What is Fulton Co. Farm Bureau?

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 an organizational meeting on March 17 of that year, held at the Canton Country Club.  These became the first, “charter” members, and one report states these first members paid $250 dues to start the organization’s coffers.  

 The first meeting of the Board of Directors, comprised of a farmer-representative from each of Fulton County’s 26 Townships, was held in the “City Courtroom” in Canton.  Minutes of the second meeting of the Fulton County Agricultural Association, held in the Directors Room of the National Bank of Canton, note that the temporary Chairman Col.  B. H. Taylor would, at the conclusion of the meeting, “accompany Postmaster Frederick A. Perkins to inspect the new Federal Building in Canton, where two rooms may be made available to the advisor”.  

 The same minutes noted “the Secretary was instructed to notify the Agricultural College at Urbana, Illinois, that the Association was duly organized and were in position to employ a competent man as Agricultural Advisor for Fulton County.”  Temporary Chairman Taylor would become the first President of the Organization, serving from 1916 until 1928. During the early years, the Directors continued to meet in varying locations around the county.  At some point, the Organization found a home at 15 East Locust Street in Canton.  This was a house.  It stood where the current Burger King is now located.  In 1962, the Association decided to build a dedicated office building.  After being “courted” by the Businessman’s Associations of Canton, Cuba, and Lewistown, the Association was given ground North of Lewistown to build an office to accommodate us and related agricultural agencies.  We moved into our current building in 1963.

 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 bylaws were structured to create Township organizations as well; each of the 26 Townships would elect a Chairman, a Treasurer, and a “Key Woman” who would serve as the liaison to the Women’s Committee.  Each Township would elect one Delegate for every 25 voting members residing in that Township, and the total Delegates would vote at the County Annual Meeting.  $2 was allotted for each Regular member and $1 for each Associate member annually to each Township, to be used to pay costs of their Annual Dinner Meeting and any donations the Township voted to make.  Our Bylaws were changed in 2007 to abandon the Township Farm Bureau structure. 

 The rallying call, and slogan, in the beginning was “In Service for Farmers”.  Members first joined to form “purchasing power”.  For instance, the organization 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.  Similarly, Farm Bureau formed buying groups for lime, vaccines, fuel, and fire insurance.  These actions created our affiliate companies.  The most notable of these are Country Financial, the Growmark/FS system, and Prairie Farms Dairy, all of which are thriving, valuable partners for our members today. 

 Much has changed about farming and our affiliated businesses in a hundred years.  What has not changed, however, are our goals and mission of the Farm Bureau; to provide valuable benefits to our 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, provides money-saving discounts, and works to revitalize our rural communities.   From the 1916 slogan “Service to Farmers”, to today’s tag line “Farm. Family. Food.”, our goals have remained the same. 

 Our Board of Directors at the time of our 100 year Celebration are President Bill Carlberg of Canton, Vice President Bob Vohland of Farmington, Secretary Julie Serven of St. Augustine, Treasurer Linda Rock of Canton, Women’s Committee Chair Linda Lane of Lewistown, Young Leader Chair Robin Fisher of Ellisville, Public Relations Chair Matt Howe of Lewistown, Marketing Chair Barry Fisher of Ellisville, Local Issues Chair Wes Strode of Marietta, Legislative Chair Joe Tolley of Avon, Building Committee Chair Leighton Rector of Vermont, and Director Delson Wilcoxen of Ipava.  Our current office staff includes Manager Elaine Stone, Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper Jamie Butler,  Part Time Secretary Margaret Hall, and Ag. In the Classroom Coordinator Mintonya Holt.