|Title:||Gilbert C. Fite collection|
|Quantity:||3.2 Linear feet (2 cartons, 1 oversized box)|
The American Agriculture Movement was born in the fall of 1977 out of desperation. Congress had just enacted another farm bill that insured four more years of prices paid to farmers below their cost of production. In other word, every time a farmer produced and sold a commodity, he or she went a little further in debt and lost a little more equity in their land and equipment. The American Agriculture Movement spread like wildfire. Less than a week after a hand full of farmers met in Springfield, Colorado and called for a "strike", farmers from all over the nation drove tractors to Pueblo, Colorado in order to tell the Secretary of Agriculture that the family farm system in America was in trouble. The Farmers also warned that if the situation was not remedied, a depression in the farm sector would drag the rest of the nation down, too. The Secretary gave the farmers an often to be repeated message, "just wait a while and things will get better. Give the administration's programs time to work." It sounded all too familiar. Farmers had been living on hopes and dreams for 30 years. They did not buy what the Secretary was selling this time. Farmers who identified with the American Agriculture Movement became spokesmen, going to other states to spread the word. Within weeks, a network of AAM farmers had been set up which spanned the United States as well as parts of Canada. Considering the fact that the movement had no formal means of communications, this feat alone was remarkable. Farmers said they would go on strike on December 14, 1977, if five conditions were not met. These five conditions became the five points of AAM, but to this day, they have not all been met. On December 10, 1977, farmers driving their tractors paraded to almost every State capitol. These processions soon became known as "tractorcades", but it should be noted again that only the word of mouth was used to spread the plan. December 14, 1977, strike day, was the beginning of a massive protest all over the nation. The news media, intrigued with the idea that formery quiet, steady, peace-loving farmers were protesting and striking gave the movement full play. American Agriculture Movement website. (http://www.aaminc.org/history.htm) Retrieved 6/9/2009.
Farmland Industries helped its members farm land industriously. Farmland was the #1 farmer-owned agricultural cooperative in North America for years. It filed for bankruptcy in 2002, after having lost $90 million in 2001, and began selling off segments. Before its financial woes, Farmland was a major US beef packer and pork producer. It was a competitor in international agribusiness, exporting products (mainly grain) worldwide. Farmland Industries was owned by about 1,700 local co-ops made up of about 600,000 farmers in Canada, Mexico, and the US. The co-op provided its member-farmers with feed, fertilizer, and pesticides; it processed, stored, and marketed their crops and livestock. After declaring bankruptcy, Farmland sought court approval to pay approximately $8 million to 96 employees so they would stay with the company through its reorganization. To raise funds to pay its creditors, Farmland in 2003 sold its nitrogen fertilizer business to Koch Nitrogen. The deal originally called for $104 million cash, $86 million for its 50% stake in Farmland MissChem (which it jointly owned with Mississippi Chemical), and $79 in debt assumption; however, the final deal came to approximately $293 million ($23 million more than Koch's original offer). Hoover's Online. (http://premium.hoovers.com/subscribe/co/boneyard/factsheet.xhtml?ID=cfrcsffkrtshck) Retrieved 6/8/2009.
The collection consists of American Agriculture, the newspaper files of the American Agriculture Movement from 1978-1983, eleven volumes of inventories of the Congressional Records Series of the University of Oklahoma, and Farmland Industries materials, including annual reports, xerox copies of the minutes of board meetings, prospectuses for stock sales, special reports, correspondence, notes, etc.
Arranged by record type.
Gilbert C. Fite collection. MS 2461. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.