Americans View Their Dust Bowl Experience

By John R. Wunder; Frances W. Kaye et al. | Go to book overview

RESOLUTIONS, PROGRAMS, AND POLICIES OF THE NORTH
DAKOTA FARMERS' HOLIDAY ASSOCIATION, 1932—1937

James W. Dodd

The American farmers experienced a boom during and immediately after World War I. With Europe embroiled in a deadly conflict, the American farmer had ample markets for his produce. This led him to purchase new machinery enabling him to put more land under cultivation, a nice arrangement until the European farmer began to produce crops again. As the wheat fields replaced battlefields in Europe, the world demand for American farm goods declined, leaving a surplus. Congress dropped the support prices for wheat in 1920, and by the end of the year the boom had turned into a bust. Farm prices took a serious dip, largely due to a glutted market; and the farmer turned to the banks for credit to pay for the new machinery he had bought during the shortlived boom. While the rest of the nation was enjoying “normalcy” and prosperity, the farmer faced depressive conditions. During the later part of the decade a slight improvement was noticeable, but not enough to experience the last moments of prosperity. By the end of the decade farm credit had largely been expended, and conditions were growing steadily worse. The early 1930s showed less promise than the late 1920s. Confronted with such conditions, and like past performances, the farmer broke loose from his traditional conservatism and entered the camps of the radicals.

This sudden outburst of agricultural radicalism was expressed most vociferously after 1932 by the Farmers' Holiday Association (FHA). The FHA emanated from a mass meeting of mostly farmers, though some small businessmen were in attendance, in Des Moines, Iowa, May 3, 1932. 1 The organization derived its name from a contemporary event. These men felt if the bankers could close their doors

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