Who Was Involved?
Some of the people and organizations involved in Iowa Agricultural Activism Events
Emma Pallutz Baack
Baack was a postmaster, grocery store owner, and truck line owner from Craig, IA who led a fifteen truck caravan carrying livestock through the Sioux City Blockade in 1932.1
Firebrand radio host who operated out of Muscatine during the Iowa Cow Wars. Tuberculosis testing was performed without resistance in much of the state, and it is theorized that he is part of the reason for flared tensions in eastern Iowa, specifically in Cedar County. He used both his radio show and newspaper editorials to whip up anti-government, anti-testing sentiment among farmers.
Judge Charles C. Bradley
Judge Bradley was drug from the bench, assaulted, and nearly killed by Farmers' Holiday Association members for refusing to promise that he would stop signing farm foreclosure actions.
Morris Cope was a major participant in the Farmers’ Holiday Association activities who was shot at and injured during protests was the leader of the assault on Judge Bradley. As a result, he was sentenced to one year in the state penitentiary—the harshest sentencing for farmers participating in the Farmers' Holiday actions.2
Farmers’ Holiday Association
A group of farmers, founded in 1932 by Milo Reno in Plymouth County, who engaged in sometimes violent activism in order to fight farm foreclosures. Also known as “Farm Holiday."
Farmers’ Protective Association
A group formed in Cedar County, Iowa, specifically to oppose compulsory tuberculosis testing for cattle. Led by Jake Lenker.
G.I. Farmers of America
The G.I. Farmers of America was founded in the mid-1950s in Webster City, IA. It favored “rigid 90% supports and, like the N.F.O., would have the Government support hog and cattle prices, only at a lesser amount.” 3
Iowa Farmers Union
The Iowa division of the National Farmers Union was founded in 1915. It has three major focal areas: education, legislation, and cooperation.
Iowa Farm Bureau
The Iowa Farm Bureau grew out of county Farm Improvement Associations and is entwined with the development of Extension services. Early focal points included farm education, food production, food conservation, agricultural marketing, and grassroots policy development. A cornerstone of the Bureau was the development of women’s and youth groups.4 It is noteworthy for its comparatively conservative approach to agricultural activism.
Jake Lenker's farm was the site of a major altercation in the Cow War. Two veterinarians, including Peter Malcolm, along with over 60 law enforcement agents attempted to test Lenker’s cows. Lenker was joined by 400 farmers who drove the veterinarians and law enforcement personnel off the farm using weapons and thrown mud. Lenker was also the leader of the Farmers’ Protective Association. 5
League of United Latin American Citizens
Founded in 1929, LULAC is the oldest Hispanic organization in the United States. It is dedicated to advocating for the civil rights of Latinos in the United States. The first Iowa chapter was founded in 1957.6 In 1968, LULAC of Iowa organized in solidarity with the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee to support the Delano grape boycott.7
Peter Malcolm, DVM
Dr. Malcolm, Veterinarian for the State of Iowa during the Cow War, was assaulted and threatened at the Jake Lenker and E. W. Mitchell farms while attempting to test cows for tuberculosis.8
National Agricultural Producers Union
NAPU was founded in the mid-1950s in Ryan, Iowa. It was a “farmer’s labor union which would like to bargain collectively with packers over hog prices and, if necessary, go on strike.”9
National Farmers Organization
The National Farmers Organization was founded in 1955 as an alternative to the National Farmers Union. It adopted collective bargaining and holding actions to achieve master contracts with food producers as its chief means of activism.
Reno was a farmer from Wapello, Iowa. He is best known as the leader of the Farmers' Holiday Association in Iowa, and former head of the Iowa Farmers Union.
Oren Lee Staley
Staley was a farmer from northwest Missouri (Whitesville area) who is best known as President of the National Farmers Organization from 1955 until 1979. As President, he led the NFO through collective bargaining and holding action efforts.
Governor Daniel Webster Turner
Gov. Turner was in office during the Iowa Cow Wars. He vigorously defended the law mandating tuberculin testing for cattle. After the State Veterinarian was attacked at Jake Lenker's farm in September of 1931, Turner sent the Iowa National Guard to Cedar County to restore order and ensure that the cattle were tested.
U.S. Farmer’s Association
The USFA was formed by the exodus of some Iowa Farmers Union members from the National Farmers Union.10
- 1. “BAACK, PALLUTZ, JURAN, ANDERSON,” Le Mars Daily Sentinel, August 21, 1978, cited in Janet Schuldt, “Baack, Mrs. Herman (Emma P. Pallutz),” IA Gen Web project, http://iagenweb.org/boards/plymouth/obituaries/index.cgi?read=305364.
- 2. Rodney D. Karr, “The Farmers’ Holiday Movement, Plymouth County, Iowa: 1932-1933” (University of Nebrasks at Omaha, 1980), http://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/studentwork/790?utm_source=digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/studentwork/790.
- 3. John S. Cooper, “Rural Unrest: It Shows up in the Formation and Growth of a Number of New Farm Protest Groups.” Wall Street Journal(New York), April 26, 1956.
- 4. Iowa Farm Bureau. “A Century Strong: Strengthening Iowa and Agriculture since 1918.” https://www.iowafarmbureau.com/About/A-Century-Strong/Our-history/1900-1950
- 5. Robert Blomme, “‘The Iowa Cow War’ Revisited,” Iowa State Veterinarian 51, no. 1 (1989): 15–18.
- 6. LULAC of Iowa, “History,” LULAC of Iowa, accessed July 9, 2018, https://www.lulaciowa.org/about_us/history/.
- 7. Janet Weaver, “Grape Boycott in Iowa,” Migration is Beautiful, accessed July 9, 2018, http://migration.lib.uiowa.edu/exhibits/show/activism/grape-boycott-in-iowa.
- 8. Robert Blomme, “‘The Iowa Cow War’ Revisited,” Iowa State Veterinarian 51, no. 1 (1989): 15–18.
- 9. John S. Cooper, “Rural Unrest: It Shows up in the Formation and Growth of a Number of New Farm Protest Groups.” Wall Street Journal (New York), April 26, 1956.
- 10. John Lauck, American Agriculture and the Problem of Monopoly: The Political Economy of Grain Belt Farming, 1953-1980 (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2000).