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Before there was ‘farm bureau,’ there was a will to work together
When Ohio Farm Bureau leaders could not yet provide a long list of legislative accomplishments, programs and services, they communicated a belief that inspired farmers to lead the organization to where it is today.
Here, we offer some communications that coincided with Farm Bureau’s first membership campaigns.
The question: If we were to start over today, based only on these beliefs, how would we go about building a better life for ourselves and our communities in this “farm bureau?”
Excerpt from a Hoard’s Dairyman column in The Princeton Union, 1921:
“We like individuality. We favor plans which will give the individual every opportunity to develop his talents. Any form of organization which submerges or tends to submerge the individual is positively harmful.
The farmer has always prided himself on the fact that his occupation gives him every chance to exercise his individuality, to do his own thinking, and to follow his own ideas in doing his work. He has tried to do too much by himself and as a result has found himself unable to cope with organized effort. He too frequently gets the short end of a deal.It is commendable that the farmer desires to do his own thinking; to plow his fields, to manage his livestock and everything that pertains to his farm operations. The wise farmer, of course, is alert to learning of new things that will help him to be a better farmer. He must keep his mind open. All this he must do. He must be ready to co-operate with his neighbor in doing things impossible for the individual to do alone.
There is little hope for the farmer who does not appreciate the large opportunity of working with his neighbors. The community must have its social functions, its co-operative enterprises, its laws, etc. None of these can be accomplished by one person. It requires many. The farmer can build a road from his home to the public highway, but to build a public highway to town is too large a task for the individual farmer.
The farm bureau is not organized to do the thinking for any farmer or his work; but rather to assist all the farmers in the discharge of their public duties, to help lay sensible plans for carrying on work that can only be done co-operatively, and to place agriculture upon the same basis as other enterprises are conducted. These things, and many others, cannot be accomplished by the farmer working individually. There must be a directing agency and those that have seen the necessity for such a force have organized the farmers that they may direct their co-operative and public affairs effectively. They have called this organization the farm bureau.”
Excerpts from OFBF’s first membership advertisements (1920-21):
“Think what this means to you to be tied up with more than 65,000 Ohio farmers and more than a million in the United States. This is your opportunity to help yourself. Take it. Be ready when the organizers visit you.”
“Of all branches of human endeavor, we farmers today constitute the only class that is still working practically as individuals.”
“Here is your chance to show that you are really in earnest in helping to make farming a stable, dependable business, of making the farm an attractive worth-while place for the best of men to spend their lives.”
“You cannot pass this responsibility on to your neighbor…Farmers are either going backward or forward. Whether they do go forward depends on you.”
“The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation constitutes just the sort of big-vision, level headed organization we need…For it to carry its broad, vital program of making the business of farming more profitable and attractive it must have solid support from the farmers of Ohio. That includes you.”
“Our county is getting lined up squarely behind the greatest movement in the history of agriculture. That movement is the organization of the farmers of the country through their county farm bureaus.”