From the time of statehood into the early 1900s, Minnesota's climate discouraged the growing of corn. Many immigrants from Northern Europe disbelieved the skeptics and set out to prove them wrong by developing special varieties of seed capable of growing corn in cold conditions. They were successful, and by the late 1930s, Minnesota had become one of the leading corn-producing states.
Photograph of a a National Farmers Organization checkpoint in Clontarf printed in the Benson Swift County News on August 25, 1964. The original caption included with the photograph reads, “A photo of an NFO checkpoint at the highway 9 curve in Clontarf. Checkpoints and picketing posts are spotted along major highways in this area and wherever the NFO meat withholding action is in force. Manning the checkpoint were Wesley Benham (left) and Walter Gades.” Image is from the Benson Swift County News (vol. LXXI), August 25, 1964.
At a press conference held on October 16, 1963, at Melrose High School, Oren Lee Staley, NFO president; Msgr. E.W. O’Rourke, director of Catholic Rural Life Conference; Rev.Arnold Salchert, Mankato; and Andrew Francis Julig, pastor of St. Mary’s parish, Melrose (left to right) answered questions before a rally supporting organizing farmers in order to compete in the marketplace.
A crowd of more than a thousand people gathered on March 7, 1963, in front of the Albion French Lake Creamery, five miles southwest of Annandale, to listen to National NFO president Oren Lee Staley express gratitude to supporters and warn of a fight against those who did not support the NFO.
Minnesota farmers were active in building the National Farmers Organization (NFO), a populist farm group dedicated to strengthening family farmers’ economic well-being. Unlike other farm groups on both the right (the Farm Bureau) and the left (the Farmers’ Union), the NFO during the 1960s focused on direct economic action.