Sunday, October 12, 2014

Farming Politics, Spite, Perseverance and J.A. Everitt, Seedsman

finally found some papers that smooth out the lumps in what I had found about Everitt and the Equity Society. 

The following is from a Agricultural Commons paper, The Agrarian Tradition in American Society by Clinton B. Allison, Harold F. Breimyer, Walter N. Lambert, Frank O. Leuthold and Joe A. Martin.

"The American Society of Equity (1902) was organized in Indiana by J. A. Everitt. His aim was to develop a farm organization for "controlling production and prices of farm products." Many of Everitt's ideas were put into effect by the Federal Government in years following the existence of the organization. 

The Equity developed a plan for "monthly crop reporting" and "storing grains on the farm" during surplus periods. Wheat was the leading item held from market for a "set price" although similar goals for tobacco in Kentucky and Tennessee were made. The organization however, did not advocate government action. 

Everitt presented his ideas through the magazine, Up-to-Date Farming, of which he was owner and publisher. By 1906 the organization was represented in 12 Midwest states. There was a "commodity" section and an "organizational" section. 

In 1907, a split in the organization on regional lines occurred and Everitt was voted out of office as president. Membership continued to shift to more Western states and became essentially a "wheat belt" organization. Membership in 1912 was 40 thousand with the leading states being Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Equity was a leader in establishing marketing cooperatives of all types in the 1910's. Although attempts were made to transform the Equity into a political organization, the Equity never shifted its purpose. By 1917, the Equity had declined substantially. It formally amalgamated in 1934 with the Farmers' Union. However, the "Equity Cooperative Exchange" formed by the Equity was a leader in cooperative marketing."

The following article from the Country Gentleman illustrates the campaign to oust Everitt.

Everitt's naming his own paper as the official organ of the society was a bit iffy by today's standards...

This seems a good review of J.A.'s book.

And this next is just funny.