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.