The oleomargarine controversy was a case of academic freedom in which nineteen researchers resigned from Iowa State College to protest pressure from the dairy industry to change their research findings. This article explores the ways in which the boundaries between science and politics were more blurred than they seemed at the time or in subsequent historical treatments. The argument begins with a history of the unique composition of agricultural economics research at Iowa State, refocuses the affair from a conflict between the state college and the dairy industry to one among a much larger number of actors, and concludes by demonstrating that one professor, Theodore Schultz, was in the process of transitioning to a new career in prescriptive policy work with private policy associations that ended up being opposed to the practices and policy goals of some of the farm organizations in question.

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