Tractors on Parade

Planting a Movement, from the Heartland’s Farms to the Nation’s Capital

Calkins Creek, fall 2020
Nonfiction picture book for ages 7-10

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For fans of …

  • Little-known U.S. history

  • Ordinary people who rose up to seek change

  • Tractors and agriculture

  • Eating food grown by farmers!

GIF by Quinn Metcalf. Buttons and flag courtesy of Dean Holbert.

GIF by Quinn Metcalf. Buttons and flag courtesy of Dean Holbert.

Tractors on Parade is a story of social and economic justice that doesn’t get told often enough.

When grain prices tanked and farmers went broke in the late 1970s, few members of the eating public noticed. Farmers needed to leave the fields and be seen if they wanted to continue to feed the nation.

In 1979, thousands of members of the new American Agriculture Movement drove cross-country to flood Washington, DC, with tractors in protest of low grain prices. They jammed into rush hour and were corralled by police on the National Mall, where they stayed for more than a month while lobbying for help from Congress. Then, when snow stacked past their knees, they cleared the city, hauled doctors to work, pulled fire trucks out of the ditch, and convinced Americans how much they needed farmers. 

My family raises wheat, corn, soybeans, and grain sorghum, or milo. The farmers’ message is deeply personal for me, in ways that continue to reveal themselves.

If you were involved in the American Agriculture Movement and have memories, photos, or memorabilia to share, please reach out!