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Biography

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Carl E. Ladd was Director of Extension and Dean of the New York State College of Agriculture at Cornell.

Carl Edwin Ladd was born 25 Feb. 1888 in McLean, Tompkins County, New York, at the farm of his parents, Arnold D. and Mary E. (Mineah) Ladd; he was their second son and the youngest of three children. Both parents were natives of Tompkins County; his father was descended from Daniel Ladd, who came from England to Massachusetts in 1634. Carl attended local schools and at fifteen entered the nearby Cortland (N.Y.) Normal School, from which he graduated in 1907. After a year as school principal in South Otselic, N.Y., he enrolled in the College of Agriculture at Cornell University. He received a B.S. degree in 1912 but stayed on for graduate study in the department of farm management, specializing in cost accounting under the direction of Prof. George F. Warren, whose economic ides he was to share, during the agricultural crisis of the early 1930s. He received the Ph.D. in 1915.

That year Ladd became director of the New York State School of Agriculture at Delhi, one of six regional schools recently established to provide a two year program in applied agriculture. In 1917 he assumed overall direction of the six schools as specialist in agricultural education in the State Education Department at Albany. Two years later, he became director of the State School of Agriculture at Alfred, N.Y. Ladd returned to Cornell in 1920, as extension professor of farm management. He was made director of extension work for the College of Agriculture and the College of Home Economics at Cornell in 1924.

Carl Ladd's career was build upon identification with the interests of New York agriculture. He regarded the extension service as a vehicle for transmitting the needs of the farmer to the college and as an agency for formulating research programs to meet those needs. As director of extension he worked closely with the State Farm Bureau Federation, using its county units as local bases of operation for the College of Agriculture; through this structure extension specialists were made available to individual farmers for consultation. Under Ladd, Cornell also continued its policy of aiding farmer cooperatives such as the Dairymen's League.

In 1932 Ladd became dean of the colleges of agriculture and of home economics and director of the agricultural experiment station at Cornell. A skilled administrator and mediator, he set up meetings at the college between farmers and the businessmen who supplied their needs. Recognizing the trend toward specialization in agriculture, he altered the focus of extension work from general farming to particular commodities. He also kept Cornell in the forefront of agricultural research, concentrating on such problems as better food packaging, dehydration, and the artificial breeding of livestock. He set up a special interdepartmental research and extension projects designed to expand the market for potatoes, an important state product, and encouraged the development of the frozen food industry in New York State.

Ladd's influence in agricultural matters extended beyond the campus. He had become widely known to the farming public at large through the columns of the "American Agriculturist," edited by his close friend Edward R. Eastman. Sensitive to the techniques of public relations, he maintained contacts in Albany and Washington and with the newspaper publisher Frank Gannett. Ladd served as secretary of the State Agricultural Advisory Commission under Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt, and later as chairman; he became chairman of the New York State Planning Council in 1936; and he was a director of the Federal Land Bank at Springfield, Mass., a major source of credit for Northeastern farmers.

Ladd's reaction to the agricultural program of the New Deal was ambivalent. He supported the Agricultural Adjustment Act as a temporary expedient and recognized the need for some government assistance, but objected to the degree of central planning envisaged by the Roosevelt administration. As new federal agencies concerned with the farmer were created, Ladd sought with considerable success to have them administered by the existing network of county agents that made up the extension service of the various land-grant colleges. The matter was formalized at a conference in 1938 between representatives of the colleges and the federal Department of Agriculture at which a compromise (the "Mount Weather Agreement") was worked out by Ladd.

While still active as dean, he died on 23 July 1943 of a coronary attack at the age of fifty five and was buried at McLean, New York.

Gould P. Colman, Dictionary of American Biography, 1973.