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The strong history of advocating for agriculture continues: Missouri’s Farm Bureau is 100

Missouri Farm Bureau is 100

One hundred years ago, the first meeting of the Missouri Association of Farm Bureau Counties formed the first state Farm Bureau in the United States, but counties had already formed their own organizations. It was apparent at the first state meeting in Slater, Mo., how much influence counties had on improving agriculture. In Missouri, 13 county Farm Bureaus had already formed by 1915 before the state convention. Pettis County Farm Bureau was the first, established in 1912. Ten counties had convention delegates who voted to organize a state association. The 34 delegates were just a small percentage of the 300 farmers attending the two-day meeting March 24 and 25, 1915.

During the second day of the convention, the delegates gave 15-minute talks about what their Farm Bureaus had accomplished for their respective counties. “These were stories of what the organization had done and that the individual could not have done,” reported The Slater News. They included efforts to control animal diseases and insect pests, work for farmers to buy pure seed, the introduction of new crops, road improvements, and finding ways to interest children to attend country school.

Farm Bureau advisors, precursors to today’s extension agents, echoed the delegates’ talks with their own reports. At that time, the advisors were hired by county Farm Bureaus to assist farmers and ranchers. At the convention, the Johnson County advisor reported on the control of hog cholera through anti-hog cholera campaigns. Advisors who attended from Dade, Scott and Pettis counties offered similar reports. Advisor R.M. Green talked about spending a month in Saline County studying the profits and losses of 60 farms. He closed the convention with a report summarizing findings showing one-third of farms lost money and twothirds made profits.

Although financial ties between county Farm Bureaus and Extension agents have long been severed, Farm Bureau members continue to play active roles on Extension and 4-H youth councils. Delegates still vote on Farm Bureau policies that legislatively set the course for the organization each year.

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