An Analysis Of The Scotts Bluff County National Farmers' Organization In The 1960s
The 1960s will long be remembered in America as the decade of unrest and strife. Dissatisfaction with the status quo reached a peak during these ten years with the thrust always towards change- rapid change. The tumultuous ’60s bring to mind groups such as blacks and militant students. These groups were highly visible and vocal in protesting against those things which affected their lives adversely, i.e., civil rights and Viet Nam. Through their protest they made the sixth decade in the Twentieth Century the pivot for change. They were later to discover that change would come very, very slowly, but their agitation had at least begun the process. These groups are the most memorable because they were the largest and had the most Impact. There were, however, other groups in the 1960s who were dissatisfied with the conditions governing their lives and who were looking for avenues of quick change. One such group was the farmers. The price received by farmers for their goods at the market place had for years failed to keep up with the prices these same farmers had to pay for the goods they purchased. In the 1950s even these nominal prices began to sink slowly. Farmers began an exodus from the farm to the oity where wages received for labor expended were more equitable than on the farm. The small farmers were hit first and as they began leaving the farms their land was purchased by already large landowners or by outside interests. As they left, their neighbors looked on and waited for the day when they too could no longer hold on to their land, to their way of life.
Charles Walters Jr. describes one such small farmer In Angry Testament; Ever since World War II, he had watched the growth of corporate farms, the development of contract feedlots, the decline of the truly Independent family farm, and the attendant economic and social withering of the small rural communities. He had seen the power of economic and individual forces Dour acid on the walls of society that was, and had asked himsel*' the same nagging question. Are these trends inevitable, or are choices still open to the independent man on the farm?* As these small. Independent farms felt themselves being backed into a corner they began searching for an exit route and many saw only one hope—an organisation of small farmers. The situation was new, and it was desperate. It called for more than the old and familiar farm organizations offered.
It called for more than the old and familiar farm organizations offered. It called for original direct-action tactics. The organization which seemed to embody these characteristics was the National Farmers’ Organization. Here was a vital, new idea- the organization of farmers as a unit in order that they might bargain effectively by withholding their goods from the market. The goal of the organization was two-fold; i) to dramatically call the attention of the public to the plight of the "little man" in farming, and 2) to give these farmers the power to do something about that plight.