FCFB History

In 1916, Fulton County farmers organized at the urging of an area banker to follow a state-wide trend of creating “county agricultural associations”. 314 farmers attended the first meeting on March 17 of that year at the Canton Country Club. These became the first members,  some reports have stated that these first members paying $100 dues to start the organization’s coffers.

By 1924, 1103 members were paying $15 per year to be a member of the Fulton County Agricultural Association – which is still the legal name of the Fulton County Farm Bureau.

The rallying call, and slogan, at that time was “In Service for Farmers”. Members first joined to form “purchasing power”. For instance, as a result of listening meetings held in each township, Farm Bureau became aware that there was a serious need of bringing in large quantities of clover and alfalfa seed. Orders were pooled with the Canton Farmers Elevator and a train car load of seed was purchased at a great savings to the farmer members.

Farm Bureau encouraged farmer members to test their soils and provided that service for the first time in 1924, resulting in the ordering of 132 train car loads of lime to improve the conditions of Fulton County fields.

In the area of livestock management assistance, Farm Bureau used their buying pool to purchase vaccines to protect against hog cholera, a disease of epidemic proportions at the time. This serum supply program saved farmers nearly $200,000 in the first 5 years of the service.

In the legislative arena, Farm Bureau secured cooperative marketing laws and farm product inspection laws, prevented increases in farmland taxes and freight rates on livestock shipments, and worked with the railroads to allow a reduction in the minimum weight of shipping hogs and to allow mixed cars of livestock; saving farmers nearly $300,00 annually.

The group went on to form affiliate companies including a livestock marketing cooperative, a farmer supply cooperative, and even a Farm Loan Association. The most notable affiliate, however, is an auto insurance company piloted in Tazewell County, which proved to save members at “least their Farm Bureau dues.” In 1925, Farm Bureau filled another void in farm management by creating the Country Mutual Reinsurance Company, organized to provide fire protection on farm buildings owned by members; a service no other company offered or wanted to offer! The insurance companies became what we know today as Country Insurance and Financial Services, which up until several years ago was called Country Companies.

As with any industry or business, changes have happened over the years within Farm Bureau and the affiliates to adapt to the changes brought on by modern life and farming. Some of the original affiliates, including the Serum Company, the soil testing service, the Farm Loan Association, and the livestock marketing service are now a thing of the past. Other affiliates, such as County Insurance, Prairie Farms Dairy, and the cooperative buying company (the FS system) have grown beyond what those earlier member ever imagined.

Over the years, other affiliates have been added. These include the IAA Credit Union, Agrivisor market advisory service, and the IAA Auditing Association, just to name a few. Membership was also changed in the mid 1980’s by allowing non-farmers to join the organization at a reduced dues rate. This provided them the opportunity to enjoy all of the benefits of Farm Bureau, except for the privilege of holding office in the organization and voting on policy.

What has not changed over the last one hundred plus years, however, is the goal and mission of the Fulton County Farm Bureau. That goal is to provide valuable benefits to its members; both farmers and non-farmers alike. Leaders and staff members of the organization lobby state and national law-makers to ensure farmer and rural-resident friendly regulations. Farm Bureau offers educational programs for producers and rural citizens, and works to revitalize our rural communities.

We offer members exclusive discount privileges on hotels stays, long distance phone service, internet services, car rentals, GM trucks, eye and ear care, local restaurants and businesses and much more.

We invite everyone to consider the benefits of becoming a Fulton County Farm Bureau member by stopping by the office located at the north edge of Lewistown. It was true in 1916 and is still true today; “Membership Means Value!”

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