Farmers Unite!: Planting a Protest for Fair Prices

Calkins Creek. Nov. 2020. 64p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781684379088.
Gr 3-6–A narrative nonfiction account of the American Agricultural Movement of the 1970s and 1980s, which uses sparse text and plenty of tractor photos. In 1977, farmers organized “tractorcades” in capital cities around the nation. They drove their tractors into public spaces to protest falling grain prices and the rising cost of tractors, fuel, and land. Advocates then descended upon Washington, DC, in 1979, turning Capitol Hill into “Tractor Town.” Protesters organized marches and rallies, drove into the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, and burned a tractor, which incited police violence. Police in riot gear used tear gas, pepper spray, and clubs against the protesters. Ten years after that first “tractorcade,” farmers’ united effort finally paid off as Congress approved the Agricultural Credit Act (ACA) of 1987. The narrative is a decade-long snapshot in straightforward prose and photos, which could have benefited from more historical context regarding the cause of the price shift that prompted farmers to protest as well as the legacy and modern impact of the ACA. Large color and black-and-white photos feature exclusively white farmers, protesters, and lawmakers. Back matter includes an author’s note, a time line, and farm price statistics.
VERDICT This is a well-researched look at the power of protest, the violence protesters sometimes endure at the hands of law enforcement, and the importance of community organization and activism. Purchase where more nonfiction books on the power of protest are needed for elementary readers.

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