizona ran its own dairy.

The Japanese internees also made a significant contribution to the nation’s economy in terms of agriculture. Due to a labor shortage in 1942, some internees were temporarily released to perform seasonal farm work. Sugar beet crops in the western part of the country, for example, were saved from wartime neglect by the work of Japanese evacuees on seasonal leave. In the Arkansas camps, Jerome and Rohwer, internees cleared and drained thousands of acres of land and worked in sawmills.