American Agriculture Movement Protest Pin

The American Agriculture Movement was started in the fall of 1977 in response to the 1977 Farm Bill which had the adverse affect of dropping commodity prices to a level lower than the cost of production. Many farmers left their hometowns to participate in tractorcades, protests on tractors, or lobby in Congress for better agricultural prices. Some farmers participating in the movement attempted to organize a national farm strike, whereby farmers would not buy or sell anything, but it ultimately fizzled out before getting off the ground. In 1978 and 1979, movement organizers rallied large numbers of farmers to descend upon Washington, DC in order to bring their plight to the attention of the American people and lawmakers.
The farm crisis of the late 1970s and 1980s was triggered by several factors stemming from the early 1970s. When Earl Butz became the Secretary of Agriculture in 1971, he changed farm policies that provided supports to farmers who did not plant a certain percentage of their land, and instead asked farmers to plant “fence row to fence row” in order to increase production. New foreign markets had opened up, inflation was high which increased land values and interest rates were low which provided extra incentive for farmers to increase their landholdings and purchase modern equipment that made output from the land more productive. Many farmers took advantage of this confluence of factors to increase their income by following this advice.
In the late 1970s, the Federal Reserve Board raised interest rates in an attempt to bring down the rate of inflation. This happened at the same time foreign markets dried up and a trade embargo was placed on the Soviet Union. These factors meant farm income dwindled at the same time interest rates skyrocketed, eating up what little income remained for farmers. The members of the American Agriculture Movement were highly involved in protests through the late 1970s and 1980s, speaking to officials at all levels of U.S. government in an attempt to raise awareness of the growing farm crisis. Concern over the 1977 Farm Bill ignited the concern for many farmers who believed the bill would adversely affect farm income by lowering commodity prices to less than the cost of production. Farmers began to protest at all levels of government, most for the first time, in order to bring this to the attention of policy makers as well as the people.
Currently not on view
Object Name
overall: 2 3/16 in; 5.588 cm
ID Number
accession number
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Work and Industry: Agriculture
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Clifford Hamilton

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