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NLPA Background 1

1921 - 2011 . . . A History of Service

Attempts at cooperation among livestock producers date back to the American Revolution, but it remained for the Committee of Fifteen to put the cap-sheaf on an organization to solve the problems of livestock marketing which involved: "...cooperative marketing, orderly marketing, livestock production and marketing information and financing."

The inflated prosperity brought to the United States by World War I lasted only about 18 months after the Armistice was signed. In the fall of 1920, a wide-spread slump in agricultural prices engulfed the nation's farmers.

Great Britain, which during World War I had bought over 50 percent of its meat imports from the United States, reduced its meat buying volume to less than 5 percent by 1921. Other European nations recovered from the effects of war very quickly. And with recovery came a search for new markets and farm supplies. They looked to Argentina, Canada, Australia and the USSR, by-passing the United States, and leaving American farmers with an entry to fewer foreign markets.

Even the domestic market failed American farmers. Although the meatless days of World War I had passed, the ingrained habit of buying less meat persisted. Americans were eating less meat per capita than ever before. Chaotic markets for livestock and farm products both at home and abroad were accompanied by record productions of livestock and feed gains. Surpluses piled up with the harvesting of each new crop.

By 1921, the value of all livestock on farms and ranches in the United States had declined from $665.4 million to $427.2 million. Regardless of grade, quality or finish, livestock farmers were being forced to dollar-off their cattle, hogs and sheep. At Chicago the average price of steers had dropped from $15.50 per cwt. in 1919 to $8.20 per cwt. in 1921. Hog producers suffered similar price drops from $21 to $13 per cwt. during the same period. Lamb prices were down from $16 to $9.85 per cwt.

As during other periods of agricultural distress, farmers showed a strong desire to work together through their own organizations. James R. Howard, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, called a conference of the representatives of all livestock and farm organizations to be held in Chicago on July 23-24, 1920. The results of that exploratory meeting were successful and another "National Live Stock Conference" was held on October 8, 1920. At the October conference, action crystallized in the form of authorization for a "Live Stock Marketing Committee of Fifteen" to give special study and consideration to livestock marketing problems and submit recommendations. The appointment of the Committee of Fifteen was announced on January 3, 1921.


Original NLPA Board
The committee included: Chairman C. H.. Gustafson, Farmers Union, Omaha, Neb.; A. Sykes, vice chairman, Ida Grove, Iowa; H. W. Mumford, Illinois Agricultural Assn., Chicago, Ill.; served as Secretary/Treasurer.

Other committee members were: Harry G. Beale, Mt. Sterling, Ohio; J. E. Boog-Scott, Coleman, Texas; W. J. Carmichael, National Swine Growers Assn., Chicago, Ill.; W. A. Cochel, Hereford Breeders Assn., Kansas City, Mo.; C. E. Collins, Kit Carson, Colo.; E. H. Cunningham, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Des Moines, Iowa; Howard M. Gore, Clarksburg, W.V.; J. B. Kenrick, Sheridan, Wyo.; W. A. McKerrow, Central Cooperative Commission Assn., St. Paul, Minn; J. H. Skinner, Purdue University, Lafayette, Ind.; and O. O. Wolf, Ottawa, Kan.; J. R. Howard, American Farm Bureau Federation, Chicago, Ill. served as ex-officio member.

Alternates were: John G. Brown, Monon, Ind.; James Clemmens, Kansasville, Wis.; W. S. Corsa, White Hall, Ill.; John M. Evvard, Iowa Agricultural College, Ames, Iowa; E. C. Lasater, Falfurrias, Texas; and William H. Pew, Revenna, Ohio. C. V. Whalin, Bureau of Markets and Crop Estimates, Washington, D.C. served as advisory member.

The marketing plan submitted by the Committee of Fifteen was adopted unanimously at a conference held in Chicago on November 10-11, 1921. "The need for a national live stock organization representative of a very large number of the rank and file of live stock producers in all parts of the United States has long been felt," the Committee said. "Such an association properly financed and directed should be able to represent wisely and with authority the live stock producers' interests wherever and whenever they are concerned."

It was their plan that these terminal cooperative commission agencies be built upon the business furnished by the individual shippers and by the local cooperative livestock shipping associations in the country. The committee further recommended that, when cooperative commission firms were established at the various terminal markets, separate stocker and feeder companies be simultaneously set up to handle the purchase orders received from farmers.

The report of the committee was adopted with little change. As a result, the National Live Stock Producers Association (NLSPA) was organized in December 1921. This association was organized and incorporated under the laws of Illinois as a nonstock, nonprofit type of cooperative. The objects for which the association was organized are set forth in the articles of incorporation as follows:

"To be an agricultural organization instituted for the purpose of mutual help without having capital stock and not to be conducted for pecuniary profit; to promote the general welfare of livestock producers, and to provide better and more economical methods of marketing and buying livestock; to buy, handle, sell, and market livestock for its members and others; to cooperate by contract and otherwise with other associations or individuals conducting business for similar purposes; to reduce speculation, manipulation, and waste in the marketing of livestock, and to establish local and terminal agencies and associations to carry on the business of marketing livestock."

The corporation was financed by the Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio farm bureaus, and by the Illinois Agricultural Association. These organizations contributed a total of $7,000 to the project, which was enough to launch the enterprise.

The membership fee in the terminal agencies for individual livestock producers was originally set at $10. This applied also to a partnership or corporation producing livestock. The membership fee for shipping associations was based on the number of cars handled by them the previous year. Any association that had shipped from one to 50 cars during the previous year would pay $50; one shipping 51 cars would pay $50.50; that is, an additional 50 cents would be paid for every car over 50 shipped during the previous year. Not all of the houses that  were established charged a membership fee, and those that did so later refunded it to shippers.

Any shipper could transfer livestock to the associations without charge, but in order to participate in the refund, it was essential that he be a member of the organization. When the membership fees were discontinued, membership certificates were issued to producers upon request before or at the time they sent stock to a given association.

The operating plan of these agencies was merely to receive, sell, handle, and purchase stock, to run the business as economically as possible, and at the end of the year to refund to shippers all savings over and above a surplus set aside to provide for contingencies.

On December 22, 1921, the National Live Stock Producers Association came into being as a legal corporation, and on December 28 of that year the first meeting of the board of directors was held. The organization began business in Chicago with two paid employees.



F. M. Simpson, an employee of the Illinois Farm Bureau was loaned to the National Live Stock Producers Association to establish the first offices at National Stock Yards, Ill. and Indianapolis, Ind. He served as General Manager from 1921-1922. Simpson was also the first editor of National Live Stock Producer.

First Board of Directors: President: John G. Brown, Monon, Ind.; Vice President: Charles E. Collins, Kit Carson, Colo.; Secy/Treas: E. H. Cunningham, Des Moines, Iowa; Harry G. Beale, Mt. Sterling, Ohio; J. E. Boog-Scott, Coleman, Texas; J. R. Fulkerson, Jerseyville, Ill.; Howard M. Gore, Clarksburg, Va.; H. H. Parke, Genoa, Ill.; Hugh Spnvat, Boise, Idaho; O. O. Wolf, Ottowa, Kan.

NLSPA Board of Directors -1929:  Dr. O. O. Wolf, Kan.; J. N. Horlacker, Iowa; George Wilson, IL; E. C. Rector, Ohio; B. B. Brumley, McComb; Murray Parker, Ind.; H. H. Parke, Ill.; John O' Mealey, Mich.; F. G. Ketner, Ohio; Lee R. Highlen, Ind.; George Potter, S.D.; George T. Higginson, Sr. Ky.; E. A. Beamer, Mich.; J. R. Fulkerson, Ill.

The plan was to establish cooperative commission agencies on the principal livestock markets wherever a farm organization or group of farm organizations could present evidence to show that an agency could be supported.

The capital upon which to begin operations was loaned by the following organizations:

    Iowa Farm Bureau $2,000.00
    Indiana Farm Bureau $2,000.00
    Ohio Farm Bureau $1,000.00
    Illinois Farm Bureau $2,000.00
    Total $7,000.00

The first project undertaken was the establishment of a cooperative commission agency at National Stock Yards, Illinois. The Illinois Agricultural Association and the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation also cooperated in this project. The agency was opened January 2, 1922. Producers Cooperative Commission Associations were opened at five other central markets that year.

  • Producers Commission Association, Chicago, Ill., June 19
  • Peoria Producers Commission Association, Peoria, Ill., June 25
  • Producers Cooperative Commission Association, East Buffalo, N.Y., Nov. 1
  • Cattle Raisers & Producers Commission Company, Ft. Worth, Texas, Nov. 1.
The following year, 1923, six more agencies were established:
  • Producers Commission Association, Kansas City, Mo., March 5
  • Producers Commission Association, Sioux Falls, S.D., May 3
  • Producers Cooperative Commission Association, Cleveland, Ohio, May 15
  • Producers Commission Association, Oklahoma City, Okla., July 2
  • Evansville Producers Commission Association, Evansville, Ind., Sept. 1
  • Producers Cooperative Commission Association, Pittsburgh, Penn., Oct. 8


The livestock industry had grown immensely and by this time, was considered as big business. But when abuses within the industry began to appear, there was an outcry and demands in Congress for legislation. As a result the Packers & Stockyards Act was passed by Congress in 1921. In general, the purpose of the Act was to protect the livestock producer and the general public against "any unfair, unjustly discriminatory or deceptive practice or device" in the marketing of livestock or livestock products. The industry was now for the first time receiving some protection through regulations.

During its development and expansion, the National Live Stock Producers Association was also greatly aided by the passage of the Copper-Volstead Act of 1922. This Act known as the "Magna Charta" of Cooperative Marketing made it clear that cooperative enterprises did not violate the anti-trust laws and defined their legal basis.

By the 1920s, four or five large packing companies had virtually gained control of the terminal markets. Livestock producers shipping their livestock by rail found themselves at the mercy of the packer buyers who were not paying competitive prices.

When Producers Livestock Commission Association was established at the National Stock Yards in January, 1922, and Producers Commission Association started at Indianapolis in May, they found they were not exactly welcome on the terminal markets. Everything was done to prevent them from succeeding.

They were assigned the most inaccessible pens and frequently obstacles were placed in the alleys to make it more difficult for livestock to reach "Producers" pens. Ultimately buyers of livestock put "Producers" on their "black list" and refused to buy their livestock.

It took courage, conviction and "guts" for livestock Producers to persevere under such conditions. However, "Producers" not only met the challenge but kept right on expanding.

The withdrawal of packer buyers from the Sioux Falls market caused a decline in market receipts and a consequent loss to commission agencies. The Producers Commission Association at Sioux Falls closed their house on March 1, 1924. The Oklahoma City terminal agency suspended operations for an indefinite period in March 1926.

On June 8, 1923, the Producers effected an affiliation with the Farmers Union at Sioux City, Iowa. The business was operated under the name of Farmers Union & Producers Commission Association. The arrangements made at that time were tentative and the Producers withdrew from the organization on November 1. On October 1, 1923, the Central Cooperative Commission Association of South St. Paul became affiliated with the National Live Stock Producers Association and was a member until October 1, 1924, when it withdrew from the association.

On March 15, 1924, the Producers Commission Association was opened at Sioux City, Iowa. On February 10, 1925, the Producers Cooperative Commission Association at Cincinnati, Ohio, was organized. On May 1, 1926, the Michigan Live Stock Exchange affiliated with the National Live Stock Producers organization.


AGRICULTURE MARKETING ACT OF 1929

Herbert Hoover was elected as President in 1928 and took office March 4, 1929. The previous Republican Administration was very adverse to national farm relief legislation as supported by all of the general farm organizations but was committed to giving every encouragement to the development of farmer cooperatives.

President Hoover proposed an agricultural marketing act with a revolving fund of $500 million to assist in further organizing and developing farmer cooperative marketing associations. The proposed measure was enacted into law by a Republican Congress and was approved early in June 1929. As provided in the law, the president appointed a board of very capable men, nine in number, many of whom had previous extended experience but were sympathetic with agriculture. Alexander Legge, at that time, chairman of the board of the International Harvester Company, was among the number, and was selected as chairman of the Federal Farm Board.

The other members of the Board were: James C. Stone, Ky.; C. B.. Denman, Mo.; Samual R. McKelvie, Neb.; William F. Schilling, Minn.; Charles C. Teague, Calif.; Carl Williams of Okla.; and Charles S. Wilson, N.Y.

C. B. Denman of Missouri, at the time of his appointment, was the active president of the first National Live Stock Producers Association and was considered to be the member of the Board who was predominately the spokesman for the cooperative marketing of livestock. The Board soon developed a capable staff of men familiar with the problems of livestock marketing, among whom was C. G. Randell, formerly with the Livestock Division of the United States Department of Agriculture.

The national economy was beginning to become somewhat shaky and by November 1, 1929, the bust had come and agriculture was taking its share and more of the beating. The Farm Board, therefore, became exceedingly solicitous to move into the livestock situation to the limit of its ability and authority. Most of the leaders of general farm organizations were skeptical of the possibilities of the Agricultural Marketing Act, but were kind to the members of the Board, and indicated readiness to support the Board in every way. The situation across the board was extremely critical. The apparent change in administration was not helping.

A few days before the Wall Street crash, on October 23, 1929, the Farm Board called a national conference of livestock producers and leaders of farm organization to convene at Chicago. All of the leaders of the cooperative livestock marketing associations attended the meeting. The studies of the Farm Board seemed to indicate its belief that all cooperative livestock selling agencies should be federated into a national organization so as to establish an effective and practical national organization that could further develop cooperative livestock marketing agencies for terminal and direct marketing, and also create livestock credit corporations that could support a program of cooperative livestock marketing.

Many of the old controversies that had been mulled over by the Committee of Fifteen were raised in the conference. The Farm Board presented a definitive plan for organizing a national livestock marketing establishment. While the plan, as presented, was acted on by the conference unanimously, but with reservations, a committee of nine was authorized and appointed. Its make-up sought to consider the Farm Board's plan and make a report later with any recommendations of changes as it saw fit.

The Committee of Nine reported back to the conference on December 5, 1929, and its report and recommendations were not satisfactory to the Farm Board. The Farm Board thereupon took the matter out of the hands of the Committee of Nine and reconvened those attending the conference of October to consider further recommendations of the Board.

This second conference meeting was held at Chicago, February 25-26, 1930. The new proposal of the Farm Board called for the organization of the National Live Stock Marketing Association with an authorized capital of $1 million with only cooperative livestock selling agencies to become members. There were to be as many directors as there were members. Included in the membership were the National Order Buying Company, the Western Cattle Marketing Association and State Live Stock Marketing Association.

At this conference a more detailed program was presented and called for the organization of:

    1) The National Live Stock Marketing Association
    2) National Feeder and Finance Corporation
    3) National Live Stock Publishing Association

Each of these corporations were to be organized with capital stock and be tax exempt. The membership capital stock of the National Live Stock Marketing Association was to be available only to:

    1) Cooperative Terminal Marketing Agencies
    2) A National Order-Buying Company
    3) State Livestock Marketing Association
    4) Western Cattle Marketing Association

The National Feeder and Finance Corporation and the National Live Stock Publishing Association were to be completely owned and controlled by the National Live Stock Marketing Association. The National Feeder and Finance Corporation would handle all feeder operations at the national level and assist in organizing and financing regional livestock credit corporations which might in turn extend credit to livestock producers who would become members and patrons of member marketing agencies of the National association.

The National Live Stock Publishing Association would establish and maintain a magazine for distribution among cooperating livestock producers covering organization matters, public relation matters, and market conditions. The National Live Stock Marketing Association was to establish relations with its members through contracts and was to maintain a Sales Board to assist its members in marketing problems. Income in part to the national organization was to come from car fees on decks of livestock handled by its members.

The foregoing National Plan, as submitted by the Federal Farm Board, was approved. But before the plan could become effective, a certain number of marketing agencies were also required to approve the plan. This was accomplished and the plan became effective November 6, 1930. The Bylaws provided for one Director from each member marketing agency and four at large Directors, one each from (1) American Farm Bureau; (2) National Grange; (3) National Farmers Union; (4) American National Live Stock Association (which became the National Cattlemen's Association, but later to change its name to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association).

Incorporation of the National Live Stock Marketing Association and its two subsidiaries, National Feeder and Finance Corporation and National Live Stock Publishing Association was completed on May 10, 1930 under the Corporation laws of the State of Delaware. Careful study had concluded that the corporation laws of Delaware were very satisfactory and much more flexible than the corporation laws of other states, permitting these corporations to perform the many functions contemplated in the plan.

The first Board of Directors meeting was held in Chicago on May 12, 1930, and its second meeting June 10 - 11, 1930. It was hoped by many that at the board meeting on June 10 and 11, other eligible marketing agencies would become members, but this did not happen.

Charles A. Ewing of Decatur, Ill. was elected its first President. C. A. Stewart was named as General Manager and P. O Wilson, Secretary/Treasurer.

P. O. Wilson held this position for 33 years until his promotion to the position of Executive Vice President. From 1930 to 1962, under P. O. Wilson's guidance, the National Live Stock Producers Association, serving over 400,000 farmers and ranchers on 105 livestock markets throughout the United States, marketed a total of 331,549,254 head of livestock valued in excess of $16,441,402. As chief loan officer of National Feeder & Finance Corporation during this period, Mr. Wilson supervised loans of $12.8 billion through six regional credit corporations affiliated with National Live Stock Producers Association.

Wilson was one of the 50 agricultural leaders honored as "Pioneer in Agricultural Marketing" by the American Marketing Association in 1963. The recognition was given to the 50 agricultural leaders in observance of 50 years (one man for each year) of organized marketing services. George L. Mehren, assistant secretary of agriculture, presented the awards on behalf of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of American Marketing Association.

Marking his 33 years of leadership, the Managers of 17 Producers Member Marketing Associations affiliated with National Live Stock Producers Association at Toronto, Canada in July 1966 presented P. O. Wilson with a testimonial plaque.

Mr. Wilson retired in 1964 but continued to served as a consultant to National Live Stock Producers Association until his death in 1969.

All of the Producer agencies except one indicated their readiness to join the new organization. The Farmers Union agency at St. Paul joined the organization. All other agencies, including the Central of St. Paul, refused to join.

Following very much the pattern of the recalcitrants after the ratification meeting of the Committee of Fifteen in 1922, there was proposed by the dissenters another organization which later was organized but did not function for any length of time. It was organized at Omaha on July 22, 1930, and was called the "Farmers Livestock Marketing Association," with headquarters at St. Paul. It proposed to be an order buying company largely. It was never able to obtain any support from the Federal Farm Board.

The National Live Stock Marketing Association completed its organization (May 6, 1930 actually) (Incorporators' meeting May 12, 1930) on July 15, 1930. The following cooperative marketing agencies became the initial members:
    • Chicago Producers Commission Association, Chicago, Ill.
    • Cincinnati Live Stock Producers Association, Cincinnati, Ohio (formerly, Producers Cooperative Commission Association)
    • Evansville Producers Commission Association, Evansville, Ind.
    • Michigan Live Stock Exchange, Detroit, Mich.
    • National Order Buying Company, Columbus, Ohio
    • Peoria Producers Commission Association, Peoria, Ill.
    • Producers & Texas Livestock Marketing Assn., Kansas City, Mo. (formerly, Producers Commission Association)
    • Producers Commission Association, Sioux City, Iowa
    • Producers Cooperative Commission Association, Buffalo, N.Y.
    • Producers Live Stock Commission Company, Springfield, Ill.
    • Producers Livestock Cooperative Association, Columbus, Ohio (formerly, a consolidation of: Producers Cooperative Commission Assn. of Pittsburgh, Penn. and Cleveland, Ohio)
    • Producers Live Stock Marketing Association, National Stock Yards, Ill. (formerly, Producers Live Stock Commission Assn.)
    • Producers Marketing Association, Inc., Indianapolis, Ind. (formerly, Producers Commission Association)
    • Texas Livestock Marketing Association, Fort Worth, Texas
    • Western Cattle Marketing Association, San Francisco, Calif.

Since 1930 the following agencies have joined the National: Producers Livestock Marketing Assn., Louisville, Ky.; Oklahoma Livestock Marketing Association, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Tennessee Livestock Producers, Inc., Columbia, Tenn.; Producers Livestock Marketing Assn., North Salt Lake, Utah; Producers Livestock Marketing Assn., Omaha, Neb.; Producers Marketing Association, Indianapolis, Ind.; Mississippi Livestock Producers Assn., Jackson, Miss.; Interstate Producers Livestock Assn., Peoria, Ill.; California Livestock Marketing Assn., West Sacramento, Calif.; Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Assn., Baraboo, Wis.; Empire Livestock Marketing, Inc., Syracuse, N.Y.; Central Livestock Association, So. St. Paul, Minn.; MFA Livestock Association, Marshall, Mo, and United Producers, Columbus, Ohio.


Since its inception, National Live Stock Producers Association was located in the Livestock Exchange Building in Chicago. In 1975 under the guidance of Charles A. Pratt, National Live Stock Producers moved its headquarters to Livestock Exchange Building located in Denver, Colo. For an interim period, National Livestock Producers Association was then located in a modern building outside the Denver city limits, in Wheat Ridge, Colo. In May 1997, National Livestock Producers Association moved its headquarters to the Lake Avenue Corporate Complex in southwest Colorado Springs.


For the first time in its 73 year history, the National Livestock Producers Association's Board of Directors includes members of management from the member organizations. The new director structure allows for two directors from each member agency: one being elected for the directorate of the member organization and the other being the chief executive officer. With the change, the board now comprises 30 marketing directors and 12 credit directors.

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