The South Dakota Farmers Holiday Association: A Study of Agrarian Radicalism in the Rushmore State

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The resulting Farmers Holiday Association is largely considered the most radical and militant movement of the 1930s farmers revolt. Organizing in 1932 as subgroup of the Farmers Union, these rural activists fought to ensure farmers would receive at least "cost of production" for commodities. The direct-action strategy of the FHA enlisted producers to withhold products from markets, sometimes prompting farmers to block roads, forcing others to dump or give away their commodities. FHA protests took place all over the northern Great Plains and were especially popular in Iowa and Minnesota. Scholars have paid significant attention to these two states, often neglecting the surrounding area. The South Dakota FHA has been rarely acknowledged and is largely misunderstood. While the South Dakota organization experienced a series of violent episodes, it did not follow the same path as its neighboring states. Fearing Holiday members may turn to radical left winged organization, local businessmen surprisingly cooperated with the withholding movement. The South Dakota FHA was not a restrained organization, but a widespread fear of communism made conservatives embrace the "cost of production" doctrine. This research project will exhibit the unique political and economic factors that shaped the actions of the South Dakota FHA.

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Molly Rozum

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