"We want our money back!": the story of the National Farmers Process Tax Recovery Association
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A small group of farmers met in Des Moines, Iowa, in March of 1936 to form the National Farmers Process Tax Recovery Association. They were attempting to recover for the farmers the hog processing tax of the Agricultural Adjustment Act which had just been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The NFPTRA leaders claimed that the meat packers had passed the processing taxes on to the farmers through paying lower prices for their hogs. Milo Reno, a noted leader of the Iowa Farmers Union and president of the Farm Holiday movement, suggested the formation of the group and recruited some of its leaders. Other leaders of the group were Donald Van Vleet, hog buyer and business editor of a farmers journal, A. J. Johnson, president of the Iowa Farmers Union, and Edward E. Kennedy, farm lobbyist. The group spread into surrounding states in the Middle West and received additional members through a campaign waged by D. B. Gurney, president of Gurney's Seed Company in South Dakota;The NFPTRA first sought to achieve return of the tax through the Internal Revenue System. When this attempt failed, the group then attempted to secure passage of a bill refunding the hog processing tax to the farmers. With the help of Congressman William Lemke and lobbyist Edward E. Kennedy, bills were drawn up, discussed in committees, and voted down in either the House or the Senate. The bill was not supported by the leaders of the National Farmers Union. The U.S. Department of Agriculture opposed the NFPTRA bills. By the early 1940s the organization had lost several of its leaders and many of its members. Financial support was dwindling as its members' attention was increasingly turned in other directions. Recovery of the hog processing tax was also hindered by national preoccupation with the events of World War II.