William Jasper Spillman (1863-1931) developed wheat hybrids at Washington State Agricultural College in 1899 and was the first to explain Mendelian theories to an agricultural audience. He moved to the USDA in Washington, DC, where he pioneered the field of farm management and helped establish cooperative programs that evolved into the Agricultural Extension Service. Spillman, an iconoclast of sorts, straddled the rural world of empirical thinking as well as the world of professional science. He remained linked to his Missouri roots by participating in the National Grange his entire adult life, while he also was a member of the American Academy of Science and received an honorary doctorate for his pioneering work in genetics. The plant genetics work he participated in was largely responsible for agricultural over-production and ultimately the depopulation of rural America by the 1930s. He sought to resolve the situation with his plans for a national agricultural allotment program, which eventually became the foundation for federal farm programs. His books, "The Law of Diminishing Returns (1924)" and "Balancing the Farm Output: A Statement of the Present Deplorable Conditions of Farming, its Causes and Suggested Remedies (1927)", helped shape agricultural policies for decades.

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