The Farm Manpower Service began operation upon the appointment of its director, T. Norman Hurd, by a resolution of the New York State War Council in 1943. It was formed to coordinate the work of all federal, State, and local agencies as well as farm organizations, groups, and individuals dealing with the severe wartime labor shortage faced by food producers in New York State.
The Farm Manpower Service was responsible for the administration of the Farm Cadet Victory Corps Program, an effort to recruit, train, place, house, and employ several thousand high school students as seasonal farm laborers. The program was started in 1942 and administered by New York City schools in conjunction with the Bureau of Agricultural Education of the State Education Department. Upon its creation in 1943, the Farm Manpower Service assumed responsibility for the Farm Cadet Victory Corps Program, while the schools and State Education Department continued to cooperate in its administration. To fulfill its responsibility to provide statistical information concerning farm labor, the Farm Manpower Service gathered data from surveys, the monthly reports of approximately 800 farmers, and other sources and began to publish the results in Employment and Wages of Farm Labor in New York in 1943.
The Farm Manpower Service aided in coordinating and expediting the farm labor activities of agencies involved in the war-time Farm Labor Program. This program was implemented in 1942 to mobilize workers to meet the expected shortage of 10,000 to 15,000 regular workers and 100,000 seasonal workers. The Farm Labor Program served to maintain an adequate supply of year-round farm help and was responsible for recruiting, training, housing, and transporting a total of 375,000 seasonal volunteers to harvest and process food crops from 1942 to 1945. The seasonal work force was comprised of the Farm Cadet Victory Corps and other students; adult laborers from surrounding cities, villages, and rural areas; adult vacationers from New York City; prisoners; Italian and German prisoners of war; U. S. servicemen; and workers from Jamaica, the Bahamas, West Virginia, and Kentucky. This mobilization of labor helped to bring New York State food production during the years 1942 to 1945 to a level higher than the pre-war average.
Due to lack of federal and State funds, the Farm Manpower Service was discontinued in 1946. Its functions were assumed by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.