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NOV 7 I960 











First President of the American Farm Bureau Federation 


THE 1484 





Formerly AssisUmt Washington Representative of the Amet' 

iean Farm Bureau Federation, and Ex-Secretary 

of The Farmers Marketing Committee 

of Seventeen 



President of The American Farm 
Bureau Federation 

, LITTAUfeR L\\iHm\ 



All rigku mtrvti 



NOV 7 1960 

CoprmiGHT, 1921, 

Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1921. 

Press of 

J. J. Little & Ives Compaaj 

New York, U. S. A. 


The pages which follow are written with a two-fold 
object in view. First; to give to those non-agricultural 
groups who may have either a business, political or social 
interest in the Farm Bureau Movement, a better under- 
standing of its backgrotmd, origin, structure and pur- 
poses, and, second; to present to farm bureau members 
and officers a systematic study of the underl3ring forces 
of which the present Farm Bureau Movement is a re- 
sultant, and an analysis— -comparative rather than abstract 
-—of the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, 
in order that they may the more intelligently avoid the 
mistakes which have wrought the ruin of other highly 
promising agricultural organizations. 

The author's belief in the possibilities of the Farm 
Bureau Movement for good, is supreme and his enthusi- 
asm is tempered only by his observation of the ease and 
regularity with which farmers' organizations of the past 
have speedily arrived at a state of somnolence and in- 
action after a brief period of promising, albeit somewhat 
feverish, activity. It is the hope of the author that by 
tracing, classifying, and labeling the ills to which farm 
organizations seem peculiarly prone, their symptoms may 
be more readily recognized by the membership when they 
appear in the Farm Bureau and remedies applied in 
time to avoid the serious consequences which ordinarily 

In pointing out lessons and drawing conclusions it 
has been the constant endeavor to avoid merely arbitrary 


expressions of the author's personal convictions. Only 
those deductions and suggestions are made which may be 
fairly inferred from the experiences of other organiza- 
tions in similar situations. Prophecy is indulged in only 
to the extent that results of a given set of conditions or 
tendencies may be projected into the future in the light 
of the experiences of similar organizations under similar 

The hope is also entertained that a careful reading of 
these pages by a considerable number from the non- 
agricultural classes may prove of material assistance in 
overcoming the feeling of opposition too often held 
toward all organized agrarian movements. An attempt 
is made to present the fact that such an organization de- 
veloping along economic lines may be — in fact, should 
be-— extremely beneficial to the vast majority of urban 

This is not, primarily, a history of the Farm Bureau, 
but in an effort to present a picture of the true status of 
agricultural organization to-day and to compare the Farm 
Bureau with former as well as contemporary organiza- 
tions, much of a purely historical nature has been in- 
cluded. Historical data and local atmosphere have, how- 
ever, been made incidental to the delineation of principles. 

The author's connection with agricultural extension 
and organization work for the past ten years has given 
him first-hand access to much of the material required 
in a book of this kind, but he desires particularly to thank 
the officers of the various State Farm Bureaus, as well as 
of the American Farm Bureau Federation, for their cour- 
tesy in making available such records and information as 
were requested. Valuable information and data were also 
furnished by Dr. T. C. Atkeson, of the National Grange, 


Charles Lyman, of the National Board of Farm Organi- 
zations, George P. Hampton, of the Farmers' National 
Council, and Senator E. F. Ladd. 

Special acknowledgments are due President J. R. 
Howard for the introductory pages which serve their 
purpose so well; to Samuel R. Guard for criticisms and 
editorial suggestions in the preparation of portions of 
the manuscript ; to Dr. C. J. Galpin, of the U. S. Depart- 
ment of Agriculture, for access to tmpublished manu- 
scripts; and to J. Clyde Marquis, Gray Silver and R. F. 
Bower for careful reading and valuable criticism of the 
entire manuscript in advance of publication. 

O. M. Kile. 
Washington, D. Cs 
August 5, 1921. 




Any organization which attains a paid membership of 
more than a million in the first year of its existence, 
which operates in forty states, and has individual state 
units spending budgets of a quarter million dollars or 
more annually, must have had either extraordinary or- 
ganizing abilities or extraordinary opportunity, or must 
have been actuated by a motive and purpose deeply rooted 
and most potent. 

Since the organization under discussion is made up 
entirely of farmers, no special organizing skill or ex- 
perience can be claimed. The favorable opportunity ex- 
isted, without doubt. But it is safe to say that the deep- 
rooted and powerful purpose and motive back of the 
American Farm Bureau Federation, which in one form 
or another has manifested itself in agricultural affairs 
throughout the past fifty years, is the real cause of the 
rapid growth and present powerful position of this new 
spokesman for the farmer. 

And it is precisely because of the depth and tenacity 
of this feeling on the part of the farmer, and the further 
fact that the two or three million leading farmers are in 
position to control the opinions and expressions of the 
entire rural population — which with its urban dependents 
makes up nearly one-half of the population of the United 
States — ^that this farm bureau movement well merits the 
most careful thought and attention, both on the part of 
its membership and officers and on the part of the general 
public whose interests it must inevitably affect. 



The possibilities for good are so great, along economic 
as well as 30cial and civic lines, and the opportunities for 
disaster so plentiful, that no true student of the trend of 
the times can fail to view the development with extreme 

The constmier is apparently torn between the hope that 
organized agriculture will mean more economical market- 
ing, and the fear that it may mean food monopoly with 
resulting high prices. The manufacturer and the merchant 
are wondering whether the movement means for them 
bigger markets or restricted activity. The politician is 
frankly alarmed at what he calls the solidarity of voting 
strength, which he sees looming ahead. 

Agriculture cannot set itself up as something inde- 
pendent and apart. In our modem state of complexity 
agriculture is as dependent upon the city as the city is 
upon the country. If organized agriculture acts wisely 
and sanely there will be no cause for alarm on the part 
of the consumer, the business man, or even the honest 
straight- forward politician. Strife comes usually through 
misunderstanding. The success of the farmers' move- 
ment in fitting itself into the social and economic struc- 
ture smoothly and with mutually beneficial results, de- 
pends upon a thorough understanding on the part of the 
urban public of its motives and purposes. 

On the other hand those within the organization who 
earnestly desire its permanent success and development, 
can profit greatly by a study of the successes and failures 
of the agrarian organizations that have gone before. The 
costly mistakes of the Grange, the Alliance, the Wheel, 
and the Farmers' Union may be avoided if officers and 
members but heed the plain lessons which their stories 


Human nature has not changed materially since these 
organizations, one after another, made their swift bril- 
liant rushes upward like skyrockets, lighted the landscape 
for a moment, and then for the most part lapsed into 
darkness. While the leaders feel that the farm bureau 
movement has many elements of strength and stability 
lacking in former organizations, yet it also has some of 
the same elements of weakness — elements which can be 
overcome only by a better understanding of the ever- 
present reality of these weaknesses and a closer concen- 
tration on the ultimate ends in view. 

It is therefore doubly desirable that there should be 
widespread and general knowledge of the background, 
origin, growth, activities, and purposes of the Farm 
Bureau. A volume such as that presented herewith should 
serve a well defined need and I heartily commend the 
work of my friend and co-worker, the author, who has 
had unusual opporttmities for observation and study of 
this movement in its various aspects. 

J. R. Howard, 
President, American Farm Bureau Federation. 

Chicago, 111. 
June 5, 1921. 




I. The Farm Bureau a Prcwuct of Evolution ... i 

II. Early Agricultural Organizations and What 

Became of Them 7 

III. Why Farmers Organize 40 

IV. The Rise of the Cooperatives 54 

V. New Forces at Work — Agricultural Extension . 62 

VI. The Coming of the County Agricultural Agent . 71 


VII. The First Farm Bureau 94 

VIII. The Growth of An Idea 100 

IX. The American Farm Bureau Federation . . . 113 

X. Intensification of Organization 124 


XI. The Program of Work — National, State, County 128 

XII. The Committee of Seventeen and the U. S. Grain 

Growers, Inc 148 

XIII. Other Economic Efforts - .... 165 

XIV. The Work at Washington 171 

• V • 





XV. In Osganization 192 

XVI. In Relationships to County Agents and Other 

Farm Organizations 211 

XVII.- The Farm Bureau Compared with the Grange • 221 

XVIII. The Farm Bureau Contrasted with the Non- 
partisan League 233 

XIX. Some Lessons from Organized Labor .... 244 



XX. Influence Upon Business 258 

XXI. Influence Upon Legislation and Government . , 264 
XXII. What of the Future? .•,••••••• 271 






IN the busy days of February, 1921, President-elect 
Warren G. Harding paused long enough in his 
cabinet-making to call to his Marion home for con- 
sultation and advice the President of the American 
Farm Bureau Federation. Six months before, this same 
farmer-leader sat for almost an hour on the south portico 
of the White House discussing agricultural problems 
with the then invalid President Wilson, who despite his 
physical infirmities showed keen interest in the message 
brought to him from the open country. A year previous 
to this White House conference no such organization as 
the American Farm Bureau Federation existed, and the 
name of J. R. Howard was practically imknown a hun- 
dred miles from his Iowa farm where he, like his neigh- 
bors, followed the cultivator back and forth between 
the long, hot, dusty rows of com, rode the reaper through 
waving wheat fields, and fed carloads of cattle to mar- 
ket-topping plumpness. 


In a little more than a year an amazing thing had 
happened. The leading, thinking farmers of the United 
States had joined together in a single great organization 
numbering more than a million members. They had 
pooled their strength and their organization resources 
and had launched forth upon a course of action which 
forthwith made itself felt in council chambers, in count- 
ing rooms, and in legislative halls throughout the land. 

Almost overnight, it seemed, farmers and farmers' 
meetings everywhere were talking of marketing the na- 
tion's grain crop, the cotton crop, and the livestock crop 
cooperatively. They were la)dng plans for buying fer- 
tilizers and farm machinery and supplies, not merely 
in car-lots but in train-loads through cooperative agen- 
cies. They were proposing to take the business of farm- 
ing in all its branches into their own hands and to regulate 
the intermediate agencies. State and national law-making 
bodies soon reflected the entry of organized and unified 
agricultural opinion and caused professional politicians 
no end of worry. Legislation showed the unmistakable 
imprint of a new force. 

So swiftly did events follow one after another that 
the average city dweller little realized what was happen- 
ing. Even the individual farmer, more or less isolated 
from the heat of the fray, found it difficult to grasp the 
full sigfnificance of the social and economic upheaval of 
which he was a part and to which he was lending his 

To the casual observer this apparently sudden outburst 
on the part of the farmer seemed like a bolt out of a 
clear sky. Many were unable either to assign the causes 
or estimate the probable results. It is, in fact, necessary 
to know something of the background, something of the 


long years of struggle — sometimes subdued, sometimes 
active — that preceded the advent of the American Farm 
Bureau Federation, if we are to gain an adequate idea 
of what it all means and what the probable course of 
development will be. 

What to many seemed a sudden independent outburst 
was in fact but a phase in a long, slow growth. It is a 
mistake to think of the Farm Bureau Movement as some- 
thing separate and complete in itself. It is but the cul- 
mination and latest expression of a crusade which had 
its inception back in the dark days following the Civil 
War and which with varying degrees of vigor and suc- 
cess ever since has pushed forward the farmers' fight 
for free and equal privilege and opportunity. 

True, the movement suffered a severe backset follow- 
ing the collapse of the Grange in 1875-76, and again with 
the disintegration of the Farmers' Alliance in 1890-91. 
For a period of many years following this latter disaster 
the movement found expression only in a whirlpool of 
political "isms" without much semblance of coherence 
or unity. Yet throughout it all the same impelling motive 
has existed. Finally, when opportunity offered, the 
wheels of organization were again set in motion and the 
amazing growth which we know to-day as the Farm 
Bureau resulted. 

The story of the rise and decline of the Grange, the 
Farmers' Alliance, the Agricultural Wheel, the Brothers 
of Freedom, the Northwestern Alliance, the Farmers' 
Union, the Farmers' and Laborers' Union, the Equity, 
and the Gleaners, together with the story of the farmers' 
attempt at independent politics as exemplified by Green- 
backism, Populism, and Bimetalism, form a most inter- 
esting chapter in the development of our economic and 


political life and contain vivid lessons which our agri- 
cultural no less than our political leaders of to-day may 
well stop and ponder. 

"The Agrarian Crusade" is the designation given by 
Solon J. Buck ^ to the almost three-quarters of a century 
of struggle carried on by agricultural interests in an at- 
tempt to better the relative position of the tiller of the 
soil in the social and economic structure. The name is 
well taken; in the crusades of old, all had a rather clear 
view of their ultimate objective, yet the means and meth- 
ods of accomplishing these ends were all too often but 
poorly understood and unwisely planned. False starts 
were made, blind trails were followed and usually the 
band which started out with such fortitude and zeal dis- 
integrated and fell apart before its purpose had been 
accomplished. But — again paralleling the dauntless cru- 
saders of the 1 2th century — ^there was always another 
leader or group ready, it seemed, to grasp the banner ere 
it fell from the d3ring hand, to take up the struggle and 
push ever onward. 

Throughout these struggles two prime objects have 
always been held in view ; namely, to secure higher re- 
turns for farm products sold, and to curb the rapacity 
of "monopolies." To the farmer of 1870 the railroads, 
the manufacturers of farm machinery, and the bankets 
who held his mortgages represented the chief monopolies 
to be regulated and curbed. The fight to secure the regu- 
lation of railroad rates is a story in itself — ^and a most 
fascinating one. Sometimes the farmers united at the 
polls and elected candidates pledged to give them the de- 
sired laws. Failing in this, on at least two occasions 
farmers' parties were organized for frankly political pur- 

* "The Agrarian Crusade," by Solon J. Buck. 


poses. Sometimes they endeavored to solve their eco- 
nomic problems by going into business themselves. They 
built and operated factories, ran wholesale houses and 
established strings of retail stores. At one time, finding 
the price of crops exceedingly low and the interest rates 
on their mortgages just as high as ever, they conceived 
the interesting plan of solving their difficulties through 
inflation of the currency. More plentiful money would 
raise crop prices, and mortgage interest rates remaining 
stationary could be more easily paid, they said. 

Gradually, step by step, little by little, progress was 
made despite the clumsiness of the weapons with which 
the farmer had to fight at that time. The spirit of prog- 
ress was kept alive, even though the farmers' organiza- 
tions fell by the wayside one after another. These con- 
stant failures might have been expected to point the way 
to a successful organization built on a basis that would 
overcome the weaknesses of its predecessors. But no 
such development took place. Something seemed to be 
lacking. Each succeeding movement represented a mere 
burst of enthusiasm, apparently, and no basis for a great, 
solid, continuous organization was found. Following 
the failure of the Farmers' Alliance the feeling became 
prevalent that "farmers cannot stick together." Many 
felt that such a thing as a single great national farmers' 
organization was impossible. The thought was usually 
dismissed with the remark "the farmer is too much of an 
individualist to cooperate." 

So, for a period of nearly a quarter of a century fol- 
lowing the subsidence of the Farmers' Alliance very little 
was done toward organization on a wide scale. The Na- 
tional Grange gradually regained a portion of its lost 
glory — ^in fact became quite strong again in Ohio, New 


York, Pennsylvania, Maine and a few other states. The 
National Farmers' Union also made some claims to lead- 
ership, but most of the farmers' wrath against existing 
conditions was spent, during the period 1890 to 19 10 in 
more or less sporadic political outbursts and local co- 
operative efforts. 

But all unbeknown to farmer leaders, and quite unin- 
tentionally so far as any thoughts of national organiza- 
tion were concerned, a new force, or rather a new set 
of forces, gradually came into being about the end of 
the first decade of the new century, which was destined 
to lay the foundation for a new and far more powerful 
farmers' organization than any that had previously ex- 
isted. The development of scientific agricultural infor- 
mation, the dissemination of this information through 
schools and through agricultural extension methods final- 
ly led to the advent of the county agricultural agent. 
The County Agent required a local group of farmers 
to work with, and through, and this gradually developed 
into a "farm bureau." The story of this development 
is highly important to any basic understanding of what 
the Farm Bureau Movement is and aims to accomplish, 
but the point to note at this time is that here at last we 
have a type of farmers' organization different from all 
its predecessors and involving organization principles 
which should make for permanence and strength. Just 
what these basic principles are and how they have 
been utilized will appear as we proceed. First, 
however, it will be necessary to acquaint ourselves with 
the background and foundation on which this new and to 
date highly successful organization has been reared. 




IT is difficult for most of us to-day, with our auto- 
mobiles, our good roads, our telephones, our rural 
free mail delivery, our daily papers, and our social 
centers near at hand to realize just what life was like 
on the farm of fifty years ago. From occasional visits 
to isolated bits of country tucked far away here and 
there in some hilly or arid country and still evading the 
onward sweep of progress, we have perhaps gathered 
something of an idea of the simplicity of the rural life 
of that day. There are still certain sections where one 
may go and realize vividly to how great an extent the 
rural resident of that other period was forced to depend 
upon himself and his family and his nearest neighbors 
for all forms of amusement, instruction, and social in- 
tercourse. Seldom do we realize, however, the economic 
conditions under which he labored or the feeling of in- 
jury and resentment which he harbored. 

Immediately following the Civil War the homestead 
movement spread out over the Mississippi Valley terri- 
tory and on into the frontier West with amazing rapidity. 
The introduction of labor-saving machinery coming si- 
multaneously ^ enabled both old and new farmers greatly 
to increase their acreages. The rapid extension of the 

*The McCormick reaper was invented in 1834 but did not come 
into general use until about the time of the Gvil War. 


railways made long distance marketing feasible and the 
result was heavy overproduction and low prices for 
everything which the farmer had to sell. Farmers all 
over the country found it difficult to make a living. In 
the new western lands farms were heavily mortgaged and 
there was no money with which to pay interest. In the 
East and South farmers and planters who formerly had 
been accustomed to live along calmly and contentedly 
in a self-sufficient sort of way, but who had been gradu- 
ally drifting away from the farm-home industry idea 
toward a system of greater specialization, suddenly 
found themselves in a position where they could no 
longer live as self-contained units, yet at the same time 
they were forced into competition with the fresh new 
fields of the West which were shipping in farm products 
at ruinously low prices. 

To make things worse the fluctuations of the currency 
and the high tariffs in effect worked extra hardships upon 
the farmer, who as a producer must sell abroad in compe- 
tition with foreign products and as a consumer of manu- 
factured articles must pay at home the prices made ar- 
bitrarily high by the protective tariff. 

But still another change in the farmers' position had 
come about which caused him no little worry and dis- 
content. From the days of the earliest colonists the 
[best people of the community had been land owners and 
'farmers. There were no large manufacturing plants. 
Even the gunsmith and the carriage maker usually gave 
a portion of their time to the tilling of the soil. The 
farmer was inclined to rank himself somewhat above 
the small shopkeeper and the baker in the social scale. 
Much J^l^is idea still prevailed down to Civil War days. 
But with the influx of immigrants, the rapid extension 


of the railways and the high protective tariff, manufac- 
turing and trading soon made big strides forward. 
Towns grew rapidly, made improvements in living condi- 
tions and took on a superior air. 

While in 1850 the total rural wealth amounted to 
$4,000,000,000^ and urban and miscellaneous wealth 
was rated at only a little over $3,000,000,000, by 1870 
the relations had so changed that city wealth stood at 
$21,000,000,000 and rural wealth was placed at only 
$10,000,000,000. City, wealth was increasing three times 
as fast as farm wealth. Rural population likewise 
showed a steady proportionate decrease in relation to 
urban population. 

The farmer could not but feel that somehow he was 
not receiving a square deal. He was being left behind in 
the economic scheme of things and very naturally he 
blamed the city dweller, who, judging from all external 
appearances, seemed to be growing quite prosperous and 

The name of Oliver Hudson Kelley is ineffaceably 
linked with the Grange. In fact, Mr. Kelley was the 
Grange, its body and soul and all major appurtenances 
thereto, during the first two or three years of its exist- 
ence. In 1866, Kelley, then a clerk in the office of the 
Commissioner of Agriculture at Washington, D. C, was 
sent on a tour of the Southern States to secure "statis- 
tical and other informaiion from those States.'' He was 
so impressed with the distressing conditions noted that 
he determined to take steps to help matters, if possible. 

*U. S. Census figures with added true valuations. ^ -, paX and 
personal property as reported by statistician of the mal City 

Bank, New York. 


It was not merely the farmers' economic difficulties 
which struck Mr. Kelley. Such difficulties were to be 
expected in the South in the adjustment after the Civil 
War. It was rather their blind disposition to do as their 
grandfathers had done, their antiquated methods of 
agriculture, and, most of all, their apathy, which seized 
his mind. Kelley decided that this general situation was 
largely brought about by lack of social opportunities 
which made the existence of the farmer a dull, dread, 
monotony which in time incapacitated him for any 
change or progress in his outlook on life or in his atti- 
tude toward his work. 

Being a member of the Masonic order, the idea struck 
Kelley that some such similar organization adapted to 
farm life and atmosphere might serve to bind farmers 
together for purposes of social intercourse and intellec- 
tual advancement. After some discussion among friends 
and advisers, and following a summer spent in the West 
in farming and thinking over the details of his plan, 
Kelley returned to Washington, this time as a clerk in 
the Post Office Department, and proceeded to put his 
scheme into effect. During the summer and fall of 
1867 Kelley interested six associates in his plans and 
together these seven — "one fruit grower and six govern- 
ment clerks, equally distributed among the Post Office, 
Treasury, and Agricultural Departments" — ^met on De- 
cember 4th, 1867, subscribed to a constitution, adopted 
the motto Este perpetua, and constituted themselves the 
National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry. Wil- 
liam Saunders was made Master ; J. R. Thompson, Lec- 
turer; W. M. Ireland, Treasurer, and O. H. Kelley, 

The purpose of the Grange was declared to be "the 


advancement of agriculture," but it was expected that 
this advancement would come principally through edu- 
cational efforts. To this end the position of Lecturer 
was created, whose chief duty was to provide a social 
and educational program for each meeting, entirely 
aside from the routine of the ritual. 

The first local Grange installed by the National order 
was in Washington. It was made up largely of govern- 
ment clerks and their wives. It was not particularly 
serviceable in advancing practical agriculture, but it did 
perform a valuable service in testing out and improving 
the ritual. In February, 1868, Kelley resigned his clerk- 
ship in the Post Office Department and thenceforth gave 
his whole attention to the development of the new order. 
At that time Mr. Kelley was 42 years of age and a man 
of commanding presence, with full beard tinged with 
white, the high broad forehead of a philosopher, and the 
eager eye of an enthusiast. "An engine with too much 
steam on all the time" was the characterization given by 
one of his friends. 

Kelley's energy and determination stood him in good 
stead, for only an enthusiast could have undergone the 
discouragements and trials that he was forced to meet 
before success finally crowned his efforts. The plan was 
to sell charters and install local Granges wherever in- 
terest could be aroused. From the funds thus derived 
Kelley was to pay his traveling expenses and a salary of 
two thousand dollars per annum. With the authority 
thus vested in him Kelley bought a ticket for Harris- 
burg, and with two dollars and a half in his pocket, 
started out to work his way to Minnesota by organizing 
Granges. He succeeded in selling four dispensations — 
one each for Harrisburg, Columbus, Chicago, and Fre- 


donia, N. Y. A mistake was made right at the start in 
selecting the larger cities. Only the Fredonia Grange 
proved a success. This was established not by personal 
visit but through correspondence with a farmer living 

Kelley soon revised his plans and began to work 
among his neighbors and by correspondence frc«n his 
farm in Minnesota. He was more successful in this but 
progress was discouragingly slow. It was impossible to 
make expenses and have enough left over to make a re- 
spectable salary. It became the hardest kind of a strug- 
gle against financial difficulties. Kelley once wrote : "If 
all great enterprises to be permanent must necessarily 
start from small beginnings, our Order is right. Its 
fotmdation was laid on solid nothing — the rock of pov- 
erty — ^and there is no harder material." Things went 
but poorly with the original unit at Washington. Kel- 
ley's associates began to lose interest and a debt of $150 
was incurred. They looked to Kelley to pay this amount 
and frequently reminded him of that fact. But in spite 
of all difficulties Kelley kept at his task and in his circu- 
lar letters sent out to prospective organizers, bravely kept 
up the fiction of a powerful central organization at the 
nation's capital. 

Finally, in May, 1868, a Grange was established at 
Newton, Iowa. In September the first permanent 
Grange in Minnesota was established at St. Paul through 
the assistance of Colonel D. A. Robertson. 

Colonel Robertson and his associates introduced a 
new note in the organization's literature which was des- 
tined to have important results. Kelley had continued 
to stress the educational appeal and had purposely stayed 
away from legislative and commercial tendencies. 


Colonel Robertson emphasized the idea that the Grange 
offered a means of protection against corporations and 
opportunities for cooperative buying and selling. 

This was something tangible and practical. The farm- 
ers grasped the idea quickly and by the end of 1869 
Minnesota had thirty-seven active Granges. At last the 
Grange had struck its gait and in October, 1870, Kelley 
moved his headquarters to Washington and prepared to 
push organization vigorously. By the end of the year 
nine states had established Granges and negotiations were 
well under way in seven other states. While Granges had 
been established as far east as Vermont and New Jersey 
and as far south as Mississippi and South Carolina, the 
chief field of activities at that time was in Minnesota, 
Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. 

With the way to popular organization appeal once 
pointed out no opportunity was overlooked by the more 
enthusiastic members to capitalize such events and politi- 
cal or economic conditions as might lend themselves read- 
ily to the furtherance of the Order. The spirit of unrest 
and discontent following the Civil War formed an ideal 
seed bed in which the granger movement took root. Dis- 
satisfaction with President Graqt's administration 
brought definite reaction from farmer interests in 1871- 
72 and served to fan the flames of discontent still hotter. 
The period from 1870 to 1873 was peculiarly one of 
prosperity for the commercial, manufacturing, and specu- 
lative interests, and a period of adversity for the farmer. 
This served to bring to white heat the feeling of revolt 
against "monopolies" as most of the larger interests were 
designated. The farmer's special wrath was leveled at 
the railroads, which were just then undergoing frequent 
reorganization and merging. Oftentimes farmer bond- 


holders suffered heavy losses. It was charged that despite 
the fact that the Government had by 1873 given the rail- 
roads about thirty-five millions of acres of land and was 
pledged to give the Pacific roads alone about one hundred 
and forty-five millions more, the roads were levying such 
exorbitant rates as to makfe farm crops unprofitable. When 
the Iowa farmer was obliged to bum corn for fuel, be- 
cause at fifteen cents a bushel it was cheaper than coal, 
while at the same time com was selling for a dollar a 
bushel in the East, he felt, quite naturally, that some- 
thing was wrong. 

When the panic of 1873 came along creditors who had 
hitherto carried farmers' mortgages and other obliga- 
tions willingly, pressed the farmer for payment, at the 
very time when he found it impossible to realize on his 
crops. This was the last straw. The farmer decided that 
every man's hand was against his and that his only hope 
lay in organized combat. 

The real spread of the Order got under way in 1872. 
Where previously there had been only scattered locals, 
territories were organized in solid blocks. States which 
had formerly resisted now rushed in to make up for 
lost time. Membership soon ran high into the hundreds 
of thousands. By the end of 1873 the Grange was or- 
ganized in all but four states of the Union — Connecti- 
cut, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Nevada. By the end 
of the following year more than twenty thousand 
Granges were in existence and more than three-quarters 
of a million members were numbered on the rolls. At one 
time Indiana had one Grange for every 18 square miles, 
or an average of two for every township in the state. 

The seventh annual convention of the National Grange 
was held at St. Louis in February, 1874, and because of 


the widespread interest then manifested in the forward 
sweep of the granger movement, attracted much atten- 
tion and occasioned much comment. Thirty-three men 
and twelve women attended the meetings, representing 
thirty-two state and territorial Granges and more than 
half a million members. At this meeting was adopted the 
"Declaration of Purposes of the National Grange." This 
document has ever since remained the guiding light and 
steering oar of the National Grange and with minor 
modifications was copied by many of the later agricul- 
tural organizations which were soon to come into being. 
■ The general purpose of the Patrons of Husbandry was 
declared to be "to labor for the good of our Order, our 
Country, and Mankind." This, when translated into 
practical terms, was held to include efforts to enhance 
the comforts and attractions of homes, to maintain the 
laws, to advance agricultural and industrial education, to 
diversify crops, to systematize farm work, to establish 
cooperative buying and selling, to suppress personal, lo- 
cal, sectional, and national prejudices, and to discounte- 
nance "the credit system, the fashion system, and every 
other system tending to prodigality and bankruptcy." 
As to business, the Patrons declared themselves enemies 
not of capital but of the tyranny of monopolies, not of 
railroads, but of their high freight rates and monopoly 
of transportation. In politics, also, a rather diplomatic 
position was arrived at; the Grange was not to be a 
political or party organization, but its members were to 
perform their political duties as individual citizens. There 
was nothing, however to prevent the discussion in 
Grange meetings of economic questions which might have 
a political bearing. 

But the Grange, strong as it was and going forward 


by leaps and bounds, could not satisfy everybody. Sc«ne 
farmers objected to the Grange because it was a secret 
organization. Some dissented because it was non-parti- 
san — ^they felt that it should come out frankly on the 
big political questions of the day relating to agriculture. 
Still others believed the Grange was taking too much 
interest in politics and should devote itself more strictly 
to educational and social advancement. . For some the 
Grange seemed too radical; for others, too conservative. 
Thus it is not surprising to learn that at the very time 
that the Grange was going forward most rapidly, many 
other agricultural groups and societies were being organ- 
ized. The most important of these earlier groups were 
the "Farmers' Clubs," at first more or less local and inde- 
pendent, but later consolidated into state associations. 
The chief characteristics differentiating these associa- 
tions from the Grange were their lack of secrecy and tHeir 
avowed political intent. This is important since it marks 
the first definite entrance into politics of the farmer as an 
organized unit. 

During the years 1872 to 1875 the independent farm- 
ers' organizations multiplied much as the Granges did 
and for largely the same reasons. The Middle West was 
the scene of their greatest power. In Illinois the move- 
ment began even before the Grange appeared in the state. 
In states where the Grange had made such headway as 
to make the growth of other organizations difficult, as in 
Iowa and Minnesota, concessions were made to the politi- 
cal urge through the simple plan of adjourning the 
Grange meeting and taking up partisan political matters 
as an independent group. 

At first the farmers hoped, by a show of strength, to 
secure the desired ends through one or both of the old 




parties. Before long, however, they concluded that this 
was impracticable. Professional politicians were not in- 
clined to get behind new and progressive issues which 
were not in accord with the established principles of their 
parties. "Stand pat-ism" seems to have characterized the 
dominant element in politics even at that date. The farm- 
ers realized that they were in for a long hard struggle 
against strongly entrenched commercial and financial 
interests and decided to organize their own political 
party. During 1873 and 1874 this new party was estab- 
lished in eleven Middle Western states. Known by vari- 
ous names in different states — Independents, Reformers, 
Anti-Monopolists, Farmers' Party, and the like — ^these 
organizations all had practically the same platform. Their 
principal demands were; first, the subjection of corpora- 
tions, particularly railroad corporations, to the control of 
the state; and, second, reform and economy in govern- 

This made a platform on which both Grangers ^ and 

* Attempting at first to avoid taking any notice of political or 
politico-economic questions, the National Grange soon found this 
becoming one of the most prominent features of the work and 6y 
1876 a detailed plan of obtaining legislative attention had been 
developed. The plan included a system of petitions to be drawn 
up by the national Master and sent to the state Masters, who in 
turn were to send them to the subordinate Granges for consideration 
and signatures. These signed petitions were then to be returned 
to the national Master for presentation to Congress. In addition 
the national Master was to prepare circular letters to individual 
Congressmen, requesting reports on the progress of legislation 
desired and urging the necessity for action. These letters were, to 
be sent to each state Master to be remailed to the Senators and 
Representatives from their respective states. 

The Grange always insisted upon its non-political character, how- 
ever, and in 1874 thought it necessary to a^ain make plain its 
position on this subject. This the officers did in the following 
words : 

"We emphatically and sincerely assert the oft repeated truth 
taught in our organic law, that the Grange, National, State, or 


farmers' club members could unite — ^in fact, many farm- 
ers belonged to both organizations — ^and so the cam- 
paign against "monopoly'' was inaugurated. We have not 
the space here to tell in detail how the battle opened in 
Illinois in 1870 with a constitutional amendment making 
it mandatory for the state legislature to pass laws 
to prevent extortion and unjust discrimination in rail- 
way charges; how in January, 1873, the Supreme 
Court of that state declared unconstitutional a law passed 
by the legislature of 1871 attempting to carry out the 
provision demanded; how in April of that same year 
the farmers flocked to the state capital and so impressed 
the legislators that they passed a much more stringent 
and effective law for the regulation of railroads, and 
then in the June elections turned out the judge who had 
declared their railroad law unconstitutional and elected 
in his place their own candidate; how the farmers were 
aroused to a white heat through a state-wide campaign 
and in the fall elections completely broke up all party 
lines so far as county politics was concerned; of how 
in many states the Democrats soon combined with the 
Farmer Party, with the notable exception of Missouri 
where the combination was with the old-line Republicans ; 
and finally of how they forced state after state to pass 

Subordinate, is not a political or party organization. No Grange, 
if true to its obligation, can discuss political or religious questions, 
nor call political conventions, nor nominate candidates, nor even 
discuss their merits in its meetings." 

However, it seemed impossible to keep away from the big political 
questions of the day and at the seventeenth annual meeting, in 
1^3, the Grange came out frankly for greater attention to politico- 
economic questions and advocated wide discussion both within 
and without the Grange. Not long thereafter the first Legislative 
Committee was appointed by the Grange to go to Washington and 
further the interests of agricultural legislation. This was as close, 
however, as the Grange ever came to direct action as a political 


legislation regulating the railroads both as to rates and 
as to service, established state railway commissions and 
thus laid the foundation for the establishment of the 
Interstate Commerce Commission. 

As Buck says in his book, "The Agrarian Crusade," 
"The contest between the railroads and the farmer was 
intense while it lasted. The farmers had votes ; the rail- 
roads had money; and the legislators were sometimes be- 
tween the devil and the deep sea in the fear of offending 
one side or the other." The farmers' methods of cam- 
paign were simple. Often questionnaires were distribu- 
ted to all candidates, and only those who went on record 
as favoring railroad restriction were endorsed by the 
farmers' clubs and committees. Agricultural conven- 
tions, sometimes even a meeting of the state Grange, 
would be held at the capital of the State while the legis- 
lature was in session, and "it was a bold legislator who, in f 
the presence of his farmer constituents, would vote against 
the measures they approved." When the railroads in Illi- 
nois refused to lower passenger rates to conform to the 
law, adventurous farmers often attempted to "ride for 
legal fares," giving the trainmen the alternative of ac- 
cepting the low fares or throwing them bodily from the 

The methods of the railroads in dealing with the legis- 
lators were open to severe criticism. Whether or not the 
numerous charges of bribery were true, the railroads did 
undoubtedly distribute favors among legislators disposed 
to favor their interests. In Iowa passes were given only 
to those legislators who voted in the railroad's interests. 
Opportunities were given friendly legislators to buy rail- 
road stocks at prices far below their real value, special 
privileges of various kind were granted and in a variety 


of ways the railroads found means of making it worth 
while for legislators to favor their interests.* 

While farmers' organizations of the period were greatly 
interested in such political questions as inflation of the 
currency, the better distribution of credit facilities, the 
tariff, taxation reforms, Civil Service reforms, and 
economy in government, the keen edge of their fighting 
appetite seems to have been appeased with the succession 
of victories over the railroads and so about the year 1876 
interest in the farmers' political clubs and the Grange, in 
so far as it had been political, began to wane. The politi- 
cal angle of the reform movement was taken over largely 
by the professionals. The farmers' independent political 
parties had not been particularly successful in state poli- 
tics, and national politics was plainly beyond their organ- 
izing ability at that time. But the farmers' progressive 

*The railroad lobby at the 1872 session of the legislature was 
said to have been made up of four able lawyers, who posed as 
farmers and members of the Grange. Near the close of the 
session a resolution was adopted by the Senate as follows: 

Whereas, there has been constantly in attendance on the Senate 
and House of this General Assembly, from the commencement of 
the session to the present time, four gentlemen professing to repre- 
sent the great agricultural interests of the State of Iowa, known 
as the Grange ; and, 

Whereas, these gentlemen appear entirely destitute of any visible 
means of support; therefore be it 

Resolved, by the Senate, the House concurring, that the janitors 
permit aforesaid gentlemen to gather up all the waste paper, old 
newspapers, etc., from under the desks of members, and they be 
allowed one postage stamp each. The American Agriculturtst, 
What Greeley Knows About Farming, and that they be permitted 
to take with them to their homes, if they have any, all the rejected 
railroad tariff bills, Beardsley's speech on female suffrage, Claus- 
sen's reply, Ranson's speech on barnacles, Blakeley's dog bill, 
Teale's liquor bill, and be given a pass over the Des Moines Valley 
railroad, with the earnest hope that they will never return to Des 
Moines. — Senate Journal, 1872. 

So little did the Chicago Tribune understand the true situation 
that it printed an editorial censuring the Iowa senators for treating 
these grangers so badly. 


principles and reform ideas did not lack for experienced 
professional backers and so during the following two 
decades we find the farmer vote supporting in a more 
or less loosely organized way the greenback movement, 
Populism, the People's Party, and then finally practically 
ceasing to exist as a unit with the defeat of William Jen- 
nings Bryan, the Democratic-Populist candidate for Presi- 
dent, in 1896. 

But the Grange had another string to its bow. The 
fight against "monopoly" was taken up along economic 
lines as well as through strictly educational and political 
means. The "middleman" seemed to stand, on the one 
hand, between the farmer and the high prices ultimately 
paid by the consumer for his crops, and on the other 
hand between the farmer and the relatively low manufac- 
turer's price for farm machinery and supplies. To the 
farmer the middleman represented little more than a para- 
site living off the products of the soil and giving but little 
in return. Distribution on a wide scale was at that 
time a relatively new development and the functions of 
the middleman were little understood. Undoubtedly, then 
as to-day, the inefficiencies of the retail system made dis- 
tribution costs unreasonably high. 

Grange stores, usually but not always embodying the 
"Rochdale plan," sprang into existence everywhere and 
soon were doing a thriving business. The buying of farm 
machinery and supplies was pooled into community or- 
ders and special rates obtained from manufacturers or 
wholesalers who could be induced to make this conces- 
sion. Soon these community orders were being grouped 
into county orders and within another year whole states 
were buying farm machinery and certain supplies as a 
single tmit. Manufacturers and dealers who would not 


meet the Grange demands for low prices with former 
selling costs eliminated, were practically forced out of 

Cooperative methods were also applied to the market- 
ing of certain farm crops and cooperative creameries 
and elevators became familiar objects in many states. 
Large storage and sales pooling houses were also estab- 
lished to handle the wool crop and tobacco crop for 
Grange members. 

Incensed at the extension and revival of patents on 
reapers, cultivators and other farm machines and even 
sometimes the fraudulent use of patent rights to secure 
higher prices, the Grange at last decided to enter the 
manufacturing field itself. In Iowa where the Grange 
was particularly strong and had early established an 
agency for cooperative buying, the refusal of harvester 
manufacturers to sell at wholesale prices was met by a 
decision on the part of the Grange to make its own har- 
vester. A patent was purchased and for a time machines 
were manufactured and sold at about one-half what other 
harvesters cost. In 1874 about 250 of these machines 
were made and prospects looked bright. 

Up to this time the officers of the National Grange had 
issued repeated warnings against rapidly embarking upon 
commercial enterprises. Many state officials also frowned 
on the practice and it was usually due solely to his lati- 
tude of individual power that a state agent could go as 
far as was frequently done in undertaking this type of 
activities. But deceived by the apparent success of the 
Iowa Grange in its manufacturing ventures, the National 
Grange decided in 1874 to embark upon the manufacture 
of agricultural implements on a large scale. It had re- 
ceived well over $250,000 that year, in addition to regular 


dues, and it was decided to use this capital in establishing 
factories. A disposition on the part of certain state 
officers to demand distribution of this fund among the 
states was a strong factor in this decision. This plan of- 
fered a means of retaining control of the fund. Grange 
agents went about the country buying up patents and plan- 
ning factories in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illi- 
nois, Indiana, and Kentucky. 

Then came the crash. 

The Iowa harvester factory failed in 1875 ^^d bank* 
rupted the state Grange. Other failures followed. Many 
of the patents purchased were found to be worthless. In- 
fringement suits were brought against the Grange, cen- 
tral wool pooling houses went broke, notably one at Steu- 
benville, Ohio; local Granges disbanded for fear they 
might be held responsible for the debts incurred; and in 
the Northwest, where activity had been greatest, the Or- 
der almost disappeared. 

In 1874 the Grange membership was placed at 268,388, 
and in 1875 ^^ had risen to 858,050, but by 1877 the 
number had dropped down to 124,420. The decline 
continued until about 1895, when the membership num- 
bered barely 100,000. Following this the original 
Grange principles again took hold and slow, gradual prog- 
ress along conservative lines has taken place ever since. 


Following the collapse of the Grange a brief period of 
reaction and disappointment set in, but the hopes of the 
benefits to be derived from organization were too alluring 
to be allowed to die out. Soon we find springing up a 


succession of other organizations embodying many of the 
principles of the Grange and attempting to avoid its mis- 
takes. Most of these organizations took on either at the 
start or shortly thereafter a distinctly political flavor. 

The Alliance — ^first the Texas State Alliance, then the 
Southern Alliance, and soon thereafter the Northwestern 
Alliance — ^began to gain strength about 1885. These or- 
ganizations emphasized the social and political features 
and in the South, particularly, gave much attention to 
cooperative features. An attempt was made in 1889 to 
unite the various Alliance groups into one national or- 
ganization but without full success. 

The St. Louis meeting, at which the attempt at con- 
solidation was made, was nothing short of dramatic in 
its staging and appeal. The attention of the entire 
country was drawn to the proceedings of the Alliance, 
thus giving it added strength and prestige. The major 
feature was the joining of hands with organized Labor 
"for mutual defense and protection as well as for united 
political action." ^ Hon. Terence V. Powderly, then the 
most conspicuous figure in the world of organized labor, 
as leader of the Order of Knights of Labor, addressed the 
Alliance. A committee of his organization headed by 
himself, indorsed the Alliance platform and "for the pur- 
pose of giving practical effect to these demands, the legis- 
lative committees of both organizations agreed to act in 
concert before Congress for the purpose of securing the 
enactment of laws in harmony with the demands mutu- 
ally agreed upon." 

These demands included: the abolition of national 
banks, free coinage of silver, prohibition of dealing in 
futures of all agricultural products, prohibition of alien 

*M. A. Dunning, Farmers' Alliance History. 


ownership of land, equal taxation and reduction of public 
expenditures, fractional paper money for use in mills, 
government ownership and operation of the means of 
communication and transportation. This agreement fur- 
ther stated "in order to carry out its objects, we will sup- 
port for office only such men as can be depended upon to 
enact these principles in statute law, uninfluenced by party 

In the 1890 elections ^ the Alliance made itself strongly 
felt. Dunning says : 

"In this contest the Alliance was no passive factor. It 
made itself both known and felt in many States. Its meth- 
ods differed somewhat in different sections, but the one 
idea of a change of conditions obtained all through the 

"In the South, the Alliance directed its efforts to the 
primaries, while in the North and West it made the fight 
at the polls. In the South the new Alliance principle, 
known as the sub-treasury plan, furnished the basis for 
nearly all contention. The Alliance stood squarely upon 
that measure, and made its provision the gauge of fealty. 
Congressman after congressman who could not stand the 
test was deposed, and a tried Alliance man was put in his 
place. In the West, the St. Louis demands, or compact, 
were made the basis of operations. 

"The history of politics furnished no parallel to the 
campaign in the West, especially in Kansas and Dakota. 

* After these elections forty members of the new Congress were 
pledged to support the demands of the Farmers' Alliance and its 
leaders were said to have selected beforehand the place which 
they wished this group to occupy "on either side of the center 
aisle in the House of Representatives," where they expected to hold 
the balance of power, and to take the place of the "Center" in the 
French Assembly. — F. M. Drew, Political Science Monthly, June, 


Independent candidates were nominated, and a square 
fight was made between the reform element and the old 
political parties. As the campaign advanced, the feeling 
became more bitter and intense. An idea prevailed among 
the members of the order that a failure would prove the 
destruction of the Alliance, and restdt in the complete 
bankruptcy of nearly all its members. Because of this 
belief, the struggle became fierce and strong. Past affili- 
ations were forgotten; party ties were broken; and an 
entirely new political alignment effected. The two old 
parties aided each other where it was possible, and the en- 
tire power of partisan machinery was worked to its ut- 
most capacity. Opposition simply provoked increased 
efforts, and political trickery increased watchfulness, and 
the effective work of the independents continued amid it 
all. Education on economic lines had been doing its per- 
fect work, and the people were filled with a desire to ob- 
tain further information. As a result of this, these re- 
form meetings were the largest political gatherings ever 
seen on this continent. When the end came, and the 
smoke of battle had cleared away, the ground was found 
thickly strewn with the political corpses of the candidates 
of both old parties.*. . . 

"The effects of this political contest will go down to fu- 


* Hamlin Garland called the Populist members in Congress, "The 
Alliance Wedge" and described the nine representatives headed by 
"Sockless" Jerry Simpson of Kansas as a "sort of breakwater 
between the two old parties." In the March, 1892, issue of the 
Arena he said: 

"Great forces are moving. The House of Representatives is a 
smouldering volcano. . . . The young Democrats are almost in open 
rebellion against (the methods and practices of) the old legis- 
lators. . . . The Republicans are apprehensive, — almost desperate. 
Place holders are beginning to tremble, but in the midst of it all, 
the men who are advocating right and justice instead of policy, 
sit ready for the discussion and eager for the struggle. They have 
everything to win and nothing to lose in the vital discussion and 
reorganization which in their judgment is sure to come. They 
have a fixed purpose, which is to push for the relief of the people" 


ture generations. It marked an apoch in the history of 
American politics. It was a deserved rebuke to old party 
methods, and a rugged notice that conditions must be 

Shortly after the elections in the Fall of 1890 the Alli- 
ance held what was perhaps its most famous convention. 
This was held at Ocala, Florida, and the "Ocala Plat- 
form" is still referred to as embodying most of the prin- 
ciples for which organized agriculture is fighting. Dun- 
ning reflects the atmosphere of the occasion when he says : 

"This was doubtless one of the most important gath- 
erings, in many respects, that was ever held on Ameri- 
can soil. . . . Following, as it did, immediately after the 
close of a political campaign of remarkable surprises, it 
was compelled to bear a burden of pressure from both the 
old parties — one being driven by disaster to the verge 
of despair, and the other elated by success to the point of 
dictatorial assumption. The Republican party hoped that 
the meeting would result in certain indiscretions which 
would break the power of the Alliance, and permit that 
party to regain its waning strength. The Democratic 
party was anxious to have the Alliance recede from its 
advanced position on economic questions, in order to 
make cooperation more probable. Again, there was a 
strong element from the West demanding independent 
action, and at the same time showing as a result of such a 
movement, the fruits of the last election. This was met 
by a conservative force largely from the South, but really 
from nearly all the States represented, which considered 
it unwise and untimely. The wily politician was there 
also, and as usual dangerous to all honest purposes ; the 
traitor and breeder of discord was not wanting ; and the 
coward could be occasionally met with. . . . 

"For weeks and months certain newspapers and indi- 


viduals had been poisoning the minds of the brotherhood 
with slanderous assaults upon certain members of the 
Order, whose downfall would best serve the purposes of 
the politician of either party, and prepare the way for 
the overthrow of the Order, if possible/' 

The leaders were, however, able to steer a moderately 
conservative, middle course and all factions were united 
on a strong platform not greatly different from the St. 
Louis platform. Labor, apparently, had no active part 
in this meeting, however. 

With such an excellent start it is rather difficult to tm- 
derstand just why the Alliance failed so completely within 
a few years thereafter. One clue is given, however, in the 
treasurer's report for 1890. The entire gross receipts 
for the year were $13,530.55 and. of this only $11,231.27 
were from membership fees. And this at a time when 
more than a million farmers were in some way or other 
"affiliated" with the Alliance! At five cents each — the 
amount set aside for the national organization — ^this 
should have amounted to not less than $50,000.00. The 
Alliance was not a closely organized, business-like group. 
While it was the originator and parent of numerous co- 
operative enterprises, and while it undoubtedly moved its 
members to a great expression of political strength, the 
national organization was litttle more than the equivalent 
of the machinery to handle an annual convention and 
maintain certain inexpensive lines of educational propa- 
ganda between times. It evidently had but little control 
lover the state units and when internal quarrels arose, co- 
'operative ventures failed, and political dissentions created 
strife, the central organization with its weak treasury 
found itself helpless and drifting. While the Alliance 
continued to exercise political power in a more or less dis- 


organized way for several years later — ^in fact was the 
forerunner and chief mainstay of the "People's Party*' 
of 1892 — ^its usefulness as an agricultural organization 
may be said to have ended about 1890. 


Another organization which gained considerable head- 
way in the middle 8o's was the Agricultural Wheel. This 
organization came into being in Prairie County, Arkan- 
sas, in 1882, and soon expanded into a state-wide or- 
ganization. An amalgamation was effected with a still 
different agricultural order, known as the Brothers of 
Freedom, and then began the campaign in nearby states. 
Tennessee and Kentucky were soon interested and in 
1886 the National Agricultural Wheel was established. 
By November, 1887, eight states had organized in the 
Southwest and enrolled a total membership of half a 

The desirability of consolidation with the Alliance soon 
became evident to all since both were making rapid growth 
in the same territory and along almost identical lines. 
Such a consolidation was effected in 1888 and the com- 
bined order was known as the Farmers' and Laborers' 
Union of America. Later this name was changed to the 
National Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union. 


In the story of the "Farmers' Union" we have, in a 
general way, a repetition of the history of the Grange 



and the Alliance, although the Farmers' Union never at- 
tained to the prominence and power of the other groups 

Foimded in 1902 under the leadership of Mr. Newt 
Gresham of Emory, Texas, who "determined to make at 
least one desperate effort in behalf of the farmers of 
his neighborhood," the movement exhibited much of the 
old spirit of enthusiasm and is said to have spread with 
lightning rapidity "as if the hand of Newt Gresham had 
rubbed the Genii lamp of loyalty . . . and an Aladdin 
army of militant men, with a deadly concentration of 
purpose that would brook no denial, had come into almost 
instant existence." ^ 

Threatened during the first year with bankruptcy, the 
Union was able in 1903 to save the farmers of Rains 
County, Texas, about $6,000 through what was known 
as the "ginners' contract." Nearly $500 was also saved 
by collective shipping of cotton seed. Through these and 
other successes the organization grew to state proportions 
and then soon spread to other states. Its membership 
fees were low, its promises large, and soon the farmers 
flocked to join. The movement spread from the gulf 
region north and east to Maryland on the one hand and 
westward to California and Washington on the other 

To a considerable extent the Union was built upon the 
ruins of the Farmers' Alliance. In thousands of com- 
munities the locals of the wrecked Alliance still existed as 
independent units and when the organizers of the Farm- 
ers' Union came along, offered them a state and national 
affiliation, and invited them to join in another crusade, 
they eagerly accepted. 

* Charles S. Barrett, "Mission, History and Times of the Farm- 
ers* Union." 


This plan of organization made for rapid growth and 
by 1909 the Union claimed a large membership. 

By 1 9 14 the Union was well established in twenty 
states of the South and Mid-West, and in Oregon and 
Washington in the Northwest. 

The constitution began with the statement, 

'^Speculators and those engaged in the distribution of 
farm products have organized and operate to the great 
detriment of the farming class. 

''To enable farmers to meet these conditions and pro- 
tect their interests, we have organized the Farmers' Edu- 
cational and Cooperative Union of America and declare 
the following purposes : 

"To secure equity, establish justice and apply the Gol- 
den Rule. 

"To discourage the credit mortgage system. 

"To assist our members in buying and selling. 

"To educate the agricultural classes in scientific farm- 

"To teach farmers the classification of crops, domestic 
economy, and marketing methods. 

"To systematize methods of production and distri- 

"To eliminate gambling in farm products by Boards of 
Trade, cotton exchanges, and other speculators. 

"To bring farming up to the standard of other indus- 
tries and businesses. 

"To secure and maintain profitable and uniform prices 
for cotton, grain, livestock, and other products of the 

"To strive for harmony and good will among all man- 
kind and brotherly love among ourselves. 

"To gamer the tears of the distressed, the blood of the 
martyrs, the laughter of innocent childhood, the sweat 
of honest labor, and the virtue of a happy home as the 
brightest jewels known." 


The new Union thought to avoid the errors which had 
injured or destroyed earlier organizations of fanners. 
Dues were arranged with much thought and "in the most 
democratic manner possible." 

Many newspapers, inspired by organized capital as 
represented in the cotton trust and other similar groups, 
seized every opportunity to undermine the foundations of 
the young but flourishing organization. Politicians, too, 
came into the organization for their own purposes and it 
became necessary to discipline certain locals. A local 
union in Mississippi which endorsed a political candidate 
had its charter revoked by the State President. The 
charter of the first local in Texas was also abrogated for 
similar reasons. 

The Union emphasized the cooperative and other eco- 
nomic features rather than the social and educational. 
Cooperative stores in considerable numbers were owned 
and in 1910 the Farmers' Union had a "system of ware- 
houses in every cotton-growing state in the South." ^ 
It was claimed that there were more than a thousand cot- 
ton warehouses under Union Control where the farmers 
stored their crops and on occasions held them for fair 
values. The aim was for the cotton farmers, through 
their association to keep absolute control of the crop until 
it reached the spinners either in Europe or at home.^ 

* Charles S. Barrett, "Mission, History and Times of the Farm- 
ers' Union." 

'The cotton brokers made every effort to retain their position 
between the cotton producer and the English spinner and contended 
that the cotton farmers of the southern states were not able to do 
business without the intervention of some great speculative com- 
pany between producer and consumer. Said one of the state bu|i- 
ness agents in the South when the warehousing system was at its 
height, "When we see otir cotton at the ports with great holes cut 
between all the ties and at least ten per cent of its original net 
weight gone, the shortage having been made up with old coffee 


A great variety of cooperative enterprises was started. 
In fact President Charles S. Barrett has for some years 
had a "standing offer of $1,000 to any one who can name 
a cooperative undertaking of an agricultural nature which 
the Union has not tried." The Union undoubtedly did a 
great deal of good in bringing better conditions in the 
South. In Kansas and Nebraska excellent progress has 
been made in the cooperative selling of grains and live- 
stock through the state Union organizations. The Ne- 
braska Union in 1920 did a total business of more than 
one hundred millions of dollars. In Kansas this work has 
been fostered by Mr. Maurice McAuliffe and in Nebraska 
by C. H. Gustafson. It is significant that the organiza- 
tions in these two states and in Virginia and Texas where 
similar local cooperative and educational activities are 
prominent, make up about all the large units that are now 
left in the National Farmers' Union. 

There has always been much speculation and indefinite- 
ness about the total strength of the Union membership. 
The popular idea has been — ^and it must be stated that 
this was encouraged by its officers — ^that at the period 
of the greatest popularity from two to three million mem- 
bers belonged to the Union, and even yet a claim of half 
a million members is made. Keen observers of the period 
believe, however, that owing to the looseness of organiza- 
tion it was probably never possible to correctly count the 
active membership and that 400,000 would liberally repre- 
sent all the actual dues-paying members ever in the Na- 

sacks or anjrthing they could get hold of to bring it up to its 
original weight, there is little wonder that European spinners 
condemn tiie condition of American cotton as received in Europe.'' 
This agent quotes a significant remark of a cotton speculator that 
he "would rather have the 'rake off' between the gin and the port 
than the entire profit made upon the cotton crop." It was the 
alleged "rake off" that the Union sought to prevent 


tional organisation at any one time. In 191 9, when the 
popular assumption of a membership of more than half a 
million was current, the treasurer's report showed an in- 
come representing 23,201 members in the South and 
102,949 in the North, the latter mostly in Kansas, 
Nebraska, and Iowa. 

The graph on page 35 showing the actual paid-up 
membership from year to year, based on the treasurer's 
report of dues received, does not give a true picture of 
the course of the Farmers' Union. It might appear from 
this graph that the organization history of the Union 
differs from that of the preceding organizations, and that 
after the first moderate reaction following the early en- 
thusiasm the organization settled down to a steady, con- 
stant numerical strength. A careful study of the state 
membership figures discloses that this is not the case. 
The membership was constantly dropping out and it was 
only the inflow of membership from one new state after 
another that maintained the apparent level. In other 
words the course of development has been in the nature 
of a wave starting in the South and slowly covering one 
state after another in its northward and westward move- 
ment, but each year losing in the older states all it gained 
in the newer states. 

Thus while in 1909 Arkansas paid into the national 
treasury $1,860, by 1913 this amount had dropped to 
$519. Georgia, similarly, dropped from $1,180 to $493 
during the same period and continued to decline there- 
after. On the other hand North Carolina which paid 
only $800 into the national treasury in 1909 was paying 
$4,762 in 191 3, and Nebraska jumped from notWng in 
1909 to $3,055 in 1913. 

Some of the Union's difficulties are indicated in the 

is g S I s s 

§ I s s s 

-— s li 
a If 

9 ^ ^p" 


following picturesque, but typical, extracts from an ad- 
dress given by its President, Mr. Barrett, in 1909: 

*'Our ranks contain some of the noblest and purest 
hearted and ablest men in the country. They also contain 
some of the gravest, shrewdest, and most consummate 
villains who have managed to escape the penitentiary. 
For one hundred of our members who do not know the 
meaning of a lie, there are at least one who could give 
the devil cards and spades and beat him hand running. 
They have Ananias hopelessly distanced. They make 
Machiavelli, whose sinister motto was that "the end jus- 
tifies the means," seem like a cooing babe. One reason 
they are not to-day wearing ball, chain and stripes is that 
they can run just a little faster than the detective and 
the sheriff. 

"There are moles within the organization, and they have 
able and willing assistants on the outside, who are not 
only mole-like in their nature and operations, but often- 
times resemble as well the jackal and the lion. Some of 
them are politicians, running the gamut from governors, 
governor-elect, senators, representatives and heads of 
Government departments, to candidates for dog-catcher. 

"A good many of them, the majority perhaps, are 
scheming business men. You might call them the modem 
pirates of commerce. They are as cruel, a great deal 
more cunning, I will admit braver, and equally as re- 
sourceful as the black-bearded gentry under Hawke and 
Kidd, who terrorized the seas for so many years. . . . 

"They have made up their minds, these men, that 
'suckers' must pay the freight. They are anxious and 
able to move the heavens above, the earth beneath, and 
the waters under the earth to compass this and other 
ends. They do not balk at perjury. Falsification they 
have made into a fine art. Dishonesty they believe to be 
the best policy. And as far as brains are concerned, they 


can command in their own presence, or through their 
purses, the ablest talent in the nation/' 

The Union's plan of organization was too nearly like 
that of the Alliance to make for permanency. It did suc- 
ceed admirably in keeping fairly clear of politics. It made 
economic effort its basis of appeal. This in itself has 
never proved a satisfactory basis for a national agricul- 
tural organization. It can be but sectional at best, since 
crop interests are sectional. If the cooperative effort 
fails, it seems almost certain to carry the parent organiza- 
tion with it; and if it succeeds it is likely to become so 
strong as to ignore the overhead organization which 
helped to bring it into being. In either case the national 
organization suffers unless it is strong and in position 
to offer services not possible in the sectional, commodity- 
handling group. 


Here and there a farmers' organization has made a 
success on a state-wide basis throughout a long term of 
years. Because of the contrast with the fate of the larger, 
more ambitious organizations, no less than because of 
their intrinsic value to the states affected, several of these 
groups deserve special mention. 

The Ancient Order of Gleaners was founded in Michi- 
gan in 1894 by Grant Slocum and several associates. It 
resembles the Grange somewhat in its form of organiza- 
tion, ritual, and lines of work. It has, however, given 
continuous and consistent attention to cooperative mar- 
keting of farm products and purchasing of supplies and 


has built up rather extensive business undertakings. In 
1907 the Gleaner Clearing House Association was or- 
ganized with $40,000 capitalization, the stock being held 
by some 1,500 members. Each local has a clearing house 
manager and sometimes a branch clearing house, through 
which any member or local may make shipments to the 
central clearing house. A branch was established at Chi- 
cago. Elevators have been built, and insurance has been 
made a prominent feature of the Order. The Gleaners 
claimed to be the oldest and (in 19 18) the largest farmers* 
cooperative organization in the Middle West. In 1919 
the Gleaners numbered a total of about 85,000 members, 
74,000 of whom were in Michigan. On Detroit's busiest 
thoroughfare the Gleaners have erected what is probably 
the most beautiful office building in the world owned by 
farmers. It is of stone and patterned after the Greek 
"Temple of Victory" at Athens. 


The American Society of Equity was established in 
several states centering around Illinois and Wisconsin, 
about the beginning of the new century. The Farmers' 
Society of Equity split off from the parent organization 
some years later and now has branches in several states. 
The Farmers' Equity Union is also an outgrowth of the 
original Equity movement but of later origin than the 
Farmers' Society of Equity. All these organizations 
make cooperative effort the central feature of their pro- 
grams but the fraternal and educational features are not 

At one time the officers of the American Society of 


Equity boasted of nearly 200,000 members. By 19 14, 
however, the organization had become so disrupted that 
the membership dwindled down to a very small number. 
In 19 18,* Wisconsin, the stronghold of the ^'Equity move- 
ment" had only 6,000 members. The following year, 
however, more aggressive management took charge and 
taking advantage of the important issues that arose from 
the war period a membership given as 40,000 was achieved. 
Internal disturbances resulting in splits and on several oc- 
casions in the establishment of independent organizations, 
have prevented the Equity group from attaining much real 
national importance. 

The Equity groups deserve much credit for developing 
cooperative effort on a sound, though relatively small 
basis at a time when the reaction from the failures of the 
earlier farm organizations had created the feeling that 
farmers would never again be able to successfully or- 
ganize along economic lines. 

The Equity Union, under the leadership of C O. 
Drayton, of Greenville, Illinois, has made a slow but 
steady growth along lines so unique as to deserve special 
mention. A local organization will not be established 
unless a minimum of 200 farmers will sign up and each 
subscribe to a $200 share in some local cooperative enter- 
prise. The local needs are then studied and a type of 
cooperative enterprise started which will best meet the 
needs of that community. The aggregate of these co- 
operative investments under the Equity Union to-day 
totals many millions of dollars. 

* Wisconsin Equity News, Aug. 13, ipig. 



A REVIEW of agricultural affairs in the latter half 
of the last century cannot fail to strike one with 
astonishment at the amazing spontaneity of state- 
wide, and even nation-wide, organization among farmers, 
and with the tenacity and perseverance with which farm- 
ers held to the organization idea in the face of the most 
disheartening failures. 

No such activity along organization lines was shown 
prior to the Civil War, neither was it strongly in evi- 
dence during the fifteen years following 1895. What im- 
pelled farmers to organize in the 70's and 8o's and why 
did this movement subside in the middle 90's only to 
reappear again about 1910, and in an entirely different 
form but with amplified strength a few years thereafter? 
When we look across the seas we find that this same 
phenomenon was world-wide. An English observer ^ in 
1893 said: 

"Almost everywhere, certainly in England, France, Ger- 
many, Italy, Scandinavia, and in the United States, the 
agriculturists, so instinctively conservative, are becoming 
fiercely discontented, they declare they have gained less 
by civilization than the rest of the community, and are 
looking about for remedies of a drastic nature. In Eng- 

* The Spectator, Vol. LXX, p. 247. 



land they are hoping for aid from councils of all kinds; 
in France they have put on protective duties which have 
been increased in vain twice over; in Germany they put 
on and relaxed similar duties and are screaming for them 
again; in Scandinavia — Denmark more particularly — 
they limit the aggregation of land; and in the United 
States they create organizations like the Grangers, the 
Farmers' Leagues, and the Populists." ^ 

So far as the American farmer is concerned the ex- 
planation offered by Buck^ apparently gives a satisfac- 
tory imder standing of the impelling motive which brought 
about the organizing activities of the 70's and 8o's : 

"Prior to about 1870 American history appears to have 
had two distinguishing and characteristic features to 
which nearly everything else can be related. In the first 
place it was the history of the occupation of a continent 
by a civilized people; and, secondly, it was the history 
of a struggle between two incompatible social and eco- 
nomic systems established in the two g^eat sections of the 
country (the North and the South). One of these fea- 
tures passed into the background with the Civil War and 
reconstruction, the other with the practical disappearance 
a few years later of land suitable to the purposes of 

*It is pertinent to recall here Ward's research discovery that 
numerous agricultural organizations existed before the Christian 
era, as confirmed by the indisputable evidence of inscriptions on 
ancient tombs and tablets; that they were of sufficient importance 
to have their protests and demands heeded and complied with; 
and that they were as far in advance of all but the most recent of 
American rural organizations as to have "actually confederated with 
the trades-unions in matters of mutual benefit. . . ." "It is a fact 
worthy of note, however, that from the beginning of the Christian 
era to the present (19th) century, no trace of agricultural organiza- 
tions can be found.'' This is in marked contrast with the fact that 
since 700 B. C. trades-unions have existed continuously up to the 
present time and in the 17th century, as "guilds" attained promi- 
nent economic and social importance. 

* Solon J. Budc« "The Granger Movement." 


the individual pioneer. Before the Civil War there had 
been no great accumulations and combinations of wealth; 
but the industrial stimulus of the war, the development of 
the corporate idea, and the great advance in the applied 
sciences brought such accumulations and combinations 
rapidly to the front, while the disappearance of the fron- 
tier closed a door of opportimity which had previously 
been open to the oppressed and discontented. The re- 
sult was a tendency toward protective and cooperative 
organization along class lines, of which the labor move- 
ment is one aspect, and the farmers' movement another. 
The Grangers organized to fight this "greater capitalism" 
wherever it made its appearance. They saw it in the 
great railroad corporations, and they strove to subject 
them to public control; they saw it in politics, and they 
organized independent parties to oust it; they saw it in 
great industrial establishments and their agents, the mid- 
dlemen, and they established cooperative enterprises in 
the endeavor to restore their economic independence. The 
Greenbackers and the Populists believed that the strong- 
hold of this greater capitalism was in the monetary sys- 
tem of the country, and they proposed to break its power 
by the issue of fiat money. Thus in one form or another 
the struggle has .been carried on by agricultural organiza- 
tions, by labor unions, and by political parties, or factions 
within political parties, until it seems to have culminated 
in a nation-wide movement for political, social, and eco- 
nomic reform." 

It was simply the same old story over again, of a 
people or a class cornered and harassed to the point where 
they began to strike back. They used the only tools 
they found at hand; namely, combination and coopera- 
tion. In this they had a good example through observa- 
tion of the power and force secured by combinations of 


capital and management on the part of commercial and 
financial interests — ^the very groups they sought to fight. 

As is nearly always the case where pent-up feelings 
finally burst through, radical remedies are suggested and 
very often carried into immediate effect. The guillotin- 
ing of the French aristocracy in the wild days of the 
French Revolution was a "radical" means of remedying 
the acute and plainly obvious shortcomings of the gov- 
ernment of Louis the Sixteenth, but it is the penalty con- 
trolling groups have to pay for their obstinacy and stu- 
pidity in refusing to heed the calls of the common people 
when they ask for relief. A river dammed up, finaJly 
breaks through and often sweeps out the dam and every- 
thing before it. 

Most of the agrarian movements that started in the 
70's were hysterical, almost fanatical in many instances, 
particularly when a group here and there began to taste 
of the powers of combination. The Grange which started 
as a conservative, educational and social organization was 
seized upon as a vehicle to carry forward the farmers' 
political and economic fight and, as we have seen, was 
wrecked thereby. In fact, the Grange never regained its 
strength until it returned to approximately its original 

With loosely organized units, inexperienced leaders, 
and radicalism rampant, it was but natural that mistakes 
should be made and dissatisfaction and jealousies creep in. 
The farmers' natural love for liberty and individuality 
of expression accounts largely for the vast number of 
rival organizations that sprang up. This so divided and 
confused the farmers' strength and unity of action that 
it was only on the great central thought of governmental 
relief and reform of one kind or another that the farmers 


of the period could unite. This nattu*ally expressed itself 
best tlu'ough political parties later organized and devel- 
oped by professional politicians. This development served 
to break up the farmers' organizations as such and focus 
attention on political campaigns. 

The farmers' hopes, embodied in the People's Party- 
Democratic Party fusion candidate, William Jennings 
Bryan, were built up to a high peak in 1896. The disas- 
trous panic period of low prices in 1893 had made the 
farmer even more bitter than ever against existing con- 
ditions. His agricultural and cooperative organizations 
had gone to pieces one after another in rapid succession 
and now they proposed to place their entire hope and re- 
liance on the outcome of the election. Marcus A. Hanna, 
the real leader of the opposing party, was an almost per- 
fect illustration of the type of man whom the farmers had 
been fighting — a, man of great wealth who prosecuted 
his business deals ruthlessly and deliberately used politics 
as a means of furthering his business interests. William 
McKinley, his close personal friend and neighbor, was 
recognized as simply a tool in Hanna's hands. Hanna 
knew him to be "safe" and as putty in his hands. Feeling 
ran extremely high. Class lines were drawn closer and 
closer as the campaign advanced. Toward the end the 
Populist executive committee issued the following state- 

**There are but two sides in the conflict that is being 
waged in this country to-day. On the one side are the 
allied hosts of monopolies, the money power, great trusts, 
and railroad corporations, who seek the enactment of laws 
to benefit them and impoverish the people. On the other 
side are the farmers, laborers, merchants, and all others 
who produce wealth and bear the burdens of taxation. 


The one represents the wealthy and powerful classes who 
want the control of the Government to jrfunder the people. 
The other represents the people, contending for equality 
before the law, and the rights of man. Between these 
two there is no middle ground." 

At the end of what was the most bitterly contested cam- 
paign since Lincoln's time the Republican Party won by 
a narrow majority — some 500,000 votes. 

The Farmers' Party was wrecked and the farmer felt 
that he had been thwarted in still another effort to secure 
reforms. With his organizations, both economic and 
political, almost completely destroyed after two decades 
of continuous struggle, with farm crop prices at low 
levels, with burdens of debt hanging over him, and with 
what he believed to be his enemies in the saddle, it is not 
surprising that the farmer was discouraged. Organiza- 
tion was at a standstill for many years. It was not until 
toward the end of the first decade in the new century that 
the organizing spirit again made any material headway. 

Two other circumstances contributed materially to this 
period of dormancy in agricultural organization. Prices 
of farm crops began to rise about 1900 and a period of 
unusual prosperity set in on the farm. Fully as impor- 
tant, however, was the fact that at last the political party 
in power had awakened to the demands of the farmer 
and had brought about many of the reforms and adopted 
many of the progressive measures he had been demanding 
for years. Some of the proposals of the People's Party 
that had been most ridiculed were the first adopted by the 
party in power. Regulation of railroads by national and 
state government, popular election of United States Sena- 
tors, rural free delivery of mails, parcels post, postal 
savings banks. Federal improvement of roads, anti-trust 


legislation, a Federal land bank system, and even greater 
flexibility of the currency have all been brought about in 
the relatively short period since 1896 and as a direct 
result of the spirit of progressiveness started by the pro- 
longed agitation of the agricultural group. 

This was the period in which the expression "farmers 
won't cooperate" was heard on every side and was reit- 
erated so many times, even by farmers themselves, that it 
became rather the generally accepted view. Many de- 
spaired of ever establishing in America any cooperative 
system comparable to that of Denmark, for instance, 
which was even then a long established success and 
credited with having worked an economic revolution for 
the betterment of agriculture in that land. 

In deploring the lack of the cooperative spirit among 
farmers, in 1908, L. H. Bailey pointed to the prevalence 
of tenancy and to the farmer's disposition to "sell out and 
move West" as prime reasons for this lack of community 
cohesion and adds: 

"Even when permanently settled, the farmer does not 
easily combine with others for financial or social better- 
ment. The training of generations has made him a*^ 
strong individualist, and he has been obliged to rely 
mainly on himself. Self-reliance being the essence of 
his nature he does not at once feel the need of coopera- 
tion for business purposes or of close association for 
social objects (as does his European brothers). In the 
main, he has been prosperous, and has not felt the need 
of cooperation. If he is a strong man, he prefers to de- 
pend on his own ability. If he is ambitious for social 
recognition, he usually prefers the society of the town 
to that of the country. If he wishes to educate his chil- 
dren, he avails himself of the schools of the city. He 
does not as a rule dream of a rural organization that 


can supply as ccHnpletely as the city the four great re- 
quirements of man — ^health, education, occupation, so- 
ciety. While his brother in the city is striving by mov- 
ing out of the business section into the suburbs to get as 
much as possible of the country in the city, he does not 
dream that it is possible to have most that is best of the 
city in the country." 

Discussing the same subject, Kenyon L. Butterfield, 
President of Massachusetts Agricultural College, said : ^ 
"Among no class of people is individualism so rampant 
as among farmers. For more than a century the Ameri- 
can farmer led the freest possible social life. His inde- 
pendence was his glory. But when the day of coopera- 
tion dawned, he found himself out of tune with the move- 
ment, was disinclined to join the ranks of organized ef- 
fort, and he prefers even yet his personal and local inde- 
pendence to the truer freedom that can be secured only 
through cooperative endeavor." 

The baneful influence of the cities in constantly draw- 
ing away from the country its best blood — in its most 
active and ambitious young men — soon became recog- 
nized also, and finally a few of the keenest statesmen real- 
ized and enunciated the principle which must be the guid- 
ing thought in any plan for the betterment of agriculture, 
namely, that country life must be made so attractive both 
as to material returns and as to social advantages as to 
offer inducements that can compete with those of the 
city. Sunshine and blue sky are fine as a starter, and 
every true son of the soil values them dearly, but they 
are not a complete and satisfying substitute for a bath- 
room with nmning water and a little ready money in 
the bank. 

'Giapters of Rural Progress, Kenyon L. Butterfield, 1908. 


It also eventually became apparent to a few of the fore- 
most leaders that the city should be no less interested in 
the welfare of the agricultural population than should the 
latter be in themselves. It began to dawn upon manu- 
facturers and merchants that the farmer is their best cus- 
tomer and that the more prosperous and satisfied he is, 
the more business and profits they will realize. 

The business man is not ordinarily an altruist, but 
he must be given full credit for the courage to back his 
interests with his dollars — even though it takes a long 
look ahead to see returns. So about the beginning of 
the new century for the first time we see the city and 
the country beginning to imite in an effort to better farm- 
ing conditions. 

President Theodore Roosevelt, always forward looking, 
always resourceful, and always S3mipathetic with country 
life, in 1908 conceived the idea of conducting a survey 
and investigation to ascertain just what could be done 
to improve matters and if possible inject a little enthusi- 
asm into the country life movement. 

Because President Roosevelt's letter in which he asked 
Professor Bailey to serve upon this "Commission on 
Country Life," sets forth so well the conditions of the 
period and the spirit of progress pervading, we give it 
practically in full : 

The White House 

Oyster Bay, N. Y. 
August 10, 1908. 
My dear Professor Bailey : 

No nation has ever achieved permanent greatness tm- 
less this greatness was based on the well-being of the 
great farmer class, the men who live on the soil; for it 


is upon their welfare, material and moral, that the wel- 
fare of the rest of the nation ultimately rests. In the 
United States, disregarding certain sections and taking 
the nation as a whole, I believe it to be true that the farm- 
ers in general are better off to-day than they ever were 
before. We Americans are making great progress in the 
development of our agricultural resources. But it is 
equally true that the social and economic institutions of 
the open country are not keeping pace with the develop- 
ment of the nation as a whole. The farmer is, as a rule, 
better off than his forebears; but his increase in well- 
being has not kept pace with that of the country as a 
whole. While the condition of the farmers in some of 
our best farming regions leaves little to be desired, we 
are far from having reached so high a level in all parts 
of the country. In portions of the South, for example, 
where the Department of Agriculture, through the farm- 
ers' cooperative demonstration work of Doctor Knapp, 
is directly instructing more than thirty thousand farmers 
in better methods of farming, there is nevertheless much 
unnecessary suffering and needless loss of efficiency on 
the farm. A physician, who is also a careful student of 
farm life in the South, writing to me recently about 
the enormous percentage of preventable deaths of chil- 
dren due to the unsanitary condition of Southern farms, 

"Personally, from the health point of view, I would 
prefer to see my own daughter, nine years old, at work 
in a cotton mill, than have her live as tenant on the aver- 
age Southern tenant one-horse farm. This apparently 
extreme statement is based upon actual life among botii 
classes of people." 

I doubt if any other nation can bear comparison with 
our own in the amount of attention given by the gov- 
ernment, both federal and state, to agricultural matters. 
But practically the whole of this effort has hitherto been 


directed toward increasing the production of crops. Our 
attention has been concentrated almost exclusively on get- 
ting better farming. In the beginning this was unques- 
tionably the right thing to do. The farmer must first 
of all grow good crops in order' to support himself and 
his family. But when this has been secured, the effort 
for better farming should cease to stand alone, and 
should be accompanied by the effort for better business 
and better living on the farm. It is at least as important 
that the farmer should get the largest possible return in 
money, comfort, and social advantages from the crops 
he grows, as that he should get the largest possible re- 
turn in crops from the land he farms. Agriculture is 
not the whole of country life. The great rural interests 
are human interests, and good crops are of little value to 
the farmer unless they open the door to a good kind of 
life on the farm. 

This problem of country life is in the truest sense a 
national problem. In an address delivered at the Semi- 
centennial of the Founding of Agricultural Colleges in 
the United States a year ago last May, I said: 

"There is but one person whose welfare is as vital to 
the welfare of the whole country as' is that of the wage- 
worker who does manual labor; and that is the tiller of 
the soil — ^the farmer. If there is one lesson taught by 
history it is that the permanent greatness of any state 
must ultimately depend more upon the character of its 
country population than upon anything else. No growth 
of cities, no growth of wealth, can make up for loss in 
either the number or the character of the farming popu- 

"The farm grows the raw material for the food and 
clothing of all our citizens; it supports directly almost 
half of them ; and nearly half the children of the United 


States are bom and brought up on the farms. How can 
the life of the farm family be made less solitary, fuller of 
opportunity, freer from drudgery, more comfortable, hap- 
pier, and more attractive ? Such a result is most earnestly 
to be desired. How can life on the farm be kept on the 
highest level, and where it is not already on that level, 
be so improved, dignified and brightened as to awaken 
and keep alive the pride and loyalty of the farmer's boys 
and girls, of the farmer's wife, and of the farmer him- 
self? How can a compelling desire to live on the farm 
be aroused in the children that are bom on the farm ? 
All these questions are of vital importance not only to 
the farmer, but to the whole nation. 

"We hope ultimately to double the average yield of 
wheat and com per acre ; it will be a great achievement ; 
but it is even more important to double the desirability, 
comfort, and standing of the farmer's life." 

It is especially important that whatever will serve to 
prepare country children for life on the farm, and what- 
ever will brighten home life in the country and make it 
richer and more attractive for the mothers, wives and 
daughters of farmers should be done promptly, thor- 
oughly and gladly. There is no more important person, 
measured in influence upon the life of the nation than the 
farmer's wife, no more important home than the country 
home, and it is of national importance to do the best we 
can for both. 

The farmers have hitherto had less than their full 
share of public attention along the lines of business and 
social life. There is too much belief among all our peo- 
ple that the prizes of life lie away from the farm. I am 
therefore anxious to bring before the people of the United 
States the question of securing better business and bet- 
ter living on the farm, whether by cooperation between 


fanners for buying, selling and borrowing ; by promoting 
social advantages and opportunities in the country ; or by 
any other legitimate means that will help to make coun- 
try life more gainful, more attractive, and fuller of op- 
portunities, pleasures and rewards for the men, women 
and children of the farms. 

I shall be very glad indeed if you will consent to serve 
upon a Commission on Country Life, upon which I am 
asking the following gentlemen to act : 

Professor L. H. Bailey, New York State College of 
Agriculture, Ithaca, N. Y., Chairman. 

Mr. Henry Wallace, Wallace's Farmer, Des Moines, 

President Kenyon L. Butterfield, Massachusetts Agri- 
cultural College, Amherst, Massachusetts. 

Mr. Gifford Pinchot, United States Forest Service. 

Mr. Walter H. Page, Editor of The World's Work, 
New York. 

Sincerely yours, 

Theodore Roosevelt. 
Professor L. H. Bailey, 
New York State College of Agriculture, 
Itiiaca, N. Y. 

But while the period 1896-1910 was one of agricultural 
"disorganization," so to speak, the idea of agricultural 
organization never died out. Purely cooperative groups 
were making considerable progress along the lines of 
establishing cooperative creameries, elevators, and stores. 
The Grange made considerable growth during the latter 
part of this period, and certain groups like the Equity 
and the Gleaners attained some prominence in Wisconsin, 
Michigan and certain other states. But no broad gen- 


eral organization comparable to those of earlier days 

But, as we shall see, new forces were at work in the 
country and the scenes were being laid for a big new 
nation-wide organization based on principles and organ- 
ized on a system entirely different from anything that 
had preceded. First, however, we must note the rise of 
the farmers' cooperative movement which was in itself 
a strong influence preparing the groimd for complete 
agricultural organization. 



THE cooperative movement, or the Rochdale move- 
ment as it is often called, began in the little town 
of Rochdale, England, in 1844. Twenty-eight 
weavers, harassed by poverty, unemployment, adulter- 
ated foods, and extortionate prices, came together and 
formed a society to raise capital and start a store of their 
own to supply their principal personal and family needs. 
This first store was extremely small and capital grew 
with discouraging slowness, but the basic principles of 
cooperation were worked out and developed and from 
this small beginning has grown a movement of such 
amazing size and strength as to constitute to-day a most 
important factor in the world^s social and economic 

Following the earlier struggles of the Rochdale pioneers 
the movement gained considerable headway in England, 
spread to Scotland and later to continental Europe. There 
it made its greatest growth in France, Germany, Russia, 
Italy, and Denmark. In the last-named country cooper- 
ation has become so thoroughly incorporated in the agri- 
cultural life of the nation that the great majority of all 
selling of agricultiu'al products and purchasing of farm 
supplies and equipment is now done through cooperative 

The cooperative movement in the United States dates 



back to about 1850, but the earlier efforts were inter- 
rupted by the Civil War, and the decade following the 
war had practically closed before any appreciable prog- 
ress was made. The first efforts in this country were 
patterned after the original English societies and were 
of the "consumer" t3rpe rather than the "producer" 
type. That is, they were organized among consumers 
for the purpose of buying foods and other supplies to bet- 
ter advantage. Organization among small producers to 
sell to better advantage did not develop until later, in the 
United States. 

Of the efforts of the Grange along this line we have 
already spoken. Most of the more ambitious attempts 
came to an early end because of inexperienced managers 
and failure to follow true cooperative principles. Some 
of the smaller cooperative stores persisted, however, even 
to the present day. Club buying in small groups became a 
regular activity among Grangers. The Workingmen's 
Protective Union established a considerable number of 
cooperative stores about the middle of the last century but 
they all failed, usually because of violation of the Roch- 
dale principles. At the close of the Civil War, the Labor 
Unions took up officially the movement for cooperative 
stores and made some progress, but the true cooperative 
spirit seemed to be lacking, the movement waned and later 
gave way to the more aggressive labor movement based 
on strikes and legislation. Recently there has been re- 
newed effort on the part of Union leaders to establish 
cooperative purchasing. 

As early as 1885 the California fruit growers formed 
what was known as the "Orange Growers' Protective 
Association" to work in a cooperative way to get better 
freight rates and better treatment in the eastern markets 


to which they were compelled to ship their fruit. The 
distance from market made their maiiceting problems 
especially difficult and steps toward cooperative market- 
ing of their products were soon taken. The California 
Fruit Growers' Exchange soon developed. Although its 
earlier years were fraught with troubles, both internal 
and external, and numerous reorganizations took place, 
absolute necessity forced some sort of continuance of 
the project. Since the earlier years the Exchange has 
been uniformly successful and it now has a membership 
of about 8,000 growers and in 1918 shipped more than 
15,000,000 boxes of citrus fruits. 

Here and there throughout the East and South, other 
groups of shippers — ^usually growers of highly perishable 
products — formed cooperative groups that operated with 
more or less success. The grape marketing association of 
the Chautauqua-Erie grape belt in New York State was 
one of the earliest of these, the original organization tak- 
ing place in 1885. The first organization made about all 
the organization mistakes a cooperative group could pos- 
sibly make and a series of reorganizations have been 
necessary, each correcting some of the mistakes of its 
predecessor. It is only in comparatively recent years 
that stable and apparently permanent success has been 

Various fruit and vegetable shipping groups in the 
South have operated successfully for a decade or more. 
The Eastern Shore Truck Producers' Association of Vir- 
ginia has marketed practically the entire early potato crop 
of the eastern shore of Virginia for many years and with 
a high degree of success to its members. 

Spurred on by the success of these cooperative groups 
scattered about here and there, and harassed by extremely 


low prices and unfair methods employed by the "line'' 
elevators, farmers of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and the 
Dakotas finally took things into their own hands in the 
early 90's and began to establish their own local elevators 
on a cooperative basis. The most vigorous sort of oppo- 
sition was encountered and for a time this movement 
made small progress. The strongly entrenched line ele- 
vators, usually owned by big milling and financial inter- 
ests, enlisted the aid of the railroads in refusing siding 
privileges, "forgetting*' to furnish cars and "losing" 
shipments. The banks refused credit at critical times. In 
many instances where farmers were about to form a local 
organization the rival concern sent in organizers and ar- 
ranged for a "cooperative" elevator which was cooperative 
in name only. Many of these still exist. 

By 1 9 10 much progress had been made in several states, 
however, and in 1915 Illinois had 192 farmer-owned ele- 
vators; Iowa, 228, and North Dakota 264. Since 191 5 
the movement has been quite rapid and it is officially 
stated that to-day there are more than 4,000 such ele- 
vators in active operation, largely in the middle west. 

As early as 1889 a state association of cooperative ele- 
vator managers was organized in Iowa. Various other 
states developed in this same direction from time to time 
and in 1912 the National Council of Farmers' Coopera- 
tive Grain Dealers' Associations was organized at Min- 
neapolis. The declared purpose was to "break the grip 
of the grain trust and secure a square deal for the farm- 
er." Specifically, to secure fair freight rates; to break 
railroad boycotts of farmers' grain shipments ; to secure 
better prices through cooperative marketing at terminal 
points; to purchase supplies, coal, etc., at fair prices; to 
safeguard farmers' rights through legislation, secure gov- 


emment inspection and grading of grain, and to secure 
the strength necessary to place the farmers' cases before 
the Interstate Commerce Commission or Congress when- 
ever necessary. 

In 1920 this body was organized in twelve of the grain 
belt states and through the local elevators was said to 
handle the grain produced by nearly half a million farm- 
ers. It is now known as the Farmers' National Grain 
Dealers' Association. 

In certain states, notably Nebraska and Kansas, the 
Farmers' Union developed extensive cooperative elevator 
systems. The Nebraska group did a business amounting 
to approximately one hundred million dollars in 

Cooperative creameries and cheese factories have also 
been a prominent marketing feature in several states, par- 
ticularly Wisconsin and Minnesota, for the past fifteen 
years. In 191 5 the number of creameries was placed at 
5,500 and cheese factories at 3,500; about one-third of 
which were cooperative. It is estimated that there are 
to-day approximately 3,000 creameries and 2,000 
cheese factories in the United States operated coopera- 

Cooperative livestock shipping associations have be- 
come very numerous in the past two or three years. Start- 
ing in the little town of Litchfield, Minnesota, in 1908, 
the idea spread slowly until in 191 6 there were some 500 
livestock shipping associations, mostly in Minnesota. But 
in the short space of four years following 191 6, the num- 
ber shot up to more than 3,000. Most of the middle 
western states have formed state livestock shipping asso- 
ciations and a national federation of state livestock ship- 
ping associations is already functioning. The principal 


advantages claimed for the local shipper are: first, the 
elimination of approximately one-half of the local selling 
costs ; and second, securing a higher market price through 
being able to offer uniform, graded carloads. 

At Omaha, St. Paul, Chicago, and several other western 
points, cooperative livestock shippers' associations have 
established their own commission agencies receiving all 
shipments and selling on the open market the same as any 
other commission concern. 

Starting with the earlier attempts of the Farmers' 
Union to establish cooperative cotton warehouses and a 
cotton marketing system in the South, the movement 
largely died out with the subsidence of the Union, al- 
though a large number of these warehouses are still 
owned locally by farmers. But in 1920 the idea of coop- 
erative marketing of the cotton crop suddenly flamed up 
again and a national cotton marketing association was 
organized. This organization contemplates state and 
county units, ownership of bonded warehouses and a cen- 
tral sales agency. To date but fair progress has been 
made in putting this plan into operation on a belt-wide 
scale. Several states have, however, made a very credit- 
able start. Of the 1920 crop Oklahoma farmers held in a 
cooperative pool some 400,000 bales and Texas farmers 
held 600,000 bales. 

The milk producers, likewise, have been having their 
marketing battles to fight and organizations have been 
formed in practically all the large milk producing centers ' 
or, rather, around jJl the principal milk consuming cen- 
ters. It was early determined that the producers ship- 
ping to a given consuming center constituted the proper 
organization unit. Thus we have the New York Dairy- 
men's League; Michigan Milk Producers' Association; 


Milwaukee Milk Producers' Association ; the Queen City 
Milk Producers' Association ; Oregon Dairymen's League, 
and other similar groups. In 191 7 these federated into a 
national organization known as the National Milk Pro- 
ducers' Federation. 

The winning of the milk wars in Boston and Chicago 
in 191 5-16 and in New York City in 1916-17 added 
greatly to the strength of this organization and in 1919 
it was said to number nearly 400,000 members. 

It will be seen from the above that following the dis- 
couraging failures of the earlier cooperative efforts in 
the 8o's a new cooperative movement set in with the be- 
ginning of the new century. In some instances the growth 
was slow merely because it had to make its way unaided 
and farmers were "poor cooperators." In other cases, as 
in the grain trade, cooperation had to fight against the 
most severe opposition. Gradually, however, the idea 
secured a solid footing and, constantly spurred on by 
the success of a few outstanding examples such as the 
California fruit growers, the movement gained momen- 
tum and covered the field. Within the past few years, 
however, we have witnessed the development of an en- 
tirely new phase of cooperative effort. Through the 
formation of national federations of state and local 
groups, the cooperatives are preparing to take over the 
next step in the road to the ultimate consumer; that is, 
the wholesale handling at the terminal market. 

Further reference to the results of this cooperative 
movement will be made in a later chapter. The point to 
be noted here is the fact that these various cooperative 
efforts, extending over a period of nearly a quarter of 
a century and in the later years touching large numbers 
of farmers, operated as a means of bringing farmers to- 


gether and inculcating organization principles. Even 
the failures taught useful lessons. The development of 
the cooperative idea must be accounted one of the im-| 
portant factors in laying the foundation for a new 
"farmers' movement" to follow. 



AS the period in agricultural development previous 
to 1896 was marked by its hysteria and impulsive- 
ness of action, so the period following 1900 was 
marked by the search for agricultural education and the 
"evangelization" of the country. 

The period of overproduction having passed with the 
century there was again some object in producing bigger 
and better crops. New and improved methods were 
sought, new crops, new breeds of livestock, and new soil 
fertility systems adopted. Insects, plant and animal dis- 
eases, and blights were investigated and means of abate- 
ment devised. 

The Agricultural or "Land Grant" ^ colleges author- 

* The act of Congress of July 2, 1862, known as the first Morrill 
Act granted to each state 30,000 acres of public land for each 
Senator and Representative in Congress to which the state was 
entitled by the census of i860. AH money derived by the sale of 
these lands was to be invested in interest bearing securities. The 
interest was to be used for the endowment, support and main- 
tenance of at least one college where the leading object should be 
to teach such branches of . learning as are related to agriculture 
and the mechanic arts. 

The distribution of land was made in two ways. Those states 
that had public lands within their borders could locate and take up 
the actual acres. If a state had no such lands subject to entry, 
then land "scrip" was issued to it. The land represented by such 
scrip could not be located by the state but had to be sold and the 
individual purchaser might locate his land in any state having 
lands open to public entry. In iSgo Congress, in what was called 



ized by the Morrill Act of 1862, and the Agricultural Ex- 
periment Stations established by the Hatch Act ^ of 1887, 
had finally overcome the opprobrium^ attached through 
the appellation "book farming," under which they had 
so long labored, and were beginning to bear fruit. The 
more progressive farmers here and there sought out and 
used the tested discoveries and improvements. 

Among the earliest of the agricultural educational agen- 
cies to really reach out into the country was the "farmers' 
institute." The history of the origin of the farmers' in- 

the Second Morrill Act, supplemented these funds by an additional 
endowment of $26,000 annually for each state and territory and in 
1908 a further annual endowment of $25,000 was provided for by 
the Nelson amendment. 

*The Hatch Act provided that $15,000 per year be given out of 
the funds arising from the sale of public lands, to each state and 
territory for the establishment of an agricultural experiment sta- 
tion, which must be a department of the land grant college, except 
in the case of those states which had established experiment stations 
as separate institutions prior to the passage of the act. In 1906, 
under the Adams Act, an additional endowment of $15,000 annually 
was provided. 

Various states had done something toward establishing experi- 
ment stations previous to the passage of the Hatch Act. Most of 
them were inspired by the worlc being conducted at the Rothamsted 
Experiment Station in England. The first state experiment station 
established in America became an accomplished fact in 1875, 
after several years of agitation and spurred on by a private con- 
tribution of $1,000 by Orange Judd and an offer on the part of the 
trustees of Wesleyan University, at Middletown, Conn., of the 
free use of the chemical laboratory in the Orange Judd Hall of 
Natural Science. Professor Robert Atwater was the first director. 

•"During the first three decades of the existence of the state 
colleges of agriculture and the mechanic arts their most rapid and 
popular development was along the lines of engineering and the 
mechanical industries. The teachers of these subjects found subject 
matter easily reducible to pedagogical form, and the students found 
that the definite instruction and practice work along these lines gave 
p^ood. training and led to salaried positions in our rapidly develop- 
ing manufacturing and transportation industries. Agriculture, on 
the other hand, at first afforded no sufficiently organized body of 
knowledge which teachers could present in a strong way to students, 
and there were few salaried positions open in agriculture." — Senator 
Knute Nelson, Senate Document No. 189, 1907. 


stitute is obscure, but it is certain that the start was made 
earlier than is generally supposed. Something seems to 
have been done along this line on an organized scale as 
far back as 1869, but many years before that date the 
itinerant lecture system for the instruction of farmers had 
been used. As early as 1842 or 1843 such lectures were 
inaugurated by the New York State Agricultural Society.^ 
The 1871 report of the board of trustees of Iowa Agricul- 
tural College contains an account of "farmers' institutes" 
in which it is stated "the experiment of holding farmers' 
institutes in different localities in the state, for the pur- 
pose of giving familiar lectures on prominent topics in 
agriculture, was tried last winter with very gratifying 
success. Institutes, lasting three days, were held at 
Cedar Falls, Council Bluffs, Washington, and Muscatine, 
at each of which points we found an enthusiastic gath- 
ering of farmers." Vermont, Michigan, and several 
other states inaugurated institutes about this same 

On February i, 1871, the Massachusetts State board 
of agriculture voted "that the various agricultural so- 
cieties of the Commonwealth be requested to organize an 
annual meeting for lectures and discussions at such time 
and place as may be convenient for each society; these 
meetings to be denominated The Farmers' Institutes of 
Massachusetts.' " This request was later changed to an 
order, and a bounty granted each organization conducting 
such an institute. During the year 1890, 36 societies 
held 129 institutes. 

Thus it will be seen that the "institute" was an out- 
growth of and fostered by the early agricultural organi- 

* Quoted by L. H. Bailey, in BuL 79, U. S. D. A., Office of Expt 


zations of a conservative educational nature,^ as distin- 
guished from the politico-economic organizations de- 
scribed in Chapters II and IV. 

The legal authority for the holding of institutes in 
Michigan in connection with the Agricultural College, is 
held to be derived from a clause in the law of 1861 read- 
ing : "The State board of agriculture may institute win- 
ter courses of lectures for others than students of the 
institution, under necessary rules and regulations." 

This is probably the first instance of legal authority 
conferred upon an educational institution in this country 
to carry instruction to farmers who are not students in 
the college. Gradually this type of work, including the 
institutes in most states, was taken over entirely by the! 
College of Agriculture and either gave rise to or aug- 
mented the "Extension Department" of these institutions. 

In 1891 approximately $85,000 was appropriated by 

*The place that the "farmers' institute" filled at the close of thd 
last century is well shown by the following quotation from a letter 
written by W. H. Morrison, at that time state superintendent of 
institutes in Wisconsin: 

"I wish that you had the history of this movement in Wisconsin — 
how the institutes have stimulated a pride and respect for agricul- 
ture, bringing farmers together to compare and pool experience. 
They give the farmer an opportunity to meet masters in agriculture, 
men who make the business of^ farming a science and a life work. 
They build up and unite farm interests, energize and fertilize local 
thought, make men and women better satisfied with the farm, and 
will have the tendency to keep a fair portion of the best boys on 
the farm. They are revolutionizing agriculture in this State, and 
their power was felt and heeded by our legislature last winter. 
Fortunately, our farm institute work is under the auspices of giir 
State University. My office is in the same building with Professor 
Henry, director of the experiment station, and whatever may come 
from his experiments that will aid the farmers of the State, is 
taken by our farm institutes and scattered all over the State. The 
fact is, they are doing more for the State than the originators of 
the law ever thought or expected. They builded better than they 
knew. The institutes are educating our farmers to better methods, 
and increasing the rewards of the farm." 


the different state institutions in North America for farm- 
ers' institutes. In addition, the services of hundreds of 
instructors from the agricultural colleges were given with- 
out charge. By 1899, with three exceptions, every state 
and province was conducting farmers' institutes and a 
total of approximately $170,000 was being spent. It 
was calculated that in that year 2,000 institutes were held 
in the United States and more than half a million farm- 
ers were in attendance.^ 

By 1900 these institutes had beg^n to undergo a trans- 
formation. Farmers were constantly asking for more 
specific instruction, and courses of technical lectures 
upon definite lines of farm work were in demand. "Dairy 
schools," "schools of horticulture," "soils schools" and 
similar lines of instruction for non-student farmers were 

It was soon realized, too, that after all half a million 
was but a small proportion of the twelve to fourteen mil- 
lions of men and women engaged in agriculture and that 
in the South, particularly, whole states were doing practi- 
cally nothing to reach the farmer who had not yet awak- 
ened to the new spirit of inquiry and progress. Agricul- 
tural publications had multiplied extensively and the read- 
ing farmer could make considerable progress by carefully 
studying his periodicals, but the reading habit was far 

*In Wisconsin there were held in 1899 approximately 120 insti- 
tutes with an average attendance of over 30,000 persons, in Massa- 
chusetts 125 institutes, attendance 11,000; West Virginia, 60 
institutes, attendance 14,000; Minnesota, 50 institutes, attendance 
300 to 1,000 each; Indiana, 100 institutes, attendance 25,000; Kansas, 
135 institutes, attendance 20,000; Michigan, institutes in nearly every 
county, attendance reported at 120,000; Nebraska, 60 institutes, 
attendance 26,000; Pennsylvania, 300 institutes, attendance 50,000; 
Ohio, 250 institutes, attendance 90,000; New York, 300 institutes, 
attendance 75,000; and in California, 80 institutes were held with a 
total attendance of 1 6,00a 


less prevalent on the farm then than now and here again 
the South was particularly weak. 

Plainly something had to be done to speed up this 
educational process if any considerable progress was to 
be made. Agricultural information already developed 
and available must be taken out to the farmer if he hesi- I 
tated to come and get it. 

Then set in a period of agricultural evangelization the 
like of which was never before seen in this or any other 
country. The professor deserted his classroom, packed 
up a few charts, some illustrative material and perhaps 
a pruning knife or a soil augur, and started out to spread 
the gospel of better farming. No missionary in Africa 
ever labored harder or more conscientiously to convert his 
hearers to the true gospel than did these itinerant preach- 
ers of the science of Agriculture. "Neither snow, nor rain, 
nor gloom of night" could abate their fervor or stay their 
progress. In the opinion of the writer their efforts have 
never been fully appreciated nor their praises half enough 

Starting in with the established institutes these instruc- 
tors and their corps of assistants, which soon developed, 
spread out rapidly into other fields. The high school and 
the remotest country school were invaded, meetings were 
held in churches, schoolhouses, theaters, town halls, coun- 
try stores, camp meetings, at picnics, and quite frequently 
in the orchard and open field. A little later the whole 
classroom — ^professors, charts, illustrations, blackboards, 
livestock, poultry, soil samples, fertilizers, fruit trees, 
farm machinery, and other paraphernalia — ^was loaded 
upon special trains ^ and hauled from station to station and 

'In 191 1 a total of 16 agricultural trains were run in Ohio, in- 
cluding 13 different railway systems, delivering lectures at 418 
stations, to a total audience of 45,100 persons. 


lectures and demonstrations given from one end of the 
state to another, the staff and train crew living on the 
train, at the expense of the railroad company, for weeks 
at a time. 

Prior to 1901 only one agricultural college, that at 
Cornell University, had what was known as a department 
of extension. In 1901, Illinois organized an extension 
staff and in 1903 three other states did likewise, but it 
was not until 1910 that the extension movement under 
the direction of the colleges of agriculture really got under 
way. By the beginning of that year thirty-three colleges 
had separately organized agricultural extension work.^ 

In 191 2 the Agricultural Extension Department of the 
Ohio Agricultural College, one of the most active along 
extension lines, offered the following lines of work 
throughout the state. Agricultural Extension Schools (of 
two weeks' duration each), farmers' institutes, special 
meetings for women, demonstrations in spraying fruit 
trees, pruning, tree surgery, packing fruit, grading eggs, 
making butter, mixing commercial fertilizers, also field 
meetings, agricultural trains, fair exhibits, news service to 
county papers, identification of plants, fruits, insects, etc., 
help in introducing agricultural work in rural schools, 
special lectures for clubs, granges, and other organiza- 
tions, farmers' reading courses, and a variety of special 

Soon the teaching of agriculture in the public schools 
became a common practice, although the advocates of the 
"classics" put up strenuous objections, and since at that 

^The first Director of Agricultural Extension employed in the 
United States was Mr. A. B. Graham, who assumed his duties in 
connection with the College of Agriculture of Ohio State Uni- 
versity on July I, 1905. Professor Perry G. Holden followed in 
Iowa six mohtns later — ^January i, 1906. 


time they largely controlled college policies, the general 
acceptance of agriculture as a college entrance credit was 
long delayed. The battle of Latin and Greek versus Agri- 
culture is still fresh in the memory of many an educator 
of fifteen years ago. 

As early as 1888 Minnesota had established an agri- 
cultural high school on the campus in connection with 
the college of agriculture but it was twenty years or 
more before this idea made much progress.^ By 1907 
a total of thirty such schools were scattered throughout 
the United States. 

About the beginning of the new century a movement 
toward consolidation of the one-room country schools into 
centralized schools serving a wide area made a start and 
this opened up the way to more effective teaching of 
agriculture in the grades. This movement started in Ohio 
and Indiana and made slow progress for a number 
of years. In 1907 there were only about two hundred 
such consolidated schools in existence, but from then on 
the growth was rapid and in Indiana alone approximately 
1,000 consolidated schools were in operation in 1921. 
Four thousand one-room country schools — ^nearly half 
of all in the State — were abandoned to make way for 
this prc^essive development. 

The teaching of agriculture in the common schools soon 
led to the development of boys' and girls' clubs. Com 
clubs were the first form developed on a large scale but 
pig clubs, poultry clubs, calf clubs, cotton clubs, canning 
clubs, peanut clubs, and various other types soon fol- 
lowed. The idea of lending a little glamour to rural 

* The Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 provides Federal and State funds 
for such a high school in every county when proper local conditions 
are met. 


achievements took hold and in many states magnificent 
prizes were offered the winners in corn growing contests. 
In Ohio, California, Texas, West Virginia, and a num- 
ber of other states special cars, or even special trains of 
prize winners were sent on tours to Washington to meet 
the Secretary of Agriculture, shake hands with the Presi- 
dent, and be feted generally. Bankers, merchants, public 
spirited citizens, and state officials all joined hands to pay 
the expenses. 

A veritable renaissance of agricultural education and 
interest in the farm seemed to have set in. 



FOR the appearance of the next great step in agri- 
cultural development — ^the birth of a new prin- 
ciple which was destined to have far-reaching re- 
sults — ^we must look to the South. As was the case with 
Oliver Kelley, the founder of the Grange, it was the mis- 
fortunes of the South that inspired Dr. Seaman A. ICnapp » 
to develop a line of work which was to redirect the whole 
agriculture of the South, and to create an educational 
method which when transplanted to the North laid the 
foundation for what we to-day like to call the business 
of agriculture. 

Dr. Knapp had spent an active life in educational and 
agricultural work in New York State, Iowa, and Louisi- 
ana. He was the friend, neighbor, and adviser of Secre- 
tary of Agriculture James Wilson and had made trips 
to Japan, China and the Philippine Islands to study and 
subsequently introduced into this country Japanese rice. 
In 1902 he had just returned from a visit to Porto Rico 
where he had made a study of the agricultural possibili- 
ties of that island, when the Mexican boll weevil began 
its depredations in the Texas cotton fields. 

Dr. Knapp made several visits to Texas that year and 
out of the richness of his twelve years' experience in 
tealching northern families how to farm in Louisiana, 



developed the essentials of a plan for meeting the cotton 
boll weevil situation — ^not so much combating it, perhaps, 
as adapting the agriculture of the region to it. The fol- 
lowing year an appropriation of $250,000 was obtained 
from Congress and despite his advanced years — Dr. 
Knapp was 70 at that time — ^he arranged to take charge 
of what was named the "Farmers' Cooperative Demon- 
stration Work." 

Dr. Knapp's idea was to teach by doing rather than by 
telling. It had been his observation that where one Loui- 
siana farmer had followed instructions and raised an 
tmusually good crop of rice, the neighbors never failed 
to inquire personally as to just how it had been done and 
to try the next time to follow the improved methods as 
* nearly as possible. 

In an endeavor to give a true picture of how the work 
started and grew in the South, we can do no better 
than quote at some length from the story told by W. F. 
Proctor, State Agent in charge of Farmers' Cooperative 
Demonstration Work in Texas at the time of Dr. Knapp's 

"The country had become alarmed at the financial dis- 
aster that followed the progress of this foreign invader 
(the Mexican boll weevil). As it advanced, panic and 
ruin followed, and it seemed in 1903 that the whole cot- 
ton industry of the South would be destroyed unless 
something could be done to exterminate it, or at least stay 
its progress. 

"In the spring of 1903 the business men of Terrell, 
Texas, called a mass meeting to consider the boll- 
weevil situation and to take action to try to avert the 
panic which always followed its invasion of new terri- 
tory. Dr. Knapp was sent for and addressed the meet- 
ing. His explanation of the situation and his ideas of 


the proper remedy convinced those people that he was 
right, and they then and there determined to give Dr. 
Knapp's demonstration plan a thorough trial. 

"Mr. W. C. Porter, a prominent farmer near Terrell, 
was agreed upon as an ideaPman to make the demon- 
stration, but he was not willing to follow any one's in- 
structions in growing cotton unless guaranteed against 
loss. The business men promptly made him an indemnity 
bond, and he then planted and cultivated 40 acres of cot- 
ton under Dr. Knapp's instruction. 

"In the fall this demonstration showed a net profit of 
over $700. This demonstration was of inestimable value 
in restoring confidence in that section and in proving 
that cotton could be grown profitably tmder weevil condi- 

"As soon as Congress granted the weevil emergency 
appropriation Dr. Knapp was authorized to go to Texas 
and carry out his plan of farm demonstration work, and 
in January, 1904, he established his headquarters at 

"Dr. Knapp was one of the few men in the South at 
that time who fully appreciated the fact that the boll 
weevil was not the sole cause of the trouble, but that it 
lay further back, and consisted, in a wrong system of 
agriculture that must be changed before permanent relief 
could be expected. 

"With his great faith in humanity and his knowledge 
of men, he did not hesitate to undertake the task of revo- 
lutionizing the whole system of southern agriculture. 

"His first steps were to organize a working force and 
secure the cooperation of the general public. 

"The losses suffered by the business interests made 
them willing and anxious to cooperate in any movement 
at all likely to better conditions, so when he sent out his 
call for help it was responded to by railroads, commer- 
cial bodies, the colleges, and private individuals from all 
parts of Texas. 


"Money, trains, and speakers were placed at his com- 
mand, and the crusade was on. 

"The call came to me over the telephone on the 17th 
day of February, 1904, as I was at work on my farm 
in Clay County. That night I boarded the private car 
of the vice president of the Fort Worth & Denver Rail- 
road, with little knowledge of the work being undertaken 
or what would be expected of me. 

"In the morning I learned I was with an agricultural 
lecture train, managed by the railroad to arouse public 
interest and to secure the cooperation of the farmers. 
For two weeks meetings were held at all the leading towns 
in the cotton-growing counties through which that road 

"Farmers' institutes were organized at each point. 
Lectures were given on cotton, cotton insects, com, 
forage crops, fruit growing, and other farm topics. 

"Attempts were made to secure a list of farmers who 
would try the department's new plan of teaching agricul- 
ture by the 5 and 10 acre demonstration plat method. 
Only a few names were secured, and most of them were 
town people who expected to do the work by proxy. 

"I doubt very much if any of the speakers who accom- 
panied that train had a very clear idea of the proposed 
demonstration plan or had much faith in it. 

"The hardest work we had the first year was in getting 
the confidence of the farmers. I soon learned to begin 
by telling my prospective demonstrator that I was a 
farmer ; that my farm was a sandy-land farm like his, or 
not like his, as the case might be. As soon as it seemed 
safe to do so, I presented the demonstration proposition 
and sought his cooperation. Very often when he found 
out that I was a Government agent, he drove on and left 
me. Later I joined the farmers' union and after that 
had better success. 

"During the first year over a thousand farmers' meet- 


ings were held, where Dr. Knapp or some of his assist- 
ants made addresses. Something over 7,000 farmers 
pledged themselves to cultivate a few acres under the 
supervision of Dr. Knapp and his agents. Enough of 
these were successful to give us plenty of argument for 
the 1905 campaign. 

"In the fall of 1904 a meeting of agents and over 200 
representative farmers from all parts of Texas was held 
at Houston, at which many reports were made, showing 
the profits of crops grown under demonstration methods, 
compared with those tmder ordinary methods. 

"During those first years of the work all the agents 
followed the practice of heading meetings of farmers in 
courthouses, schoolhouses, on the streets, and wherever 
they could be gotten together. Pure seed, deep plowing, 
frequent shallow cultivation, and the growing of all home 
supplies were the chief topics discussed at these meetings. 

"It was easier to secure demonstrations in 1905 and 
1906 than in 1904. As the work gradually became more 
systematized and more effective it became more and more 

"Under the guidance of the master mind, these an- 
nual agents' meetings took more the nature of religious 
conferences than formal business meetings. We were 
brought to see and understand that the work we were 
engaged in was deeper, broader, and more far-reaching 
than simply the ravages of the boll weevil. 

"We were brought by degrees to see and understand 
the great possibilities for making people better, happier, 
and more prosperous through the demonstration method 
of teaching agriculture. 

"The farmers' cooperative demonstration work had 
proven that by following the cultural methods advocated 
cotton could be profitably grown with the weevil present 
and confidence and prosperity would follow. It had also 
proven that the demonstration method of teaching agri- 


culture was the best and most effective plan ever at- 
tempted of reaching and helping the fanner to higher 
and better things/' 

In commenting on Dr. Knapp's work, Mr. Qarence 
Poe, editor of the Progressive Farmer, emphasizes the 
importance of the development of the demonstration 
method of teaching, in the following words : "I still main- 
tain that Dr. Knapp made one of the greatest of original 
contributions to agricultural science in that he discovered 
not simply a new agricultural truth, but a new way of 
disseminating all the va^t treasures of truth which others 
had developed. Grant that in learning from him the 
small farmer heard only what other men had been saying 
for 40 years; the point is that they had been crying in 
the wilderness of ineffectuality while Dr. Knapp actually 
reached the ear and the heart of the man behind the plow. 
He actually carried the message to Garcia. If the agri- 
cultural principles he taught were not new, it was new 
to think of going to the farmer and 'demonstrating* 
their practicability and potency before his very eyes. 
And so it is the glory of Dr. Knapp not that he added 
another dry agricultural principle to human knowl- 
edge, but that for a great body of people under the 
power of his organization, all formerly dry agricultural 
principles became live and potent as did the dry bones in 
Ezekiel's Valley when the spirit of the Lord brought 
bone to bone and clothed them with miraculous flesh and 

The farm demonstration in the early history of such 
work usually consisted of from one to ten acres on which, 
the farmer, with his own labor and entirely at his own 
expense, undertook to grow some particular crop under 


the agent's careful supervision. A careful account was 
kept and a report made at the end of the season. The 
agents were required to arrange for as many demonstra- 
tions as they could properly supervise. 

In 1906 Smith County, Texas, provided county funds to 
contribute toward the salary of a demonstrator and W. C. 
Stallings was definitely assigned to that county. Thus, 
properly speaking, Smith County, Texas, bears the dis- 
tinction of having had the first "county agent." 

In 1907, Anderson, Harrison, and Smith counties in 
Texas and De Soto and Webster Parishes in Louisiana, 
all contributed toward the salaries of these agents of I 
the Department of Agriculture and each of the counties 
mentioned was assigned an individual agent. The work 
was intensified and the character of demonstrations en- 
larged to include all the standard farm crops, gardens, 
pastures, and later the breeding, raising, and feeding of 
livestock. Gradually the work throughout the South 
was changed over to the county basis, many states passed 
laws authorizing the county commissioners to contribute 
to the "county demonstrator's" salary and expenses, and 
by 19 1 2, a total of 858 field agents of this type were 
employed, all in the Southern states. Of these, 13 were 
State Agents, 36 District Supervisory Agents, 20 Special 
Com Club Agents, 639 local County Agents, and 159 
collaborating agents assisting in girls canning and poul- 
try club work.^ 

* Practically from the beginning of the demonstration work Dr. 
Knapp received funds from the General Education Board of the 
Rockefeller Foundation. This amount was increased year by year 
until the annual contribution amounted to $56o,ooo. Considerable 
criticism of the source and motive involved in this donation having 
arisen, Congress, in 1914, appropriated a sum sufficient to relive 
the Department of Agriculture from further necessity of accepting 
this donation. 


The success of this demonstration method of teaching 
was, of course, noted in the North and soon a. start was 
made along similar lines but with certain important modi- 

The office of Farm Management of the Bureau of 
Plant Industry of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, 
had been conducting survey work in the North and West 
under the direction of Dr. W. J. Spillman for several 
years. In fact, Dr. Spillman had had general supervision 
of Dr. Knapp's work in the South. The agents sent out 
to conduct these investigations of better farming methods 
throughout the North and West frequently confined their 
efforts to limited areas for considerable periods of time 
and cooperated with the agricultural authorities of what- 
ever state they might be working in. 

Soon these men found themselves in demand for insti- 
tute lectures and special demonstrations and were often 
asked by individual farmers or groups of farmers to as- 
sist in solving local farming problems. As this work 
developed more men were assigned and soon the aim was 
to have one man for every 25,000 farms. 

Encouraged by the excellent results secured in the 
South it was an easy step to the next development — the 
assigning of a man to a separate county. But there was 
another most interesting incident, or succession of inci- 
dents, which took place at about this time which did 
much to give coimty agent work a start in the North. 

About the year 1907, a young corporation lawyer in 
Qeveland named A. B. Ross found to his dismay that 
he had been pushing his work to the point where his 
health was endangered. His physician told him that his 
nervous system was shattered and recommended that 
he go off into some quiet, mountainous country, get a 


horse and buckboard, and spend several years in relaxa- 
tion and quiet, out in the open air. 

Ross bethought himself of his childhood home among 
the foothills and valleys of the Cumberland Mountains, 
in Bedford Cotmty, Pennsylvania — not far from the 
Maryland line. There he followed his doctor's advice 
assiduously. His buckboard became a familiar sight 
among those hills, threading its way in and out among 
the narrow valleys and following the borders of the 
highland plateaus. Craving companionship and promp- 
ted by a keenly inquiring mind, he usually spent a part 
of his day talking with the farmers he met and asked an 
interminable lot of questions. Whenever a farmer there- 
abouts saw a buckboard driye up to the roadside and a 
rather tall, mediiun weight, quietly dressed man jump 
out and come limping across the field he knew that he 
would have to answer all sorts of questions about com 
and cows and cut worm and cockle burrs and crab apples 
and anything else along agricultural lines that might hap- 
pen to have attracted Ross's attention. 

But the farmers soon got to liking Ross and his ques- 
tionis. He seemed so absolutely sincere and hungry for 
knowledge. Soon, too, they found that he could bring 
them bits of valuable information now and then. Just 
how Farmer Jones, over on the other side of the ridge, 
had saved his cow that had milk fever; or how Farmer 
Brown, in the adjoining township, grew the finest crop 
of clover to be seen in the couyity ; or what Farmer Smith 
did to kill the codling moth, was all very interesting news 
and very welcome information. 

Ross was much troubled to learn that the average com 
yield was only 10 or 12 bushels to the acre. He found 
that while they had formerly grown clover, this was now 


no longer possible and the crop had been practically aban- 
doned. There were many small orchards in the county 
but no one sprayed and the dealers usually came in and 
took the fruit at about $1.25 per barrel. Ross thought he 
ought to be able to put his time to good use in helping 
these people. He sent to the Department of Agriculture 
at Washington and got some bulletins. These he studied 
carefully and in the course of a year or two he took to 
"translating them into United States" as he said, and at 
his own expense mimeographed and distributed copies 
among the farmers. Later he bought some improved seed 
com and gave it to farmers who would agree to grow 
it according to certain directions. 

The people of Bedford County called Ross a crank but, 
nevertheless, came to him more and more for advice and 
help. At that time Ross was trying to get legumes to 
grow and was experimenting with "inoculation." Inocu- 
lation was then looked upon as more or less of a fake 
— even by many agricultural scientists. But Ross grew 
excellent clover where he inoculated and practically none 
at all where he didn't inoculate. That was evidence rather 
difficult to set aside and the Department of Agriculture, 
still skeptical, finally sent a man to look over Ross's ex- 

The demands upon Ross grew heavier and heavier and, 
lawyer like, Ross went to Washington and called upon 
the head of every bureau or division in the Department of 
Agriculture, putting up to each the question, "What can 
your division do to help the farmers of Bedford County?" 

Finally Ross ran into Dr. Spillman, who as already 
mentioned had been gradually coming to the condusion 
that an agent in each county was the ultimate solution 
of the better farming problem. Dr. Spillman was in a 


most receptive mood that day and as Ross related his 
experiences the resolve came to him to make a definite 
tryout of the county agent idea. So when Ross came to 
his inevitable question "What can you do ?" Dr. Spillman 
was ready with, "How would you like to go on the payroll 
of the Department, cooperate with us through our special- 
ists, receiving in addition to a nominal salary your ex- 
penses and the franking privilege ?*' 

This was almost too much for Ross. It was so much 
more than he had expected in the way of assistance. But 
he managed to accept and so the deal was closed. The 
word "camouflage" had not yet been imported at that time, 
but the art was known nevertheless and by its use Dr. 
Spillman secured the necessary funds to finance the 

On March i, 1910, Mr. A. B. Ross took up his duties 
as the first regularly constituted county agricultural agent 
in the Northern states.^ The work went forward with new 
vigor and soon Ross had a stenographer as busy as him- 
self. In order to cover more ground the buckboard was 
displaced by a small automobile which before long ac- 
quired throughout the entire cotmty the peculiar but sig- 
nificant nickname "the manure spreader." When ques- 
tioned as to the reason for this nickname most any 
farmer would reply : "Why that thing is raising the yield 
of corn all over this county." Ross kept up the work for 
two years when the pressure became so strong that his 
health was again threatened and he was forced to resign. 

On March 20, 191 1, John H. Barron, a graduate of 
Cornell University, went to work in Broome County, New 

* It will be noted that the county demonstrators then at work in 
the South were on a somewhat different basis both as to financing 
and as to supervision and duties. 


York, as County Agent. While Mr. Barron cannot claim 
the distinction of being the first County Agent he may lay 
claim to being the first "farm bureau" representative in 
the United States. The epoch-making development which 
took place in Broome County will be treated in Chapter 

But the movement for County Agents in the North 
and West was not confined to this one outlet. The idea 
seemed to burst forth at several points almost simultane- 
ously. On April 15th, 1912, Sam M. Jordan, better 
known as the "apostle of agriculture," took a year's leave 
of absence from the Missouri Board of Agriculture and 
went to work in Pettis County, Missouri, as "County 
Farm Advisor" and Manager of the Pettis County "Bu- 
reau of Agriculture." Just how this plan was put into 
operation we relate in Mr. Jordan's own words : 

"Some time in March, 1912, we were holding an in- 
stitute in Sedalia and the president and secretary of the 
Sedalia Boosters' Club were present and listened to the 
addresses, and were especially impressed by the questions 
asked by the farmers and their anxiety for information. 
On their returning to the club rooms they concluded that 
'Pettis County needs these men not for a day or two in 
the year, but we need them all the year.' As a result of 
this conclusion, they called the writer and asked him to 
come up to the club rooms, and in a short time the objects 
of the 'call' were made known, and they asked me if I 
would consider a proposition to put in my entire time in 
Pettis County, to which I made reply that I would think 
it over. I made a hurried survey of the possibilities of 
what a person in such a position may do and of its ulti- 
mate results, and knowing of a nation-wide movement 
in this same direction, I gave a tentative proposition, 
that if accepted, I would ask for a leave of absence from 


the position I held with the State and would give the 
matter a trial. These conclusions were all reached within 
a very few hours, and these men called a meeting of the 
executive committee of the Boosters' Qub to consider 
the matter, and, as a result a subscription list was started, 
and within a few days I received a telegram that the 
money was provided and my services were wanted from 
April 12, 1912, for one year." ^ 

The funds for this work were raised from several 
sources. The cou nty co urt took advantage of a law 
which seemed to give Iliem the authority and voted 
$1,500 for the work. The Sedalia school board arranged 
to pay Jordan $600 in consideration of one lecture a week 
before the high school. The remaining $900 was raised 
by private subscription from farmers and business men. 
In addition an office was furnished. Advantage was taken 
of an offer made by a large Chicago mail order house ^ 
to donate $1,000 for the work. Subsequently the Depart- 
ment of Agriculture of the University of Missouri and 
still later the U. S. Department of Agriculture con- 

One of the most interesting features of this develop- 
ment was the organization and incorporation of the "Bu- 
reau of Agriculture." So far as is known this was the 
first ever so organized. The plans provided for forty 
members of the corporate body, two representatives from 
each township, and the six officers. In addition there was 
a working committee of three for each school district. 
Three honor committees were also arranged for, as fol- 
lows : "The Soil Builders, in which membership is lim- 

^ Monthly Bulletin, Missouri State Board of Agriculture,. 
January, 1913. 

' Sears, Roebuck and Company at one time offered $1,000 to every 
county that would employ a County Agent It is said that ap* 
proximately $60,000 was used in this way. 


ited to those farmers who can say that by their systems 
of farming they are making the soil more fertile ; the Good 
Stockmen, open only to farmers using none but pure- 
bred sires in their livestock operations; and the Road 
Builders, in which any farmer who drags the roads is 
entitled to membership." 

By 1 91 3 the "County Demonstrator" was becoming a 
somewhat more familiar sight throughout the territory 
and the vast possitnlities of the innovation were beginning 
to be realized. An editorial in the Breeder^s Gazette 
in January, 191 3, gives an interesting sidelight upon the 
attitude toward the movement at that time. 

"There is something new in the land. A man, clad 
with no authority to compel, but armed with a knowledge 
of good farm practices, goes about his county counseling 
this man and that to reform his ways, to forsake his slip- 
shod and erroneous farm practices, feel a change of heart 
and help in the great movement for farm uplift. This 
man is the new county demonstrator. 

"In rich counties, such as we see in Illinois, he is pro- 
vided with automobile* and stenographer, he has his 
office in the court house whence daily he sallies out on 
missions of good import. Elsewhere he goes in vehicle 
or on horseback ; the principle is the same. He is a man 
supposedly full of good practical ideas, and it is his mis- 
sion to so modify the farming of his county that he will 
have earned his salary and a great deal more. 

*The place of the automobile, particularly of the smaller type, 
in the development of agriculture both from a business and from a 
social and intellectual standpoint, must not be underestimated. It 
has been one of the most powerful factors in the accelerated de- 
velopment of agriculture in the past decade. One third of all the 
cars in 1920 were located in the country or in country towns of 
1,000 population or less. In Iowa there was an average of one 
machine for every five persons in the entire state. 


**This year will see installed into office a good many 
of these county demonstrators, from the eastern edge of 
the com belt to the Rockies and to the Gulf of Mexico. 
A reader asks us what we think of the plan. 

"We think it depends chiefly upon the man selected. 
There are some men who can command confidence, re- 
spect, and obedience. It is a tremendous undertaking, 
this idea of a demonstrator going into a county, perhaps 
strange to him, to study its soils, crops, animals, men, 
women, children, to have visions and faith to plan out 
better ways, not merely temporarily better ways, but 
permanently better ones. It needs a man with a lot of 
agricultural science, a thorough grounding in agricultural 
practice, an economist, a preacher, an exhorter, a man 
of patience, faith, hope, and kindling enthusiasm. When 
you see such a man as that going down the road, whether 
in automobile or afoot, stop him, pull him in, let the 
children and the wife meet him. Are there such men? 
Assuredly there are. The editor has known three or 
four in his day. 

"We have seen men undertake this office of county 
demonstrator who had not deep convictions rerarding 
correct agricultural practice, nor the abiding faith and 
enthusiasm needed to impart desire for good practice in 
others. These men drew their pay, visited about the 
neighborhood, ate good farm dinners, and went con- 
tentedly, back to their offices in the county seats, having 
in no way helped a single man. There are many more 
such men than of the other sort. It is worse than a waste 
of money to employ such a man ; it is putting good farm- 
ing into disrepute, makes the man in the rut laugh and 
remain contentedly in the rut. It is all in the man. Get 
a man. If you cannot find the man, wait. Our agricul- 
tural colleges will help us some day. They are training * 

'In 1912 there were 12462 white students enrolled in regular 
college courses in agriculture. In 1916 the number had risen to 


a lot of good» practical farm boys, who know theories 
and practices as well. Get a good man or none/' 

During the fiscal year 1911-12 five G)unty Agents 
were appointed in the North and West, including the one 
in Broome County, New York, of which more will be said 
later. During 1912-13, 113 and in 1913-14, 90 were 
appointed. On May 8, 1914, the Smith-Lever Bill was 
passed by Congress and agricultural extension work in 
all its phases was given a powerful forward impulse. 

The passage of the Smith-Lever ^ Bill was an epoch- 
making event in agricultural development. It made avail- 
able the funds necessary for the rapid extension of the 
County Agent system into every agricultural county of 
the nation. C. W. Pugsley, of the University of Ne- 
braska, said : "When President Woodrow Wilson signed 
House Roll 7951, on May 8, 19 14, he paved the way for 
the beginning of a new era in agricultural extension." J. 
D. McVean, of the North Carolina Experiment Station, 
expressed his estimate of the worth of the Act in these 
words: "The funds rendered available to North Caro- 
lina as a result of the Smith-Lever law ^ are a Godsend to 

16409. In 1912, 1,384 students received the degree of Bachelor of 
Science in Agriculture ; by 1916 the number had more than doubled, 
a total of 2,803 receiving the degree in that year. 

* Developed and fathered by Representative Asbury F. Lever of 
South Carolina, and introduced in the Senate by Senator Hok« 
Smith of Georgia. 

'The Smith-Lever Act provided an annual appropriation of 
$10,000 for each state, plus an additional sum of $600,000 for the 
first year and a further addition of $300,000 for each year thereafter 
for seven years, same to be divided among the states on the basis 
of their relative rural population in the census of 1910. After the 
expiration of this arrangement, i. e., in 1922, the sum of $4,100,060, 
in addition to the annual $10,000 for each State, is to be distributed 
among the various states. The proviso was made, however, that . 
before receiving any of these funds the various state legislatures 
should appropriate an equal amount. 


the agricultural classes, and through them to all the 

Dean Davenport, of the Illinois Agricultural College, 
said: "The passage of the Lever Bill, therefore, will 
not only insure the highest possible application of new 
principles and practices but it will free the experiment 
stations from the overburdening demand for demonstra- 
tion work, leaving them at liberty to prosecute research 
into still further unknown fields." 

"One of the greatest agricultural acts ever passed and 
one that will eventually revolutionize farming methods — 
is the way we look at the Smith-Lever Extension Act in 
Iowa," said P. C. Taft, in charge of extension work in 
that state. 

In testifjring in support of the Lever Bill before the 
House Committee on Agriculture, Dr. W. O. Thompson, 
president of Ohio State University, and at that time 
chairman of the executive committee of the association 
of land-grant colleges, pointed out the need for more 
intensive and systematic extension work in the following 
words : 

"There are two kinds of farmers — ^those who want 
things and those who do not. Those who want things 
are usually the progressive farmers who have caught the 
spirit of the farmers' institutes and the experiment sta- 
tion and the agricultural college and the general news- 
paper agitation, and believe in better things ; so that they 
have invested their labor and their time in drainage, in 
fertilizer, in pure-bred livestock, in crop rotation farm- 
ing and whatever else will improve their condition. 

"They have demonstrated to themselves the value of 
those things. You do not need to go to those men very 
much. They are up to date as to methods, but they are 


the small majority in every township or district in the 
country. Then there is a large inert mass of farmers 
who have not yet responded and have not recognized 
their own needs and therefore have not formulated their 
wants. These progressive farmers of the country (in 
the room) are here in the interest of the people who have 
not yet responded,^ and are asking that these methods 
be extended so as to reach the farmers in general and 
improve their condition throughout the entire country. 
This bill does not propose to relieve the states of their 
duty nor relieve the states of their responsibility in the 
matter; it only proposes to give them a little stimulus 
to meet an opportiuiity." 

Another commentator of the day points out the very 
important fact that owing to the provision of the Smith- 
Lever Act which requires that all extension projects be 
approved by the States Relations Service of the U. S. 
Department of Agriculture, the effect would be to unify 
and systematize extension work. He says : "The results 
of all this will be that the sporadic, enthusiastic efforts 
of days gone by will be eliminated and there will result 
a coordination in the near future." 

With the new funds thus made available and the new 
enthusiasm engendered, the conquest of the County Agent 
was rapid and complete. County after county met the 
local requirements and the state extension department 
provided a man to act as agent, representing jointly the 
I county, the state agricultural college, and the U. S. De- 
partment of Agriculture. By January i, 191 5, there 
were approximately one thousand County Agricultural 

*In 1914 the head of the agricultural extension work of CorQell 
University estimated that they had reached effectively only about 
one^tenth of the rural population in that state. 


Agents employed in demonstration work in the United 

Those in the South still adhered rather closely to the 
original demonstration methods but those in the North 
soon modified these methods somewhat and as we shall 
see, developed a distinctive type of organization to servel 
as a vehicle through which to carry their message to the] 
people. These organizations differed in plan in almost 
every state and were known by a variety of names. 
There were, however, four principal t)rpes.^ 

( I ) Those having a central organization with a repre- 
sentative membership of farmers scattered generally 
throughout the county and paying an annual membership 
fp fi nf f rQipjrvnefn ten dollars. Associations of this 
type usually heldlneetings annually and had a board of 
directors as an executive committee for carrying forward 
the business of the organization, and an advisory coun- 
cil or other group of elected or appointed officials, who 
met at stated intervals, usually monthly, to consult with 
the County Agent in regard to the conduct of his work. 

^The distribution was as follows: 

Alabama . . 
Arizona . . . 
California . 
Delaware . 
Florida . . . 
Georgia . . . 


Illinois . . . . 
Indiana . . . 


Kansas . . . . 
Kentucky . 
Louisiana . 













Maryland 9 

Massachusetts ... 8 

Michigan 12 

Minnesota 25 

Mississippi .... 39 

Missouri 12 

Montana 5 

Nebraska 6 

New Hampshire.. 2 

New Jersey 4 

New Mexico 4 

New York 23 

N. Carolina 63 

N. Dakota 15 

Ohio 7 

'States Relations Service, Circular No. i. 

Oklahoma 51 

Oregon 10 

Pennsylvania .... 14 

Rhode Island i 

S. Carolina .J9 

S. Dakota 3 

Tennessee 31 

Texas 81 

Utah 7 

Vermont 8 

Virginia 55 

Washington 9 

West Virginia.... 23 

Wisconsin 9 

Wyoming 3 

By W. A. Lloyd. 


Many of the organizations of this type were incorpo- 

(2) Those having a central organization made up of 
delegates from township groups or other subordinate 
units. These local groups usually met monthly and dis- 
cussed matters of community interest, the County Agent 
being present whenever possible. The central or delegate 
organization met usually on the call of the president 
whenever there was important business to transact. 

(3) Those having a central organization made up of 
delegates elected from various rural organizations already 
in the county, such as farmers' clubs, granges, farmers' 
union, gleaners, the equity, etc. Such an organization 
was sometimes called a county federation. The various 
associations held their regular independent meetings and 
the federation committee which made up the central assc^- 
ciation met at stated intervals or on call of the president 
and exercised the functions of the advisory council as in 
plan Number i. 

(4) Dissociated farmers' clubs without a central or- 
ganization, through which the agent extends his work. 

In a few cases the county board of commissioners or 
supervisors constituted the central organization, and in a 
few others an agricultural committee of a local Chamber 
of Commerce has been a cooperating body. 

In the Southern States what were known as County 
Councils of Agriculture were developed. These more 
nearly resembled type Number 3, but had some points 
of difference. 

The fundamental purpose of all these forms of organi- 
zation was the same ; namely, to bring together a number 
of interested people with whom the County Agent could 


work directly in planning projects to be undertaken and 
through whom he could multiply his efforts and spread 
his teachings. They were the public spirited citizens, the 
leaders, who gave freely of their time and money to 
promote the public welfare. The County Agent needed 
such a body of representative farmers back of him more 
for their moral support than for their financial assistance, 
yet they usually contributed no small part to his salary 
and running expenses. 

Experience soon showed the organization flaws, how- 
ever, and it was not long before most of the county 
organizations in the North and West were modeled after 
either plan Nimiber i or plan Number 2 indicated above. | 

This chapter would be unfinished without some esti- 
mate of the value of the results accomplished for agricul- 
ture by the County Agent, and without some tribute to 
the tremendous energy and enthusiasm which these virile, 
vigorous young men — ^nearly all farm reared and gradu- 
ates of agricultural colleges — ^threw into this great work 
which has virtually transformed the farm. A condensed 
stunmarized report of one year's demonstration work will 
perhaps serve this purpose. 

The table on page 92 gives only a few of the more im- 
portant lines of demonstration work together with an esti- 
mate of results secured. The figures showing profits are 
those resulting directly from the demonstrations and do 
not attempt to measure the values accruing from the 
spread of their influence. 

In connection with demonstrations and in attending to 
details of the work the county agents made, in 1919, 
510,000 farm visits, or an average of about 450 per 
agent. A total of 1,412,200 visits to the county agents' 
offices were made by farmers during the year, in addition 



Name of demonstratioii. 

Corn, general 

Com, seed selection 

Com, seed testing 

Com, silage 

Wheat, general 

Wheat, varieties 

Wheat, smut control ^ 

Oats, general 1 

Oats, varieties 

Oats, smut control 

Potatoes, general 

Potatoes, disease control... 



Qover; red, alsike, white.. 

Sweet clover 

Soy beans 

Orchards . .< 


Cow testing for production. 



Blackleg control 

Hog-cholera control 


Poultry culling 


Irrigation '. . . 


Lime and limestone 

Purchasing and marketing.. 
Rodent and animal pests... 

Insect pests 





Namber of 





























Number of 
meetings at 























































Total profit 
on demon- 

due to 




























*U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. Circular No. io6. By W. A. 


to the uncounted thousands of telephone calls. The coun- 
ty agents held 81,156 meetings with a total attendance of 
3,580,000 people. Half a million farmers cooperated in 
actual demonstrations. During the year 148,110 agricul- 
tural articles were written for the rural papers, nearly two 
million original letters were sent to farms and more than 
eight million circular letters were used by the county 
agents in reaching the farmers of their respective counties. 






WE ate next to note the development of a new prin- 
ciple and a new institution in American agri- 
culture. Since the origin, purpose and underly- 
ing motives of the local farm bureau have much to do 
with all that follows, it is necessary to outline its earlier 
history in some detail. 

In 1909 Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson made 
a tour of New York State and upon his return to Wash- 
ington announced that he had been greatly impressed by 
the number of so-called abandoned farms seen, particu- 
larly in the southern part of the state. This statement 
came to the attention of Mr. Byers H. Gitchell, then secre- 
tary of the Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, and 
confirmed his own growing belief that it would be an 
excellent idea for his organization to devote more atten- 
tion to the welfare of the agricultural sections tributary 
to Binghamton. In 1910 Mr. Gitchell started an agita- 
tion with that end in view. 

What actuated Mr. Gitchell, and later his associates, 
was a realization of the fact that farming is the basic in- 



dustry, and that no urban community depending upon the 
trade of the rural territory surrounding it can long pros- 
per unless the region that feeds it is also prosperous. 
They likewise reaUzed that no nation can continue to 
prosper unless agriculture thrives. 

In his campaign to arouse the Chamber of Commerce 
to the needs of the hour, Mr. Gitchell was aided by a 
fortunate circumstance. The report of President Roose- 
velt's Country Life Commission had just appeared, and 
it contained facts and figures emphasizing the need for 

The Chamber appointed a committee on agriculture and 
a tour of Broome and contiguous counties was arranged. 
Participating in this reconnaissance, which was later to 
mean so much to American agriculture, were members 
of the Chamber, representatives from the New York State 
College of Agriculture, the United States Department 
of Agriculture, and the New York State Department of 

The committee learned many useful things from this 
tour. The agricultural experts in the party were able to 
point out certain deficiencies in methods on many farms 
that were limiting returns. Other farms were visited 
where work was being done in a way worthy of imitation 
by others. The party returned home convinced that the 
time was ripe for some one to take the initiative in 
opening to all farmers the opportunities presented through 
modem science and practice of agriculture. 

Meanwhile a few progressive farmers of the county, 
grateful that a city organization should be so far-sighted 
as to visualize a situation they had long been aware of, 
had taken out membership in the Binghamton Chamber 
of Commerce. 


George A. Cullen, at that time traffic manager and in- 
dustrial agent of the Lackawanna Railroad, chanced to 
attend a meeting at Binghamton at the time this general 
plan of assisting in the development of agriculture was 
discussed, and the idea struck him most favorably. He 
pledged the cooperation of his road in any plan that might 
be devised. Mr. Cullen and two farmer members of the 
Chamber were added to the agricultural committee which 
soon came to be known as a "bureau" in the Chamber 
of Commerce. 

The question as to just what plan of procedure should 
be undertaken occasioned much discussion. Several 
members of the committee favored the establishment of 
a demonstration farm which could serve as an object 
lesson in good farming. Finally it was decided that ex- 
pert advice was needed and Mr. Cullen went to Washing- 
ton to consult with Dr. W. J. Spillman of the United 
States Department of Agriculture. 

Dr. Spillman discouraged the demonstration farm idea, 
pointing out that he had already tried some thirty of these 
farms throughout the country and that 29 of them had 
been practically failures. Dr. Spillman called attention 
to the good work being done by "county demonstrators" 
in the southern states, and with the success of Mr. Ross 
in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, fresh in mind, strongly 
recommended that this plan be tried in Broome County. 

This idea appealed to the committee and they decided 
to follow Dr. Spillman's advice. Funds were provided 
cooperatively by the Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, 
the United States Department of Agriculture, and the 
Lackawanna Railroad. The New York State College of 
Agriculture agreed to give educational assistance. John 
H. Barron, a graduate of the state agricultural college 


was engaged as County Agent and began his work on 
March 20, 191 1. 

It will be noted that while Mr. Ross had been at work 
as County Agent of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, for 
nearly a year previous to the advent of Mr. Barron, yet 
the former was working on practically an independent, 
free-lance basis, while the latter had a local governing, 
consulting, and cooperating body. Thus the credit for t 
the first farm bureau belongs to Broome County. It is 
true that Mr. Barron's organization bears little resem- 
blance to the present day farm bureau, but the principlei 
of local control and local responsibility was established^ 

Soon Mr. Barron discovered that it was practically im- 
possible to cover with any regularity the fifty-mile radius 
assigned to him, and both as a means of extending his 
work and as a way of intensifying interest he appointed 
community chairmen. This was the second big step in 
establishing the local organization idea, and, it will be 
noted, was developed purely as a means of making the 
County Agent's work more effective. Mr. Barron also . 
utilized such organizations as he found ready-made, the 
Grange, in particular, becoming his staunch supporter. 

The work went forward vigorously in Broome County 
on this basis and in the next year or two the County Agent 
became a fixture in many other states of the East and 
Middle West. In the South, too, the work of the County 
Demonsta-ators changed in character somewhat and what 
were known as County Councils of Agriculture were 
formed. Agricultural leaders everywhere realized that 
they were now in the midst of a great movement and that 
the best thought and best efforts must be given to guide 
the development into safe and sane channels. At that 
period the movement was entirely in the hands of the 


state and national agricultural extension forces, with 
such aid and assistance as Chambers of Commerce, banks, 
and other large commercial organizations saw fit to give. 
Farmers themselves had practically nothing to do with 
the directing of policies. 

West Virginia was one of the first states to see the 
necessity of enlisting the farmer's active support in this 
work and to arrange for his actual participation. Before 
a County Agent was placed in a county, the local farmers 
were called together and required to pledge a certain 
amount of money toward his support. They were re- 
quired to take out memberships (at one dollar each) in 
a "county farm bureau" which was to elect officers from 
its own ranks, solicit more members, assist the County 
Agent in working out a set of demonstration "projects," 
and in general to cooperate with the County Agent in 
every way possible. Since more members meant more 
funds to work with and greater interest throughout the 
county, membership campaigns were pushed and the 
County Agent frequently took an active part in this 

New York State developed along practically the same 
lines and at the same time. In several states laws were 
passed authorizing the county courts or county Boards 
of Supervisors to make appropriations for farm im- 
provement work, to be spent under the direction of the 
farm bureau. In New York such a law was passed in 
191 2 and soon thereafter the Broome County Board of 
Supervisors, with but one dissenting vote, made an ap- 
propriation of $1,000. In the New York counties or- 
ganized following the initial installation, the plan of hav- 
ing local farmer membership and control was inaugurated 
and proved so satisfactory that in October, 19 14, the 


Broome County organization also went over to that basis. 
Mr. James Quinn, then the Master of the Broome Coiuity 
Pomona Grange, was elected president. 

Evidence of the fact that the original plan of organiza- 
tion in Broome County as a bureau in the Chamber of 
Commerce was not satisfactory, is found in the fact that 
on October lo, 191 3, a county-wide meeting of farmers 
was held and the "Farm Improvement Association of 
Broome County" organized. The following year this or- 
ganization took over the responsibilities and assumed the 
name of the Broome County Farm Bureau. The friendly 
relations with and cooperation of the Chamber of Com- 
merce were continued but thenceforth the farmers con- 
trolled their own affairs in so far as local matters were 
concerned. The County Agent was, of course, jointly re- 
sponsible to the state college of agriculture, also, since the 
state and Federal funds made available through the Smith- 
Lever Law, enacted in 1912, were administered by the 



SATISFACTORY basic principles of organization 
and purpose once worked out, progress throughout 
the nation was comparatively rapid. Most of the 
states of the East and of the Middle West and a few of 
the far Western states adopted the county farm bureau 
idea, first in a more or less experimental way and then 
more rapidly after the Smith-Lever funds became avail- 
able in 1 9 14. In most states the sole limiting factor was 
the impossibility of seairing properly trained men capable 
of serving as County Agents. It soon became the gen- 
eral plan in most states for the state extension forces of 
the College of Agriculture to assist in organizing a 
county even before a County Agent could be found, and 
then later when a prospective Agent became available, 
to give the local farm bureau the opportimity to accept 
or refuse the candidate. This was one more distinct 
step toward local control. 

It was, however, the emergency of the World War 
that brought the farm bureau and the County Agent to 
full stature as aids to agriculture. 

"Food will win the war'* was the message sent out by 
our struggling Allies across the sea. The cry was taken 
up in the United States and made to reecho on every 
farm. Agriculture took on a new importance. It became 
apparent that even shells and explosives would be useless 




< 9 
o »ca 


3 -II 

S _ i;-S 
< 5fil 

SI " 
3 'Jl 
a S|| 



without a surplus of bread and meat to send to the firing 
line. The Grovemment turned to the question of maxi- 
mum food production determined, if necessary, to or- 
ganize each farming district just as it had organized 
for ship production or for munitions making. It was 
realized that some means must be devised to reach quickly 
every community and every individual farmer and to or- 
ganize these individuals in such a way as to produce the 
most effective results. And then to its delight the Govern- . 
ment found ready-made and in perfect working order | 
this almost ideal system of organization made up of ' 
county farm bureaus, each with its technically trained 
leader and advisor. 

Under the Emergency Food Production Act, passed 
August 14, 191 7, more funds were supplied in order to 
extend the County Agent system as rapidly as possible and 
to employ assistant County Agents in the more important 
counties. In Ohio, Wisconsin, Montana, and several 
other states, members of the agricultural college staffs 
were released from their regular duties and assigned to 
counties as emergency agents. Temporary assistants to 
the state County Agent leaders were appointed in some 
states to assist in educating the public to the necessity of 
organizing farm bureaus and obtaining County Agents, 
some of the most effective work in this line being done by 
practical farmers who were themselves officers of exist- 
ing farm bureaus. The campaign for increased food 
production was waged early and late and with a measure 
of success for which our Allies have since had due 
reason to thank us fervently. 

The number of County Agents in the North and West a 
jumped from 542 on July i, 191 7, to 1133 on June 30, 16^V 
1918. The increase in farm bureaus during this same 




period was from 516 to 791. The individual membership 
in the various county farm bureaus totaled approximately 
290,000 at that time. The membership fee was gener- 
ally one dollar. 

The experiences of the war had shown more clearly 
than ever the mutual interdependence of the local farm 
bureau and the County Agent. The various states, in- 
cluding some that had hesitated, accepted the farm bureau 
plan and set about fitting it into the permanent scheme 
of things. 

One of the important problems the agricultural col- 
leges were early called upon to face in connection with 
the development of farm bureaus was the question of 
control. As long as the Federal and state funds con- 
tributed to the support of a County Agent more or less 
independent of a local organization, the agent was very 
definitely under the control of the college and this fact 
added materially to the power and prestige of that insti- 
tution. Even with weak county organizations contribut- 
ing but slightly to the funds and acting principally in an 
advisory and cooperating capacity, the college could re- 
tain control. But if the policy of deliberately strengthen- 
ing and upbuilding these county units was to be adopted, 
it was easy to foresee a time when the County Agent 
I would be largely controlled and directed by the local 
I bureau and the college would act in simply an advisory 

Dean L. H. Bailey, one of the pioneers in this move- 
ment, expressed his views along this line as early as 19 14, 
in the following language : 

"Administration follows funds. As a rule, the sources 
of these funds will determine the character of the con- 


trol. In this State (New York), the funds are derived 
in part from the Federal Government, in part from the 
State, in part from the localities, and in part from out- 
side sources. If the Farm Bureaus establish themselves 
and become more effective, the appropriation of local 
funds will gradually and prominently increase. This will 
more and more place the control of the Farm Bureau in 
the hands of the people, for they will manage it from 
among themselves. 

"However, there should be some uniformity of man- 
agement within the State and also within the nation ; and 
the larger methods and relations should be standardized. 
This means that somewhere and somehow there must be 
useful supervision. Even if the Farm Bureau were sup- 
ported wholly by local funds, nevertheless it would be 
greatly to the interest of that Bureau to place itself within 
the State plan so that it might have the benefit of advisory 
oversight, and of the work of all similar organiza- 
tions. . . • 

"I like the idea of a public-membership organization, 
on which the Farm Bureau rests, every member paying 
his annual dues. ... If there is such an organization 
contributing a good round sum ( in the end certainly not 
less than one thousand or two thousand dollars in each 
good agricultural county annually) then the organization 
may safely accept funds from the outside. These funds 
would not then be gifts that might control the situation; 
they would be contributions from people and groups that 
desire to help. The support of Farm Bureaus by cham- 
bers of commerce is a passing phase. I hope that con- 
tributions from such bodies will continue, but they should 
be only contributions and not control or ownership. 

". . . In practice it will be found that the government 
will not provide sufficient funds to support all the work 
that will be wanted. It is also due the Agent that he 
have the backing of his people. I do not see how it is 


possible for the Farm Bureau to get very far until there 
is a good background organization with a voting mem- 

It must be said to the lasting credit of the agrictdtural 
college dficials that for the most part they took the broad- 
minded view of the subject and decided that despite the 
dangers due to inexperience, the control must be placed 
largely in the hands of the local farmer. The part of 
the college must be to act as faithful guide and servant 

Another problem which caused much perplexity and 
which in the end brought about a material modification 
of the conception of the duties of the farm bureau as 
distinct from those of the County Agent, had to do with 
commercial activities, particularly cooperative buying. 

When the County Agents first went to work they were 
to a very considerable extent on trial. This was particu- 
larly true in those counties where rather heavy local con- 
tributions to the expenses of the Agent were made, and 
where no farm bureau existed. Ordinarily one of the 
statements made when interesting local farmers and busi- 
ness men in the county farm bureau idea or in the em- 
ployment of a County Agent, was to the effect that the 
Agent would repay his cost many times over, in the way 
of increased production, improved conditions, disease and 
insect control, and through the application of other scien- 
tific methods. After the Agent got the job, however, he 
found that it was a little difficult to check up on the in- 
creases in yield, or the improvement in fertility, due to 
the growing of a crop of soy beans, for instance. The 
increase might be there but the farmer could not see it. 
Or seeing it, might credit it to favorable weather condi- 
tions or other variable factors. Furthermore, the human 


memory is notoriously brief and gratitude notably absent 
when it comes to remembering former onerous conditions 
and appreciating improvements made. The improvements 
are soon taken as a matter of course and the author 
thereof forgotten. On the other hand, the annual extrac- 
tion of a hard, cash, membership fee was an operation 
possessed of vivid personal reality. It, therefore, fre- 
quently happened that a farmer might be inclined to 
weigh his cash benefits arising from the County Agent's 
presence, against his cash outgo appurtenant thereto. 
This naturally led to an effort on the part of the County 
Ageiit to make a shovdng on a cash basis. 

Looking about him, the Agent noted here and there 
a local farmers' club or perhaps a Grange or Farmers' 
Union buying fertilizers, feed, salt, coal, and certain 
other supplies cooperatively and at considerable cash sav- 
ings to themselves. This idea fitted in well with the 
County Agent's own convictions that marketing systems 
on the farm, both as to buying and as to selling, should 
be improved. It also furnished the means of justifying 
his existence on a purely cash basis. He adopted the idea 
of cooperative buying and soon the practice was quite 
general. In most states the idea was never officially sanc- 
tioned but it flourished nevertheless. Throughout the 
eastern half of the country fertilizer was the one product 
most frequently purchased cooperatively by County 
Agents, either directly or through utilization of some 
local farmer groups for the actual completion of the 

The local fertilizer agents were first to be heard from 
in opposition to this plan and since many of them were 
prominent in local activities and had contributed to the 
support of the County Agent, their objections had no lit- 


tie fcN'ce. Soon the large fertilizer companies took up 
the fight to protect their agents. Various influences were 
brought to bear and a number of cases are on record 
where county agricultural agents were forced to resign 
their positions because of their activities in promoting 
cooperative buying. 

In several states the idea of cooperating with the local 
dealers was developed. Arrangements were made where- 
by the dealer was to perform a minimum of service, usual- 
ly merely transmitting the pooled order, with check, and 
receiving the shipment. For this he received a small fee 
•^-usually fifty cents to one dollar per ton — about one- 
third to one-fourth his former charge. This oftentimes 
pacified the local dealer, but not so the parent fertilizer 

The larger f ertiUzer companies saw themselves rapidly 
getting into a most unhappy situation. They were glad 
to see the Cotmty Agent in the field ; his work increased 
the use of fertilizers. They were anxious to cut down 
in any way possible the admittedly high selling costs in- 
volved in the distribution of their product. But they felt 
that they could not aflFord to cut loose from their local 
selling agent system, built up by many years of persistent 
effort. Cooperative buying has the disagreeable result 
of throwing all the business in a given community, or 
cooperating unit, to one single company. There may be 
agents of five to ten competing companies in that com- 
munity, but the pooled order goes to the agent of only 
one of them and the rest threaten to, and frequently do, 
give up their agencies. The following year a different 
company may be the lowest bidder and the fortunate 
agent of the preceding year will be out of business in that 
section. The disrupting effect upon the parent company 
is evident. 


If the territory could be divided between companies, 
the orders apportioned or pooled, or the companies con- 
solidated into one large central organization all of the 
undoubted economies of distribution through cooperative 
groups could be secured and a satisfactory profit still 
realized by the manufacturers. Any such combination 
or apportionment would, however, apparently be a clear 
violation of the Sherman Anti-trust Law, and could not 
be considered by the fertilizer companies. 

Finally it became necessary for Dr. A. C. True of the 
U. S. Department of Agriculture, to make definite rulings 
as to the extent to which the Cotmty Agent could par- 
ticipate in cooperative buying. These rulings were in 
accordance with the general policies of the Department 
and stated in effect that the County Agent should confine 
his attention to educational matters. Education in the 
matter of selling farm crops or purchasing supplies 
would be considered a part of the County Agent's regular 
duties. Demonstrations along this line might extend as 
far as the actual organization of a cooperative buying 
group. But once organized the County Agent must have 
nothing to do with the ordering of goods, handling of 
funds, or other business transactions. 

An effort was made throughout the various states to 
carry out the sense of this ruling. 

W. F. Handschin, Vice Director of the Agricultural 
Extension Service of the University of Illinois, in Jan- 
uary, 1919, instructed the Illinois farm advisors very 
definitely on the question of commercial activities, in the 
following language : 

"As I see it, it is not the chief, nor even the secondary, 
business of the farm bureau, and much less of the farm 
advisor, to attempt to purchase all of the miscellaneous 
commodities upon which a few cents can be saved to 


the farmers by buying in quantity and paying cash. First, 
because when all of the costs in time and overhead ex- 
pense are taken: into account there is usually a very small 
saving, if any. Second, because the county as a unit does 
not usually lend itself well to the distribution of the com- 
modity purchased. Third, because the advisor being 
largely on salary derived from public f tmds has no right 
to spend his time competing with other selling agencies 
that do not happen to be so fortunate as to be subsidized 
to the extent of ten or fifteen percent on their gross sales. 
And lastly, because if the advisor is worth anything in 
his work of helping to solve the most essential agricul- 
ttiral problems confronting his county, he cannot afford 
to be using his time to save his farmers ten cents when 
he should be helping them to earn two dollars and a half. 
. . . The activities of the farm bureaus and the farm 
advisors, in so far as they have to do with commercial 
and cooperative activities, should be confined largely to 
the study and development of better selling methods (of 
farm products). ... In the working out of this plan the 
farm advisor will be what the name implies, a real ad- 
visor to his constituency in working out their problems 
in distribution, just as he has been in helping them to 
work out their problems in production during the last six 
and one-half years. This may be in the planning and 
organization of a fruit or vegetable shipping organiza- 
tion in Union or some other county in southern Illinois, 
or in the organization of a livestock shippers' association 
in LaSalle or Henry County. . . . Once the agency is 
organized and the business established, the farmers them- 
selves, or their agent, must take charge. We have said 
that the farm advisor is not a purchasing agent on a 
public subsidy, neither is he a selling agent for farmers 
with a similar advantage. He is an educational and 
advisory agency in the most practical sense of the 


The discussion of commercial activity on the part of 
farm organizations, profiteering, unfair practices and 
retaliatory methods was becoming so heated at that time 
that Mr. Handschin felt called upon to add the following : 

"I cannot close without a word regarding our attitude 
toward the entire question and the people it involves, in 
other words, our philosophy in the whole matter. It 
seems to me it is worth noting that in discussing the 
problems of distribution, our attitude is not essentially 
different from our attitude toward the problem of pro- 
duction and the people concerned with it. Both produc- 
tion and distribution are still very inefficient — so is con- 
sumption for that matter. Some producers are dishonest 
or greedy or both. So are some of the men engaged 
in distribution. In so far as any set of men is dishonest 
or their practices vicious, they should be made to reform 
or be driven out of business, whether they are distribut- 
ing foodstuffs or renting land to tenants under vicious 
systems of tenure. In so far as they are merely inefficient 
they must be helped to work out more efficient methods. 
Those who cannot do this must eventually be eliminated. 

"We must keep in mind that the railroad was not in- 
vented to punish the man who was furnishing transporta- 
tion so much less efficiently with his stagecoach. It 
represented merely a better method. The inventor of 
the linotype machine was not *mad at' the old-fashioned 
typesetter. He merely found a better way of doing an 
important piece of the world's work. Progress is not 
made by appeals to class prejudice and class hatred. If 
our motive principle is to *get' some one, we shall 'get' 
no one except ourselves and contribute roundly to the 
breaking down of democracy in the bargain. Demago- 
gtiery in its reaction against autocracy gave us the Rus- 
sia of to-day, a despotism compared with which the 
Russia of the Czar was a kindergarten picnic. 


"What we need is sanity, and the courage to be honest 
with ourselves as well as the courage to stand for what 
we think is justly due us. What we need is to face the 
facts, to stand for fair play, and to apply reason as well 
as rawhide." 

These rulings and opinions plainly forbade the County 
Agent's direct participation in buying or selling opera- 
tions. Here was a definite point and limitation beyond 
which the agent could not go. If the practice of co- 
operative buying was to be continued it must be done 
by the farmers themselves. Here was a definite job for 
the farm bureau, separate and distinct from its duties 
arising out of its relationship to the County Agent for 
demonstration and educational purposes. In a sense it 
made the county farm bureau an absolute necessity in the 
community. A purchasing agent had to be appointed — 
and later employed. Committees had to be selected to 
ascertain the needs of the various districts in the county. 
Operations were expanded. Soon more funds were 
needed and the farm bureau itself took over the task of 
soliciting memberships. Henceforth the County Agent 
and the farm bureau assumed more of the relationship of 
employee and employer. Cooperating with the County 
Agent was only one of the lines of work of the farm 
bureau; it had other lines which its officers considered 
almost if not quite as important. 

It is not too much to say that the entire structure, 
nature and purpose of the county farm bureau changed 
at this point — the date var)ring in the different states. 
From that time forward the farm bureau rather than 
the County Agent was to be the dominant factor. 



With the ccwinty farm bureaus becoming numerous and 
active in many of the states, and with the idea of cen- 
tralization already established through the existence of 
the state leaders of county agents, usually located at the 
state college of agriculture, crystallization into state as- 
sociations or state farm bureaus was a natural and logical 

The idea of a state organization seems to have grown 
out of the practice of inviting the county farm bureau 
presidents to attend conferences at the state agricultural 
colleges, held either in connection with Farmers' Week 
exercises, or as a part of the annual meeting of county 
agents. New York, California, Minnesota, West Vir- 
ginia and Vermont were among the first to inaugurate 
this practice. 

It soon developed that these various county units had 
interests which could best be served by some sort of state 
organization or association independent of the state edu- 
cational institutions. The state ^tension forces were 
quick to realize that a state federation of the county farm 
bureaus would provide a powerful influence in securing 
liberal appropriations from the legislatures for further 
extension work. The more active officers of the county 
farm bureaus, on the other hand, saw the possibilities of 
united action in getting financial support from the state 
for the furtherance of the county farm bureau work. In 
some states laws were desired to authorize the county 
courts to appropriate county funds for the use of the 
local farm bureaus. In other states the urgent need for 
same piece of special legislation entirely divorced from 


any immediate farm bureau aid was the motive which 
drew the counties together into more or less definite 
state units. 

In 191 7, when New York had attained to thirty-nine 
active countv farm bureau associations, the New York 
State Federation of County Farm Bureau Associations 
was organized. Thirty-four counties, representing nearly 
40,000 farmers sent delegates to the state meeting. The 
actual organization process was , carried out by the dele- 
gates, but the move was largely fathered and guided by 
M. C. Burritt, at that time State Leader of County 
Agents, and one of the leading spirits in the earlier phases 
of the entire farm bureau development 

During Farmer's Week, January, 1917, Nat T. Frame, 
State Leader of County Agents in West Virginia, and one 
of the advanced thinkers along farm bureau lines, called 
a meeting of delegates from the different county farm 
bureaus for the purpose of discussing the organization of 
a state federation of county farm bureaus. An organiza- 
tion committee was appointed and instructed to report 
the following year. In January, 1918, a constitution was 
adopted and the West Virginia federation effected. A 
number of other states followed in rapid succession. 



THE national phase of the Farm Bureau move- 
ment also had its inception in New York State. 
On invitation sent out by the Director of the New 
York State Federation, representatives of twelve states 
gathered at Ithaca on February 12, 1919 — ^just two years 
after the first state federation of county farm bureaus 
had been organized — ^to consider the advisability of 
forming a national organization. 

Only nine states were organized at that time to the 
point where they could claim a state federation or asso- 
ciation, but the remaining representatives came from 
states that were either in the midst of or were contem- 
plating such a move. 

President S. L. Strivings, of the New York State Fed- 
eration, called the meeting to order and stated that the 
objects of the proposed National Federation were: "(i) 
to provide the nation with some sane organization thor-1 
oughly representative of agriculture throughout the entire* 
United States, which might speak for the farmers of the 
entire country; (2) to take advantage of a nation-wide 
organization — ^the Farm Bureau — ^which promises great 
possibilities of usefulness in developing a program which 
will reach the entire country and which will bring into! 
action the strongest farmers of the nation." ' 

C. B. Smith, head of the States Relations Service, North 



and West, pointed out that only some 700 o r 800 counties 
then had farm bureaus and that scarcely 400 of those 
had real local organiziations that were active and ftmc- 
tioning properly. Mr. Smith felt that the next big job 
was to "get real local associations established in every 
county." He felt that a national organization might help 
in this work. 

After further speeches by J. R. Howard, of Iowa; O. 
E. Bradf ute, of Ohio ; Chester Gray, of Missouri ; C. V. 
Gregory, of Illinois, and a number of other representa- 
tives, a committee was appointed to outline a plan of 
procedure designed to effect a national organization. This 
committee recommended that a meeting be held at Chi- 
cago on November 12th and 13th to perfect such an 
organization and that in the meantime unorganized states 
should be urged to form state federations of county farm 

During the interval between the report of *the commit- 
tee and the date set for the conference at Chicago, interest 
in agricultural circles worked up to a high heat. The 
possibility of creating a great, new, national farmers' or- 
ganization on a basis different from anything that had 
preceded and with elements of strength never before 
possible, was suddenly borne home alike in professional 
agricultural circles and to the practical farmer. It was 
recognized by all that here was a sleeping giant that might 
be awakened to full power almost immediately. Soon 
the idea became general that undoubtedly a federation of 
the state farm bureaus would be effected at the Chicago 

The question as to what the major functions of such 
an organization should be, immediately occupied the at- 
tention of agricultural leaders. The educational groups 


associated with the colleges of agriculture saw the ad* 
vantages of such an organization but feared that in the 
hands of necessarily inexperienced men the great powers 
created might in the end be the means of wrecking all 
their carefully built-up work of years. Already farmer 
leaders in the Middle West were talking of using the new 
organization as an instrument to solve their marketing 
problems on a nation-wide cooperative plan. The argu- 
ment as to whether the prospective organization was to 
be primarily educational or whether it should be designed 
specifically to bring about improved business and economic 
conditions, increased as the date for the convention ap- 
proached. In general the Eastern, Southern, and Western 
states championed the former view, while the Middle West 
(which was more completely organized and farther ad- 
vanced in state farm bureau activities) insisted upon the 
business organization idea. 

When the convention finally assembled in the Red 
Room of the LaSalle Hotel at Chicago, speculation was 
rife and the atmosphere was surcharged with a feeling 
of electric tenseness. The outlying states felt that the 
Mid-West was determined to put through a program of 
what to them seemed radical commercialism. They 
feared this would sooner or later wreck the organization. 
The Mid- Western delegation, on the other hand, feared 
that the surrounding states might combine and prevent 
the organization of a federation pledged to do the things 
which the Mid-West thought most essential to the eco- 
nomic readjustment of agriculture. 

Some 500 delegates and yisitors were in attendance, 220 
of whom were from Illinois. Oscar E. Bradfute, of 
Ohio, was made chairman and Frank W. Smith, of New 
York, secretary. It was finally decided to seat one voting 


delegate from each state represented, regardless of the 
farm bureau membership within the respective states. 
The delegates were : 

New Hampshire, George M. Putnam ; Vermont, E. B. 
Cornwall; Massachusetts, E. F. Richardson; Connecti- 
cut, C. H. Savage ; New York, S. L. Strivings ; New Jer- 
sey, H. E. Taylor; Delaware, H. H. Hasrward; Mary- 
land, E. P. Cohill ; Virginia, James H. Quisinbury ; West 
Virginia, Gray Silver; North Carolina, C. R. Hudson; 
Georgia, James W. Wilson; Tennessee, W. A. Schoen- 
field; Mississippi, J. W. Willis; Texas, R. R. Bowen; 
Oklahoma, George Bishop; Ohio, H. P. Miller; Michi- 
gan, C. A. Bingham; Indiana, J. G. Brown; Kentucky, 
J. S. Crenshaw; Illinois, Harvey J. Sconce; Iowa, J. R. 
Howard; Missouri, Chester H. Gray; Minnesota, H. J. 
Farmer; South Dakota, H. C. Cobb; Nebraska, F. C. 
Crocker; Kansas, Ralph Snyder; Colorado, F. R. Lamb; 
Montana, F. S. Cooley; Utah, J. F. Burton; California, 
W. H. Walker. 

Harvey J. Sconce, president of the Illinois bureau, 
known as the Illinois Agricultural Association, delivered 
the first keynote speech and at once set forth the Illinois 
viewpoint. He said: "The inception of this national 
farm bureau association is taking place at a most oppor- 
tune time. The United States is at present experiencing 
the greatest period of industrial unrest in its entire his- 
tory. It is now just one year since the signing of the 
armistice. During this interval more than 3000 strikes 
have been inaugurated in this country. Is it any wonder 
that production has dwindled and cost of living has so 
greatly increased? 

"It is our duty in creating this organization to avoid 
any policy that will align organized farmers with the 


radicals of other organizations. The policy shotild be 
thoroughly American in every respect, — b. constructive 
organization instead of a destructive organization. 

"We shall organize, not to fight any one or to an- 
tagonize, but to cooperate and to construct, managing 
the affairs of agriculture in a broad business manner, 
following the policy that most of the ills complained of 
by the individual will disappear when business is done 
in business ways. 

"In order to do the business involved in a national 
agricultural association it will be necessary that this asso- 
ciation be represented in every place where the business 
of the farmer is taken into consideration. 

"The great idea should be to keep control of our food 
products until they get much closer to the ultimate con- 
sumer than they do at the present time, thereby not only 
returning to us a profit on the article produced, but serv- 
ing humanity in a more efficient manner by giving the con- 
sumer an article of quality at no increased cost." 

S. L. Strivings, president of the New York Farm 
Bureau Federation, followed with a second keynote 
speech, voicing more nearly the attitude of the agricul- 
tural college leaders who had developed the farm bureaus. 
He said: "There is a wide diversity of agricultural in- 
terests in the United States, varying from the Corn Belt 
both east and west. It is difficult to bring all these 
divergent interests together, but I believe these men here 
assembled can accomplish this. The nation needs an 
organization such as we propose to build, because it has 
not heretofore had the advantage of concentrated loyalty 
and concentrated sanity — ^these things have been scat- 
tered. Farmers can stabilize the nation and a national 
agricultural program is imperatively needed." 


Mr. Strivings pleaded earnestly for more education — 
education of a new kind— education of city people to un- 
derstand the problems of the farm and of country people 
to understand the problems of city folks. He said, 
"Farmers must get past their own gateways and get out 
and see what is going on in the world. We must put 
agriculture into proper relationship with the rest of the 

The last keynote speech was made by J. R. Howard, 
president of the Iowa Federation of Farm Bureaus, who 
took a middle ground attitude. "The East and the West, 
the North and the South, have agricultural problems 
which are different only in their external aspects," he 
said. "These problems are basically similar or identical. 
We need to create a national spirit in our agricultural 
life. The farm bureaus enabled us to look over our line 
fences, the state organizations enabled us to work on our 
state problems, and now we have before us the possibility 
of a national association to create the national agricul- 
tural spirit. Perhaps we shall soon be acting interna- 
tionally. I stand as a rock against radicalism, but I be- 
lieve in an organization which strikes out from the 

The full declaration of purposes was intentionally 
avoided by the assembly, but in every official action the 
strife between the two elements was evident. Every 
move was weighed with reference to the effect upon ulti- 
mate voting strength. The Mid-West had the more 
individual members at that time, but the other states 
totaled the more votes. The question of future repre- 
sentation was finally compromised on the basis of one 
director for each state and one additional director for 
each 20,000 members. 


The same division cropped out when the question of 
financing the organization was considered. Those who 
favored active business operations wanted heavy fees and 
a big budget ; the advocates of the purely educational type 
of organization not only felt that a big fund was not 
needed, but that its existence would be a constant tempta- 
tion to embark upon commercial pursuits. 

Harvey Sconce appealed to the delegates to get a broad 
vision of the possibilities of a national association and 
to get behind it with a financial program that would 
insure success. 

"The thing that wrecks farmers' associations is the 
thing you people call vision/' declared one of the Cali- 
fornia delegates heatedly. "We do not know who the 
leaders of this national association will be, nor what sort 
of program they will have, yet we are asked to put up 
big funds on faith. Many an association has been 
wrecked because of too much money." 

"Our vision should not be a vision of gold," declared 
H. C. McKenzie, of New York State. "We do not need 
any such sums of money as some people think. All we 
need the first year is funds to conduct the work on a very 
conservative basis." 

J. S. Crenshaw, of Kentucky, replied, "The organiza- 
tion movement has been sweeping Kentucky like a prairie 
fire, and the Kentuckians have been signing $10 member- 
ship checks as fast as they could get hold of their check 
books. Kentucky is not here to support any penny-wise- 
and-pound-foolish policy. This national work is of a 
magnitude and scope that requires money. We do not 
want any ten-cent policy. We would be ashamed to go 
back to our people with any ten-cent proposition." 

Matters came to the point on several occasions where 


it seemed inevitable that the meeting should break up 
with the withdrawal of the Illinois delegation and the 
formation of a Mid-Western association. All realized, 
though, that to have real strength the entire body must 
hang together. A more conciliatory spirit finally de- 
veloped and a compromise plan was arrived at for financing 
and representation. Mr. Howard was elected president 
of the temporary organization, and it was decided to 
defer final plans of operation until after the ratification 
meeting set for the following March 3rd.^ 

Many leaders of the farm bureau movement in the 
Mid- West felt sorely disappointed with the results of the 

^In the constitution adopted Article II sets forth the objects as 
being ''to correlate and strengthen the state farm bureaus and 
similar state organizations of the several states in the national 
federation, to promote, protect and represent the business, eco- 
nomic, social, and educational interests of the farmers of the nation, 
and to develop agriculture." 

Membership in the national organization was declared to be 
limited to state farm bureau federations and state agricultural 
associations based on the farm bureau or similar plan approved by 
the executive committee. 

A democratic form of government was provided through a plan 
of representation on the basis of one director for each state and 
one additional director for each 20,000 members in a state. These 
directors hold one meeting annually and elect the executive com- 
mittee of twelve members and the president and vice-president, 
each for a period of one year. In addition there is provided a 
"House of Delegates" made up of one delegate from each state 
and one additional delegate for each 10,000 farmers of the state. 
These delegates sit with the directors and take part in the discus- 
sions but have no vote. 

The national dues, after a number of subsequent changes, were 
placed at fifty cents per local member per year. 
^ The president was made the active, executive head of the organiza- 
tion and is an ex-officio member and chairman of the executive 
committee. Responsibility for general policies was placed with the 
executive committee. 

The constitution provides that "any officer or director of the 
American Farm Bureau Federation who shall become, a candidate 
for an elective or appointive state or national office, shall at once 
resign and be automatically dropped from his official position in 
the American Farm Bureau Federation." 

'wm* mm ■• 


organization meeting. They felt that the conservatism 
of the delegates from the sections outside the Corn Belt 
had forced through a set of regulations that would throttle 
the purposes held by the Mid- West group. An editorial 
in the Prairie Farmer written during the heat of the fray 
declared : 

"The American Farm Bureau Federation was launched 
at Chicago November 12-14, but it took to the water with 
its hull stove in and its engines hitting on two cylinders. 
Instead of being bom of the enthusiastic vision of big 
service to the business of American agriculture with 
which many of the delegates were inspired, it was born 
of the suspicion and conservatism which others brought 
to the meeting." 

The editor recognized the underlying principle that had 
been gained, however, when he added : 

"The important thing, of course, is that it was bom 
at all. Never before have farmers from New Hampshire 
to Mississippi and California been able to meet for such 
a purpose and find any common ground at all on which 
to set their feet. The new association, imperfect as it is, 
is a great step forward, and when the permanent organi- 
zation meeting comes March 3, many of the imperfec- 
tions of the present constitution can be remedied.*' 

The first executive committee members were H. J. 
Sconce of Illinois, O. E. Bradfute of Ohio, Chester H. 
Gray of Missouri, W. H. Walker of California, W. G. 
Jamison of Colorado, John F. Burton of Utah, H. E. 
Taylor of New Jersey, E. B. Cornwall of Vermont, E. F. 
Richardson of Massachusetts, Gray Silver of West Vir- 
ginia, James W. Morton of Georgia, and George Bishop 
of Oklahoma. Mr. S. L. Strivings of New York was 
elected Vice-President, and J. S. Crenshaiw of Ken- 


tucky, Treasurer. President Howard ^ immediately began 
to turn his attention to the preliminary phases of the work 
and long before the ratification meeting on March 3 was 
giving his entire time to the affairs of the Federation. 

Time has a remarkable way of smoothing out differ- 
ences and showing things up in their true perspective and 
by the time the ratification meeting rolled aroimd the 
following March a spirit much different from that dis- 
played at the November organization meeting was shown. 
Many of the delegates had had an opportunity to get 
better acquainted, more of an effort was made to see 
things in a broad-minded way, some of the disturbing 
elements had been excluded by reason of the new basis 
of representation, and the necessity of composing their 
differences and getting down to work had been borne in 
upon every delegate. 

It was agreed that each state should pay into the na- 
tional treasury fifty cents for each member of a county 
farm bureau enrolled. An attempt was also made to do 
away with the sectional plan of representation on the 
executive committee, but without success. Twenty-eight 

* James Raley Howard was born March 24, 18^5. He grew up on 
a portion of the same farm which he now operates near the village 
of Clemons, Marshall County, Iowa. He attended Grinnell and 
Penn Colleges and completed his studies at the University of 
Chicago, from which he received the degree of Bachelor of 
Philosophy. He taught in a North Carolina college for two years,, 
then went back to his home community and began farming. Later, 
certain discouragements arose and he accepted a position as cashier 
in a local bank. After five years of this work he returned to the 
farm. That was in 1909. Since that time he has added to the 
original 160 acres which he bought until in 1920 he had a fine, high, 
grade 480-acre tract, known as ''Homelands.'' 

When the Marshall County Farm Bureau was organized, Mr* 
Howard was chosen president, and two years later when the Iowa. 
State federation of farm bureaus was formed^ Mr. Howard was 
again chosen to lead the work. 


states were ready to ratify the constitution and the mem- 
bership for these states totaled approximately 400,000. 
Theoretically this gave the Federation a fund of $200,000 
for the year, but this was materially reduced by deduc- 
tions for the portion of the year previous to March 3, 
which had already expired. 

President Howard was voted a salary of $15,000, 
J. W. Coverdale, who had been prominent in the develop- 
ment of county agent work in Iowa, and had been in- 
strumental in effecting the Iowa State Farm Bureau Fed- 
eration, was elected secretary and granted a salary of 
$12,000. Gray Silver of West Virginia was elected 
Washington representative at a salary of $12,000. 

It was decided to open headquarters in Chicago and a 
legislative office in Washington. The idea of attacking 
the economic questions at once gained in favor and a 
tentative program was outlined. 

One of the most important decisions was largely influ- P 
enced by a speech by Henry C. Wallace, editor of Wal- 
lace's Farmer, and later appointed Secretary of Agricul- 
ture, who said: "This federation must get to work at 
once on a real business program if it is to justify its 
existence. That doesn't mean turning the work over to 
committees of farmers, either. Every line of work must 
be in charge of experts. The best qualified men in the 
United States should be hired to manage each of the vari- 
ous lines of work. This federation must not degenerate 
into an educational or social institution. It must be made 
the most powerful business institution in the country." 

The Chicago meeting was continue'en route to Wash- 
ington, whencetheentire committee repaired to look into 
the legislative situation. 



WITH the organization of the national federation 
the farm bureau work again passed into a new 
phase. In the states already well organized care- 
fully planned membership campaigns were inaugurated, 
county solicitors being supplied from state headquarters. 
In the unorganized or poorly organized states men were 
provided from national headquarters to take charge of 
the membership drives until such time as the state organi- 
zation itself became strong enough to take over the work 
and push it vigorously. 

States which had been charging a nominal membership 
fee of only one or two dollars changed over to a ten- 
dollar basis in most cases, although several of the less 
prosperous agricultural states decided on a five-dollar rate. 
Practically all new states organized were placed on a ten- 
\ dollar basis from the start. The point was emphasized 
that regardless of how large a local fee was paid in by 
each member, only fifty cents could go to the national 
organization and the remainder would be spent at home, 
part for state purposes and part locally. The' usual di- 
vision of a ten-dollar membership fee is : national $.50, 
state $3.50, and local $6. 

It should be noted that this intensified organization 
work was carried on entirely independent of the state 



extension forces and in practically all cases independent 
of the local county agent. The county agent usually 
encouraged the movement and always gave his moral sup- 
port, but he usually took no active part in the solicitation. 1 

The solicitors ordinarily worked in crews with a 
trained leader sent out from state or national headquar- 
ters. This leader employed leading local farmers wher- 
ever possible, and after a few preliminary meetings to 
arouse enthusiasm the solicitors would start out in pairs 
to cover every mile of road in the county and call at 
every farmhouse. A favorite method adopted was to 
have the prospect sign a membership application blank 
which was also a check on the farmer's local bank au- 
thorizing the cashier to pay the farm bureau the sum of 
ten dollars on the first of January of each of the succeed- 
ing three years, specifically, and of every year thereafter 
until otherwise ordered. This plan, on a five-dollar basis, 
was first used by the Iowa Farm Bureau, but was soon 
adopted in many other states. 

The percentage of signers secured in these membership 
drives, particularly in the winter and spring of 19 19 and 
1920, was truly amazing. In many counties of Michigan, 
Ohio, Illinois, and Iowa 95 percent of the farmers called 
on became members. Many counties made records of 
around ninety percent membership of all the farmers in 
the cotmty. The state of Iowa, which numbered approxi- 
mately 217,000 farms, had in 1920 135,000 farm bureau 
members. Illinois had a percentage showing almost as 
high. In Illinois the membership fee was placed at $15 
and the extra funds were used locally. New Hampshire 
claims the distinction of being the first state to have a 
farm bureau in every county, but Iowa was a close second. 

The spirit prevailing is well illustrated by the follow- 


ing, which purports to be the report of a southern Illinois 

"From Chicago to Cairo, and from the Iowa shore to 
the Indiana state line rural Illinois is aflame with en- 
thusiasm for Farm Bureau organization. In eighty-seven 
counties of our Prairie State 106,413 farmers have joined 
up with the Illinois Agricultural Association. We have 
paid and pledged $15 each per year to forward the cause 
of organized agriculture as founded on the Farm Bureau 
idea. Five we send up to the I. A. A. to be used in carry- 
ing through the big state program. And of that five 
dollar bill, the state sends a half-dollar over to the Ameri- 
can Farm Bureau Federation to be used in carrying on 
the magnificent national farmers' program of which we 
are all so proud. Our organization, our money. 

"I remember the day I was tackled by one of Sailor's 
solicitors. He jumped out of my neighbor's 'flivver,' 
hopped the drainage ditch and tried to stand me up in a 
fence comer and make me listen to his whole rigamarole 
of rea3ons why and wherefore. I cut him off rather 
short, I think, by asking if I looked like the sort of cus- 
tomer who had to be sold on farm organization. Didn't 
he suppose I read the papers ? Didn't he know that I saw 
the need of it every day in the year? Didn't he think I 
had any brains at all? Where was there a farmer who 
surmised that he was going to get his full measure of 
economic and social justice without organization? I'd 
sign up right then and there and he could save his furious 
spiel for the man across the road. 

*'And if he didn't mind, I'd like to go along and see 
just what effect his gab would have on my other neigh- 
bor. No, I didn't want to say anything in particular my- 
self, but I would like to witness the fun. So I did go 
along. But I guess the joke was on me, because my hard- 
boiled neighbor joined up as soon as the man told him 


who he was — quicker than I did. Neighbor did most of 
the talking in fact. He's hot under the collar. He wants 
to fight. He has a passion against middlemen. He has 
2000 bushels of corn in his crib, com which he couldn't 
sell when it was quoted at $1.35 a bushel because he 
couldn't get cars to ship it. He's mad clear through and 
talks vehemently about such things as 'Boards of Trade/ 
'Speculators,' 'Committee of Seventeen,' 'Commodity Or- 
ganizations,' 'Agricultural Banks,' 'Pooling,' 'Real Co- 
operation,' and so on." 

Lack of real county farm bureaus in the South, to- 
gether with something of a lack of understanding of 
southern agricultural, civic, and social problems, caused 
a slower growth in that section. The County Councils 
of Agriculture found in the southern states more nearly 
resembled the early forms of the farm bureau in the 
North, and were not as good building material as the 
county units made up of individual farmer memberships. 
Kentucky, Georgia, and Texas made good progress, how- 
ever, and now have strong state organizations. 

All this campaign work was accompanied, of course, 
by enthusiastic speeches in every county, big headlines in 
the local papers and prominent mention by the farm press. 
In addition practically every farmer in every county 
covered had the benefits and possibilities of the farm 
bureau painted to him in vivid fashion by word of mouth, 
possibly by his most influential farmer neighbor. The 
war-time drives for the Liberty Loans and the Red Cross 
had taught organized publicity and campaign methods and 
these were used to the full. 

Big things were expected of the Farm Bureau and big 
things were promised. 






THE Stated objects of the American Farm Bureau 
Federation are : "to develop, strengthen, and cor- 
relate the work of the State Farm Bureau Federa- 
tions of the Nation; to encourage and promote coopera- 
tion of all representative agricultural organizations in 
every effort to improve facilities and conditions for the 
economic production, conservation, marketing, trans- 
portation, and distribution of farm products; to further 
the study and enactment of constructive agricultural legis- 
lation; to advise with representatives of the public agri- 
cultural institutions cooperating with farm bureaus in 
the determination of nation-wide policies, and to inform 
farm bureau members regarding all movements that aflfect 
their interests." 

The program of work falls under the following sub- 
divisions : 


I. To develop a completely unified national organiza- 
tion to act as spokesman for tiie farmer and to adequately 



represent the farmer and the farmer's interests pn all 


1. To create in the urban mind a better conception 
of the Farmer's relationship to other units in the social 
and economic structure. 

2. To reestablish agriculture in the public mind as the 
foremost industry, on which all others depend, and, in 
the prosecution of which man reaches his highest plane 
of development. 

3. To encourage and assist in the development of food 
production to its highest state of efficiency. 

4. To foster and develop all those lines of endeavor 
which make for better homes, better social and religious 
life, better health, and better rural living in every sense. 

5. To conduct referenda on various national questions 
to determine farm sentiment before determining legisla- 
tiv.e action. 


1. To safeguard the rights and interests and to assert 
the needs of the farmer whenever occasion may arise. 

2. To establish without question the legality of collec- 
tive bargaining. 

3. To insist upon the presence of "farmer minds" on 
all boards and commissions affecting agriculture, appointed 
by Congress or the President. 

4. To defend the farmer's viewpoint in all matters re- 
lating to tax levies, tariffs, currency, banking, railways, 
highways, waterways, foreign markets, the merchant 
marine, territorial acquisitions and all similar legislative 
matters involving questions of policy, in any way affect- 
ing agriculture. 

5. To insist on some arrangement between capital and 
labor which will insure freedom from disrupting and 
criminally wasteful strikes. 


6. To strengthen the Federal Farm Loan Act and 
secure in addition, the establishment of a system of per- 
sonal credits. 

7. To demand the regulation, under government super- 
vision, of all commercial interests whose size and kind 
of business enables them to establish a monopoly danger- 
ous to the best interests of the nation. 


y I. To extend cooperative marketing of farm crops to 
the point in the distribution system that the maximum 
benefits are secured for the producer, and incidentally, 
for the consumer. 

2. To limit the profits and reduce the costs of dis- 
tribution in all lines not handled cooperatively . 

3. To so estimate the effective world supply of any 
farm product and to so regulate the flow to market as 
to eliminate sharp and extreme price fluctuations. 

4. To establish new foreign markets for surplus Amer- 
ican farm products. 

5. To provide cheaper sources of fertilizer and more 
economical means of production. 

In order to carry out this program of work various 
departments have been created from time to time and at 
the time of writing stand as follows: 

Orgcmization — ^In charge of the secretary and equipped 
to assist any state desiring help in forming a state organi- 
zation or in conducting a membership drive. At the time 
of the first annual meeting in March, 1920, there were 
twenty-eight states affiliated with the Federation ; at the 
time of the second annual meeting in December, 1920, 
there were forty states in the Federation. 


Legislcdwe — Conducted through a branch office and 
staff at Washington, D. C. 

Cooperative Marketing — Created specifically for the 
purpose of developing a perfected national scheme of 
marketing farm products in such a way as to reduce the 
excessive costs of transferring them from the producer 
to the consumer. This department has conducted its 
work, to date, largely through special committees ap- 
pointed to consider the marketing of a given commodity 
as, for instance, the Farmers' Grain Marketing Commit- 
tee of Seventeen, the Farmers' Livestock Marketing Com- 
mittee of Fifteen, and the Farmers' Dairy Products 
Marketing Committee of Eleven. 

Transportation — Organized to help improve to the 
greatest possible extent the service of the railroads, to 
prevent excessive transportation burdens on farm prod- 
ucts, and to investigate tendencies in rates and regulations 
affecting agricultural products. 

Economics and Statistics — Designed to furnish up-to- 
date and reliable information along such lines as analyses 
of crop statistics; analyses of credit and business condi- 
tions and trends ; studies of world supply of agricultural 
products, crop conditions and forecasts based thereon; 
tendencies in tariff, merchant marine, and internal reve- 
nue legislation, commodity price tendencies, improved 
cost accounting methods for farmers, and related sub- 

Information — ^This department seeks to keep the gen- 
eral public sympathetically informed as to the purposes 
and accomplishments of organized agriculture. It is also 
a service department to all the other departments of the 
Federation and to the executive head. It maintains a 
weekly news service for farm papers, issues special news 


stories to the daily press, prepares feature stories for 
farm publications, magazines, and syndicates, and prints 
and distributes pamphlets and bulletins. It aims to use 
every means at its disposal, working through the state 
organizations, to create in every farm bureau member 
an intense consciousness of the responsibilities and privi- 
leges of his membership. 

Legal — ^To act as general counsel for the Federation, 
to draw contracts, investigate cooperative law and safe- 
guard the organization in all legal aspects. 

Finance — ^To collect dues, prepare budgets, approve ex- 
penditures, and keep records suitable for public audit. 

In most instances committees of three to five members, 
ordinarily composed largely of members of the executive 
committee, have general advisory oversight of the plans 
and policies of each department. 

The summarized budget for 192 1 is given below :^ 

Executive Office (salaries and expenses) $58,000 

General Office 47JOO 

Executive Committee Meetings 20,000 

Annual Meeting 12,000 

Organization Department 46,300 

Department of Information 27,500 

Legislative Department 32,868 

Department of Cooperation 21,200 

Department of Economics and Statistics 25,000 

Legal Department 12,000 

Transportation Department 37iOOO 

Finance Department (not including treasurer's salary) .... 3425 

Emergency uses 50,000 

Fotmdation Fund (Building) 100,000 


* During a period of rapid growth the amount of funds available 
for any given year is considerably less than the amount indicated 
by the membership, since considerable time must elapse before the 
new membership dues are actually paid into the national treasury- 


As has already been noted, the various state federations 
carry on programs of work quite similar in nature to 
that conducted by the national organization. They also 
have a legislative, an economic, and an educational pro- 
gram, and endeavor to correlate and make more effective 
the work of the coimty farm bureaus. There is, however, 
no conflict between the work of the national and the state 
organizations, since the latter work almost entirely within 
the state limits. Their legislative work is concerned with 
the state legislature and their marketing work has to do 
with a state-wide system, at most. Even the educational 
work need not conflict materially, since the state ordi- 
narily confines its activities to the publications of county 
and state-wide circulation. 

On the other hand, the national organization is in posi- 
tion to provide the necessary information to the state 
officers which will enable them to intelligently attack legis- 
lative problems. It can provide specialists and research 
departments to go into subjects much more exhaustively 
and on a broader scale than would be possible by the state 
organization. In marketing efforts it can take hold where 
the state leaves off and carry the product on further to 
market. Theoretically, there might appear to be consider- 
able room for friction on the old question of "state's 
rights vs. centralized authority," which crops out con- 
stantly in governmental circles, but in practice no such 
dissension has yet arisen in the farm bureau organization. 

The state programs of work follow, in a general way, 
a common plan but each has its modifications to suit local 
conditions and local funds. 

In 1920 the Illinois state organization had the most 
elaborate program of any of the states* Its state funds 
were spent as follows : 


Organization Department $156^3.51 

General Livestock Department (marketing and investi- 
gation) 3i»076,7S 

Dairy Livestock Department (marketing and investiga- 
tion) 2,532.06 

Grain Marketing Department (marketing and investiga- 
tion) 22,235.11 

Produce Marketing Department (marketing and in- 
vestigation) 1,240.64 

Phosphate-Limestone Purchasing Department 20,132.70 

Financial Department 9>8^46 

Publicity Department 1 1,609.24 

Claims Department SA^-si 

Dairy Produce Marketing Department 4,516.29 


General Office Expenses, printing, etc 45,622.57 

Payment to American Farm Bureau Federation 50,468.34 

Other special expenses 27,583.74 

Reserve Fund 33,842.88 

Total fund used or available $420,679.83 

Except in the case of the phosphate and limestone pur- 
chases the state organization did not enter into the actual 
handling of products or supplies directly. County or state 
cooperative organizations for the actual handling of farm 
products were fostered and encouraged. Assistance was 
given in organizing the local units where needed. 

This, in general, is the plan followed by most state farm 
bureaus. In Michigan, however, the actual cooperative 
marketing work for a time was tied up somewhat more 
closely with the central farm bureau office. In Texas 
membership in a local cooperative marketing association 
constitutes membership in the farm bureau organization 
also. The plan of having the actual marketing work done 
by the farm bureau directly is not considered entirely 
satisfactory by many, and it is probable that an effort 
will be made to bring about greater uniformity among 
the organization plans of the different states. 




coummf. OHIO 


The Ohio Plan of Corr^on^of^^c^Uural Activities with the 



The Ohio Farm Bureau has worked out a rather elab- 
orate system of coordination of farm bureau activities 
with those of other organizations already in existence. 
The plan is to have the grain marketing done, for in- 
stance, through a state grain growers' association which 
would control the grain elevators owned cooperatively. 
The advisory committee of this association would be made 
up of equal numbers each from the state farm bureau, 
the grange, and the grain growers' association. In the 
earlier stages of this development the farm bureau uses 
its funds to establish the grain growers' association, but 
once established it should be self-supporting. The same 
plan of organization and development is contemplated 
for the wool growers, the fruit growers, the dairymen, 
and the livestock men. The thought is then to bring the 
marketing activities of all these associations together 
under one large incorporated holding company which 
would have general supervision of all marketing opera- 

The personnel of the board of directors of this holding 
company would be divided equally between the farm 
iDureau and the grange and selected to represent, as nearly 
as possible, all the different types of agriculture in the 
state. The purchasing of supplies, fertilizers, etc., would 
be handled by a separately organized company similarly 
tied up with the various commodity organization units. 

The diagram on page 135 illustrates the interrela- 
tionship of the various units in this plan of organization. 

The Ohio Farm Bureau differs from those of most of 
the other states, also, in having a joint arrangement with 
the grange whereby both bodies finance a separate and 
distinct organization to carry on such legislative work as 
may be required within the state and in cooperating with 
the national legislative office at Washington. This or- 


ganization is known as the Ohio Home Protective 
League and has been very successful in its earlier cam- 
paigns. This arrangement tends to more completely di- 
vorce political activities from the farm bureau. 

In Texas every grower's marketing contract signed 
under the auspices of the Texas Farm Bureau contains a 
clause authorizing the deduction of Texas Farm Bureau 
membership dues from the proceeds of the sale of the 
crop. Forty thousand Texas growers, at the time of 
writing, had signed a binding contract to sell all their 
cotton produced during the next five years through a 
sales agency set up by the Farm Bureau. Other com- 
modities for which cooperative selling associations have 
been formed are wool, hay, and sweet potatoes. Under 
the Texas plan, also followed by several other states, the 
Farm Bureau marketing service is available to its 
members only. 

When the Michigan State Farm Bureau Elevator 
Exchange was first organized in 1920 it was made a de- 
partment of the State Farm Bureau. It was soon decided, 
however, to sever this close organic connection and in- 
corporate as an independent business concern. The Board 
of Control is made up of farm bureau men and all farmers 
comprising the ownership of the 95 local elevators which 
make up the Exchange are expected to be farm bureau 
members. The difficulties encountered and actual losses 
incurred by the exchange during the earlier months of its 
existence were sufficient, apparently, to sharply warn of 
the embarrassment that might result to the State Farm 
Bureau in the event of failure of the Exchange while 
existing as one of the departments of the Bureau. Sepa- 
rate organization, under Farm Bureau control, is believed 
by most leaders to be the safer course. 

After a poor start in the midst of extraordinarily bad 


trade conditions^ the Michigan Exchange got under way 
successfully and in June, 1921, did a business amounting 
to $600,000. Ninety percent of the Exchange's sales of 
grain, hay, and beans were direct to exporters. 

A reciprocal arrangement with the Michigan Potato 
Growers' Exchange — an organization antedating the 
Michigan Farm Bureau— enables potato-marketing Ele- 
vator Exchange members to get special service from the 
Potato Growers' Exchange, and vice versa for grain- 
marketing Potato Exchange members. All are coordi- 
nated through the Farm Bureau. 

The Michigan Farm Bureau early developed along a 
variety of commercial lines, chief of which, in addition 
to the Elevator Exchange, were a state wool pool, a pure 
seed purchasing department, a general farm supplies pur- 
chasing department, and a traffic department. 

The 1920 wool pool included 3,500,000 pounds and 
was highly successful in the face of rather discouraging 
conditions. Much was done to rejuvenate the demoralized 
wool market both by withholding stocks from trade chan- 
nels and by entering actively into the manufacture of 
virgin wool fabrics. Ten thousand blankets were made 
and sold the first season at practically the cost of produc- 
tion, yet at prices which netted the farmer 30 to 50 percent 
more for his wool than he could otherwise have obtained. 
Sales of virgin wool suitings averaged $1000 a day at 
the Lansing headquarters during the spring and early 
summer of 1921. Orders for 28,000 blankets and many 
miles of suitings and overcoatings were placed to meet 
fall demands. 

While this activity was taken up purely as an emer- 
gency measure to create a market for wool when the 
usual outlets were suddenly closed, the Michigan officers 


in charge of this work believe that the practice of fur- 
nishing manufactured woolens to farm bureau members 
has come to stay. 

The seed department of the Michigan organization has 
shown rather extraordinary results also. During the sea- 
son 1920-21, 3,000,000 pounds of seeds were handled for 
a total of 65,000 members. The Bureau set a new stand- 
ard in the seed business by guaranteeing the northern 
origin and climatic adaptability of every pound of seed 
it sold, in addition to guaranteeing its purity and percent- 
age of germination. 

On a single purchase of a relatively unimportant com- 
modity (white arsenic) a saving of $9000 was made. 
This was accomplished by negotiating directly by cable 
with a broker in London. Fertilizer, coal, binder twine, 
tile, fencing, harness, feeds, paints, salt, automobile tires, 
sugar, and insecticides are the commodities purchased in 
greatest volume. 

All goods are handled only on order from local organi- 
zations or individual farmer members. 

But important as are the national and state activities, 
the local county farm bureaus and township committees 
are, after all, the vital units of the farm bureau move- 
ment, and it is important to have a clear idea of just how 
they function. 

As we have already noted, the program of county agri- 
cultural improvement and education is worked out in 
cooperation with the County Agent. The various meet- 
ings, the funds and enthusiasm of the county farm bureau 
are then used to push through this program of improve- 
ment. The educational side of the county farm bureau 
program, in so far as it is tied up with the County Agent, 
was briefly treated in Chapters VI and VII. The accom- 









1- E 

3 St* 

\ PI 

1 ° I ! 

Is Ml ! 

n 'iihl 



panying diagram will, perhaps, give a clearer idea as to 
how the educational work of a typical county farm bureau 
js organized and carried out. The symbols in the map 
indicate the projects adopted by each community group 
after consultation with the County Agent or Home Dem- 
onstration Agent. The key to the symbols is given at the 

The business side of the county program is a newer 
development, entirely independent of the County Agent 
and not so generally understood. The following descrip- 
tion ^ of how this work is carried on in Franklin County, 
Ohio, gives an interesting glimpse of the machinery at 
work and the results effected : 

"The farm bureau is very strong in Franklin County, 
having almost 2000 members. The problem of better 
bargaining was tackled through it. 

"The first step was to employ a farm bureau business 
director. C. B. A. Bryant, a young tractor dealer, be- 
cause of an unquenchable enthusiasm and salesmanship 
ability, was chosen. 

" *We first need a survey to find out where the leaks 
are,* declared Frame Brown, president of the farm 

"So an investigation was made in six typical townships 
to learn what articles were bought and sold by the farmers 
and how. The results showed that the farmers sold five 
times as much as they bought, but that because both their 
buying and selling practices were disadvantageous the 
actual cash difference was largely evened up. 

"However, it soon became evident that the dealers were 
not wholly at fault for this situation. The fertilizer busi- 
ness in the county was an example of the slipshod methods 

'''In Country Gentleman, May 7, 1921, by E. H. Taylor. 


that were proving so costiiy. The survey showed that 345 
persons were handling fertilizer, many of them farmers. 
In one township seventeen dealers received fertilizer ship- 
ments on the same switch track. This duplication of 
small orders made for a g^eat deal of wastage. The 
same was true in respect to nearly all other staple articles 
bought by the farmers — ^many dealers handling the goods, 
having to anticipate the farmers' wants, selling in small 
quantities and having to carry the farmers' accounts. 
The interest on money the dealers had tied up in the 
surplus goods they were forced to carry and in the stand- 
ing accounts was all charged into their prices, along with 
random losses they had to take from time to time. 

" 'We've got to free ourselves from these makeshift 
practices. But how ? Go into business for ourselves or 
seek the remedy through the dealers?' That was the 
necessity and the problem faced by the farmers. They 
decided on a solution that was a combination of the two 
alternatives. The merchants and elevator men in the 
eighteen townships were called in for a conference with 
the township farm bureau organizations. This proposi- 
tion was submitted to them : 

" *The farm bureau, through its business director, will 
ascertain the wants of its members and pool their orders 
for such staple articles as fertilizer, seed, feed, coal, fenc- 
ing and spraying materials. All the bargaining with 
manufacturers and jobbers will be done by the farm 
bureau. But we want you to see to the distribution. Our 
members will pay you cash, and when an order is placed 
each purchaser will make a deposit with you as a guar- 
anty. We are thus relieving you of the work of mer- 
chandising, salesmanship, and collection, also saving you 
the necessity of anticipating our wants and carrying our 
accounts. Your charges should be reduced propor- 
tionately. Will you cooperate with us on these terms?' 

"In all but three townships the dealers agreed to the 
plan. Where more than one dealer in a community 


proved willing it was decided to apportion the business, 
or the farmers selected the cooperative dealer by vote. 

"Manufacturers and jobbers were next approached. 
Some of them were skeptical and inclined to regard the 
move as an encroachment into fields where the farmer 
did not belong. But the farm bureau leaders presented 
thus the situation to them : 

" 'We have round 2000 buyers back of us, and we in- 
tend to pool their orders. That means a big voliune of 
business— desirable business, too, because it will be cash,' 
they said. 'That business goes where we can get the 
most favorable prices for quality goods. Do you want 

"Cash business on such a scale, of course, looked good. 
Most of the frowns changed to beaming friendliness. 
The matter of fertilizer came up first, for a big business 
in acid phosphate is done in Franklin County. Eighteen 
fertilizer concerns, four located in Columbus, were sell- 
ing in the county. It was decided to give home enterprise 
first call on the business, provided it would meet outside 
competition. The four Columbus manufacturers were 
asked what concessions they would make for large-vol- 
ume orders. Three agreed to submit price proposals ; the 
fourth pooh-poohed the idea. He got no further con- 

"In the first six months of the farmers' new business 
policy 2800 tons of fertilizer were ordered at an average 
saving of $1.75 a ton, or close to $5000 altogether. In- 
stead of being handled by 345 different persons it was 
distributed through only twenty-five dealers. The profits\ 
and labor of 320 persons were thus eliminated, and thg/ 
margin of profit allowed the remaining twenty-five was 
cut in half. But because their business was greatly in- 
creased, their money turnover speeded up and their risks 
and labor correspondingly decreased, tiiese twenty-five 
dealers really enhanced their profits considerably. 

'How are these Franklin Coimty farmers able to pay 

" <i 


cash for their cooperative purchases when in the past 
they frequently required the merchants to carry their 
accounts?' They are like farmers almost everywhere — 
short of money at certain seasons. That difficulty, too, 
was taken care of through the farm bureau's business 
program. All the country bankers were called in for a 
conference. The situation was thus explained to them : 

" 'Farmers are in the habit of asking the merchants 
to carry their accounts. To render this accommodation 
the merchants must borrow from you bankers. The mer- 
chants charge the interest on these loans into the sales 
price of their goods, adding a little extra for the "trouble 
and risk. The interest thus is paid by the farmers. Why 
shouldn't the farmers borrow of the banks in the first 
place and pay cash to the dealers, thus accomplishing a 
saving and reducing the complexities of business? Will 
you bankers lend to the farmers so they can pay cash to 
the merchants, or do you prefer to lend to the merchants 
so that they can carry the farmers' accounts?' 

"That was a new view for most of the bankers. But 
they saw common sense in it. Almost without exception 
they agreed to become a link in the cooperative system. 
The last twelve months have been a bad time for bankers 
and farmers alike; loans everywhere have been hard to 
get Yet I was told time and again that Franklin County 
banks were standing by the farmers and lending them 
money to finance their necessary purchases. I saw an 
order put in for 2000 rods of fencing by the farmers 
of Madison Township. Virtually every farmer wrote a 
check for his deposit. Two thousand rods form a mini- 
mum car lot. By pooling their orders in this way the 
farmers got a saving of nearly eight cents a rod. It was 
handled through one cooperative distributor at Groveport, 
who was allowed 2% cents a rod as commission — ^about 
half what he formerly took. 

"The deposit paid down when placing an order is gen- 


erally about 10 percent of the total amount. The rest is 
supposed to be paid on receipt of the goods. If cash is 
not paid the dealer is allowed 8 per cent interest for the 
time the account runs. But — ^and this is different from 
the old system — this interest is charged up only to the 
tardy individual and not spread into prices generally. 

" *The deposit protects both the dealer and our co- 
operative plan/ said Bryant. 'Other dealers, learning of 
a cooperative order, would cut prices and might draw 
away some of our members were it not for the deposit 
paid down. Some merchants who are not working with 
us would be glad to take temporary losses if they could 
break up our plan by so doing and bring about a return 
of the old scheme of trading.' 

"Recently Bryant announced through the business let- 
ter he sends out weekly to the township organizations that 
the farm bureau could obtain yellow locust fence posts 
at forty-five cents a post by ordering in a car lot. A small- 
town dealer not long before had ordered a carload of 
such posts, which he was selling at sixty-five cents. The 
day the business letter came out he dropped his price to 
forty-five cents. Bryant at once advised the farmers in 
that locality to buy of that dealer. 

"The farm bureau issues a monthly exchange list, stat- 
ing prices at which staple commodities can be obtained by 
volume orders. At one time last year this exchange list 
was credited with toppling feed prices in Franklin County 
an average of ten dollars a ton. Wholesale feed prices 
had declined generally, but the local distributors had been 
maintaining the old price levels, saying they had stocked 
up at high prices and could not afford to take a loss. 
However, the farmers were taking heavy losses on their 
crops at that time and felt the dealers should enjoy no 
special privilege. The cooperative buying policy pro- 
vided the persuasion that caused the tradesmen to take 
their deflation medicine also. 


" 'We do not mail our business letters or exchange lists 
to dealers, but somehow they always get hold of the in- 
formation/ said Bryant. 'After one exchange list was 
sent out the largest seed house in the county lowered 
its price of timothy seed sixty cents a bushel. The in- 
direct saving to farmers, through the influence we wield 
over prices, is beyond estimate.' 

"The seven local Grange organizations in the county 
have established a like plan and elected Bryant their busi- 
ness director. H^ handles their orders through the same 
cooperating dealers used by the farm bureau. Through 
the farm bureau and Grange together the support of an 
overwhelming percentage of Franklin County's farmers 
is secured for the improved business system, thus insur- 
ing its success. 

" 'Cooperative purchases by farm bureau members 
totaled $140,000 the first six months the plan was tried,' 
Bryant told me. 'Our direct savings were about $7300. 
It was an unsettled period, with prices fluctuating widely. 
This, together with our inexperience, held our savings 
lower than they would normally be with such a volume 
of business. Then, too, we really were only small buyers. 
This year we shall buy in much larger volume, because 
the farmers see the savings to be obtained thereby. We 
expect to order most of our coal supply this summer, 
when both fuel and transportation demands will be slack. 
The same policy will be followed with bulk feeds such as 
bran, cottonseed meal and the like. . . ." 

It is a part of the duties of the county farm bureau 
business agent also to assist in the formation of local 
cooperative selling groups through which farm products 
may be marketed. These county units are planned to dove- 
tail with the state selling organization and this, in tum^ 
with the national. 



The growing tendency to grant woman's work and 
interests equal attention with that of man has found 
recognition in the Farm Bureau. Already the question of 
creating a woman's department has been discussed in 
many states. The national organization has gone on 
record as favoring some such arrangement. It is be- 
lieved that in those counties where a home demonstration 
agent is employed her work can best be directed and 
strengthened by a definite organization of women. In 
many activities the men and women would naturally 

The question of separate membership fees at once 
arises. New York State organizes what are known as 
Home Bureaus, composed entirely of women. In 1919 
the New York State Federation of Home Bureaus was 
organized — the first in the United States. North Caro- 
lina followed this lead soon afterward and several other 
states have since organized state home bureaus. 


It is likely that the future will bring forth either sepa- 
rate organizations for the farm boys and girls, as defi- 
nitely separated departments for boys and girls in the 
farm bureau organization. Entirely aside from the imme- 
diate benefits to the young people themselves, it is recog- 
nized that this plan offers an excellent means of assuring 
a constant supply of recruits for the Farm Bureau itself. 




FROM the first the farmer of the Middle West has 
looked to the Farm Bureau Federation for a better 
marketing system to handle farm products. In 
the strongest farm bureau states grain is the principal 
crop, so it was natural that attention should first be 
centered on grain marketing. Furthermore, various 
groups had already made good progress within state 
limits and, as we have seen, some 4000 farmer-owned 
elevators, mostly cooperative, were already in existence. 
Much dissatisfaction was expressed, however, by these 
cooperative elevator companies over the actions of the 
various grain exchanges in excluding them from mem- 
bership, on the nominal objection that the coopera- 
Itives "rebated" through the distribution of prdits back 
to members. Sharp criticism was also leveled at the 
speculative operations on the exchanges which were held 
to be responsiUe for the wide fluctuations in grain prices. 
The various groups of local elevators, and even the 
state-wide groups such as the Farmers' Union of 
Nebraska, which handled many millions of bushels of 
grain, realized that they were not strong enough or big 
enough to command nation-wide respect. The logical 
solution evidently was to form a central organization or 

(consolidation of some sort large enough in extent and 
strong enough to regulate the flow of grain to market- 


Since the farmer produced all the grain — did not pur- 
chase it from any one else — ^the supply was automatically 
in his hands every year at harvest time. Why shouldn't 
he retain control of it and get the highest market price 
consistent with the world supply and demand for that 
particular year ? Why should he turn the crop over to a 
myriad of dealers, and brokers and speculators to gamble 
with and manipulate and finally dispose of at a big ad- 
vance to the ultimate consumer? These were the quesr- 
tions uppermost in the minds of thinking farmers and 
they were looking to the farm bureaus, particularly the 
American Farm Bureau Federation, for the answer. 

Under these circumstances it would seem that nothing 
should have been easier than to effect a national, or a£ 
least a grain-belt, organization, including all grain 
growers. But the old, old difficulty in the farm organiza- 
tion field intervened. The leaders of the various sec- 
tional grain handling groups were not only unwilling to 
surrender their individuality but several of them had 
ambitions, distant but effective, of becoming the national 
grain handling organization. The Farmers' Union of 
Nebraska had just claims to preferential treatment be- 
cause of its broad and successful experience in pure, 
farmers' cooperative grain handling. The National 
Wheat Growers' Association with headquarters at 
Wichita laid claim to the control of the bulk of the wheat 
of Kansas and Oklahoma. The Equity Cooperative Ex- 
change of Minnesota and the Dakotas had developed a 
big business centered at St. Paul. The Missouri Farmers' 
Qubs owned a large percentage of the cooperative ele- 
vators in that state and, its officers at least, had very little 
use for the farm bureau which they considered an active 
rival. The Farmers' National Grain Dealers' Association 



centering around Chicago owned, through its members, a 
large number of elevators, had been active in the field 
for years and had national aspirations. The Non-partisan 
League also had its own ideas as to how grain should be 

Then, too, the greatest diversity of opinions existed as 
to what a proposed national grain marketing system 
should involve. A large number, possibly a majority of 
the leaders at that time, thought that the grain exchanges 
should be closed up and done away with entirely, that all 
wheat should be pooled in great warehouses and doled out 
to consumers as needed. Many advocated the arbitrary 
fixing of the price at the bulk line cost of. producing, plus 
a reasonable profit. The popular conception of the details 
of the principles of cooperation to be followed was ex- 
tremely hazy and varied according to locality. 

Finally the American Farm Bureau Federation called 
a general conference of grain growers for July 23 and 24 
at Chicago. 

Some 500 men representing State Cooperative Grain 
Dealers* Associations, Farmers' Unions, Farmers' Clubs, 
State Granges, Farm Bureaus, Societies of Equity, and 
the U. S. Department of Agriculture were in attendance. 
Aaron Sapiro, the legal representative of a number of 
the successful California cooperative groups, including 
the prune growers and some of the nut growers, fired the 
assembly to high enthusiasm by the story of California's 
success along cooperative lines. He precipitated a heated 
discussion by declaring that all growers must be tied up 
with iron-clad contracts. To Mr. Sapiro belongs the 
credit for instilling the idea that cooperative selling or- 
ganizations to be successful must ordinarily be organized 
along commodity lines. That is, grain growers must have 


one organization and livestock shippers a separate organi- 

Discussion was free and all seemed agreed that some 
step along national lines should be taken. Organization 
rivalries and jealousies, however, prevented ready agree- 
ment to turn the whole problem over to a committee to 
be appointed by the American Farm Bureau Federation. 
It was finally agreed, however, that President Howard 
should appoint a committee of seventeen members in- 
cluding, as nearly as possible, representatives of all the 
major organizations participating in the conference. 

This was the first big test of the American Farm 
Bureau Federation. If it could succeed in harmonizing 
all interests without appearing to seek its own aggrandize- 
ment, its position as spokesman for American Agricul- 
ture would be fairly well established. Already one of the 
larger national groups — ^The National Board of Farm 
Organizations, which represented the Farmers' Union — 
had practically bolted the conference and set up a rival 
committee upon President Howard's refusal to give them 
the right to name half of the committee. 

The task before Mr. Howard was no easy one, and 
he devoted great care and thought and exercised high tact 
and diplomacy in making his selections. 

The committee as finally constituted was as follows: 

J. M. Anderson : St. Paul, Minnesota, manager of the 
Equity Cooperative Exchange. 

C. A. Bingham: Lansing, Michigan, Secretary of 
Michigan State Farm Bureau. 

P. E. Donnell : Waco, Missouri, President of Farmers* 
Grain Dealers' Association of Missouri. 

John C. Boles : Liberal, Kansas, Member of Board of 
Directors of Equity-Union. 


Wm. G. Eckhardt: Chicago, Director of Grain Mar- 
keting Department of Illinois Agricultural Associa- 

C V. Gregory: Editor of Prairie Partner and Secy.- 
Treas. of American Agricultural Editors' Association. 

C. H. Gustafson: Lincoln, Nebraska, President of 
Nebraska State Fanners' Union, and President of 
Farmers' Union Livestock Marketing Association. 

Wm. Hirth: Editor of Missouri Parmer and Presi- 
dent of Missouri Farmers' Clubs. 

C. H. Hyde : Alva, Oklahoma, Vice-President of Okla- 
homa Farmers' Union and in charge of State Union 
grain marketing activities. 

Dr. E. F. Ladd: Fargo, N. D., President of N. D. 
Agricultural College and newly elected U. S. Senator. 

George Livingston: Washington, D. C, Chief of 
Bureau of Markets, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 

Don Livingston : Pierre, S. D., Director State Depart- 
ment of Markets. 

H. R. Meisch: Argyle, Minn., President of Farmers' 
National Grain Dealers' Association. 

A. L. Middleton: Eagle Grove, Iowa, ex-President 
Iowa Farmers' Grain Dealers' Association. 

Ralph Snyder: Oskaloosa, Kansas, President Kansas 
State Farm Bureau. 

L. J. Taber: Bamesville, Ohio, Master of Ohio State 

Clifford Thorne: Chicago, Counsel for Farmers' Na- 
tional Grain Dealers' Association. 

When the Committee held its first organization meet- 
ing Mr. Gustafson was made Chairman and Mr. Eckhardt 
Treasurer. O. M. Kile and C. E. Gunnels were ap- 
pointed Secretary and Assistant Secretary. 


The committee spent several months in deliberations, 
in visiting cooperatives in Canada, California, and various 
other places where notable successes had been attained, 
and in hearing experts of national repute on various 
angles of the problem. Among the experts who spoke 
before the committee and submitted to questioning were : 
Julius Barnes, head of the U. S. Grain Corporation dur- 
ing the war period of government wheat control; G. 
Harold Powell, manager of the California Fruit Growers' 
Exchange; Huston Thompson, chairman of the Federal 
Trade Commission; Leslie F. Gates, President of the 
Chicago Board of Trade; and Bernard M. Baruch, a 
notable New York financier and philanthropist. 

Gradually the personal jealousies disappeared, the dif- 
ference of opinion as to marketing methods gave way to 
a unity of expression, and on February 17, 1921, in 
Kansas City, the committee agreed upon a plan. 

The essentials of the plan were announced by the Farm 
Bureau and a series of state meetings was next held at 
which members of the committee explained the main 
features of the plan and assisted in the selection of dele- 
gates to attend a convention at Chicago on April 6th to 
receive and, it was hoped, to ratify the plan reported by 
the Committee of Seventeen. 

Many disturbing elements were still at work, doubts 
and dissensions existed, personal jealousies had not been 
entirely eradicated. There was yet serious reason to ques- 
tion whether the long, careful study of the Committee 
of Seventeen had been in vain or whether something new, 
and constructive, and satisf3dng would come out of it 

Both because of the reflection of the spirit of the occa- 
sion, which President Howard's opening speech breathes 


forth, and because of its keen analysis of the then exist- 
ing situation we reproduce his address in full : 

'This morning of April 6, 1921, marks sun-up for 
American agriculture. 

"This meeting is convened pursuant to the resolutions 
adopted at the Grain Marketing Qjnference of July 23, 
1920, called by the American Farm Bureau Federation. 
You will recall I was requested at that conference to ap- 
point a ccMnmittee of not more than seventeen men from 
the various farm organizations. This committee of 
seventeen was to make an exhaustive study of grain mar- 
keting, and when its report was completed I was in- 
structed to call another conference of authorized delegates 
from the various groups to receive its report and act 
thereon. It is for the purpose of receiving and acting 
upon this report that we are met to-day. 

"It was no light task which was placed upon me in the 
appointment of the Farmers' Marketing Committee of 
Seventeen. It was necessary to make an equitable dis- 
tribution amongst the different farm organizations, and 
also to secure a proper geographical distribution. I was 
from the first impressed with the necessity of appointing 
men who had had actual experience in marketing matters 
and who were thoroughly acquainted with the mechanics 
of grain marketing from the viewpoint of the producer. 
It was also necessary for these men to have had an inti- 
mate experience, not only in the mechanics of marketing, 
but in the actual application of those mechanical prin- 
ciples to our present in-vogue systems, in order that they 
might know their defects and intelligently seek remedies 
for those defects. 

"It was necessary to avoid the appointment of men 
whose experience had been such as to obsess them with 
the idea that no system other than that in which they 
had individually been successful would succeed. Such 
narrowness of vision would have defeated the whole 


thought of the conference of July 23. It was necessary 
to have men who, recognizing the importance and gravity 
of the conditions of declining markets and restricted 
credit which have confronted us in the past few months, 
would not be unduly hastened by those deplorable situa- 
tions and make mistakes which could not easily be recti- 
fied. It was necessary to find men who in every case were 
willing to give the best they had in them of judgment 
and experience, but who would also 'in honor preferring 
one another' accept the best in every other thought and 

"Finally, this committee must have been made up of 
men free from class selfishness or consciousness — men 
who would go at the task with the broader vision of the 
welfare of the whole people of the nation, working not 
destructively, but constructively. 

"Criticisms have come regarding the time which I per- 
sonally spent in the selection of the committee, and in 
the time which the committee itself has taken to do its 
work. I make no apologies for my own deliberation in 
the appointment, and I want at this time most earnestly 
to commend the members of the committee for the care- 
ful and deliberate manner in which they have attacked 
their task. Every man realized the importance of his 
commission. Our present grain marketing systems have 
been seventy years in the building. That there is much 
of good in them none will gainsay. They were not to be 
lightly cast aside. An annual turnover of more than 
three billion dollars was at stake. To revise, to remodel 
or to reconstruct a business of such magnitude was an 
engineering feat of tremendous responsibility. It was 
not an over-night job. Except occasionally under direst 
distress, and then only by seemingly supernatural inspira- 
tion, have great and lasting tasks been accomplished with- 
out the greatest deliberation, and even the sweating of 

"A decade of hope mingled with despair, of determina- 


tion balanced by caution, elapsed between Patrick Henry's 
'Give me liberty or give me death' and the adoption of 
the Declaration of Independence. Years of experience 
marked the necessity for, and months of earnest and con- 
scientious endeavor evolved the Constitution of the 
United States. 

**For years the people of England suffered economic 
opposition and tyranny of overlords who ruled them 
without regard to price of that which was produced or 
the tax which they enacted. Finally, at Runnymede the 
Magna Charta was evolved recognizing the fundamental 
right of the people themselves. 

"For years the American farmer has suffered from 
and objected to uneconomic and speculative marketing 
systems which have held him powerless. After days and 
nights — ^yes, weeks and months of careful thought and 
devoted study, the Committee of Seventeen, assisted by 
the keenest experts, brings to us this new Bill of Ftmda- 
mental Rights for the orderly marketing of our products. 
To-day again we are at Runnymede. Countless thou- 
sands of farmers stand with upturned faces, buoyed by 
only one hope — ^that this meeting will evolve their Magna 

"This right to follow our products to the manufac- 
turer, processor, or consumer in no essential differs from 
the universally accepted right on the part of all classes 
of industry to consolidate capital and effort. We are 
seeking no class privileges. We are seeking a stabiliza- 
tion of market wherein the farmer gets the benefit of the 
economic working, not the effect of the manipulated 
working, of the law of supply and demand. 

"A century ago our streams of commerce were but 
rivulets. Fed by unstinted fertility of virgin fields, the 
rivulets have become mighty streams. Strong men have 
guided the processes of their development who sometimes, 
for selfish ends, have not only failed to straighten the 


currents and shorten the courses, but have actually for- 
gotten the dikes and interposed dams to natural flow and 
development. The time has come to shorten the current's 
course, remove unnatural obstructions, conserve energy, 
prevent overflows. 

"If selfish ends only were sought by the seventeen com- 
mitteemen they would not have blazed the trail for a 
new marketing organization, but rather would have 
planned for the organized limitation of production, there- 
by increasing prices with smaller output; or by some 
means of monopolistic control would have endeavored to 
accomplish this same end. The fact that the plan itself 
is large in scope and comprehensive in detail indicates the 
desire and the purpose of the committee to prepare for a 
large and increasing production. 

"Let no man say the farmers of America want to lower 
their production output. That would be contrary to the 
natural courses of our calling. The farmer wants to 
produce. He must produce. He insists that unnatural 
barriers to production be removed. The time has come 
in our national life when the consumer interest is only 
safeguarded by the adequate and economical distribution 
of things produced, so that the farmer may not only 
maintain but expand his operations. The most potent 
cause of our present social unrest and commercial stagna- 
tion to-day lies in the fact that there is no farm market. 
The farmer's purchasing power is gone. His prices are 
far below par. His costs of production are deep in red. 
His markets are gone. 

"Do you want to know what will start again the hum 
of the mills and the song of the laborer throughout the 
land? I'll tell you: A prosperous agriculture. It is the 
foundation of all permanent prosperity and contentment. 
It has been so in all nations and ages. Delay in bringing 
about this speedy readjustment is fraught with untold 
dangers. You men who are leaders know as well as I the 


temper of the farmer's mind. You know the breaking 
point is all but reached. Your responsibilities and mine 
must be squarely faced. The interests of the men with 
their feet in the furrows are entrusted to us in this re- 
construction effort. We carry no white flag. Fear and 
jealousy and bickering amongst classes of our citizenry 
must give way to larger issues. Only that thing in our 
marketing plans — ^and, indeed, in our entire national 
structure — ^which will benefit all classes can be of lasting 
benefit to any. Only that which is fair and right can 
endure. Whatever is fundamentally wrong can never be 
right. Thus the report of this committee, which you are 
to-day charged with the responsibility of consideration, is 
of far-reaching importance industrially, commercially, 
and socially to the entire nation. . 

**Two years have passed — two summers and the lengths 
of three winters — since the signing of the armistice. 
Hope has succeeded hope that economic conditions would 
be speedily adjusted. 

"We look back now to the war-time days and ask why 
war — always an abnormality — brought that which men 
called prosperity. It was because the abnormal demand 
called forth in all our citizenry their best brain and effort. 
Selfishness was submerged. In camp and in kitchen, on 
farm and in factory, we worked and fought together. We 
cooperated ! Cooperation won the war ! It brought suc- 
cess. Without it we would have lost. Do you tell me that 
cooperation in peaceful pursuits is not just as desirable 
and as efficient as in war time? Does only the god of 
war call out what is strongest and best in us? Does the 
dove of peace bring unrest and selfishness and discord? 
Such things must not be. The American farmer to-day 
in his demand for cooperative rights challenges all other 
peoples to come with him — and through nati(m-wide and 
world-wide cooperation replace abnormalcy with nor- 


"We have all noted that already the report of the Com- 
mittee of Seventeen has caused a 'stirring of dry bones/ 
Misrepresentation and unfair propaganda, already ap- 
parent, are to be met not in the spirit of unfairness, but 
with an absolute integrity of purpose and confidence in 
the survival of the fittest. 

"The bar of public opinion will always render its final 
verdict in favor of him who honorably toils for and 
candidly espouses the cause of the greatest good to the 
greatest number, 

"Let no one consider this report or this meeting as a 
pink tea party. Rather it is a Boston Tea Party. It is 
the manifest expression on the part of the .^jnerican 
farmer of the necessity of cooperative development. This 
is our right — ^not merely our privilege. It is the first 
national step in sending to the rear the impedimenta of 
distribution adjusted for private benefit. Cooperation 
brings the producer individually face to face with the 
consumer. It profits both. More than profit, it makes 
contacts which result in the better understanding each of 
the other. It increases vision. It removes the farmer 
from the narrow path of the individual worker and gives 
^ him the realization that he is not an underling, but a 
world character. It does not seek selfish economic advan- 
tages ; it does, in a very broad sense, stimulate character, 
promote citizenship. I am for it. And let me repeat, the 
combining of time and of effort, of capital and of com- 
modity—cooperatively — in "c-o-o-p-e-r-a-t-i-o-n" — ^not 
"corporation," is not alone our privilege — ^it is our right. 

"I cannot close without endeavoring to express that 
which words are impotent to convey — my individual ap- 
preciation and the heartfelt thanks of every farmer and 
farmers' organization to the Committee of Seventeen, in- 
dividually and collectively, for this report. 

"Your work has been done with a high regard of 
loyalty and devotion to the task in hand, and you have 


made for yourselves, each and every one, an enviable 
position in the agricultural annals of our nation. 

"But though much has been accomplished, there re- 
mains much more to be done. This report is but an arch 
through which we see the ever-widening margins of en- 
deavors, achievements and progress. To reach these hori- 
zons, challenges the loyalty and cooperation of every 
farmer in America — every one. Only by sincerity of pur- 
pose and aggressive organization is the job to be put over. 

"With full realization of the responsibilities of our 
citizenship — in full consciousness of our just rights and 
privileges, let us go forward." 

The Committee of Seventeen summarized its findings 
as follows: 

"Investigation conducted by this Committee convinces 
us that the fundamental reason for the lack of adequate 
profits in farming is a faulty system of marketing farm 
products. All other great industries merchandise their 
products under their own direction. They are fully in- 
formed as to supply and demand. They suit distribution 
to demand, thereby maintaining a fairly stable market 
price, without daily fluctuations, and with only very 
gradual seasonal fluctuations. The farmer, on the other 
hand, ships his grain on the markets without regard to 

"Grain prices in the United States are determined in a 
few large centers of distribution known as terminal mar- 
kets. The market places at these terminals are owned, 
operated and maintained by private closed corporations 
or associations known as grain exchanges or Boards of 
Trade. Upon examination of the rules governing these 
associations and upon questioning their officers, we have 
learned that elevator companies, distributing earnings on 
basis of patronage, cannot become members of these 


exchanges. The effect of this is the exclusion of such 
farmer cooperative grain dealers from the terminal grain 
markets of our country. 

"The grain exchanges furnish the facilities by which 
speculation in grain and its products is carried on to an 
extent that almost staggers all human comprehension. 
We have, for instance, been informed from reliable esti- 
mates that the wheat sold each year in the wheat pit of the 
Chicago Board of Trade is three times the entire pro- 
duction of the world. The total grain sold on the Chi- 
cago Board of Trade annually is approximately fifty-one 
times the amount of grain actually shipped to the Chicago 
market, and this market dominates all the markets of 
the country. 

"The inevitable results of this unlimited speculation 
are: First, constant manipulation of prices. Second, 
great losses to producers and the public generally. 

"The credit facilities of the country are designed to 
meet the needs of business, with its quick turn-over, and, 
as recent experience has demonstrated, do not adequately 
take care of the farmers' needs. It is often difficult for 
the farmer to secure sufficient credit to permit the orderly 
marketing of grain, fitting available supply to consump- 
tive demand, this resulting in wide fluctuation in prices, 
to the disadvantage of both producer and consumer. The 
consumer's price is based on the high point of the year, 
while the producer sells most of the grain at the low 

"The only adequate remedy for the conditions set 
forth, in the judgment of the Committee, is for farmers 
to enter extensively into the business of grain distribution, 
merchandising grain as the products of other industries 
are merchandised. We have adopted a plan for coopera- 
tive grain marketing and financing for submission to our 
various organizations, which we believe will accomplish 
the desired results. 


"We believe that the public will be greatly benefited 
by more statnlized prices for grain and its products, and 
we know that farm investments and the farmers' voca- 
tion will be made far more sound and secure thereby. We 
note with satisfaction and great pride the many benefits 
that have been brought to consumers and producers of 
grain by the farmer cooperative elevator companies of 
our country, the number of which is now over 4,000. We 
have taken the farmer cooperative institutions as the basic 
unit upon which to construct our marketing system. 

"We deem the practice known as short selling of grain 
and other farm products a crime and have asked Con- 
gress to legislate against it. 

"We are striving for the enactment of laws that shall 
open these grain exchanges and Boards of Trade to 
membership of farmer cooperative elevator companies 
distributing their earnings on a basis of patronage. 

"We believe that grain should be distributed to the 
millers and exporters direct from country points in so 
far as this is possible, and the system of elevators and 
selling which we recommend has this end in view." 

The plan presented and finally ratified provides : first, 
for a national sales agency — ^now known as the U. S. 
Grain Growers, Inc. Membership in this non-stock, non- 
profit organization consists of grain growers exclusively. 
Each grower must pay a ten-dollar entrance fee (not a 
stock sale) and sign a contract to sell his grain for a 
period of five years through one or more of several speci- 
fied methods, all of which eventually place the grain in 
the hands of a national selling agency. 

Local cooperative units or groups of units are to be 
utilized wherever available and in other cases local grain 
growers' associations are to be organized and cooperative 
devators buih as soon as possible. 


Two contracts are provided, one running between the 
grower and the local cooperative elevator or grain 
growers' association, and the other between these local 
elevators and associations and the national sales agency. 

The U. S. Grain Growers, Inc., is to provide : 

(a) Terminal sales agencies at the various markets. 

(b) Warehouse facilities at terminal markets. 

(c) A finance corporation. 

(d) An export corporation. 

(e) A market news service. 

The contracts with the grower provide that he may, at 
the time of signing, elect one of the following methods 
of disposing of his grain : 

1. Individual Sale. 

(a) For cash at a price offered by the Elevator 

(b) By consignment through the Elevator Com- 
pany to the National Sales Agency — control 
of time of delivery, shipment, and sale to 
remain with the grower. 

2. Pooling Method. 

(a) Local pool. 

(b) Joint pool. 

3. Export Pool. 

(a) Grower may elect to pool one-third and sell 
remainder in accordance with other plans 

An effort will be made to get each member to pool at 
least one-third so as to make certain that the normal 
exportable surplus will be held in pool. 

A further provision of the contract gives the grower 
the privilege of violating his contract by paying damages 


of lo cents per bushel cm wheat and rye, 20 cents on flax, 
and 6 cents on all other grains. 

The chief argument of the conference involved the 
question of compulsory pooling. Many felt that unless 
the control of all grain was placed in the hands of the 
national selling agency absolutely and without restric- 
tions, the agency could act as little more than a brokerage 
house. Others felt that the state of the public mind 
toward monopoly was such that the purpose of the grain 
growers would be misunderstood and attacked if a com- 
pulsory pooling plan were adopted. It was also felt that 
many farmers might refuse to sign for a compulsory 
pool. The outcome was a compromise. 

A charter under the laws of the State of Delaware was 
secured and by-laws adopted which provide for a demo- 
cratic form of government through delegates and direc- 
tors, voting strength being based on numbers of indi- 
vidual grower members represented. 

C. H. Gustafson was elected president; J. M. Ander- 
son, first vice-president ; George C. Jewett ^ of Spokane, 
Washington, second vice-president; C. H. Hyde, third 
vice-president; Wm. G. Eckhardt, treasurer, and Frank 
M. Myers of Fort Dodge, Iowa, secretary. 

Offices were at once opened in Chicago, and a campaign 
for membership started. 

Shortly thereafter the financing branch of the organi- 
zation was incorporated with a capitalization of $100,- 

^Mr. Jewett is manager of the Northwest Wheat Growers* 



THE apparent early success of the grain marketing 
committee encouraged the appointment of further 
committees of this type to consider the marketing 
of livestock, dairy products, vegetables, canning crops, 
and fruits. The conference of livestock interests, out 
of which the Livestock Marketing Committee of Fifteen 
developed, was held in Chicago on October 8th. C. H. 
Gustafson was made chairman of this committee, but 
otherwise the personnel was entirely distinct from that of 
the Committee of Seventeen. 

When the conference of dairy interests was called in 
Chicago on May 3rd, a situation was found to exist which 
differed materially from conditions surrounding the mar- 
keting of grain or livestock. In the first place a national 
organization representing milk producers was already in 
existence and had but recently passed through a number 
of fights for better markets, from which it had in most 
cases emerged victorious. Furthermore, the marketing 
of milk is a sectional matter rather than a national matter; 
that is, the marketing organization must be built around 
a given market, usually a single large city, and may extend 
into parts of half a dozen states. 

Milo D. Campbell, president of the National Milk Pro- 
ducers' Federation, showed a most commendable spirit 




of unselfish cooperation. He appreciated the fact that 
the Milk Producers' Federation could not afford to turn 
over its problems and the results of its several years' 
experience to a committee inexperienced in milk market- 
ing, but believed that a basis of cooperation with the 
Farm Bureau could be worked out. 

Some difficulty was encountered in arriving at an un- 
derstanding, but it was finally voted to ask Mr. Howard 
to appoint a dairy products marketing committee **with 
the advice and consent" of the National Milk Producers' 

A conference of fruit growers was also held at Chi- 
cago and plans developed to improve fruit marketing 


As a result of the sudden drop in wool prices in the 
spring of 1920, various state farm bureau federations 
undertook to form pools to store wool and await a fair 
price. These pools were formed in practically all the 
heavy producing states outside of the western range 
country and the stocks of wool were held for a long 
period without any appreciable improvement in price. 

At a meeting of the secretaries of the Mid-West farm 
bureaus it was decided to request Mr. Howard to appoint 
one member from each wool producing state to serve on 
a committee to consider the wool situation. Such a com- 
mittee was appointed and Mr. J. F. Walker, president of 
the Fleece States Wool Producers' Association, was made 
chairman. This committee recommended that a national 
wool pool be established with a view to handling the 
nation's wool clip. 


Mr. C. J. Fawcett, of Iowa, was placed in charge of 
this work at Chicago. Good work was done in connec- 
tion with the emergency tariff on wool, and in consoli- 
dating some of the state pools, but the plan for a national 
pool was not put into effect. Sectional pools were en- 
couraged. Many of the states eventually disposed of 
the wool held at considerable advantage to the members 
and have since made wool grading and pooling a regular 
part of their program or work. In many states hundreds 
of thousands of pounds of wool were made up into fine 
blankets, robes, and doth, and turned over to the wool 
growers with most satisfactory results. In normal years 
the pooling of wool should prove quite profitable to 


In the summer of 1920, at the time when the Interstate 
Commerce Commission was considering the application 
of the carriers for a big advance in rates, representatives 
of dozens of industries appeared and endeavored to show 
why rates on the particular commodity in which they 
were interested should not be increased. Representatives 
of the railroads appeared with volumes of statistics to 
prove that a big increase — ^they were asking a S5J^ per- 
cent increase on all freight rates at that time — ^should be 
granted them. Clifford Thorne, the transportation expert 
employed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, was 
the only witness to appear on behalf of the public, present 
a statistical analysis of valuations, revenues, and expenses 
and prove that the increases asked were excessive. 

The statistical tables and diagrams presented repre- 
sented three months' work of several statisticians, but they 


made a profound impression upon the Commission and 
that body's final rulings were in accordance with the more 
important principles set forth by Mr. Thome. In par- 
ticular, Mr. Thorne showed that the railroads were ask- 
ing the guaranteed return on a valuation at least six 
billion dollars in excess of either the true value, the actual 
cost, or the market quotation. The Commission cut this 
valuation down to the extent of one billion seven hundred 
million dollars. The reduced profits this reduction in 
valuation allowed represented a saving to shippers and 
consumers amounting to approximately one hundred mil- 
lion dollars annually. 


The Farm Bureau has actively protested against the 
alleged unjust system whereby the Steel Trust collects 
an extra rake-off on every ton of steel manufactured in 
the Chicago territory or in fact in any territory outside 
of the Pittsburgh area. Steel prices were, of course, for- 
merly based on the costs of production at Pittsburgh, 
plus freight to the point of delivery. This was entirely 
proper while all steel was produced at Pittsburgh. But 
with the establishment of the great plants at Gary, In- 
diana, and throughout the upper lake region the same 
basis of charges was retained. Even though the steel 
might be made at Gary and delivered by truck in the next 
block the rate was the Pittsburgh price, plus the freight 
from Pittsburgh. And this, despite the fact that steel 
can be produced at Gary at a very much less cost than 
at Pittsburgh. 

The Farm Bureau feels that it is conceivable that this 


extra charge might have been permissible during the time 
that the Gary steel industry was establishing itself and 
while it was still impossible to supply the western demand 
from the Western factories. But that time has long since 
passed and the extra freight charge, amounting to $5 to 
$10 per ton, is apparently just so much graft that the 
Steel Trust is able to collect because of its monopolistic 
position in the industry. Apparently the independent 
companies have also been whipped into line and now 
content themselves with limiting production and collecting 
their share of the graft, instead of cutting prices and 
taking a larger proportion of the business. 

It is this state of affairs that the legal department of 
the farm bureau is attacking, and backed by the support 
of this organization the Federal Trade Commission again 
took up the question of prosecution and called upon the 
Sted Trust to show reason why it should not be com- 
pelled to cease and desist from this unfair trade practice. 


Concerning the entire question of taxation and the work 
done by the Federation in this connection previous to its 
consideration by Congress, Mr. Howard said before the 
annual convention at Indianapolis, December 6th, 1920: 

"I consider that H. C. McKenzie of New York State 
has done a greater piece of work for American agricul- 
ture during the past year than has been performed by 
any other one individual. 

"The National Industrial Conference Board is a power- 
ful organization representing the large eastern business 
interests. When I learned that this organization was ap- 


pointing a committee on Federal taxation to make exhaus- 
tive research and recommendations, I took the liberty to 
ask that agriculture be recognized on that committee. This 
request was granted and Mr. McKenzie was the man 
whom I selected. 

"At that time the whole thought of the powerful busi- 
ness interests of the country was that our national taxes, 
totaling five or six billions of dollars every year, should 
be so readjusted that the burdens of taxation would be 
passed from those wealthy and powerful interests and 
individuals and transferred down to the consumer — the 
ordinary common citizen of the country. 

"Mr. McKenzie, in the beginning of those delibera- 
tions, was practically the only person opposed to such a 
program, but I want to tell you that at this time he has 
the majority of that powerful committee with him, recog- 
nizing that it is a wrong economic principle to transfer 
the burden of taxes to those least able to pay." 

Numerous other activities of more or less importance 
have been undertaken with varying degrees of success, 
but perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the first year 
of the Federation's existence was the winning of the con- 
fidence of both the agricultural interests and the general 
public. As Mr. Howard said in his annual address, "The 
real outstanding work of the year has been the confidence, 
and I use the word 'confidence' after careful thought, 
which we have succeeded in winning from the general 

interests of America. The character of the men who 


daily come into our offices is all the evidence any one 
needs of the progress of our work and the impression 
which the American Farm Bureau is making upon the 
people of this land.'' 



THE necessity for active work in the National Capi- 
tal was early recognized by the officers and 
executive committee of the Federation. Imme- 
diately after the ratification meeting in March, 1920, the 
entire executive committee went to Washington to look 
over the legislative situation. Even before that date, 
however, Mr. Howard and Mr. Bradf ute ^ had made sev- 
eral trips to Washington, particularly in connection with 
the proposed ''daylight saving" law, the Cummins-Esch 
railroad act, and in furthering packer control legislation, 
and had made a tentative arrangement with Gray Silver 
to represent the farmers' legislative interests in Wash- 
ington. Mr. Silver lived on a large farm just two hours* 
ride west from Washington and so was able, for a time, 
to look after the legislative work while still actively man- 
aging his farm. Soon, however, he found it necessary 
to give his entire time to the work at Washington, offices 
were opened, and on April i, O. M. Kile was retained as 
assistant Washington representative. 

From the very first the Washington office found itself 
extremely busy. In addition to the legislative activities 
it was necessary to make careful studies and estimates of 

*Mr. Bradf ute was a member of President Wilson's Industrial 
Commission which met in 1919 and attempted to arrive at some 
amicable adjustment of the disturbed conditions confronting labor, 
capital and the public, as an aftermath of the war. 



a number of pressing problems of large economic impor- 
tance which naturally centered in Washington. The prob- 
lem of getting more credit for the agricultural sections 
and the entire question of the Treasury Department's 
policy toward the farmer had to be studied. The location 
of the blame for rapidly falling farm crop prices and 
possible remedies for same also demanded attention. One 
of the most pressing problems throughout the first sum- 
mer and one in which the farm bureau was able to offer 
material assistance was in connection with the transporta- 
tion problem. Through constant daily touch with the Car 
Service Section of the American Railway Association 
and the Interstate Commerce Commission, both centered 
at Washington, the Farm Bureau was able to get 
cars to shippers in hundreds of cases where local and state 
efforts had failed. Some 118,000 box cars were sent 
West, empty, in special trains during July and August 
in an effort to ease the terrific demand on the part of 
grain growers who had no place in which to store their 
grain and depended upon immediate shipment to market. 
But the chief efforts of the Legislative office were, of 
course, along legislative rather than service lines and the 
principal bills receiving early attention were the various 
packer control measures; the Capper-Volstead bill, de- 
signed to legalize cooperative marketing associations ; the 
Wadsworth-Kahn bill, providing for the operation of 
the government nitrate plant at Muscle Shoals ; the Truth- 
in-Fabric bill, providing for the honest labeling of woolen 
cloth so as to indicate the percentage of virgin wool or 
"shoddy" ; amendments to the Federal Farm Loan Act ; 
Rural Personal Credits bills; Federal Aid Road bills; 
appropriations for the Department of Agriculture and an 
appropriation of ten million dollars for the continuation 


of the work on the government dam at Muscle Shoals. 
Later the emergency tariff, the permanent tariff, the Cap- 
per-Tincher grain exchange bill, farm financing measures 
and taxation became important issues. 

Considerable reaction against ordinary 'lobbying" 
methods was noticeable at that time in congressional 
circles and since the farmer should have no occasion for 
secret methods or political entanglements, a thoroughly 
open and above-board system of procedure was developed. 
The functions of the Legislative office as presented before 
the annual convention at Indianapolis in December were : 
First, to ascertain definitely, by referendum or otherwise, 
the farmers' attitude on pending legislation affecting agri- 
culture ; second, to thoroughly inform members of Con- 
gress concerning the farmers' legislative needs and re- 
quests ; and third, to report to the membership fully con- 
cerning the support or lack of support of individual 

"Ours is not a lobbying campaign," said Mr. Silver. 
"We have nothing to 'put across' on Congress, in the sense 
ordinarily implied at Washington. But we do have a big 
educational campaign to put forth and the objects to be 
arrived at are big enough to enlist the best energies of 
the agricultural leaders in every state. By proper organi- 
zation and coordination of efforts we can carry on such 
a campaign of ideas and information as to win Congress 
to the support of those principles essential to the adequate 
development of agriculture, which — ^as all must one day 
realize — ^are therefore essential to the permanent and 
highest development of the Nation." 

In the last session of the 66th Congress, that is, in the 
fall of 1920 and spring of 1921, the two big outstanding 
issues that overshadowed all others, at least so far as 


legislative strategy was concerned, were packer control, 
and the completion of the dam and production of cheap 
fertilizers at the government plant at Muscle Shoals, 

Other questions may have been of more immediate and 
possibly of more direct importance to agriculture than 
these two measures, but strategically these two questions 
were at the apex of the Farm Bureau phalanx. Both 
these measures encroached upon the assumed privileges 
of private business, and the big financial and commercial 
interests of the country were united to defeat them. Up 
to that time they had been eminently successful. The 
packers had by one device and another successfully evaded 
regulatory legislation for nearly a quarter of a century. 
Their representatives in Congress were well known and 
at least two or three of them held positions on the Agri- 
cultural Committee of the House and Senate to which all 
packer control bills must come before they could be per- 
mitted to go before Congress for consideration. A staff 
of packer lobbyists was on hand at Washington almost 
constantly and their influence on politics and legislation 
through banking, newspaper and various commercial con- 
nections almost equaled the strangle-hold the railways 
held upon legislative agencies in the 8o's. 

The Muscle Shoals nitrate development, which it was 
believed would practically revolutionize the production 
of nitrogen and phosphates and greatly reduce the cost 
of fertilizers, had been maligned and strangled in session 
after session tmtil the little band of backers who had 
fought for years and practically exhausted their resources 
was almost ready to give up, when the farmers actively 
took up the fight. 

And why was this Muscle Shoals development so bit- 
terly opposed in Congress ? Simply because the great elec- 



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trical and chemical interests, the United States Sted Cor- 
poration, the Solvay Process Companies, the American 
Cyanamid Company and to a lesser extent the larger 
fertilizer interests wanted to tie up this great development 
for themselves or at least have it operated in such a way 
that their control over this fertile field of industry would 
be absolute. They had no desire to have the farmer in 
any way connected with the source of supply of what 
they foresaw must be a great and rapidly growing indus- 
try, since fertilizer must be depended upon more and more 
as an aid in food production. 

It will be seen therefore that both these pieces of legis- 
lation were test cases. They were recognized by both 
sides in their true light, as a test between the strength of 
entrenched financial and commercial interests on the one 
side and the farmer, with such support as he could get 
from other consumers, on the other side. 

The farmer had been unorganized and docile for so 
many years, and the rise of the Farm Bureau had been 
so rapid and so unheralded, that most members of Con- 
gress were taken utterly by surprise by the strength which 
these two measures suddenly developed. Not understand- 
ing and appreciating the forces they were opposing, and 
following their accustomed plan of rallying rather blindly 
to the support of any party measures that seemed en- 
dangered, a sharp fight suddenly developed and many 
friends of the farmer were committed against these 
farmer measures before they realized where they were 
being led. 

In order to understand just how it happens in Congress 
that ordinarily in a contest between commercial interests 
and agricultural interests the former have their own way, 
it may be instructive to note the following : 

In the 66th Congress there were 428 members and va- 


cancies in the House of Representatives. Of these 234 were 
Republican, 190 Democratic ^ and 4 were of varied affilia- 
tions. Of the total number of representatives, 215 repre- 
sented the predominantly commercial section north of the 
Ohio River and east of the Mississippi. But of the ma- 
jority party, that is, the Republicans, 161 came from the 
section specified. Thus it will be seen that the Republican 
party controlled the House and was itself controlled by 
the northeastern, or commercial and financial, section of 
the country. Just as long as the vote could be kept along 
party lines the group from the northeastern states could 
through caucuses dictate the actions of the entire House. 
It might be thought at first glance that much of the 
territory north of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi 
is essentially agricultural and would therefore be guided 
by agricultural needs. It must be recalled, however, that 
even the agricultural territory in this area is thickly dotted 
with large towns and cities of considerable size. It is not 
at all surprising, therefore, that even in the agricultural 
sections the cities often dominate the political choice. 
• Then there is another very neat device in operation 
which gives the majority party full control in the House 
and helps build a permanent and autocratic machine. This 
is accomplished through what is known as the "Steering 
Committee." You will not find this committee listed in 
the official directory, but its rule is none the less potent 
on that account. It is selected by party caucus and in 
view of the territorial analysis given above it is not sur- 
prising to find the personnel as follows : ^ 

* Including 18 Tammany Democrats from New York City. 

*At the opening of the 67th Congress the leaders were forced to 
yield to pressure from the West and added Sidney Anderson, of 
Minnesota, to the personnel of the Steering Committee. 


Nicholas Longworth, Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Samuel E. Winslow, Boston, Mass. 

Thomas B. Dunn, Rochester, N. Y. 

Martin E. Madden, Chicago, 111. 

George P. Darrow, Philadelphia, Pa. 

Frank Mondell, Wyoming (Majority Leader). 

At first thought it might seem that in Mr. Mondell we 
have a western man thoroughly sympathetic with agricul- 
ture. A closer examination, however, will reveal the fact 
that Wyoming is not primarily an agricultural state in the 
ordinary sense. It is pastoral. Large scale grazing is 
followed. Mining i« also a major interest. Mr. Mondell, 
being the only representative from the state, stands in a 
peculiar position. While he is able to hold a large share of 
the agricultural vote of the state because of his patronage 
powers, his stand for a high wool tariff, and his personal 
merit, yet if he so desires he is comparatively free to trade 
his vote in Congress with the group in best position to 
give him further appropriations and privileges for his 
backers in Wyoming. 

The Steering Committee is all-powerful. While the 
various legislative committees ^ are made up ostensibly 
by the Committee on Committees, yet the voting power 
is in proportion to the party strength in each state and 
the control of these committees, therefore, lies practically 
where lies the control that selects the Steering Committee. 
Any member incurring the displeasure of the Steering 
Committee finds himself with but little opportimity to 
secure desirable positions on the various committees, and 
without these positions members are unable to exercise 

'Most legislation is largely enacted by committees. No Mil 
can come before either house until acted on by the committee to 
which it has been referred after introduction. Unless reported 
favorably by the committee a bill seldom comes up for a vote. 


much influence or power or to receive much prominent 
notice. Since these, together with patronage, are the tools 
with which each member expects to work in bringing 
about his reelection, it is evident why he is so much in- 
terested in securing desirable positions on the various 
committees and consequently why he feels compelled to 
follow the wishes of the Steering Committee. Having 
incurred the displeasure of that committee a member 
would find his every move blocked unless he could muster 
sufficient force behind himself, personally, to threaten an 
insurgency movement. This has happened once or twice 
in the last two decades, but scarcely often enough to act 
as an effective warning. We would not have it appear 
that the existence of a steering committee is in itself 
iniquitous. Something in the way of central control is 
in fact a necessity in handling so large a legislative body 
having such a diversity of personal interests. But it must 
be evident to even the uninitiated that where the control 
of this central group lies with any one t)rpe of special 
interests, the door is open for favoritism. 

Another point which should be kept in mind is the fact 
that a great majority of the representatives are lawyers. 
While most of these members who come from the agri- 
cultural sections make every effort to keep in touch with 
agricultural affairs, and many succeed admirably, yet it 
must be understood that usually their chief interest is to 
play the game politically. If agricultural needs and po- 
litical expediency conflict, the preference is all too likely 
to be with political expediency. Of the 435 members in 
the House during the last session of the 66th Congress, 
only 9 were real farmers. 

Returning to the fight for padcer control, we find in 
the report made by the American Farm Bureau Federa- 


tion a rather complete sta:tement of the methods employed 
to defeat the measure. This report was of a confidential 
nature when issued, and was sent only to state and na- 
tional officers of the farm bureau. It was believed to 
be unwise at the time to make the full details public. The 
report started with the statement : 

"In the history of the packer control hill we feel that 
we have a complete case. We can say without fear of 
successful contradiction that the packer bill failed because 
the Steering Committee of the House did not want it to 

The report then went on to relate how the known 
enemies of packer legislation on the Agricultural Com- 
mittee of the House used all possible tactics to delay the 
bill and complicate its parliamentary status while before 
the committee so that even though a similar bill had 
passed the Senate it would never get a chance to come 
before the House. How this result was finally accom- 
plished; how the Rules Committee, ''which seemed to 
be controlled by the Steering Committee/' was vainly im- 
portuned to report a special rule which would allow the 
House to decide for itself whether or not it would vote 
on the Packer bill; how the majority leader admitted 
that the bill would probably pass if given a chance for a 
vote, but refused to give it this chance; how he refused 
a night session for the consideration of this bill, although 
night sessions were held thereafter for the consideration 
of other bills of lesser importance; and how the bill finally 
died on the calendar after having passed one House and 
being denied admission by the Steering Committee in 
the other, was all set forth in the Farm Bureau report 

The fight on the Muscle Shoals proposition was the 
sharpest that Congress had seen for years, and as already 


stated, came as a great surprise to most members. The 
incident which jerked the members of the House up short 
was the following letter written by President Howard 
and the Washington office and addressed to every member 
of the House: 

January 5, 1920. 
Dear Mr. : 

All competent and impartial inquirers have agreed that 
the Muscle Shoals project would result in greatly in- 
creased nitrate supplies and materially decreased costs. 
Hence the farmer as well as the consumer is intensely 

It is evident to the farmer that the Muscle Shoals ap- 
propriation yesterday was defeated through the influence 
of large corporations who have a selfish interest in main- 
taining fertilizer costs. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation has a paid-up 
membership exceeding 1,500,000 active farmers. These 
farmers expect us to keep them informed on legislative 

We regret that the vote yesterday was not one of 
record. In order that we may do justice both to Repre- 
sentatives in Congress and to our membership, will you 
kindly notify our Washington Representative — Mr. Gray 
Silver, 141 1 Pennsylvania Avenue, — ^whether you voted 
for or against this proposition. 

Thanking you for this favor, I am 

Very truly yours, 
American Farm Bureau Federation, 

(Signed) J. R. Howard, 


Those Congressmen who had planned a quiet death for 
the measure and those members who had followed blindly, 
suddenly found themselves in a most uncomfortable posi- 


tion. They must make some sort of showing by way of 
vindicati(Xi. They therefore affected great offense at 
the wording of the letter and called Mr. Howard and Mr. 
Silver before an investigating committee. This investi- 
gation was conducted in a manner calculated to instill 
fear rather than to elicit information and ended in a farce. 
As a follow-up the Federation filed a full statement justi- 
fying the implied charges in the letter and as final evi- 
dence of the "influence" at work submitted an exhibit, 
which occasioned much merriment among members who 
were free to enjoy the situation. This exhibit consisted 
of a page of the propaganda issued by the American 
Cyanamid Company condemning the Muscle Shoals proj- 
ect, displayed in deadly parallel with the text of a letter 
written by a congressman to one of his farmer con- 
stituents explaining why he voted against the Muscle 
Shoals proposition. The identical phrasing in the two ex- 
hibits left no doubt as to where that particular congress- 
man, at least, was getting his arguments. 

The Farm Bureau's report to its state officers relative 
to the Muscle Shoals struggle was as follows : 

"In the Muscle Shoals proposition we find a variety of 
motives which prompted the House leaders to work most 
vigorously for the defeat of the measure. In the first 
place we can trace the same allegiance to large commer- 
cial interests, since the American Cyanamid Company, 
the various Solvay Process companies, several of the 
largest electric companies, the fertilizer interests, and the 
U. S. Steel Corporation are apparently vigorously oppos- 
ing the measure. In the second place, this matter to a con- 
siderable extent, was made a party issue, and forms an ex- 
cellent illustration of how party politics is frequently al- 
lowed to defeat highly desirable legislation merely to make 


a point for one or the other of the political parties. In this 
case the majority party had gone to extreme lengfths to 
condemn the expenditures at Muscle Shoals. This was 
used as a campaign argument to point out the waste and 
inefficiency of the last administration. Many Congress- 
men made speeches throughout their territories condenm- 
ing the Muscle Shoals project. They did not care, of 
course, to differentiate the expenditures made for war 
time purposes and the expenditures which resulted in 
valuable property which can be turned to excellent use 
and benefit for both food producers and consumers. Hav- 
ing condemned this project the leaders felt that it would 
place them in an embarrassing position politically to vote 
further funds for the utilization of the plant and power 
at Muscle Shoals. The chairman of the Appropriations 
Committee went to extraordinary lengths to influence 
votes to defeat this measure, both while the item was 
being considered by the Committee and later in confer- 
ence and on the floor of the House. After the Senate 
had passed the $10,000,000 appropriation for the con- 
tinuance of the work on the dam and the leaders in the 
House were becoming alarmed lest the House likewise 
pass the measure, the chairman did the unheard-of 
thing of holding additional hearings before a conference 
committee. This hearing was conducted not for the pur- 
pose of securing any additional information regarding 
the merits of the project, but for the purpose of digging 
up any possible points of attack and of putting into the 
mouths of experts, statements which could later be used 
by ... on the floor of the House in denouncing this 
project. Finally a night session was held at which it was 
announced this matter would be brought to a vote. Some 
excellent speeches were made in support of the measure 
by prominent members of both parties. It is conmionly 
whispered around the Capitol that the leaders feared that 
the vote that night might carry in favor of the Muscle 


Shoals project and therefore asked for adjournment. 
This is our belief and is substantiated by the fact that 
despite the fact that the vote was to have been taken that 
night the leaders moved adjournment at 10 130, while on 
the following night, on another subject, the session lasted 
until 1 1 150. 

"When the matter finally came to vote in the House 
the most vitriolic speeches were made by prominent 
leaders ... At the proper moment the majority leader, 
Mr. Mondell, arose and cracked the party whip. He 
consumed only three minutes of time, but in those three 
minutes he left no doubt in the minds of Republican 
members as to how the leaders expected them to vote. 
He said in substance, 'After all the criticisms we have 
made of the unwise expenditures of public moneys since 
the war began, we are not justified, any of us, in voting 
for this measure.' 

"The interest displayed was most intense and it was 
noted that Senator Lodge, Senator Wadsworth, and Sena- 
tor Phipps came over on the floor of the House to assist. 
Whereas the usual vote had been running a total of 250 
to 300 votes, the total vote in this case ran 375. Every 
possible man was rounded up, many appeared for the 
first time in months, and the final vote stood 182 to 193." 

The reaction that followed this sharp conflict with Con- 
gress was perfectly natural and well illustrates one of 
the most dangerous weaknesses of a widespread, rather 
loosely constructed farmers' organization. 

Some of the congressmen from the agricultural sec- 
tions who had been trying to carry water on both shoul- 
ders — that is, to get their votes from the farmers and to 
derive their power in Congress by being friendly to the 
financial interests — found themselves in a most em- 
barrassing position. They very naturally tried to extri- 


cate themselves by breaking up and scattering the farce 
that was responsible for their embarrassment. Efforts 
to discredit the farmers' representatives were inaugurated. 
Certain congressmen returning home and being pointedly 
questioned about their failure to support agricultural 
legislaticm naturally tried to obscure the issue and defend 
themselves by suggesting that the farm bureau legislative 
representatives did not know their business, were wrong 
as to facts, used improper methods before Congress, etc., 
etc. In some instances attacks upon the personal char- 
acter of the farm bureau representatives were made. In 
at least one state the suggestion was evidently made to 
a state farm bureau leader that if he would see to it that 
a change of attitude was made on the part of the Farm 
Bureau at Washington, he would be handsomely treated 
by the state political machine at the next election. Com- 
mercial groups affected by the proposed legislation did 
not hesitate to add their bit in the way of criticism, as 
occasion offered when conversing with farm bureau 

And so the poison was spread. 

It will be seen that the opportunities for action along 
these lines were numerous, both through merely under- 
mining the work of its representatives and through direct, 
subtle suggestions to its officers. The average farmer is, 
quite naturally, unfamiliar with legislative methods and 
practices, and therefore finds it difficult to answer offhand 
any criticism a professional politician may make. 

In the particular situation under discussion the sowing 
of seeds of dissension was especially easy since few of 
the executive committee and practically none of the state 
officers at that time knew the situation at Washington or 
had a very clear idea as to what was being attempted and 


the reasons for the opposition encountered. Certain writ- 
ten and verbal reports had been made, but it had been 
thought best not to circulate these widely. And then it 
seemed utterly impossible to convince men that the situa- 
tion in Congress actually existed as described. Our in- 
grained conception of the democratic safeguards of a 
representative form of government are not easily up- 
rooted and we are all of us, particularly those of us who 
have been reared in the democratic atmosphere of the 
open country, slow to believe that representation can \ 
sometimes, in effect, be so contravened. There is a cer- f 
tain awe-inspiring atmosphere about Washington and 
Congress and congressmen which makes the occasional 
visitor or the distant observer refuse to attribute any- 
thing but the highest of motives to our national law- 

Personal rivalries and ambitions, and likes and dislikes 
among the officers and members of the Federation had, 
of course, a part in this disturbed situation, just as they 
always do in every situation involving the human element, 
but these are purposely omitted from this discussion. 
These personal features are something always with us, 
and while associations and organizations are more sub- 
ject to their baneful influence than is private business, yet 
they must be accepted and our best efforts directed toward 
safeguards against the bad effects arising therefrom. 

When matters had simmered along for a time they 
finally burst forth in the form of an investigation by a 
Farm Bureau sub-committee sent to Washington. A lit- 
tle later the entire executive committee went to Washing- 
ton prepared to take the necessary time to look the situa- 
tion over from every angle. Soon they saw matters in 
their true light. They found that there was no real re- 


sentment on the part of wide-awake congressmen from 
the agricultural districts, except possibly here and there 
a man who had been caught in an embarrassing situation. 
On the contrary they found a well defined and growing 
disposition of congressmen to call on the farm bureau 
representatives for advice on pending or proposed agri- 
cultural legislation. At a big meeting held in the caucus 
room of the House and attended by about one hundred 
Senators and Representatives, the best of spirit was shown 
and most helpful discussions followed the speeches of 
President Howard and various other farm bureau 

The Committee realized also that it had not been as 
active in assisting in determining legislative policies as 
it should have been. Neither had it provided sufficient 
means of keeping state and county farm bureau officers 
and members informed as to progress in legislative mat- 
ters so that lOO percent support could be counted upon 
when needed. Before adjourning the Executive Com- 
mittee heartily endorsed the work of the Washington 
office and arranged for strengthening same. 

The committee also discovered that on all big problems 
of the day-economics, foreign trade and financing, 
tariffs, transportation and the forerunners of the factors 
that affect business, Washington is not only the center 
of the United States, but actually the center of the world. 
At Washington are centered more than three hundred 
national associations representing every trade, every busi- 
ness, and every profession by which men make a living, 
and every principle and every cause and every movement 
which has a respectable group of advocates; there are 
centered the representative thinkers and many of the out- 
standing leaders from every state in the Union and every 


country on the globe; there we find the personal corre- 
spondents of more than four hundred of the very best 
newspapers of the United States and the world, some 
having three to as high as seven men on the job con- 
stantly. More than half a million words for publication 
go out from Washington daily, nearly two hundred thou- 
sand words of this amount — ^the equivalent of three large 
books — agoing by telegraph. No matter what information 
one seeks at Washington, if he but knows how and where 
to look he will find a bureaii, an association or an agency 
at which he can converse with one of the world's authori- 
ties on that particular subject. 

A number of officers and committee members have 
stated that in their opinion the main office of the Farm 
Bureau Federation should be located at Washington and 
a strong office maintained at Chicago to conduct the or- 
ganization and cooperative marketing work. 

As the work proceeded at Washington and the influ- 
ence of the Farm Bureau became more and more notice- 
able a most interesting development took place in Con- 
gress — 3. development which has caused the stand-pat po- 
litical leaders no end of thought and worry. 

Almost from the first the legislative representatives 
dropped the suggestion to loyal agricultural supporters, 
whenever opportunity offered, that there should be no 
question of politics involved when agricultural measures 
were up for consideration. No matter whether a mem- 
ber is elected on the Democratic ticket or the Republican 
ticket, if he comes from an agricultural district he should 
represent agriculture. It was also delicately pointed out 
that whenever the representatives from agricultural sec- 
tions saw fit to stand together on an agricultural measure 
regardless of party lines, they could win, even though 


the entire remainder of the House should be against 

The Senate, being on a different basis of representation 
and therefore more largely from agricultural sections was 
usually more tractable on agricultural measures and the 
agricultural group more willing to stand as a unit for 
agricultural measures. 

Finally as a result of a series of helpful conferences at 
Farm Bureau legislative headquarters, several senators, 
including Senator Kenyon of Iowa (Republican), Sena-^ 
tor Smith of North Carolina (Democrat), and Senator 
Capper of Kansas (Republican), took the lead and got to- 
gether a band of twenty-two senators from the South 
and West, pledged to stand for agrictdtural legislation 
regardless of party lines. The other members of this 
original band were Norris of Iowa, Caraway of Arkan-^ 
sas, Gooding of South Dakota, Ladd of North Dakota, 
Hareld of Oklahoma, Bursam of New Mexico, Fletcher 
of Florida, LaFollette of Wisconsin, McNary of Oregon, 
Harris of Georgia, Kendrick of Wyoming, Harrison of 
Mississippi, Spencer of Missouri, Heflin of Alabama, 
Stanfield of Oregon, Norbeck of South Dakota, Sheppard 
of Texas, Jones of Washington, and Watson of Georgia. 

A similar movement was fostered in the House among^ 
the newer members. Representative L. J. Dickinson^ 

^ This was true in the 66th Congress and the House on this basis 
was practically equally divided in the 67th Congress. 

•On May ist, 1921, the full agricultural ''bloc" in the House 
consisted of A. P. Nelson of Wisconsin, Frank Qague of Minne- 
sota, James G. Strong of Kansas, James H. Sinclair of North 
Dakota, Guy L. Shaw of Illinois, Henry B. Steagall of Georgia, 
Homer Hoch of Kansas, Fred B. Gernerd of Pennsylvania, John W. 
Summers of Washington, John H. Smithwick of Florida, Philip D. 
Swing of California, L. J. Dickinson of Iowa, Qaude B. Hudspeth 
of Texas, Robert £. Evans of Nebraska, Richard N. Elliott of 
Indiana, John D. Qark of New York, Samuel M. Taylor of 


of Iowa took the lead and in cooperation with the Farm 
Bureau developed a definite organization. 

By May both groups were in good working order and 
were in constant conference with the Washington office 
of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which is their 
recognized clearing house for agricultural information. 
Within another month these agricultural "blocs" began 
to make themselves felt, and by the middle of June they 
were in effective control. 

The Farm Bureau, being moderate in its demands, got 
practically everything it asked for. In rapid succession 
were passed the Capper-Tincher Grain Exchange control 
bill, the Packer control bill, the Federal Aid Road bill, 
and the various Farm Financing and Crop Exporting 
bills. In addition the plans for a sales tax were blocked 
and full tariff protection on agricultural products was 
demanded and in most cases secured. 

All known tactics were employed by the former leaders 
in Congress to break up this agricultural alignment. The 
best gifts within the control of the Party were held out 
temptingly to the moving spirits in the agricultural groups 
if they would but desert or default. But these methods 
would not work. The alignment held. 

Panic-stricken at the turn affairs had taken, the old- 
line leaders tried to adjourn Congress to some later date, 
in the hope that by that time they might have the situa- 
tion more nearly in hand. But to their discomfiture they 
discovered that they could not even adjourn until the agri- 
Arkansas, F. B. Swank of Oklahoma, Edward T. Taylor of Colo- 
rado, Olger B. Bartmess of North Dakota, William Williamson 
of South Dakota, Edwin S. Brooks of Illinois, Marion E. Rhodes 
of Missouri, William C. Lankford of Georgia, Burton L. French 
of Idaho, Charles A. Christopherson of South Dakota, John G. 
Ketcham of Michigan, Roscoe C. Patterson of Missouri, Ladislas 
Lazaro of Louisiana, and Charles L. Faust of Missouri. 


cultural ''blocs'' with their contrdling votes gave con- 
sent on condition that the pending legislation affecting 
agriculture first be disposed of. 

On August 28th, the Washington correspondent of the 
New York Times gave full credit to organized agricul- 
ture in the following language : 

"The most forceful group influence in national poli- 
tics to-day is that of the farmers' *bloc' representing about 
one-third of the population of the nation, in the opinion 
of many observers here, who say that the strength of the 
farmer vote in national affairs is more apparent now than 
at any previous time. They add that it has won one vic- 
tory after another until it is the only recognized voting 
group that is able to upset political traditions. 

"The forces representing the different activities of the 
farmer, more powerful in Congress than organized labor, 
are credited with dictating terms to the Republican Party 
representatives engaged in writing the schedules of the 
tariff. . . . 

♦ ♦ ♦ 4c ♦ ♦ 4c 

"Those who observe the rise of political movements say 
that the American farmer is the most powerful factor in 
politics. They predict that if the farm 'bloc' in Congress 
does not become too zealous with its power, it will hold 
the balance of power for some years, and be able to force 
any party to enact legislation beneficial to the 'farming 
industry.' "... 

The city press has had much to say regarding the agri- 
cultural "blocs," and has offered much advice as to the 
dangers involved. Editors have referred significantly to 
the fate of the supporters of the People's Party, who left 
the ranks of the regulars in the early 90's to rally to the 
farmer's cause. These editorials, for the most part, how- 


ever, fail to note that the members of the agricultural 
"Uocs" have not attempted to form a new party. They 
are just as good Republicans or Democrats as they ever 
were — ^better, in the sight of their agricultural con- 
stituents. Neither have they fully appreciated the fact that 
one of the big reasons why this group has been so suc- 
cessful is because every measure asked for has been in 
the interest of the general public no less than of the 

But the new situation is causing the old regulars in 
politics, particularly in the commercial centers of the 
northeastern quarter of the country, to ponder well. 





ENEMIES of the Farm Bureau have sometimes en- 
deavored to make it appear that a group of de- 
signing men deliberately seized upon the county 
and state farm bureau units as developed by the agricul- 
tural extension forces and created therefrom a national 
machine for their own uses. Even casual study of the 
foregoing pages must show the error of any such asser- 
tion. The spontaneity of the growth of the central or- 
ganization is, in fact, one of its important indications 6i 
strength. Nothing could better show the widespread feel- 
ing of actual need for some sort of active organization 
among farming interests. This constantly recurring mani- 
festation as exemplified in the case of the Grange, the 
Alliance, the Farmers' Union and now by the Farm 
Bureau, would seem to be conclusive evidence of the 
actual desire of farmers to link themselves together for 
the accomplishment of certain more or less definitely 
expressed ends. 

The earlier growth of the Farm Bureau — that is, up 
until the time of the formation of the national federation 



— was from the bottom up rather than from the top down. 
Local groups developed in the counties and put through 
county programs of work. Later it was found that many 
activities were state-wide in nature ; state federations of 
the county imits followed and state programs of work 
were developed. Following that it was an easy step to 
national federation in order to put into effect a program 
nation-wide in activities. 

This has not been the history of the development of 
many of the farmers' organizations of the past. All too 
frequently the building has been from the top down and 
organizations of this kind have usually soon come to be 
mere skeletons supporting sets of officers, but having little 
active membership. It has been said that one of the few 
things that can be successfully built from the top down, is 
a grave. The thought implied applies with special force 
to farmers' organizations. The early troubles of the 
Grange were in no small degree due to the fact of its or- 
ganization from the top down. An ambitious national 
program of work was undertaken before state and local 
experience had been acquired and seasoned leaders de- 

It should be noted at this point that following the fed- 
eration of the original twenty-eight fairly well organized 
state farm bureaus the organization work has been fos- 
tered in most of the remaining states of the Union, and to 
that extent is subject to the same criticism of being or- 
ganized from the top down. In most of these states, how- 
ever, the local county farm bureau units were alreacdy in 
existence and it was more nearly a case of simply getting 
together than of superimposing an organization upon the 
community. In no state was organization undertaken by 
the national office except on invitation of the farmers 


themselves. In fact, the organizaticNti has sometimes been 
criticized for not following a more vigorous policy in 
unorganized territory. 

r-'^^ndoubtedly the greatest source of strength possessed 
I by the Farm Bureau and the feature which makes it dif- 
ferent from all other farm organization attempts, arises 
from the interrelation and interdependence of the county 
agricultural agent and the local county farm bureau. The 
county agent in the beginning developed the county farm 
bureau because he needed it as an instrument through 
which to work in carrying out his educational program 
for the county. The Farm Bureau grew and developed 
functions entirely separate and distinct from those asso- 
ciated with the county agent, and now it needs the county 
agent to act as the visualizing, stimulating force on the 
job 365 days in the year, actively engaged not only in 
promoting agricultural educational work but in keeping 
»alive interest in the Farm Bureau — ^the instrument through 
which he works. The two are inseparable if either is to 

Ube effective, even though no organic connection exists. 
■^ It cannot be emphasized too often or too strongly that 
the strength of the Farm Bureau depends upon the 
strength and loyalty of the local county units. Most of 
the national farmers' organizations that have failed con- 
tinued long after their local membership had fallen to 
pieces, but the strength and activity of the local member- 
ship is an unfailing index to the actual strength and in- 
fluence of the national organization. Because the local 
units of the Farmers' Union have fallen to pieces the na- 
tional body is to-day but a shell, and such strength as it 
has comes from those states where the local units are still 
active. Because the National Grange had as one of its 
basic principles the systematic stimulation of its local 


units, it not only survived the shock of failure brought on 
by other causes but has since made steady, consistent 
growth and has regained practically all the ground it 
once lost. 

When the local farm bureaus were small and consisted 
of only a few hundred men, leaders in their communities, 
intent upon carrying out a program of agricultural bet- 
terment, contact with the county agent was frequent and 
interest was kept at a high point. Each member felt 
that he had a definite part to perform in the program and 
he felt a certain responsibility to the community. Espe- 
cially during the latter part of the war period when Red 
Cross drives, food production campaigns, and Victory 
note subscriptions were actively pushed through the county 
farm bureaus, every member felt a certain pride and re- 
sponsibility in belonging to the Farm Bureau. 

But now that the activities of the county agent have 
again been more largely confined to strictly educational 
efforts, there is danger of lack of active interest unless 
definite plans are made to provide a purpose and a pro- 
gram that will bring members together at regular inter- 
vals, not because they think they ought to attend but be- 
cause they feel that there is work to be done in which 
they must take a part. 

It is the old, old story familiar to every preacher who 
has ever guided the destinies of a church in a country 
town or small city. When the congregation is working 
hard to get together the means to build a new church the 
minister preaches to record attendances, Sunday after Sun- 
day, even though the meetings be held in a bam. But once 
the new structure is completed and the mortgage burned, 
interest begins to wane and each succeeding Sunday more 
and more of the beautiful new pews are empty. The wise 


minister who has learned his lesson keeps his congregation 
building in one way or another all the time. 

Here and there a county farm bureau has employed a 
business manager whose program of work should, and 
often does, include arrangements to get members together 
in regular meetings over the county and carry out plans 
involving constant activity of the membership. The occa- 
sional meetings for the purpose of assembling cooperative 
orders for fertilizer, or fencing, or feeds, are good but 
they are not sufficient. Members soon accept the benefits 
of cooperative buying as a matter of course and forget 
that it is only their active support of the farm bureau 
that makes this possible. 

To date the national farm bureau organization has 
done but little to stimulate local activity and most of the 
states have made but a small start in this direction. If 
the history of other organizations is any criterion, careful 
attention must be given this feature of the work or 
sooner or later membership renewals will suffer severe 
declines. Referendum votes on the prominent national 
questions of the day, when properly conducted, serve the 
double purpose of maintaining local interest and of cre- 
ating strong support among the membership for any legis- 
lative or economic program that may be undertaken by 
the central organization. 

There is reason to believe that the farmer is to-day bet- 
ter prepared for nation-wide organization than ever be- 
fore. In the first place the years of educational effort put 
forth by the agricultural colleges and extension services 
have had their effect. Men take a broader-minded view 
of matters, both technical and economic, than ever before. 
Better informed local leaders are available. The leaders 
trained in some of the older farm organizations are among 


the best available for the latinching of this new organi- 

The advances made along cooperative lines in the past 
decade or so, show that changing conditions have caused 
the average fanner to lose a part of his feeling of absolute 
independence. He has apparently concluded that there is 
such a thing as too much independence. The fact that 
the average farmer has made somewhat better financial re- 
turns during the past ten years than formerly, might sug- 
gest an even greater degree of independence to-day. And 
in a sense this is true. But financial independence, better 
roads and cheap automobiles have given the farmer a 
little more time to look about, and he has not only lost 
much of his former aloofness bom of suspicion but has 
taken a wider interest in affairs and wants to take a hand 
in bettering matters if possible. 

Furthermore, constant observation of the success of the 
methods employed by organized Capital and organized 
Labor have instilled into the farmer's mind certain prin- 
ciples of organization which he is more willing to accept 
now than formerly. Appreciation of the fact that large 
salaries must be paid in order to secure and hold good men 
as officers and experts, is not so rare as formerly. While 
the idea that only farmers can handle the affairs of an 
agricultural organization still persists, yet there is a more 
noticeable tendency to employ experts to carry on definite 
features of the work. Men trained along transportation 
lines are employed to handle the transportation problems ; 
men with broad economic training are to study the pend- 
ing questions of an economic nature, high grade legal 
talent is employed and it is presumed that men with broad 
marketing experience will conduct the cooperative market- 
ing enterprises of the newer organizations. Some mis- 


takes have already been made by the farm bureau by not 
adhering to this principle. The lesson has not been fully 
learned as yet, but noticeable advancement over previous 
organizations in this respect is plainly apparent 

One of the things which makes this utiUzation of ex- 
perts more largely possible in the Farm Bureau than in 
previous farmer organizations^ is the development of 

I the idea that the Farm Bureau must be well supplied with 
funds. Lack of funds has been a chronic ailment of most 
farm organizations. It is fair to say that no farm or- 
ganization heretofore has had sufficient funds to conduct 
its affairs in a business-like way. Credit for foreseeing 
the importance of adequate financing of the Farm Bureau 
belongs to the middle western group of states that insisted 
upon this point at the organization meeting at Chicago. 
The idea of heavy dues in farmers' organizations was 
probably first successfully put forth by A. C. Townley in 
organizing the Non-Partisan League in North Dakota in 
1915. Townley started with a six-dollar fee, soon raised 
it to nine dollars and later to sixteen dollars for a two-year 
period. This was the first recorded attempt to put a 
farmer's organization on anything approaching the fin- 
ancial basis enjoyed by the labor unions. Townley delib- 
erately announced it as his intention to fight money (the 
grain and railroad interests) with money — and there was 
much of the same idea in the minds of the Illinois group 
of farm leaders who insisted on writing into the by-laws 
of the American Farm Bureau Federation a provision 
that would furnish adequate funds. 

But even with the arrangements made — ^fifty cents per 
member per year — the first two years' work of the Fed- 
eration was seriously hampered by lack of funds. It was 
only the strong financial condition of a number of the 


state organizations that enabled the national to make an 
effective showing. The directors apparently failed at the 
outset to realize the size of the undertaking before them 
and the part money must play in its successful prosecution. 
Many mistakes were made which need not have occurred 
if sufficient funds and staff had been at hand. The second 
year's work was more liberally supported and henceforth 
the funds should be sufficient for all proper needs. 

The difficulties of farmer organization on a wide scale 
are many and real. Kenyon L. Butterfield ^ summarizes 
them as follows : 

''i. The Ingrained Habits of Individual Initiative. 
—For generations the American farmers have been 
trained to rely upon themselves. ... So strong is this 
trait that it has produced in many cases a type of man 
actually unsocial, unwilling as well as unaccustomed to 
work with and for his fellows. . . . They have been 
known to repudiate the bargains of a cooperative pact for 
the sake of individual gain; such action was unsocial 
rather than immoral, but it is disastrous to organized 

"2. Financial Consideration. — Economic pressure 
has created a desire to secure financial relief or gain, and 
if cooperation would accomplish that it would be wel- 
comed. But too often the large view of the ultimate 
value of the educational and social features of rural or- 
ganizations has been lost sight of, and the farmer has 
refused to contribute to a movement with such intangible 
aims and distant results. He wanted to see where even 
his slight investment in time and money was going to 
bring him its harvest. Farmers have not appreciated 
what the economist calls 'culture-wants.' " 

* Cyclopedia of American Agriculture, Vol. IV, p. 290. By L. H. 

:joo the farm BUREAU MOVEMENT 

"3. Economic and Political Delusions. — The his- 
tory of farmers' organizations in the United States shows 
that the great 'farmers' movements' have gained much of 
their power because there existed an intense belief in cer- 
tain economic and political ideas which seemed to promise 
release from what the farmers honestly felt to be indus^ 
trial bondage. These ideas strike at real evils, but in an 
extreme form at least proved inefficacious, are considered 
by students to be intrinsically unsound, and indeed have 
always been regarded by a large proportion of leading 
farmers as unsound. These delusions were mainly three : 
r(a) that the middle man may be entirely abolished and 
/that farmers as producers may sell to customers without 
/the intervention of a third party, and as consimiers may 
also produce for themselves cooperatively; (b) that un- 
satisfactory business conditions are almost wholly due 
to faulty legislation, and that a farmers' party is not 
only feasible, but is necessary in view of the way by 
which other interests have secured special legislative privi- 
leges; (c) that a satisfactory money can be made by 
government fiat. 

"These are set down as delusions, because as practical 
propositions they have not been made to work advantage 
to the farmers. It must not be supposed that all farmers' 
organizations have urged these views, nor indeed that the 
majority of American farmers have believed in them. 
But they have all been proposed as measures of relief for 
real difficulties, they have never worked results perma- 
nently helpful to the farmers, and they have wrecked 
every farmers' organization thus far that has pinned its 
faith to them. 

"4. Lack of Leadership. — Organization among any 
large group of people means leadership. The farm has 
been prolific of reformers, fruitful in developing or- 
ganizers, but scanty in its supply of administrators. It 
has had the leadership that could agitate a reform, project 


a remedial scheme, but not much of that leadership that 
could hold together diverse elements, administer large 
enterprises, steer to great ends petty ambitions. The 
difficulties of such leadership are many and real. But it 
is to be doubted if the business of small farming is a 
good training-ground for administrative leadership. At 
any rate, few great leaders have appeared who have sur- 
vived a brief period of influence. 

"5. Lack of Unity. — ^A difficulty still more funda- 
mental remains to be mentioned. The farmers of Amer- 
ica have never been and are not to-day (1909) a unit in 
social ideals, economic needs, or political creeds. The 
crises that have brought great farmers' organizations into 
being have shown the greatest diversity of views as to 
remedies for existing ills, and, in most cases, there has 
not been in any farmers' platform sufficient unanimity 
over even a few fundamental needs to tide the organiza- 
tion over a time when a campaign of education could 
have accomplished the task of unifying diverse views." 

In conclusion Dr. Butterfield says: 

"Organization may be unwisely led, or advocate im- 
possible things. This is a real danger : it is not a final 
argument against organization. The child blunders day 
in and day out in its education. A social group is sure 
to do the same. It is the only road to wisdom, social as 
well as individual. Education, experience and time will 
tend to adjust these difficulties and minimize the dangers." 

The inherent weakness of all associations, as distin- 
guished from corporations, lies in their looseness of or- 
ganization and lack of permanent ties. A corporation 
once organized is likely to go on indefinitely, if it fills a 
real place in the world. Each shareholder must either 
stick with the organization or get some one to take his 
place. If he becomes dissatisfied with the management, 


jealous of the power vested in certain individuals or dis- 
gusted with things in general, he can do either one of two 
things, namely, sell his stock and get out, or acquire more 
stock and take an active part in the management. In 
cither case, however, the corporation goes ahead with its 
numerical and financial strength unimpaired. 

In an association, on the other hand, when dissensions 
arise or dissatisfaction with the management develops, 
the tendency is to split off into factions. The strength and 
efficiency of the organization is weakened and the mem- 
bership, noting the lack of results, rapidly falls away and 
only the shell of the former organization remains. In an 
association there is a less definite gradation of relative 
importance oT individuals than is the case in a corpora- 
tion. In the latter organization each stockholder knows 
exactly his relative importance by consulting his store 
of stock certificates. In an association all sorts of jealous- 
ies may arise through assumptions of personal impor- 
tance which exists in the mind of the member only. 

Associations of business men as well as associations 
of farmers are subject to the unavoidable weaknesses 
above noted, but the lessons of personal restraint and co- 
operation have been better learned by business men than 
by farmers and their associations are frequently more 
enduring than those of the farmers. Business men have 
usually had sufficient experience in cut-throat competition 
to appreciate the benefits of a protective trade association, 
and, then, the interrelationship of the various units in a 
given field of business is such that ordinarily it is possible 
for the association to mete out punishment in one form or 
another to such members as violate trade understandings 
or agreements for the sake of temporary personal gain. 
Furthermore, an association of business men is likely to 


be run on business principles. This brings us to the second 
big weakness of all national farmers' organizations to date. 

Any new agricultural organization that grows to a 
considerable size in a short space of time is certain to be 
manned by inexperienced officers and directors. Lack of 
experience in business methods is likely to be particularly 
noticeable. It is unreasonable to expect men whose entire 
experience has been along farming or small town business 
lines, to have a first hand knowledge of the principles and 
methods universally employed in large business enter- 
prises. Such business training as the farm affords is, in 
fact, calculated to develop close attention to details and 
cautious action after long deliberation rather than a 
broad grasp of advanced principles, quick and decisive 
action and a delegation of all but the major features to 
experts trained to carry out plans and projects. The high 
grade, intelligent farmer, or man from any other art or 
profession, suddenly set down on a tremendously big 
business management job, is fortunate indeed if he so 
manages matters as to escape complete submersion in de- 
tails within a few months. By the time he is absolutely 
forced to turn over parts of this work to assistants he 
has become so entangled in factional strifes and jealousies, 
in correcting some of the misstatements made in his first 
overfilled days and in smoothing out his earlier mistakes 
that his standing and efficiency have become seriously im- 
paired. Too often it has happened that the president of 
a big farmers' organization must either be replaced every 
few years or he must adopt a policy of inaction. It should 
be made possible to retain a good farmer-leader without 
expecting him to be also a first class business executive. 
Two different types and temperaments are involved. 

On the other hand it is essential to the democracy and 


atmosphere of a farmers' organization that a real farmer 
be placed at its head. It is highly important that close 
touch with actual farm conditions be maintained and 
neither the members nor the general public with whom 
the organization must deal would feel satisfied of its bona 
fide character unless an actual farmer were in control. 

The feeling is becoming widespread that there is only 
one satisfactory means of solving the dilemma above out- 
lined. The actual business of a great farmers' organiza- 
tion — ^the organization work, the selling of the organiza- 
tion to the general public and to its own membership, 
the making of the budget and handling of the funds, 
and the execution of the program of work, must be placed 
entirely in the hands of technically trained experts big 
enough and capable enough to conduct the work in a 
thoroughly up-to-date business way. Many believe that 
a high-grade business manager should then be placed in 
actual charge of all and made directly responsible for 
the running of the organization, under proper relation- 
ships with the president. 

This is the plan that has been found to work suc- 
cessful in business associations, and many advanced agri- 
cultural thinkers believe it is the only plan that will give 
continuous satisfaction with farmers' organizations. 

This leads to the question of salaries. A business man- 
ager capable of carrying on the work of a national organi- 
zation of farmers, such as the American Farm Bureau 
Federation, would be cheap at a salary of $25,000 per 
year. A Washington representative of the organization 
must constantly c(q)e with the legislative representatives 
of lumber, coal, railway, chemical, packers', mining and 
financial associations, receiving salaries of from $25,000 
to $50,000 annually. Farmers' organizations simply must 


pay high salaries and get high gjade men if they are to 
meet these other interests on an equal footing. But ap- 
parently no farmers' organization will long pay these 
salaries to farmers. The members feel that the farmers 
who happen to be elected to office or employed for these 
high positions are no more worth the price than are they 
themselves. Sooner or later, therefore, the members at- 
tempt to force the salaries in these positions to about what 
a good high grade farmer could make at farming. On 
the other hand, these same farmer members expect to pay 
high prices when they employ a good lawyer or a good 
expert along any line. They know that he can get an 
equivalent amount from other sources and there is quite a 
feeling in these latter days that the farmer can "afford 
the best." 

The dangers lurking in legislative activities have be^n 
pointed out in Chapter XIV. Legislative activity is, how- 
ever, one of the most fruitful lines of endeavor and one of 
the very best with which to arouse and sustain interest 
among the membership. The dangers encountered by the 
Farm Bureau in connection with the Washington legisla- 
tive efforts were largely due to the lack of a thorough- 
going system of conducting the legislative work of the 
Federation. Insufficient attention was given by the or- 
ganization to the developing of a legislative program and 
no adequate means of keeping the membership informed 
as to the various steps taken was at that time provided. 
This made it easy for differences of opinion to arise and 
for serious dissensions to develop. The remedy for this 
difficulty is obvious and is now being applied. 

The real danger in legislative work which farm organi- 
zations must guard against is the urge to form a separate 
party. Frequently in the past the provocation has been 


great. Neither party seemed to give due heed to the 
fanners' demands. The formation of a separate peirty 
seemed the only way out. This plan has never yet been 
successful, however. The Populist Party made the 
strongest effort but it was hopelessly weak and even when 
united with the Democratic Party in its final campaign in 
1896 was unable to win. Every farmers' organization 
that has taken an active, open, partisan part in a political 
campaign has gone to pieces shortly after the failure of 
the campaign. Long-standing, personal, political preju- 
dices will not be laid aside, it seems, even for the sake of 
an agricultural victory. 

The most successful plan seems to be to unite on prin- 
ciples and men rather than on party lines. Governors, 
senators, representatives, and legislators may be defeated 
or elected with comparative ease in agricultural sections 
where farmers unite on a candidate either in the primaries 
or at the final election. Any such action, of course, neces- 
sitates a complete information service as to the merits or 
demerits of every member of Congress and every member 
in the state legislatures. The strength of the Non-Parti- 
san League was obtained, not as many suppose, by the 
formation of a new party, but by comWning of farmers 
at the primaries to name the candidates of one or both of 
the well-established parties. 

But perhaps one of the biggest dangers of all is inac- 
tion. Doing nothing is infinitely worse for the health of 
an organization than making a mistake now and then. 
When things go wrong and criticism begins to come in 
showers the temptation is for the officers to do as little 
as possible, hoping thereby to allow matters to blow over. 
The first question always asked when a farm organiza- 
tion is under discussion is : ''Well, what have they done ?'' 


If you have ever started in to enumerate offhand what 
even the best associations, either business or agricultural, 
have done within a period fresh to the memory, you will 
appreciate just how difficult it is to name specific and 
definite accomplishments that have an easily recognizable 
cash value. It may be perfectly evident to all who have 
followed the work that tremendous progress has been 
made, much of which has a cash value in the long run, 
but most of the good work of an association must be of an 
intangible nature and therefore not fully understood or 
appreciated by the average member. It may be seen there- 
fore, how important it is to have a full program of active 
work under way at all times. Once the membership gets 
the idea that nothing is being done it rapidly dwindles un- 
til only a skeleton of officers remains. We have several 
notable examples of farm organizations in this predica- 
ment to-day. 

Something has already been said about the dangers 
involved in commercial activities. The American Farm 
Bureau Federation has sought to avoid the possibility 
of the misfortunes which befell the Grange in this con- 
nection, through a system of organization which di- 
vorces the actual commercial activities from the parent 
farm bureau organization. We have seen how the local 
farm bureau in many instances has a separate club or 
group arrangement to handle orders independently of the 
farm bureau itself. In most states the buying and selling 
operations are done by separate organizations, as for 
instance livestock associations, or fruit and vegetable as- 
sociations, or wool associations, or similar groups possibly 
organized by and always definitely associated with the 
central state Farm Bureau organization. In the case of 
the national organization we have seen how the entire 


grain marketing program was turned over to the U. S. 
Grain Growers. The American Farm Bureau Federation 
acted merely as the organizing and supervisory medium. 
It is believed that this plan will avoid the pitfalls attendant 
upon cooperative marketing, so far as the farm bureau 
itself is concerned. Even if one of these state, or even 
national activities, does go to ruin occasionally, it need not 
carry the Farm Bureau with it. That particular activity 
will be only one of the many which the Farm Bureau is 
responsible for, and even with the debit entered against 
it the credits will still leave a good balance in favor of 
continuing the organization. 

Still another weakness which a national farm organiza- 
tion must fight against, is sectionalism. We have noted 
the outcropping of this disturbing feature in the first Farm 
Bureau organization meeting. The special interests of the 
North are bound to be different from those of the South 
and New England ideas do not always agree with those of 
the West or Middle West. The South is interested in 
cotton ; the North in corn and wheat. The New Englander 
wants the price of dairy feeds kept down ; the Iowa pro- 
ducer wants them put up. The Kansas farmer wants cheap 
freight rates on wheat; the Virginia farmer is not so 
much interested, since he gets Chicago prices plus freight. 
The South has the negro problem ; the Pacific Coast has 
the Japanese problem, and Texas has the Mexican prob- 
lem. These sectional problems are further complicated 
by the existence of farm organizations preceding the 
Farm Bureau. 

Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Virginia have strong 
state Farmers' Unions whose officers and membership are 
loath to resign in favor of the Farm Bureau. The Equity 
has strength in Wisconsin. The Non-Partisan League is 


active in North Dakota and Minnesota. The Gleaners 
have long done good work in Michigan on a broad scale. 
The Missouri Farmers' Club has been fostered by private 
interests and since it is doing good work along cooperative 
lines, its officers can see no reason why it should go 
over bodily to the Farm Bureau. The Progressive 
Grange is active in the Northwest and most of the New 
England, North Atlantic, and Central States have strong 
Granges. In addition to the Farm Bureau, the National 
Grange, the Farmers' National Council/ and the National 
Board of Farm Organizations,^ all maintain Washington 
offices and take part in legislative work. 

As the representatives of the various sections become 
better acquainted with each other their differences tend 
to disappear and the value of one big, national, organiza- 
tion powerful enough to make itself felt in the halls of 
Congress and in the world of business, is a strong tie that 
binds the state units together. The separate state organi- 
zations can work on the special problems of the section 
but the national connection is needed to solve the bigger 
problems that affect all. The chief organization difficulty 
in the South at present is the handling of the negro 
problem and the necessity of changing over from the 
county council to the county farm bureau plan of local 
organization. The relationship with the newly developed 
American Cotton Growers Association, is also a com- 
plicating factor. 

Some effort has been made to bring about a union of 

* The Washington representatives for the Washington State 
Grange, North Carolina Farmers' Union, and scattered groups of 
the more radical agricultural element throughout the United States. 

• The central coordinating body for the National Milk Producers' 
Federation, the National Farmers' Union, the Pennsylvania State 
Grange, the Equity and several other smaller groups, formed July, 
1917, shortly after the United States entered the World War. 


the more or less conflicting agricultural organizations. It 
is recognized that the National Grange covers a different 
field and does not ccMiflict with the farm bureau. In most 
states definite plans of cooperation between the Grange 
and the farm bureau have been worked out. Most mem- 
bers of the Grange are also members of the farm bureau. 
Some of the other organizations, however, duplicate a 
part or all of the farm bureau work in certain states. In a 
few instances consolidations have been effected. The 
opportunity to join with a strong national organization is 
the argument that appeals to the more or less isolated 
state groups. In several instances the opportunity for 
consolidation existed but the farm bureau organizers were 
unable properly to follow-up the earlier negotiations and 
the opportunity was lost. Excellent work was done by 
President Howard in harmonizing a variety of interests 
and separate organizations into a single group to under- 
take cooperative gfrain marketing. This did much to affili- 
ate some of these groups with the farm bureau. Now that 
the first rush of enthusiasm is over and the unlimited 
praise has died down it is doubtful whether much more 
progress in the way of absorption of existing state units 
will take place for a time. The tendency will be to wait 
and see how the farm bureau succeeds. 



THE question of the relationship of the county agri- 
cultural agent to the Farm Bureau has been a bone 
of contention ever since the farm bureaus began 
to attain strength and particularly since the movement 
has taken on national proportions. This has been the 
point of attack of rival farm organizations no less than 
by interests inimical to the farmer's ultimate welfare. 

On the face of it, the argument that a man supported 
by Federal and local taxation should not be permitted to 
take an active part in the upbuilding of an organization 
of a private nature looks very plausible. It is freely ad- 
mitted that the county agents are largely paid by public 
funds, and no one familiar with the development of the 
farm bureau will deny that the county agent has been in- 
strumental in building the local county farm bureau 
units. So the basis for misunderstanding and argument is 
easily accounted for. That President Howard appre- 
ciates the important part which the county agent plays in 
the farm bureau structure is indicated by the greeting 
which he addressed to county agents on New Year's Day, 
1 92 1, through a publication issued by them. It read as 
follows : 

''The county agent is the keystone of the federation. 
The architects of a great and enduring farmers' organiza- 



tion builded to the eternal glory of America, will never 
forget the importance of that keystone. 

"The American Farm Bureau Federation is exactly 
what the individual county farm bureaus make it. And 
the county farm bureau, I have found again and again 
and again, is just what the county agent makes it. Show 
me a weak, listless, ineffective county farm bureau and I 
will show you behind it a weak, listless, ineffective county 
agent — one of these harmless, meek, milk-and-water fel- 
lows forever reiterating that 'this is your bureau, mem- 
bers, and I am your agent ; please tell me what to do, so 
that you will continue to pay my salary/ My point is 
that the county agent is set in positive position of leader- 
ship, whether he will or not. He can no more escape the 
responsibilities of leadership than can a line officer in the 
army. When the farmers find that they are investing 
their money in a hired man instead of a leader, they begin 
to regret that they pay him a leader's salary instead of a 
hired man's wages. 

"I would urge every county agent in America to assume 
a position of real leadership in his county and to stand or 
to fall on his record as an organizer of farmers into a 
strong and effective county farm bureau. With strong 
county bureaus fired with a burning zeal for agricultural 
justice, our movement will challenge the admiration of 
the world. 

"The county agent is the strong right arm of the Amer- 
ican Farm Bureau Federation. I have found that by 
use the right arm retains and increases its power. We 
intend to make increasing use of the county agent. There- 
fore, we earnestly solicit his constant cooperation. Ask 
him to continue to help the American Farm Bureau Fed- 
eration so that the American Farm Bureau Federation 
may help him and his people." 

The relative importance of the county agents to the 
movement decreased as the local and state units became 


stronger and stronger but their permanent value as an 
essential part of the system is fully recognized. 

A committee of Congress — the House Committee on 
Banking and Currency — ^was the first to make a searching 
inquiry into this phase of the farm bureau development. 
This committee has jurisdiction over legislation affecting 
the Smith-Lever funds. The investigation was apparent- 
ly prompted, however, by the growing importance of the 
Farm Bureau as a factor in legislative affairs (see Chap- 
ter XIV), and by the suggestion of one or more rival 
farm organizations alarmed at the rapid growth of the 
Farm Bureau.* 

Definite effort was made by officers of several state 
organizations, notably the Pennsylvania State Grange, to 
show that the Farm Bureau, aided by the county agents, 
was endeavoring to build up an organization which would 
react to the detriment of the Grange. Much evidence was 
brought out in these hearings and Congress, at least the 
members of this committee, arrived at a much better un- 
derstanding of the interrelationship of the county agent 
and the farm bureau before the investigation was finished. 

A portion of a speech delivered by C. E. Gunnels,^ in 
1920, while still connected with the Department of Agri- 
culture, was put into the record and did much to show 
just why the farm bureau had been developed by the 
county agents and why then existing farm organizations 
did not meet the need. He said, in part : 


The farm bureau, therefore, as thus developed, is seen 
to be practically a public institution, developed at the 

*It should be noted that representatives of both the National 
Grange and the National Board of Farm Organizations stated be- 
fore the committee, in effect, that they had no quarrel with the 
Farm Bureau. 

'Mr. Gunnels is now treasurer of the American Farm Bureau 


direct suggestion of agents of the Government for the 
purpose of creating a channel through which the prac- 
tical results of research work of the Government might 
with certainty reach the people for whom it was intended. 
As it has developed, it consists of a country-wide organi- 
zation of farmers, with farmer officers cooperating under 
State and national laws with the county and the Federal 
and State Governments in the use of public funds for the 
employment of trained agricultural agents, and in some 
counties a trained home-demonstration agent and a 
trained boys' and girls' dub agent, for the improvement 
of agriculture and home economics in the county, all in 
harmony with and in furtherance of the national agri- 
cultural extension act of 19 14, the provisions of which 
every State, through its legislature, has accepted. 

"Now, why did the Federal and State Governments 
develop such an organization? Why didn't they co- 
operate in extension work directly with the Grange in 
counties where the Grange is strong, or with the Farmers' 
Union in counties where the Union is strong, or with the 
Equity, where the Equity is strong? The reason is 
simple enough. Practically all of these are secret organi- 
zations, or class organizations, or commercial organiza- 
tions. In a considerable degree they are exclusive organi- 
zations, and since the work of the Federal and State 
Governments is financed by all the people and in the in- 
terest of all the people, these institutions felt the necessity 
of developing a non-class, non-secret, non-commercial, 
and permanent institution open to all the farmers in the 
county, and through which all could find expression, and 
could deal directly and in an organized way with the 
State colleges and Federal Department of Agriculture. 

"Besides, none of the farmers' organizations with 
which the department was acquainted had been developed 
with the idea of extension work in mind, and the agents 
of the Government hesitated to take up work with them, 


or propose work to them which would necessarily involve 
a redirection of their organization, to say nothing of the 
jealousies which might have been created by apparent 
favoritism in the selection of one organization in prefer- 
ence to another." 

While this investigation was still under way a publi- 
cation known as Industry, published from Washington, 
made a vigorous attack on the Farm Bureau, based partly 
upon its relationship to the tax supported coimty agents, 
and partly upon the assumed intention of the Federation 
to comer the food market. In his indictment the editor 
asserted : 

"First, the American Farm Bureau Federation is at- 
tempting to control — including price-fixing — ^the market- 
ing and sale of the entire wheat crop of the United States, 
the basis of the nation's food supply. 

"Second, the American Farm Bureau Federation is a 
quasi-governmental organization, as it exists to-day, f imc- 
tioning for class benefit at the expense of tax-raised 
funds, and through the instrumentality of tax-paid 
agents, a form of socialism or paternalism which has 
never before been extended into economic realms in this 
country, and therefore is a subtle and direct attack at the 
roots of Democracy and individual freedom of initiative. 

"Third, the American Farm Bureau Federation is seek- 
ing to secure legislation not by presentation of facts and 
arguments, but apparently by threat and political influ- 

"Fourth, the American Farm Bureau Federation ap- 
parently is already under the influence of a great bankers' 
organization, and is serving as its agent in the sale of 
Foreign Trade Financing Corporation securities to its 


"Fifth, the American Farm Bureau Federation is seek- 
ing to absorb or monopolize all other farm organizations 
and secure autocratic spokesmanship for all agriculture." 

The next attack came in the form of a resolution intro- 
duced in Congress by Representative N. J. Gould of 
New York State, alleging that the American Farm Bu- 
reau Federation was endeavoring to enhance farm crop 
prices by limiting production and had attempted to "dic- 
tate" to Congress. He pointed significantly to the con- 
nection of the county agent with the farm bureau system. 
In a statement given to the press at the time of in- 
troducing his resolution Representative Gould said : 

"Nothing will produce discontent, unrest, and even 
bolshevism quicker than any attempt to limit the food 
production of the United States, boost the prices and 
compel the people to pay double what they ought to pay 
for food. I shall insist upon this investigation in the 
next Congress, if it is not possible to have action taken 
at the present session, and I shall continue to act until 
this conspiracy against the people is ended. We can at 
least divorce those who inspired this conspiracy from the 
public payroll." 

The "conspiracy" referred to by Representative Gould 
was simply the data and conclusions sent out by the Fed- 
eration tending to show that under existing conditions of 
costs and probable selling prices of crops it would be 
unprofitable to employ the usual means of stimulating 
crop production, such as by employing extra labor, using 
fertilizers, etc. 

In order to illustrate how little Congressman Gould — 
himself a well-known manufacturer of pumps — really im- 
derstood the situation, the Farm Bureau determined by 


telegraph at once that the Gould factories had cut down 
production to a sixty percent basis. It was pointed out to 
him that the farmer cuts down production for exactly the 
same reasons as he himself had; namely, because there 
was insufficient sale for his products at a price that would 
cover the cost of production. 

While all these attacks were plainly based on either 
ignorance or malice, yet it was plain that this question 
of the interrelationship of the county agent and the Farm 
Bureau was the point at which attacks would be launched, 
and that every effort must be made to safeguard this rela- 
tionship by bringing about a better understanding as to 
just what it consists of. Finally at the M ay. IQ2 1 , meet- 
ing of the Executive Committee at Washington this mat- 
ter was threshed over thoroughly with the officials of the 
States Relations Service of the Department of Agricul- 
ture and the following "basis of cooperation" agreed to : 

"The County Agricultural Agents, Home Demonstra- 
tion Agents and Club Agents cooperatively employed will 
be members of the extension service of the State Agri- 
cultural College and under the administrative direction of 
the Extension Director, and will carry on such lines of 
extension work as may be mutually agreed upon by repre- 
sentatives of the agricultural colleges and the farm 
bureaus or other like organizations. 

"Since these county extension agents are part of a 
public service as defined in the Smith-Lever Act, and re- 
ceive some part of their salary from public funds, theyi 
are to perform service for the benefit of all the farming-] 
people of the county whether members of the farm 
bureaus or not, and are to confine their activities to such 
as are appropriate for public officials to perform under 
the terms of the Smith-Lever Act. The county agents 
will aid the farming people in a broad way with reference 


to proUems of production, mariceting and formation of 
farm bureaus and other cooperative organizations, but 
will not themselves organize farm bureaus or similar or- 
ganizations, conduct membership campaigns, solicit mem- 
berships, receive dues, handle farm bureau funds, edit and 
manage the farm bureau puUications, manage or take 
part in other farm bureau activities which are outside 
their duties as extension agents. 

"The county agents and other extension agents will 
coope rate wjj^ih the farm bureaus or other like organiza- 
tions interested in extension work in the formulation of 
county and community plans of cooperative extension 
work. It will then be the duty of the county agents under 
general direction of the Extension Director to take charge 
of the carrying out of such plans and to ax^ierate with 
officers, committees and members of the ia£nxj>ureaus 
and with other organizations and residents of the county 
in the prompt and efficient execution of these plans. 

"In order to do away as far as possible with the con- 
fusion now existing in the public mind regarding the or- 
ganizations and work of the farm bureau as related to 
the coimty agents and the Extension Service generally it 
is recommended that hereafter in publications and other- 
wise the cooperative extension service shall be differ- 
entiated frcxn the farm bureau work. That is, the farm 
.bureau will have its relations with the extension service 
\ (consisting of the county agents, extension committee, 
demonstrations, etc.) as one of its departments. Other 
departments might be a publicity department which would 
prepare and publish a periodical (Farm Bureau News), 
press articles and notices, announcements of meetings, 
etc. ; department of relations with marketing and other 
cooperative associations, etc. 

"The work which centers in the county agents would 
be designated as the Cooperative Extension Service and 
the miscellaneous enterprises of the Farm Bureau as 
Farm Bureau work. 


"The County Farm Bureaus have their state and na- 
tional (American) Farm Bureau Federations, which are 
working on economic and legislative matters and are also 
promoting the extension service and agricultural educa- 
tion and research. These Fe deratio ns are, however, not 
directly connected with the Extension Service and do no t 
enter into cooperative ag reements with the State Colleges 
and the Department of Agriculture involving the use of 
Federal funds and the employment of extension agent^ 
and the College and the Department are not responsible 
for the activities of the Farm Bureau Federations. There 
is, however, much advisory consultation between repre- 
sentatives of the Farm Bureau Federations and of offi- 
cers * of the Colleges and the Department with reference 
to plans for advancing the agricultural interests of the 
States and the Nation." 

Doubtless further attacks of a similar nature will be 
made on the Farm Bureau, but it is believed that grad- 
ually it will be seen that the farm bureau plan of co- 
operation with the government in the upbuilding of agri- 
culture is as big a benefit to the governmental educational 
system as it is to the Farm Bureau. Neither could proceed 
nearly as well without the other. So thoroughly, how- 
ever, has the Farm Bureau established itself now that the . 
removal of the Smith-Lever funds would probably be | 
made up by the Farm Bureau members themselves. In 
such an event none but members could call upon the 
county agent for assistance and the very farmers needing 
him most would be the ones omitted if, indeed, all did 
not soon join the Farm Bureau. 

*Dr. A. C. True, Chief of the States Relations Service of the 
Department of Agriculture, is an honorary member of the Ex- 
ecutive Committee of the American Farm Bureau Federation and 
attends most of the meetings. 


Since any effort on the part of Congress to eliminate 
Smith-Lever funds would very likely be the signal for a 
united uprising of farmers to combat this plan, it is un- 
likely that any serious attempt will be made in this direc- 
tion in the near future. 



A STUDY of the earlier objectives and methods of 
the Grange show a striking similarity to those 
of the Farm Bureau. In view of the later experi- 
ences of the Grange in endeavoring to carry out its pro- 
gram, a somewhat detailed comparison of the points of 
similarity and discussion of dissimilar features should 
prove of value. 

It should be mentioned at this point that there is practi- 
cally no conflict between the Grange and the Farm Bureau. 
The fact that one of the active organizers of the first 
county farm bureau and the president of this first bureau 
when it came under full farmer control was also the mas- 
ter of the county grange, indicates clearly that the two 
organizations occupy different fields of endeavor even 
though existing side by side in identical territory. It is 
safe to say that well over half of the membership of the 
National Grange is also connected with the Farm Bureau. 
In a number of states the membership of the Grange has 
increased decidedly during the past two or three years 
when farm bureau membership campaigns have been at 
their height in those same states. In a number of the 
strongest Grange states, notably Ohio and New York, 
carefully coordinated programs of cooperative work have 
been developed between the two organizations. 



In a general way the present work of the Grange may 
be said to be social and educational, while that of the 
Farm Bureau is educational and economic. This definite 
division applies only where both organizations exist ^de 
by side in the same territory. Where either is absent the 
other extends its lines of work to include some of the 
normal functions of the unrepresented organization. 
Since the Farm Bureau usually has a considerably larger 
membership and a much greater fund to spend than has 
the Grange — even in the strongest Grange states — the 
Farm Bureau is ordinarily much more active and main- 
tains a much larger central business organization. The 
Grange's strength now lies largely in the active social 
and educational interest which it maintains in its local 
units, and in the interest aroused through its state and 
national legislative activities. 

The founders of the Grange planned to make it a social 
and educational organization just as the founders of the 
county farm bureau idea had in mind principally a means 
for educational work. But, as we have seen, this idea 
was soon departed from in both cases. The urge towards 
economic efforts was too strong to be resisted in 1873, 
even as it was in 191 9. By the time most of the state 
units and the national federation of farm bureaus had 
been formed, economic effort was the chief aim. 

In the case of the Grange the organization was unpre- 
pared and untrained for the work and proved unable to 
guide a safe course. As we have already noted, its de- 
struction was almost complete. 

Kenyon L. Butterfield ^ says in this connection : 

"The causes of this rise and decline are fairly clear. 
The Grange was set before the farmers as a fully or- 

* Kenyon L. Butterfield, in Bailesr's Cyclopedia of American 


ganized piece of social machinery at the precise time when 
diey most keenly felt the need of such an organization. 
They rallied to a standard that seemed to promiise relief 
from their grievances. 

"The causes of decline lay in an overestimation of the 
power of any organization to procure legislation that 
would correct the evils complained of, and, indeed, an 
undue reliance upon legislation itself as a cure for the 
trouble; in the fact that many unwise attempts at busi- 
ness cooperation failed ingloriously; and in the inability 
of the order to assimilate at once such tremendous in- 
creases in membership. Members came more rapidly than 
they could be educated to the real work of the Grange and 
trained to patience and self-control. Grange organizers 
were paid for their work and probably set forth unwisely 
the possibilities of the order. Many farmers joined ex- 
pecting an early and large financial benefit. The Grange 
thus became first the organ and then the victim of a great 
reform wave among the discontented farmers of the 

There seems no doubt but that the immediate cause 
of failure was the rapid extension of^business activities. 
In 1883, just long enough after the crash of the Grange 
cooperative business enterprises to give a perspective view. 
Worthy Master Y. J. Woodman,^ of Michigan said: 
"The principal cause of failure was in placing business 
enterprises backed by the funds of the State Grange into 
the hands of agents who were wanting in business experi- 
ence and qualifications necessary to manage them. . . . 
It cannot reasonably be expected that persons who have 
had no practical experience or special training in mercan- 
tile business, milling, or manufacturing can be qualified 
to successfully manage such enterprises." 

^Semi-Centennial History of the Grange, Dr. T. C. Atkeson. 


Lack of experience and failure to a^^ly good business 
methods may be set down as the broad imderlying rea- 
sons for the failure of the early and highly promising 
Grange effort along cooperative lines. There is no ques- 
tion but that the Farm Bureau has a greater body of 
experience to draw from. Men are available to-day who 
have had extensive experience in actual cooperative 
marketing on a wide scale. Great numbers of farmers 
have had from two to twenty years' experience with the 
local features of cooperative marketing. More general 
information on economic affairs is at hand. More satis- 
factory laws governing competition are on the statute 
books now than in the earlier days of the Grange. Un- 
doubtedly there is to-day a better understanding and 
appreciation of the necessity for business methods in farm 
organization work. 

The Farm Bureau has avoided some of the more obvi- 
ous mistakes made by the Grange. The financing, for 
instance, has been better handled. More adequate funds 
have been provided and a more uniform income insured. 
The Grange in its heyday was misled as to its actual 
financial strength by the large amounts accruing from orig- 
inal installations of locals. A fee of $15 was collected, 
from each local at the time of granting the charter. 
When, therefore, more than 10,000 locals were installed 
within a single year, a large but illusory fund was cre- 
ated. When new installations stopped this income 
stopped. The annual dues were ordinarily only one 
dollar per member. 

The Farm Bureau has already shown the same ten- 
dency toward internal disturbances as have been notice- 
able in the Grange and all other large farm organizations. 
In the Grange some of these disturbances were fomented 


by interested parties outside Grange ranks while others 
originated from within. Even the so-called "family quar- 
rel" of the Grange in its earlier days seems to have been 
helped along, if not actually started, by designing outside 
interests. An author writing on this subject says : 

"It seems significant that it was immediately after this 
achievement (the victory over the railroads) that the 
'family quarrel' of the Grange flared up, probably made 
in the enemy's country and certainly fostered and in- 
flamed by the inspired press of the time, which sowed 
dissension in the Order by hinting at the misuse of funds 
and denouncing the exclusiveness and extravagance of 
the National Grange. The outcome was a division of 
Grange funds and the crippling of the Grange treasury, 
doubtless aimed at by the 'capitalist press,' and even 
worse, the creating of distrust and suspicion on the part 
of the farmers whose confidence in the Order had been 
rudely shaken/' 

Although the Grange made a constant fight against the 
dangers of political entanglements it was never entirely 
successful in keeping free, and what was probably one 
of the most serious splits in its ranks had as its under- 
lying cause political considerations. 

When the great political ground-swell of the early 90's 
got under way the Grange was just beginning to re- 
cover its breath after the knockout blows of 1876-77. 
It had again accumulated a strong, solid membership in 
a number of states and had built something of a reputa- 
tion for sane, conservative, agricultural leadership. The 
Alliance had a frankly political leaning and as we have 
seen (Chapter II) formed the basis of the Populist Party. 
i Finally in the campaign of 1892 it practically lost its or- 



ganization identity and its members and leaders plunged 
into the thick of the reform political fight. 

The pressure brought upon the Grange at that time and 
during the next four years to take up the farmer's fight 
through political means was tremendous. To the third 
party enthusiasts, here seemed the chance of a generation 
for the fanner to grasp the reins and effect the many 
reforms he had been clamoring for during the preceding 
two decades. 

Because the Grange did not grasp at this apparent 
opporttmity there were those who accused its officers, 
first, of lack of aggressive leadership and, later when the 
fusion of the Populists and the Democrats had taken place, 
of actual collusion with the leaders of the Republican 

It so happened that banning with the year 1889 and 
continuing for the ensuing nine years the Master of the 
National Grange, J. H. Brigham, was from Ohio, the 
home of both Marcus A. Hanna and William McKinley. 
Mr. Brigham was a man of commanding presence, a real 
statesman and had served a term as a Republican member 
of the Ohio senate. All this served to lend color to the 
charge that the Grange was being delivered, soul and 
body, to the Republican Party. Free silver was, of 
course, one of the big issues of the day, along with other 
money questions, some of which have since been gener- 
ally admitted unsound. Worthy Master Brigham found 
himself unable to subscribe to some of the measures then 
being advocated and said so from the public platform. 
While subsequent events seemed to establish more firmly 
the belief that Mr. Brigham was working for personal 
political ends, yet unbiased men of keen insight who went 
through the f^ht believe to-day that he was simply en- 


deavoring to keep the Grange off the rocks of political 
entanglements and unsound economic theories. In en- 
deavoring to disarm the radicals he had to himself appear 

In 1 89 1 Worthy Master Brigham said in the course 
of his annual address : ^ 

"A majority of the members of the National Grange 
may indorse certain propositions involving questions of 
political economy affecting the material interests of citi- 
zens, such as tariff or finance, but in no case is a member 
of our Order bound by such action or expression of 
opinion unless his own judgment shall approve. 

"The membership of the Grange can be committed to 
no party, to no individual, to no religious creed, to no 
political theory or policy, by any act of any official, or 
by any resolution adopted by any subordinate, State or 
National Grange. Any other position upon these propo- 
sitions means disintegration and death. 

"This need not hinder discussion nor expression of 
opinion by members acting individually or collectively. 
All measures which are of especial interest to farmers 
should be viewed from all points. Give the people the 
benefit of any phase of opinion, and then they can draw 
intelligent conclusions." 

But with feeling running so high it was but natural 
that divisions . among the membership should take place 
and Brigham's leadership was threatened. The officers of 
the Grange are elected by the votes of delegates, two from 
each state presenting evidence acceptable to the credentials 
committee. A state must have not less than fifteen active 
local granges in order to qualify with voting delegates. 
When the vote for officers became so close that the elec- 

* Semi-Centennial History of the Grange, Dr. T. C. Adceson. 


tions were swung by one or two states, it was charged, 
and later admitted, that just previous to elections the 
national officers sent organizers into the weak states that 
were near the membership deadline, and where it was 
assured that delegates favorable to the reelection of Brig- 
ham would be provided, enough local granges were or- 
ganized to bring the total up to the required standard. 
In those states where it was ascertained that opposition 
to the incumbent officers would be encountered, evidence 
was collected, if possible, to present to the credentials com- 
mittee at the proper time to disqualify the voting dele- 
gates from those states. 

No doubt. Worthy Master Brigham felt that the end 
justified the means. He believed that he must save the 
Order from radicalism by any means available. However 
that may be, he remained in office until appointed As- 
sistant Secretary of Agriculture after the election of 
McKinley, when he was succeeded by Aaron Jones, a 
member of his own inner circle. 

All this developed leaders of an opposing group and 
while the real split in the Grange did not come until some 
years later, yet the foundation was laid and some of the 
seeds of dissension were sown. 

The real splitting off of the so-called "Progressive 
Granges" came in 1910 and was due to the failure of a 
more or less radical minority to put through a coup they 
had planned to capture most of the major offices and 
control the Grange. A number of the states that broke 
away from the National at that time have never fully 
returned to the fold although a nominal connection is 

These experiences of the Grange in the handling of 
radicalism contain valuable lessons for every agricultural 


organization of wide extent. It requires men of extremely 
keen insight and broad outlook to steer a safe course of 
leadership between the rocks of radicalism on the one side 
and the shallows of inactive stand-patism on the other 
side. It is most disconcerting, furthermore, to find that 
the guideposts are not stationary. The radical of to-day, 
in at least seven cases out of ten, is likely to be the merely 
progressive of to-morrow and in another generation the 
ideas he stood for may actually be considered reactionary 
by the more advanced social thinkers of that new day. 
This has been noted time after time by all careful observ- 
ers. Yet without changing positions in the least a man 
may be in reality wrong to-day and right to-morrow. 
There is such a thing as getting too far ahead of the 
march of progress of the general run of society. A re- 
form may be impractical of application to-day, and the 
tone of public opinion so changed within a few years as 
to make the new order entirely practicable. 

Then, of course, there is always the radical here and 
there, and sometimes a great preponderance of him, who 
is advocating an unsound principle,^ a principle which 
later experience proves to be unsound. The loose thinker 
and the demagogue can always get an audience and a fol- 
lowing. To discriminate between the true and the false 
and pacify the ultra-radical while steering gradually away 
from the reactionaries requires true qualities of states- 
manship and a high degree of skill in leadership. 

^ For instance it is popular to-day and always gets an enthusiastic 
response from an agricultural audience to say that prices of grain 
are held down until the farmer has been forced to sell to the 
speculator, whereupon prices then begin to advance. The fact of 
the matter is that a comparison of prices of wheat on the Chicago 
market at the time of threshing and for the following spring, 
averaged for the entire 49 years between the close of the Civil 
War and the opening of the World War, shows an increase in value 


It is this quality, perhaps, more than any other one 
thing that has kept Samuel Gompers at the head of the 
American Federation of Labor for the past forty years. 
He has been frequently pushed by the radicals to the 
point of taking action which his better judgment told him 
was unwise. Yet even with these concessions to radicalism 
his leadership has been threatened at every election for a 
good many years past, by the faction which feels that 
his views are too conservative. His success in retaining 
active leadership through it all speaks volumes for his 
soundness of pc^icy and understanding of human nature 
as well as mass psychology. 

Mr. Gompers has never allowed his organization to be 
led astray by the third party will o' the wisp. Third 
parties present alluring possibilities to the reformer, but 
seldom matierialize into an}rthing of permanent value to 
an organization, as such. It has been frequently stated 
that third parties have never been successful in the United 
States. This is, of course, untrue. One third party has 
proved eminently successful and is now doing business on 
Capitol Hill. The Republican Party split off from the 
old Whig Party as a third party standing for abolition 
of slavery. If there had not also been a split in the Demo- 
cratic Party at the same time, the Republican candidate, 
Abraham Lincoln, might readily have been defeated. As 
matters turned out he was elected and the Republican 
Party was made. 

of approximately three percent — scarcely enough to pay for storage 
and shrinkage and allowing nothing for interest. The easy assertion 
about unduly depressed markets at about harvest time simply isn't 
true, but it sounds reasonable and has been repeated so often that 
it is now generally accepted without question. This, of cou]:se, 
has no reference to the many real marketing ills which cooperation 
will cure. Undue depression does, undoubtedly, occur on spedfic 



coa:pared with the grange 231 

It is quite conceivable that if the Grange had turned in 
whole-heartedly and helped the Populist Party, the latter 
might have come into power and been a dominant force 
in the elections of 1896. As it was, the successful party 
saw the handwriting on the wall and made haste to enact 
most of the reforms advocated by the Populists. 

But let us assume that with the active assistance of 
the Grange the Populist Party should have won. Even 
with success crowning its efforts active political partici- 
pation would very likely have been bad policy for the 
Grange. Feeling would have been generated to a high 
point and dyed-in-the-wool republicans and democrats 
among the ranks of the grangers would have attacked 
the grange for its partisan stand. Those favoring the 
Populist principles would have worked vigorously with 
the inevitable after-election slump in interest. The feeing 
would have prevailed that the very object of the Grange 
had been accomplished and its major usefulness had 
passed. Then again, sooner or later, the successful pro- 
gressive party would have probably become the reaction- 
ary party and the job would have had to be done all over 
again. The Republican Party which started out as the 
most advanced of radicals on the slavery question has to- 
day become the "conservative" — ^some would say "reac- 
tionary" — ^party. 

So either way you take it, active participation in par- 
tisan politics gets an organization nowhere in the end. 
If its party wins, its members look to the party rather 
than to the organization for strength and^power; if the 
party loses, history has shown that the organization sel- 
dom survives the shock. An agricultural organization is 
on perfectly safe ground when it insists that the senators 
and representatives from agricultural districts shall truly 


represent agricultural interests, and promptly retires those 

who refuse or fail to do this. In exceptional cases it 

may be necessary for state organizations to see to it 

that the right candidates are selected at the primaries, but • 

these candidates should nearly always be from within 

the established parties. 

The big lessons which the history of the Grange teach 
are ( i ) the necessity for regular, persistent, and consistent "^ 

local activity in all the units which make up the State 
and National organizations, (2) the importance of guid- 
ing a course midway between radicalism and ultra-conser- 
vatism, and the value of entire freedom from political 
entanglements. Contrariwise, (3) the lack of organiza- 
tion experience and failure to apply good business meth- ; 
ods are plainly shown to be dangers that may readily 
wreck any young and rapidly growing agricultural or- 
ganization of wide extent, particularly if it engages in 
cooperative commercial enterprises. In this latter point 
the Farm Bureau's distinct improvement over the plan 
followed by the Grange lies in the fact that its commercial 
activities are conducted by units separate and distinct from 
the central farm bureau organization. 



THERE was probably never a more maligned organi- 
zation of reformers in the United States than the 
Non-Partisan League. Its leaders and members 
have been charged with everything from disturbance of 
the peace to treason against the national government in 
time of war. A. C. Townley has been pictured by his 
enemies as an adventurer, a fanatic, an anarchist, a self- 
seeker, and an enemy of society; and by his friends as a 
clear-thinking, hard-hitting, far-seeing reformer and 
statesman who is leading the farmers of North Dakota 
and nearby states out of the wilderness of exploitation 
and oppression by capitalistic interests with which they 
have struggled for years. 

It has been almost impossible for an impartial observer 
at a distance to get a true statement of the situation, so 
completely has the news been colored and so conflicting 
have been the stories circulated. 

In endeavoring to form an estimate of what has taken 
place in North Dakota, the kind of men who led the 
movement and the significance of this development in its 
relationship to the broader agrarian reform movement 
now under way, we must keep in mind what Charles Ed- 
ward Russell ^ so well says : "Good men, or those deemed 

*"The Story of the Non-Partisan League," by Charles Edward 



good in the literature of the day, never revolt at anything. 
Without exception, every social or political reform has 
been effected by men whose motives and acts were fiercely 
assailed in their own generation and lauded by all mankind 
in the generation thereafter. No man ever attacked a 
vested wrong and escaped being pictured in his own time 
as a depraved and dangerous person. . . . 

"John Wilkes was pilloried to all England as a mon- 
ster of wickedness, but every reform he advocated was 
adopted within a hundred years of his death. William 
Lloyd Garrison was dragged through the streets of Boston 
with a rope around his neck, but hardly another name in 
American history is more respected to-day. As late as 
1861 Wendell Phillips had to be protected by armed vol- 
unteers across Boston Common because of a speech he 
had made in favor of htmian liberty ; there is now a great 
monument to him on the ground he trod that day. If 
Washington had failed he would have been pictured in 
history worse than Jack Cade, for all the English descrip- 
tions of him in his own time represented him to be a 
howling demagogue, abounding in wickedness and in- 
famy. . . . 

"The Populists were hooted and jeered from one end 
of the country to the other; most of them lived to see 
most of their doctrines adopted by the great political 
parties. In England the Chartists were hunted down and 
imprisoned ; almost the whole Chartist program has since 
been made into English law." 

As Mr. Russell further points out, it probably mattered 
little as to just what form of organization or manner 
of procedure the revolt in North Dakota employed. "So 
soon as their revolting movement attained to propor- 
tions that threatened intrenched Privilege, it would have 


been assailed on moral grounds. Men in great numbers 
that freely admitted the basic justice of the farmers' 
cause would have vehemently decried the tactics that the 
farmers pursued. Exactly as men say they are in favor 
of the right of workers to organize, but are opposed to 
unions, so in regard to the farmers, similar minds would 
say they knew the farmer had been badly treated, but 
this was not the way to redress their wrongs. If the 
farmer had confined his efforts to the economic field, he 
would have been told to go into politics. If he had tried 
to win free by political action, he would have been in- 
structed to use only his economic power." 

It may be worth while then to note, briefly, just what 
happened in North Dakota and to draw from the experi- 
ences of the Non-Partisan League such lessons as may be 
applied to the farm bureau movement. 

Those who are still laboring under the propaganda-in- 
spired illusion that Non-Partisan League leaders must 
of necessity be a wild-eyed, scatter-brained, rabid lot, 
would do well to make the acquaintance of Dr. E. F. Ladd, 
for many years head of the North Dakota College of Agri- 
culture and now the newly elected Non-Partisan senator 
from that state. A kinder, gentler and milder mannered 
gentleman never lived, and his colleagues are rapidly 
learning to respect his keen intellect and clear-cut logic 
in the Senate chamber. Governor Frazier, who has 
served continuously as the chief executive of North Da- 
kota since the Non-Partisan League came into control, is 
the very antithesis of wild-eyed radicalism. He was not 
even a delegate to the original convention that placed his 
name in nomination, and as was the case with Senator 
Ladd, hadn't the slightest idea that he was being con- 
sidered. The offices have literally sought the leaders in 


North Dakota, instead of the reverse which is abnost 
tiniversally true elsewhere. 

It must be understood, however, that conditicMis in 
North Dakota were much different from those existing 
in most of our Eastern States, and what was a perfectly 
natural development in the Northwest would be a highly 
artificial and superimposed proceeding in the more east- 
erly sections. North Dakota is almost wholly agricultural. 
Eighty percent of its population is on farms and another 
ten percent lives in villages of less than 500 inhabitants. 
Only ten percent dwell in cities and the largest city has 
only 22,000 population. 

North Dakota interests are tied up completely with 
grain growing and marketing. The marketing has been 
dominated absolutely by the big milling, financial and 
railroad interests centered around Minneapolis. There 
seems to be no question about the flagrant injustices and 
actual thievery practiced by the large and firmly estab- 
lished interests. Many of the practices had been in use 
so long that the second generation had actually come to 
look upon them as right and proper. 

Millers, bankers and railroads had grown immensely 
wealthy and the grain producers had become poorer and 
poorer. Despite the fact that most of the lands had been 
obtained almost free, statistics show that in 191 5 more 
than two-thirds of the farms of North Dakota were mort- 
gaged and more than one-fourth of the farmers were 
tenants on the land they tilled. 

Regarding conditions as they existed, let us quote Sena- 
tor Ladd : ^ 

"It is hardly too much to say that for a generation 
North Dakota was treated by great interests outside the 

^Congressional Record, May 2, 1921. 


State much as the Romans ruled their conquered Prov- 
inces. The financiers, millers, insurance men, packers, 
and grain-buying and railroad interests which centered 
in Minneapolis and St. Paul, looked upon North Dakota 
as their exclusive trade preserve and taxed its people all 
the traffic would bear. Discriminatory railroad rates, 
which frequently in years past averaged at least 40 per- 
cent higher than charges on the same commodities in the 
neighboring State of Minnesota, made it difficult and 
almost impossible for North Dakota to develop its own 
industries, so that practically everything the State pro- 
duced was shipped to the Twin Cities and Duluth and 
virtually all commodities consumed in the State had to be 
purchased from these outside points. 

"This in itself was a very uneconomical system and not 
conducive to the development of the State's prosperity; 
but in addition to this, the farmers suffered gross injus- 
tices in the marketing of grain, which composed their 
staple crop. Practically all the elevators in North Dakota 
were controlled by concerns closely connected with the 
Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. Many of the banks 
in North Dakota also were owned by the same interests, 
and it was no coincidence but part of a settled policy that 
notes, mortgages and other obligations incurred by the 
farmers usually fell due in the fall of the year. This 
and a lack of storage facilities compelled the farmers of 
North Dakota to market their crop almost immediately 
after it was threshed, and for a period of thirty-five years 
price tables indicate that the grain from North Dakota 
was marketed when prices were at their lowest point. ^ 
in the year ; but more than that, the buyers took advantage 
of the farmers in the matter of ^ades, correct weight, and 
dockage in their grain. . . . 

* But not necessarily lower than the price which represented the 
later price minus carrying charges, although this, too, was frequently 
the case. 


'The best illustration of the essential dishonesty of 
this system of marketing (which allowed the buyer to 
fix grades) was shown in 1916, when hot winds resulted 
in the production of shriveled kernels of wheat through- 
out North Dakota. The grain buyers announced that this 
wheat was unfit for human consumption and that none 
of the existing grades would cover the case. Therefore 
they said that the North Dakota wheat that year would 
have to be used for chicken feed, and special feed grades, 
of the A, B, Q and D classes, were devised to suit the 
occasion. Practically the entire crop of North Dakota 
wheat that year was purchased as feed — A, B, C, or D 
wheat, and die price of this wheat ranged from 40 cents to 
$1.05 per bushel under the ordinary grades at which the 
farmers had formerly sold their wheat. As a consequence 
the farmers of North Dakota lost millions of dollars on 
that one crop, and their rage and chagrin can be imag- 
ined when it was afterward discovered that the mills of 
Minneapolis not only manufactured this wheat into flour 
but had the supreme audacity to claim superior quality 
for this flour on the ground that it was unusually rich 
in gluten — ^absorbed a large amount of water and made 
an exceptionally large loaf of nutritious bread. Copies 
of the circular letters which millers sent out to their 
trade advertising this flour came into my possession and 
enabled me to expose this gigantic swindle which had been 
perpetrated upon the producers of North Dakota. It was 
this fact more than any other that caused the farmers of 
North Dakota to enroll in the Non-Partisan League in 
such numbers." 

But the farmers of North Dakota had been trjring for 
ten years to get moderate reforms adopted by the usual 
methods. Back in 1907 the people of the State by a ma- 
jority vote of 86 percent had instructed the legislature to 
provide the means and establish state-owned terminal 


grain elevators. So completely was the State dominated, 
however, by officers and legislators — ^usually small law- 
yers connected with the Minneapolis interests — ^that by 
one trick and another, and in the face of overwhelming 
popular demands and even ref erendums, the demands of 
the farmers were frustrated throughout nine long years. 
In 1915 when a delegation of some 300 farmers went to 
Bismarck to ascertain why the legislature would pay no 
attention to their demands, so secure did the long en- 
trenched interests feel that one of the old guard legisla- 
tors in the course of a speech against the terminal ele- 
vators turned to the farmers patiently sitting in the gal- 
lery and arrogantly said: "You farmers go home and 
slop your hogs. We will make the laws in this State/' 

Even then the farmers might not have turned to politi- 
cal means to enforce their will had it not been for an- 
other obstruction placed in their way by the same private 
interests who saw their profits threatened. The Society 
of Equity had been making considerable progress along 
the lines of cooperative marketing and despite the most 
unfair and un-American persecution by the Minneapolis 
Chamber of Comrperce had succeeded in handling a con- 
siderable volume of grain on a cooperative basis for North 
Dakota producers. ^ 

Suddenly the Attorney General of the State of North 
Dakota brought suit against the Society of Equity to 
force it to dissolve and cease to handle grain. Previous 
fo thfs many farmers had favored cooperative methods 
rather than state ownership of terminal elevators and 
mills. But this bit of autocratic impudence, plainly 
prompted by the monopolistic grain interests, was the 

*'The Story of the Non-Partisan League," by Giarles Edward 


straw that broke the earners back. They would stand no 
more. They would organize and take matters into their 
own hands. 

And organize they did. With most amazing rapidity 
and thoroughness. 

The League really won its victories at the primaries. 
So thoroughly did they control the primaries that the 
great majority of their candidates were placed on all tick- 
ets in the field and after that it made little difference to 
them as to the final vote. Their campaign was strictly 
non-partisan. They dominated the Democratic primaries 
the same as the Republican. 

Because of the holdover senators it took two years to 
get complete control of the state government — ^legislative, 
executive and judicial. When this was finally accom- 
plished the legislature proceeded to do a thing unique in 
American political history; namely, to enact every mea- 
sure to which the members were pledged. 

In a legislative session lasting less than 60 days every 
measure for which the people of North Dakota had la- 
bored so long was written on the statue books. A state 
bank was created, a state hail insurance department and 
state home-building association were authorized and bonds 
voted for the carrying out of the industrial program. In 
addition this legislature passed seventeen correlated laws 
tending to improve the status of labor and of women and 
children in industry. 

All the legal batteries that could be mustered were 
turned loose against these laws but they have been sus- 
tained successively by one court after another, including 
the United States Supreme Court, and at last North Da- 
kota is carrying out her constructive program. 

Every trick and device that human ingenuity could 


devise has been brought to bear upon these various enter- 
prises to compass their defeat. The State government and 
the League were made to appear as disloyal and unpatri- 
otic during the World War. Through a misimder- 
standing the League did perhaps make one misstep early 
in the war but this was rectified and not a state in the 
Union holds a better record for subscriptions to the vari- 
ous war enterprises and the cost of individual enlistments 
in North Dakota was the least of any state in the Union. 
One county had not a single man drafted — ^all eligible 

Consistent, paid, newspaper propaganda of a most dam- 
aging nature has been kept up persistently by the interests 
affected. The bonds of the State have been decried and 
refused by the usual financial agencies all over the coim- 
try, and a most despicable and criminal attempt was made 
to wreck the State bank. 

But through it all the League has made steady progress 
and has already reaped financial benefits from its various 
projects which amply justify their existence. Gradually 
a better understanding is coming into the minds of fair- 
thinking people and while it is still entirely possible for 
the warring interests to mortally cripple the North Da- 
kota system, yet every day, apparently, adds to its 
strength. This is not the place to discuss the legislative 
program put through in North Dakota but we respect- 
fully commend it to the attention of forward-looking legis- 
lators as embodying many principles conducive to more 
equitable social and economic interrelationships. 

The Farm Bureau has no present intention of using 
Non-Partisan League methods. The Farm Bureau is 
endeavoring to bring about the necessary reforms by the 
application of economic methods, by education and by 


influencing legislation in a peaceable sort of way. It 
is well to remember, However, that the farmers of North 
Dakota started out with this same intention and it was 
only when their efforts in that direction were persistently 
thwarted that they organized for more militant methods. 

It is probable, moreover, that even if it were so desired 
it would be impossible for farmers to do on a national 
scale what has been done in North Dakota with its 
heavy preponderance of agricultural interests and its pe- 
culiarly acute problems. The League has not been par- 
ticularly successful in its organization efforts outside of 
North Dakota, Minnesota and Montana. 

The League has pointed out wonderfully well the plan 
for farm organizations to use when it becomes necessary 
to elect a set of state cheers and legislators or to replace 
an unworthy United States senator or representative. 
Simply capture the primaries in both of the leading parties 
and then all questions of politics are eliminated and the 
farmer wins, regardless of the final tally of the votes cast 
in the regular election. Where the farmer vote is not 
strong enough to do this a united fight can be made on 
"men" rather than party lines. Voters are becoming 
more and more independent of parties every day. 

Farm organizations are indebted' to the League, and 
specifically to A. C. Townley, for another important les- 
son, too. Townley it was who first convinced large bodies 
of farmers that a cause that is worth fighting for is 
worth supporting financially. He made farmers see that 
if their organizations are to have anything like the force 
of labor organizations, the farmer must be willing to pay 
at least a fraction of the regular dues paid by all union 
plumbers, or ditch-diggers, or laborers of whatever sort. 
This payment, in turn, creates greater loyalty on the part 


of the member. He has a bigger stake in the undertaking 
and takes a greater interest. But it also involves an obli- 
gation on the part of the organization. The member has a 
right to expect results. 

By entering so completely into political activities the 
League has encountered dangers which the Farm Bureau 
should be able to avoid. With political power so readily 
within their grasp there is constant temptation on the 
part of the League officers to use the organization for 
their own political advancement. While the organization 
is new and motives are pure and high no bad effects are 
likely to follow such developments, but later the danger 
of corruption for personal gain is too great to be over- 
looked. Too great a voting majority cannot be long 
trusted even in the hands of friends. 

On the whole it would seem that the course laid out 
by the Farm Bureau Federation, while not as direct and 
swift-acting as that followed by the Non-Partisan League, 
is much safer and more in accord with our American ideals 
and in the end can be quite as effective in bringing about 
the desired reforms. 



THE question is often asked, Why is it that labor 
unions have been able to grow and prosper for 
years, while so many farmer organizations have 
languished and died? Why is the bricklayers' union or 
the machinists' union more successful than the average 
farmer's organization? 

The answer is very simple when a close comparison of 
the two types of organization is made. The laboring 
man's union prospers because it serves a definite, concrete, 
personal, local need. The workman sees and feels its in- 
fluence and protection on every hand. If a union printer 
feels that he has been unfairly treated by his foreman, or 
by the proprietor, the "father of the chapel" calls a meet- 
ing at once, right in the shop. The other members of the 
printers' union employed in the shop discuss the merits of 
the case and decide what action is to be taken. Incidental- 
ly the "father" may at the same time collect the month's 
dues ^ to turn over to the city or local union. If it is 
decided to seek redress the matter will be taken up at the 
next meeting of the local or city union. If a strike is 
called the city and national union send money for living 
expenses until the strike is settled. 

*EHies vary from $i to $5 per month, depending upon the tr^e. 
Additional dues are collected for various special types of benents, 
such as old age, sickness, etc 



If a tinion machinist needs a job, his local union will 
get one for him. If he wants to go to another city, the 
union will advance him money for travel expenses if 
desired. Upon arriving at the new location, does the 
machinist begin to search among the various shops for a 
job? He does not. He simply goes to union headquar- 
ters and the business agent after consulting his lists writes 
out a letter which the machinist carries to the foreman of 
a shop needing a man of his qualifications. If a union 
man desires to learn an advanced and more skilled trade, 
or branch of the trade he is then following, his national 
union will provide him with a correspondence course and 
endeavor to place him to advantage when he has com- 
pleted the course. 

If the union man is sick, his union will attend him; 
if he needs help, the union will help him; when he grows 
old, the union provides him a home; and when he dies 
the union will bury him. To the working man the 
union is school, church, society, bank, guide and protec- 
tor.^ Members are in constant touch, working on the 
same job, holding group meetings at frequent intervals, 
and turning out to the monthly central meetings in great 
numbers when anything of importance is expected to 
transpire. In many highly organized trades to-day it is, 
of course, impossible to work without a union card. 

Here is a great lesson to be studied by any organiza- 
tion that hopes to retain its membership. The national 
and state organizations may be important, but it is the 
vitality or lack of vitality of the small local membership 
groups that in the end determines whether or not the 
membership will grow in numbers and the organization 
increase in strength. Every effort must be made to make 

* Not all unions perform all these functions. The plans vary. 


the local work personal and practical and worth while. 
The Knights of Labor tried to maintain an organization 
on broad, national, idealistic principles, but it didn't work. 
Membership rolled in for a time — in 1886 the Knights 
of Labor had more than 600,000 members — ^but soon the 
local members found no particular reason to attend local 
meetings, lost interest, failed to pay their dues, and the 
organization speedily went to pieces. 

Because of the physical limitations — Jong distances, 
scattered neighbors, and infrequent meetings — farmers' 
organizations labor under a peculiar handicap in the mat- 
ter of maintaining active local interest. The average 
farmer attends a central or local meeting and then drives 
off miles to himself, perhaps not talking to another niem- 
ber about organization affairs until the next meeting a 
full month later. 

But this simply means that extraordinary effort must 
be made to provide the means for local activity and the 
close, personal, ever apparent incentive for loyalty to the 
organization. Improved transportation is doing much 
to eliminate distance and most farmers to-day have some- 
what more time to give to such matters than formerly. 

The history of trade unionism discloses many signifi- 
cant lessons of value to the farmer leader interested in 
organization affairs. 

Modem trade unionism made a start in the United 
States somewhat earlier than did organization among 
farmers. The underlying reasons for the starting of 
the movement were much the same, however, in the two 
groups; namely, the changing conditions incident to the 
establishing of industrial centers and the breaking up of 
the people into more definitely defined classes based on 


Trade unionism as an industrial and political force 
appeared about 1825.* In Philadelphia arid New York 
strong organizations were maintained for a time. Most 
of these organizations, however, were very loosely con- 
stituted and were ordinarily short-lived. Probably be- 
cause of lack of definite and thorough organization which 
would permit of other types of activity, the leaders at- 
tempted to exercise power through political means. They 
counted upon such organizations as existed to rally to 
the labor standard at election time. Whatever the motive 
and circumstances, the fact is recorded that the first work- 
ingmen's party appeared in Philadelphia about 1828, and 
a more important political movement in New York in 
1829. The New York party was organized in the spring 
of 1829, elected a state assemblyman in the fall, was split 
into three factions within a few months, put three tickets 
in the field in the fall of 1830, and disappeared from view 
the following spring. The same fate seems to have be- 
fallen this early political movement of the labor forces 
in other cities but its brief show of strength was not 
without effect. Tammany politicians were thoroughly 
frightened and incorporated several of the principal 
planks of the workingmen's party in their own platform.^ 

The fate of this first workingmen's party was ac- 
cepted as a lesson in labor organization circles and when 
another strong trade-union movement arose in 1833-37 
the leaders steered clear of partisan politics. The plan 
was adopted of questioning candidates as to their posi- 
tion on questions of interest to labor. This new labor 
movement grew out of the troubles arising from the 

* "The History and Problems of Organized Labor," F. T. Carlton. 
"The Workingmen's Party of New York, by Carlton, Political 
Science Quarterly, Vol. 22, 415. 


rapid inflation of prices in Andrew Jackson's regime. 
Prices went up tremendously but wages lagged behind. 
The laboring man saw no relief except through organi- 
zation and strikes. The question of hours was also a 
bone of contention and it was following the strikes and 
agitation of 1835 that the ten-hour day gained its first 

The pioneer national organization of wage earners in 
the United States was known as the National Trades' 
Union. The first convention of this organization was 
held in New York in 1834. This organization held an- 
nual conventions for several years but had little authority 
over the local units. 

With the coming of the panic of 1837 the weaknesses 
of the existing loosely bound organization showed up and 
the national organization soon disappeared and was all 
but forgotten. 

For more than a decade following 1837 very little in 
the way of labor organization existed. A few local trades 
continued their nominal organizations but no national or 
state organizations were maintained and no program of 
work actively prosecuted. Beginning about 1845 a rather 
extraordinary period of harmony and submersion of 
class consciousness set in. Fostered by such men as 
Greeley, Dana, and Brisbane — ^not themselves of the 
wage earning class — the doctrines of humanitarianism 
were constantly preached. Instead of organizing to con- 
duct strikes for higher wages many organizations of 
workmen came into being to labor for the broader eco- 
nomic and social principles which would advance the gen- 
eral level of society. A free school system and free home- 
steads on the western lands were two of the most promi- 
nent results of this agitation. Incidentally this repre- 


sented the first serious attempt to bring all laboring men 
together into a single organization without regard to 

The possibility of securing free lands, the attainment of 
a nimiber of important political and economic concessions 
for which they were fighting, and the overshadowing im- 
portance of the slavery question, were the more important 
factors which prevented definite and strong labor organi- 
zation preceding the outbreak of the Civil War. 

Carlton calls the Civil War period the epoch of the 
"second American industrial revolution." The demand 
for goods was unprecedented. Large scale production 
made its appearance and due to the lack of available work- 
ers machinery was substituted as never before. The sew- 
ing machine, the reaper, boot and shoe machinery and the 
telegraph were all invented immediately preceding the 
Civil War. These innovations were eagerly seized upon 
and put to full use as quickly as possible after the out- 
break of hostilities. 

With the exception of the first year the Civil War 
period was one of prosperity at the North. Profits were 
large and many industries, particularly manufactures, ex- 
perienced phenomenal growth. Associations of manu- 
facturers were formed, first to facilitate cooperation in 
maximum production, later, for protective purposes, and 
finally to resist the demands of labor. 

With industrial consolidation an accomplished fact, or 
at least a prospective fact, labor again took up the idea of 
orgfanization and pushed it vigorously. Workers found 
themselves helpless, for a time, against the associations 
of employers. The return of the soldiers made new prob- 
lems and new organization needs and by 1866 labor was 
again fairly well organized in the larger cities. The idea 



of consolidation into one large national body again gained 
supporters and whereas a similar attempt had failed in 
1864, two years later a National Labor Congress was held 
in Baltimore and the National Labor Union effected. This 
was a weak federation of local, state and national organi- 
zations. The dues were low and the entire organization 
was apparently only a sort of continuing committee be- 
tween annual conventions. Its chief object was to influ- 
ence legislation and when one of its most important meas- 
ures — an eight-hour law applying to laborers and 
mechanics employed by the Government — was passed by 
Congress in 1868, it fell apart and speedily died. 

A number of socialistic schemes gained some ground 
among laboring classes about this time and considerable 
progress was also made along cooperative lines but noth- 
ing was done in a national way and the panic of 1873 
forced many of the remaining locals to disband. 


In the middle 70's another group arose which endeav- 
ored once again to unite all laboring men in a single or- 
ganization without distinction as to trades. This organi- 
zation was known as the Knights of Labor. 

By 1885 the Knights of Labor * had a membership of 
more than 100,000, then suddenly it experienced a phe- 
nomenal growth and by the end of 1886 numbered more 
than 600,000 members. This was an organization entire- 
ly independent of trade unions. Its government was high- 
ly centralized and at times autocratic. The aim was to 
bring about the betterment of the working classes through 

* "History and Problems of Organized Labor," Carlton. 


political action and cooperation rather than through 
strikes, boycotts and other means of direct action cus- 
tomary among trade imions. They demanded the estab- 
lishment of a bureau of labor statistics, the use of the 
referendum, the prohibition of child labor, the levying 
of graduated income and inheritance taxes, establishment 
of a postal savings bank system, government ownership 
of the railways and telegraph lines, the introduction of a 
system of cooperation to supersede the wage system, the 
use of arbitration to settle labor disputes, and the gradual 
introduction of the eight-hour day. 

This program while excellent in the main, failed to get 
close enough to the laboring man's problems. He wanted 
better wages and shorter hours, and he wanted them at 
once. He had neither the foresight nor the patience to 
await the ultimate, though slow, realization of the ideal- 
istic program set forth. It is not surprising therefore to 
find him soon going back to his local trade union. The 
Knights of Labor order fell away rapidly and although 
still in existence, now consists of little more than sets of 
officers. The experience of this organization points out 
an important lesson in organization principles. 


The American Federation of Labor was founded in 
1 88 1. It started as a federation of a number of unions 
that had originally organized locally and later grown to 
state and national proportions. Each national union was 
strictly confined to a given trade. The federation aimed 
merely to correlate these independent trade groups. A 
local union of machinists in Chicago, for example, is a 


part of the National (or International) Association of 
Machinists, but it is also an active unit in the Chicago 
Federation of Labor, and the Illinois Federation of Labor. 
Each of these three organizations — the national trade 
union, the city, and the state units of the federation of 
labor — ^are a part of and directly connected with the 
American Federation of Labor. Local unions are affili- 
ated with the Federation only indirectly, through a na- 
tional union. 

This plan of organization has many points of similarly 
with that used by the Farm Bureau in several states, but 
certain fundamental features are entirely dissimilar. It 
will be noted that the local machinist, for instance, joins 
his machinists' union and by so doing automatically be- 
comes a supporter of the national federation. The local 
farmer, on the other hand, ordinarily joins the local farm 
bureau — ^the direct local representative of the national 
body. He may also join a livestock shippers' association 
or a bean growers' association fostered and aided by the 
Farm Bureau, but this fact in itself gives him no claim 
upon the national farm bureau organization. An impor- 
tant exception must be noted, however, in the case of 
Texas and one or two other southern states. In these 
states a cotton grower upon joining the American Cotton 
Growers' Association automatically becomes a member of 
the county, state, and national farm bureaus. 

The question of plan of organization has long been 
one widely discussed in labor organization circles. Many 
leaders have held that success depends upon the existence 
of local unions along strict trade lines. It has been 
argued that only thus can local trade problems be closely 
watched and sufficient direct aid rendered to maintain 
financial and numerical strength and interest. The failure 


of all early attempts to organize as one big group, or even 
along "industrial" lines instead of "trade" lines, is pointed 
to as strong argument against any change in the present 
plan of organization. Yet the organization is admittedly 
cumbersome and unwieldy because of its peculiar struc- 

The use of the strike as a weapon makes a very definite 
reason why all men in a given trade should be affiliated 
in a separate and distinct body. But this in itself would 
not appear to be sufficient reason why such a group should 
not be subordinate to the group which represents the over- 
head welfare of all kinds and classes of labor. It seems 
likely that the existence of strong national trade unions 
before the formation of any central coordinating body is 
the chief reason why the type of organization in use has 
persisted. The officers of these national unions have been 
unwilling to surrender any portion of their prestige that 
might suffer through any contemplated reorganization de- 
signed to place greater powers in the hands of the cen- 
tral federation. 

In recent years there has been a decided movement 
toward consolidation of unions along industry rather than 
trade lines. This has been partly due to the greater use 
of machinery and the shifting of duties due to greater 
specialization, but is also a result of the need for larger 
numbers to take part in making a strike more eflFective. 
With the greater dependence upon legislative remedies and 
regulations by governmental boards and commissions 
more and more strength has been acquired by the central 
federation headquarters. Students of the labor movement 
feel that this tendency toward centralization of power 
will continue. 

Based on the experience of the American Federation 


of Labor, some might argue that farmers should organize 
along strict commodity lines and then federate these 
groups ; that is, the grain growers, the livestock men, the 
fruit producers, and the dairymen, in some plan of cen- 
tral representative union. 

A fundamental difference between the conditions in the 
two instances is apparent, however, in the fact that the 
farmer is seldom exclusively interested in one line of pro- 
duction. And, furthermore, his major interest in any- 
particular line of production, as far as organized effort 
is concerned, is in getting a better market price. This 
in itself necessitates a separate commodity organization. 
These are becoming quite numerous. But the farmer's 
interests outside of the selling of one or more commodi- 
ties are so many and so varied (in contrast with the labor- 
ing man's rather limited range of interests) that it would 
seem to be impossible to secure any unity or strength of 
action by depending upon a central association of these 
various commodity organizations. The recent tendency 
of labor organizations to centralize power indicates a 
realization of their own weakness in plan of organization 
for dealing with national affairs. It should be remem- 
bered, too, that a central labor organization has certain 
coercive control over the locals, that a farmers' organiza- 
tion would not have. The strike funds of the locals are 
deposited with and are under the control of the national 

The chief advantage that can be justly claimed for 
the local organization along "trade" lines rather than 
simply broad "labor" lines is that by being in closer con- 
tact with the workman's daily trade troubles, right in 
the shop, greater interest can be maintained in the organi- 
zation, and quicker results secured when corrective action 


must be taken. It will be seen that under the physical 
conditions of the farm — ^particularly the isolation of in- 
dividuals, much of the benefit that the laborer gets from 
this close type of organization would be lost to the farmer. 
Commodity organizations within the Farm Bureau — 
either under the direction of farm bureau committees or 
definitely associated with the county or state farm bureau 
organization — ^would seem to retain most of the advan- 
tages of commodity organizations, in so far as market- 
ing of products is concerned, and at the same time provide 
through the overhead farm bureau organization a much 
more flexible and powerful instrument for handling the 
broader problems than would be afforded through a 
necessarily loosely organized central association of com- 
modity organizations. 

But the importance of maintaining active local interest 
is paramount. The necessity for this has sometimes led 
labor unions into unwise actions which have discredited 
them in the minds of many fair-minded citizens. It is 
charged, for instance, that the local walking delegates 
frequently stir up trouble on technicalities, merely to 
justify their existence and keep up interest in the organi- 

There would seem to be no excuse for tactics of this 
kind in any organization, either labor or agricultural. The 
opportunities for really constructive work are so numer- 
ous that there should be no occasion to resort to dema- 
goguery. Any temporary tactical advantage ,gained is 
more than outweighed by the reaction that results when 
the principles advocated are eventually proven unsound. 

But it takes work — good, hard, mental, physical, and 
nervous energy to do active, constructive work in a way 
to maintain organization interest. And this is no less 


true of the cpnununity and county fields than of the state 
and national fields. Because this is true the temptation 
is always present to secure interest and support through 
that easy but illusory substitute for work— demagoguery. 

Recent writers and speakers have stated that the Amer- 
ican Federation of Labor has decided to put less reliance 
in legislation as a means of advancing labor's interests. 
Labor leaders, for instance, assert that, contrary to popu- 
lar belief, they did not advocate the passage of the Adam- 
son Act which made the eight-hour day the basis of pay 
on the railroads. What they did do, they claim, was to 
threaten to tie up all transportation unless the eight-hour 
day was made the basis of pay. They preferred to make 
this arrangement with the railway managers independent 
of any legislative action. 

This attitude has come about through unpleasant ex- 
periences where court decisions and technicalities have 
rendered supposedly beneficial legislation inoperative or 
ineffective. If the bargain is made with the employers 
the union can use direct methods to see that its terms are 

This does not mean, however, that the Federation of 
Labor contemplates paying any less attention to legisla- 
tive matters. On the contrary their plans call for 
strengthened organization for efforts along this line. 
They are planning to scan even more carefully every bill 
that is presented. Their change in attitude simply recog- 
nizes the principle that many of their problems demand 
solution along economic lines rather than along legislative 
lines — ^a principle already well established in Farm Bureau 

One other feature of labor organization evolution 
should be referred to as indicative of a changing attitude. 


This is the growing tendency to accumulate and invest 
funds in substantial property. Labor banks are being 
established. The Mt. Vernon Savings Bank, of Wash- 
ington, is said to be the first bank of this kind to be 
opened. It began business on May 20, 1920, and by 
December 29th had deposits totaling $1,262,040. 

A similar but larger bank has been opened in Qeve- 
land by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, and a 
Telegraphers' Cooperative National Bank is projected for 
location in St. Louis in the near future. 

A contemporary writer says : "Recent failures to ac- 
complish its ends by industrial or political means have 
turned the efforts of organized labor toward finance. 
Only by substantial control of their own funds through 
their own banking institutions, many union leaders are 
convinced, will the workers be able to make their will 
effective. The possibility of taking part in the financing 
of industry is regarded as a means of influencing its 

An interesting phase of this development is the possi- 
bility of a change of viewpoint toward the question of 
wages and hours, and the various restrictive regulations, 
when the labor union itself owns an interest in the fac^ 
tory. When the laboring man becomes both owner and 
workman he will more nearly approach the position of the 





IT is never safe to forecast the trend of social develop- 
ments, nor of economic developments when closely as- 
sociated with social developments. Since there has 
probably never been a time in American history when 
the tendency toward regulation of business in the interest 
of the greater social development has been more pro- 
nounced than at the present time, prophecy is particularly 
hazardous just now. 

The period of pure money-making and exploitation 
without regard to the best interests of society as a whole 
seems to be approaching an end. Great numbers of busi- 
nesses to-day are apparently making every effort to per- 
form the greatest possible amount of service to the gen- 
eral public at the least possible cost, despite the fact that 
we still have with us the example of numerous monopolies 
that operate on the principle of extracting all that the 
traffic will bear. 

Manufacturing has been systematized and improved 
to a point that is little short of marvelous in its efficiency. 



No one can watch a Ford plant turning out completed 
cars at the rate of several a minute, or a packing plant 
converting hogs into hams and pork chops and buttons, 
without feeling that the manufacturer is doing about all 
that we can reasonably expect at this period of our scien- 
tific development, in the matter of efficiently turning raw 
materials into finished products. 

But it is on the distribution end that most of us are 
weak. It is the regular thing in perhaps the majority of 
manufactured lines to add one hundred to two hundred 
percent between the factory costs and the price to the 
final consumer. This is not profit. Of course it includes 
several profits, but most of it is selling costs. This 
doubling of price to the consumer usually represents the 
cost first, of convincing the consumer that he needs the 
article in question and, second, of placing it before him 
in the amount and shape and at the time he desires it. 

In the case of a new article— one to which the public 
must be educated concerning its advantages — ^high selling 
costs are justifiable. The consumer must be willing to 
pay for his education. But in the case of staples whose 
uses are well known and thoroughly understood by the 
consumer, there is no excuse for the high selling costs 
existing in common practice. These selling costs repre- 
sent largely the costs of duplication, of keeping ten brands 
of soap on the market where five would, perhaps, serve 
all useful purposes; of maintaining six grocery stores 
side by side, where three could handle all the business; 
of having eleven milk wagons cover the same block where 
one could deliver all the milk desired in that block; of 
sending out three salesmen to call on the same customers 
and taking the orders that could be just as readily col- 
lected by one. In other words, the consumer must stiU 


pay the costs of being sold an article even though he has 
bought that article fen* years, knows all about it, and 
expects to place his order when he needs it. 

It is this cost that cooperative buying eliminates. Cer- 
tain additional costs may be eliminated depending upon 
how much or how little of the local work in connection 
with handling the order the cooperator is willing to do 
for himself. These latter savings are, however, mere 
payments for work performed and may frequently be 
done cheaper by the local dealer or agent. As pointed 
out in Chapter IV cooperative bujring has never developed 
in this country to the extent that it has in England and 
countries of continental Europe, but it is making rapid 
progress among agricultural groups to-day. Cooperative 
buying frequently follows, rather than precedes, coopera- 
tive selling in this country. A cooperative elevator once 
organized to sell grain for the farmer-owners finds that 
it has the facilities at hand to handle fertilizers, seeds, 
mixed feeds, salt, fence posts, lumber, wire fence, nails, 
gasoline, automobile tires, and other staple farm sup- 
plies. The big growth expected in cooperative elevators 
and the recent big growth in livestock shipping associa- 
tions will undoubtedly rajridly increase the volume and, 
perhaps, variety of goods thus handled cooperatively. 

As indicated in Chapter XI many county farm bureaus 
now have business agents whose duty it is to arrange for 
the cooperative purchase of a great variety of articles, 
usually utilizing the services of a local dealer on a basis 
of reduced remuneration for services actually performed. 
There seems every reason to believe that this development 
will spread as the farm bureaus become stronger. 

It is in the sale and distribution of farm products, how- 
ever, where certain lines of business will be most radically 
affected. While the announced plans of the U. S. Grain 


Growers, Inc. (Chapter XII) do not at present include 
the milling of flour, any failure on the part of large mill- 
ing interests to cooperate in getting flour to the consumer 
at the least possible manufacturing and selling costs, will 
almost certainly be followed by the entering of the co- 
operatives upon the milling field. It has been suggested 
that livestock producers should prepare meat for sale. 
With the present highly efficient meat packing system and 
adequate regulation such as that aimed at in recent Fed- 
eral legislation, it is doubtful if any considerable effort 
will be made by the producers to enter that particular 
field. Failure of Federal regulation to correct existing 
abuses would almost certainly be followed by cooperative 
attempts in meat packing, provided, of course, that at 
that time farm organizations and the tendency toward 
cooperative efforts were as strong as at the present time. 

As suggested in the case of meat packing and milling, 
the extent to which an unchecked development of the 
Farm Bureau would lead to cooperative fertilizer plants, 
binder twine factories, farm machinery factories, and 
similar activities, will probably depend largely upon the 
spirit and degree of cooperation shown by the private 
interests now engaged in these fields of endeavor. Al- 
ready the fertilizer interests in some sections have shown 
a notable lack of cooperation and several states are con- 
sidering the purchase or erection of plants. In Indiana 
in the spring of 1921, a state-wide boycott of fertilizers 
at the reigning high prices speedily brought overtures 
and heavy cuts in price from the manufacturers. 

With the production and wholesale distribution of farm 
products well in hand it might be thought that the 
farmers' interest in his products should cease. It might 
be argued that the farmer is not interested in what the 
consumer must pay for the product. But this is a false 


assumpticm. If the consumer must pay an exorbitant 
price for meats he will cut down on meat consumption, 
just as he did during the war period and still persists 
in doing. If fruits and the other fancier articles are over- 
priced the consumer must of necessity pass these by and 
purchase the more substantial articles of diet. And if 
the general price level of farm products is too high when 
they get to the consumer, total consumption will be cut 
down, just as it was in Europe following the war. 

So the farmer has nothing to gain and much to lose if 
the retailer adds on 50 to 100 percent after the products 
have been delivered to the city, as is ordinarily the case 
with fruits, vegetables, and frequently with meats. 

The next logical step would be for cooperative buying 
units of consumers to be organized to meet and deal with 
the cooperative selling units of the farmers. Some prog- 
ress has already been made along this line in special cases, 
although not with marked success. The American Fed- 
eration of Labor is, however, taking up this problem and 
it is not at all unlikely that we may soon find the workmen 
of a given factory or store purchasing their supplies 
through cooperative agents or stores. The recent advent 
of the self-service chain stores has been a step in the right 
direction, but of course the aim of these privately owned 
institutions will be, not to place foods in the hands of the 
people at the least possible cost, but to distribute at prices 
just sufficiently lower than those of old-type stores to 
attract trade. 

Perhaps the most notable tendency of the times is to 
force the large monopolies or close associations of a 
monopolistic nature, to submit to Federal regulation suffi- 
ciently drastic to make abuses impossible, but not so in- 
elastic as to materially reduce their undoubted efficiency. 


In other words, society is insisting that the advantages of 
monopoly, or virtual monopoly, be divided with the con- 
sumer. This type of legislation has a long distance to 
go yet to make it really effective but it has great possi- 
bilities. The Sherman Anti-Trust law has proven totally 
unable to prevent monopolistic conditions ; the next effort 
is to be made apparently along the lines of control and 
limitation of private profits. 

The American farmer properly organized should prove 
a strong ally in this movement. Organized labor is also 
firmly committed to this policy. The Consumers' League 
naturally favors the plan. Together, these combined 
memberships can pass any measure that has a fair degree 
of support from what we call "public opinion." 

Assuming the continued strength and growth of the 
organized groups mentioned, it does not appear at all 
extravagant to assert that the average American business 
man will have to learn to operate on less and less margins 
between original cost and final selling price. This means 
a higher degree of efficiency, probably involving recon- 
structed selling and distribution methods. 

There is no disposition on the part of the farmer, at 
least, to take over any line of business unless he feels that 
it is fundamentally inefficient in its present form. He is 
willing to pay well for useful services performed, but he 
balks at paying for a series of useless operations. The 
farmer is glad to see Henry Ford, for instance, make 
money. He does not begrudge him the profit made on 
each car produced. He knows it cannot be more than 
fair pay for the service performed, for he has noted that 
whenever because of improved methods the profit becomes 
too high, it is divided with the consumer in the form of 
reduced prices. 



THAT an agricultural body strongly organized can 
have a profound influence upon legislation and 
government, both state and national, has already 
become plainly apparent. Certain manifestations of the 
effects of this influence were noted in Chapter XIV, and 
also in Chapter XX. The extent to which this tendency 
is likely to develop depends upon the strength and unity 
of the organization, the skill with which it is managed 
and the temper of the people — ^all highly uncertain factors. 

At the beginning of the uprising against Louis XVI 
the French people had no thought of a real revolution. 
They sought merely to impress the king and his foolish 
wife, Marie Antoinette, with the seriousness of the eco- 
nomic situation then confronting the common people, and 
pledged love and loyalty if the royal pair would but cor- 
rect their personal faults. Failing in this, passion finally 
took command, swept everything before it, and royalty 
paid the penalty. 

Few really thought in i860 that the North and the 
South could actually come to civil war. As Colonel Henry 
Watterson sa)rs,* "All of them (the more radical leaders 
in Congress, both northern and southern) were playing a 
game. If sectional war, which was incessantly threatened 

•''M**'** Henry" — An Autobiography, by Henry Watterson. 



by the two extremes, had been keenly realized and seri- 
ously considered, it might have been averted. Very few- 
believed that it would come to actual war." But while 
politicians played their game the leaders got themselves 
so tangled up in partisan maneuvering that war was the 
only logical outlet from the position in which they found 

Thus are nations and groups frequently swept into posi- 
tions which they originally had no intention of occupying. 

It seems impossible that the grip which the large finan- 
cial and commercial interests have held on Congress 
virtually since the close of the Civil War can continue 
much longer. The signs of a breaking away are plainly 
evident in Congress. The progressive Republicans and 
the progressive Democrats are getting together and hold- 
ing conferences. The agricultural "blocs" (see Chapter 
XIV) in both the Senate and the House contain both 
Democrats and Republicans and are intent upon placing 
the interests of their constituents above those of "Big 
Business" regardless of parties, party leaders or steering 
committees. Unless economic conditions show a decided 
improvement in the early future a new third party is a 
possibility not at all remote. The formation of these 
agricultural "blocs" has in the earlier stages had an ex- 
cellent effect in hastening agricultural legislation. Soon, 
however, their existence is likely to solidify the opposition. 
This, in turn, necessitates more vigorous demands on the 
part of the "bloc," a sharper division between the pro- 
gressives and the reactionaries — ^and the basis for a last- 
ing split is laid. 

The very existence of these agricultural "blocs" de- 
pends, however, upon the existence of a strong, active, 
vigorous farm organization capable of reelecting its cham- 


pions despite the almost certain opposition of the interests 
backing the reactionary elements. No member of Con- 
gress who cares anything at all about reelection would 
dare take such a decided step unless he felt assured that 
he would have the full backing of an active and aggressive 
agricultural organization in his home district. It would 
appear therefore that the development of the progressive 
movement in Congress depends to a very considerable 
extent upon the strength developed and the policies 
adopted by the Farm Bureau Federation. 

Organized labor is, of course, another big element in 
the situation. Any progressive movement either within 
the parties or as a separate third party must count on 
the support of organized labor for a considerable share 
of its strength. Organized labor has been making over- 
tures to agriculture for some years. This effort is much 
more noticeable to-day. These two groups solidly united 
could carry practically any national election, including a 
big majority of the Congressmen. Much interest at- 
taches, therefore, to the possibility of such a coalition. 

While as already stated accurate forecasting of social 
movements is impossible, yet it does not seem likely that 
any such formal arrangement could be consummated in 
the near future. Sentiment in agricultural circles is de- 
cidedly against it now. The farmer was not pleased with 
the way labor acted during the war. It will take some 
time to forget how labor loaded up the railways with the 
burdensome and expensive "national agreements" which 
were one of the big causes of the excessive transportation 
costs the farmer had to pay. The farmer's resentment 
against labor is, however, very materially tempered by 
his recollection of how the railways grabbed ever3rthing 
in sight when they had the upper hand some years ago. 


So the farmer occupies essentially neutral ground. He 
can and does cooperate with organized labor in securing 
legislation to regulate the packers and control monopolies, 
yet he will join just as cheerfully with "capital" in curb- 
ing what he conceives to be excesses committed in the 
name of organized labor. The farmer's interests are fre- 
quently identical with those of the laboring man, though 
not always. Labor wants low-priced food, cheap imports 
and high wages; the farmer wants high-priced foods, 
protection against cheap foreign foods and moderate 
wages. But a better understanding of each other's prob- 
lems is disclosing that these demands are not so dia- 
metrically opposed as they may at first seem. The farmer 
realizes that if labor is underpaid it cannot buy his food 
products except at lower prices ; and the laboring man is 
beginning to discover that if his rate of compensation is 
too high the farmer — ^his best customer — must simply 
refrain from buying until prices are lower. The laboring 
man who has been granted protection for years against 
the cheap labor of foreign countries finds it rather incon- 
sistent to refuse equivalent protection to the farmer when 
the latter needs it. 

There is every reason to believe that the farmers, who 
individually have long been considered the backbone of 
our national institution, may when properly organized and 
wisely led, become the economic balance wheel of the 
nation. The farmer's unique position fits him well to 
play this role. Being a capitalist and a jealous advocate 
of the rights of private property, he is not likely to tend 
to the common ownership ideas of socialism. Being both 
a laborer and an employer of labor he is likely to take a 
sane attitude on the question of the share of the workman 
in the proceeds of his labor. Being something of an 


entrepreneur and at the same time having suffered exten- 
sively through the exploitations of the larger financial and 
commercial interests he is likely to take a well balanced 
position on questions of business rights and privileges 
and restrictions of same. 

Some there are who profess to see grave dangers in 
the possibility of farmers as an organized group running 
the government. Only a very few of the larger news- 
papers have sensed the viewpoint that even should such 
a situation come to pass it might not be wholly undesirable. 
The following editorial from the Washington Herald 
(largely owned by Herbert Hoover) for June 7th catches 
the thought well: 


♦ ♦♦♦♦♦♦ 

"Ever since the heyday of Mr. Bryan's *cross of gold,' 
there has been a like fear from very much a like source, 
that some class would run the government and dictate 
legislation for its own advantage. In Mr. Bryan's time, 
it was charged that the financial powers, known then, as 
now, as 'Wall Street,' was such a class. Again it has 
been the manufacturers dictating tariff laws, or the rail- 
roads getting restrictive legislation to their liking, and 
later labor with its exemptions from control and its Adam- 
son laws. 

"Just now it is the farmers who are striking terror to 
the souls of all these other innocents. The truth is that 
this present fear is largely bom of the *some one else'; 
the farmers are not our class. As a fact the farmers do 
not form a class. The farm is an industry, each farm is 
an individual factory. It is a plant with an output largely 
of raw materials. Each one is owned by the man who 


runs it, and he is both an employer and a capitalist. Or 
it is rented by a manager who is also a capitalist. In 
either case the farmer is usually a laborer as well as 
manager and capitalist. He is also a shipper and mer- 
chant, a producer and consumer. 

"Farmers include all classes. They have sympathetic 
ties with all classes. . . . 

"When organizations of manufacturers, and all they 
represent, sent out warnings against the farmers as a 
would-be 'privileged class,' that this is 'a country of 
laws — ^tariff laws — and not of men,' that special or class 
legislation is dangerous to the class itself and that Con- 
gress must represent *the whole American people,' it has 
a strain of unconscious humor. It is difficult to recall a 
time when these same men were not asking Congress for 
legislation for their special benefit, though of course for 
'the whole American people' whose prosperity was 
wrapped up in their prosperity. 

"Agriculture is the basic industry upon which all other 
industries are based. It provides the cotton and the 
wool, the meats for the packers, the grain for the mills, 
the feed for animals and the food for the folks. Going 
and coming it provides the bulk of transportation. Farm 
output has been the chief factor in foreign trade and for 
settling our debts abroad. Farmers are the buyers of a 
larger percentage of American manufactures than any 
other 'class' and nearly equal all the rest combined. 

"If there is any legislation which is national, it is that 
which is agrarian in its immediate objective. If it is 
possible to have any legislation for 'the whole Ameri- 
can people' without special reference, or special aid, or 
special benefit to any, it is that which promotes agricul- 
ture and agricultural conditions." 

Undoubtedly the opportunity for a great civic service 
exists. Farm organizations have it within their power 


to leave an impress upon the laws of the land that will 
forever dethrone special privilege and elevate the idea 
of legislative enactment for the good of all the people. 
This possibility is already known to the leaders of the 
farm bureau movement Much progress has been made 
in working toward that ultimate end Beyond this it is 
impossible to accurately forecast. Ever)rthing depends 
upon management and the intelligent cooperation of the 
membership, which in turn depends largely upon education 
to a full understanding of the situation and the objects 
to be accomplished 



THE question universally asked is, "Will the Farm 
Bureau survive ?" As has been suggested, no small 
percentage of business men are calmly ignoring 
the Farm Bureau's undoubted present prestige and await- 
ing its failure or subsidence, when they can again proceed 
with their plans. Rival farm organizations are free with 
their predictions of an early and material reduction in 
the Farm Bureau's popularity, strength and influence. 
The consumers in the cities are looking hopefully forward 
to the day when the Farm Bureau will be strong enough 
and deeply enough engaged in cooperative marketing to 
materially reduce the costs of farm products when de- 
livered at the kitchen door. Incidentally the consumer 
is keeping an eye open for the possibility of a nation- 
wide farmer-owned monopoly of foods and food prod- 
ucts. The politician is anxiously watching every move 
of the Farm Bureau and endeavoring to make up his mind 
whether or not this organization will prove strong enough 
and permanent enough to tie to and to justify him in 
openly conducting a campaign based on agricultural needs. 
The membership is loyally supporting the organization 
as yet, but is awaiting redemption of the ofttimes too 
rosy promises made by solicitors. 

In the meantime the Federation is going forward 
steadily with its plans. Membership at the time of writ- 



ing is increasing at the rate of more than a thousand a 
day, large funds are available and much active work is 
in progress. To all outward appearances the American 
Farm Bureau Federation is solid and sotmd and has with- 
in its grasp the possibility of realization of even its most 
optimistic hopes. 

It would be rash to make an unqualified prediction as 
to the future of the Farm Bureau Movement. This is 
particularly true because its success or failure depends 
to such a large extent upon the management of its officers 
and this in turn is so much a question of personality. 
After a critical examination of its organization system 
and program, both from within and from without, it 
seems safe to say, however, that all the essentials for a 
long and successful career are present. From this point 
forward it is purely a question of management. Whether 
experienced, level-headed, clear-thinking management 
along constructive, conservative yet progressive, and 
above all along business-like lines, can be produced either 
from within the farming ranks or hired from without, 
still remains to be seen. It is well to remember that the 
groundwork and basis for the farm bureau structure was 
laid after years of experimental effort, not by farmers, 
but by trained agricultural educators. Farmer leaders 
have been wonderfully successful in taking this basic 
organization and reshaping and redirecting it along na- 
tional reform lines. This is the province in which farmer 
organizers have ever been successful. The next step is 
nothing more nor less than the management of a great 
national business enterprise having at present more than 
a million stockholders and some six or seven million in- 
terested associates to satisfy, and conducting a business 
spreading throughout the entire United States embodying 


merchandising, the building of good-will and a better un- 
derstanding, and the directing of essential legislation upon 
which a portion of the returns of the business must be 
based. Whether or not this kind of managerial ability 
can be secured and retained has not yet been demonstrated. 

One reason why the slower growing farm organizations 
have usually been the more successful in the end, is be- 
cause sufficient time is allowed for the development and 
traininfT of leaders. If the Farm Bureau Federation can 
hold its membership together loyally for a few years and 
come out of that period without too many mistakes 
chalked up to its discredit in the public mind, and without 
its treasury seriously impaired, it will probably have de- 
veloped its own statesmen and business managers by that 
time and can proceed along uniformly safe and sound 
lines. In the earlier years there is almost certain to be a 
heavy turn-over in the official personnel, provided an active 
program is prosecuted. This seems inevitable in any new, 
active, and rapidly growing organization. Inexperience 
must of necessity bring its mistakes in viewpoints and in 
actions and contending factions must be satisfied by com- 
promises. Later a more stable equilibrium is arrived at. 
The Farm Bureau has done well in this respect so far. 
No doubt the experience gained in the various state farm 
bureaus previous to the organization of the National unit 
has helped. 

The above, however, need not imply that the marketing 
activities of the Farm Bureau cannot go ahead at once 
and reap success. They, too, apparently have all oppor- 
tunity for success, depending almost entirely upon man- 
agement. But the U. S. Grain Growers, for instance, 
could be successful without the American Farm Bureau 
Federation being successful in a national way. In fact, 


the very present danger exists that unless the Farm 
Bureau can develop along lines big enough and broad 
enough so as to make marketing merely one of its numer- 
ous important activities, it may eventually turn out that 
the cooperative concerns that it creates may become so 
large and powerful within a given territory that they 
will practically ignore the parent organization. In 
fact the American Farm Bureau Federation is not even 
the organic parent under the plan of organization whereby 
the commodity cooperative organizations are now being 

1 brought into existence. Since each commodity organiza- 
tion can be but sectional, there would still be great need 
for some overhead organization national in scope and 
capable of speaking for all the farmers, even should a 
complete network of commodity orgfanizations come into 
existence. It will require the utmost skill of management 
for the Farm Bureau to establish itself so firmly in this 
position of leadership now that it cannot be displaced by 
some association of commodity organizations later. Such 
an association of the various sectional commodity organi- 
zations could never serve the farmer as effectively, by 
far, as could the American Farm Bureau Federation when 
properly functioning, but it might be successfully estab- 
lished and maintained, nevertheless, because of the greater 
relative importance the managers of the various com- 
modity groups might see in it for themselves. 

When we turn to the history of the organizations that 
have gone before, in an attempt to read the probable 
future of the Farm Bureau, we find a great deal that is 
encouraging. The solid basis of local, county units cen- 
tering around a paid county agent gives a foundation 
never before enjoyed by any farm organization and avoids 
the looseness of organization that has proved a weak point 


in every other great national farmers' movement that has 
developed. There are those who insist that the Farm 
Bureau will eventually have to be divorced from this con- 
nection with the local farm bureau, but the author does 
not share in that view. We have endeavored to show in 
Chapter XVI why it seems desirable to the people as a 
whole that this relationship continue and entirely likely 
that it will do so, although modifications of the arrange- 
ment will no doubt be necessary. 

The Farm Bureau has very wisely avoided another 
stumbling block which has crippled most national farm 
organizations and rendered them ineffective just at a 
time when they should have been in position to demon- 
strate their value to their membership. The Farm Bureau 
has provided itself with adequate funds. It is prepared 
to do business on a business basis. True, this involves a 
heavier obligation to its membership, but it is impossible 
to make a showing without funds, and it is a mistaken 
theory that assumes that a farmer member will expect 
only one-tenth as much in the way of results from a one 
dollar membership fee as from a ten dollar fee. 

The Farm Bureau may in the near future, if present 
political tendencies materialize, have the same temptation 
that came to the Grange and the Fanners' Alliance, to 
take an active part in politics. The Grange successfully 
withstood this temptation with but moderate defections 
from its ranks. The Alliance was swept into the political 
whirlpool and completely lost. The Farm Bureau has 
had the way shown it by the Non-Partisan League, in case 
it becomes necessary to endeavor to bring about reforms 
through combination at the polls. It should profit by the 
examples of its predecessors. \ 

The handling of cooperative commercial activities 


which has wrought the wreck of so many farm organiza- 
tions seems to be on a better basis in the case of the Farm 
Bureau. The experience that has been learned so pain- 
fully during the past twenty years has been utilized and 
the chances of failure of cooperative enterprises organized 
on modem lines is much less than formerly. Then, too, 
the Farm Bureau has set up a safeguard which would 
tend to protect it even in case any of the cooperative activi- 
ties fostered by the Bureau should go wrong. Instead 
of being conducted directly by the farm bureau organiza- 
tion, either national or state, separate incorporated bodies 
are utilized. But there is no use trying to dodge the fact, 
of course, that a failure of any of the more important co- 
operative marketing undertakings would seriously reflect 
to the injury of the Farm Bureau, even though not neces- 
sarily causing its downfall. It is probably in connection 
with grain marketing activities that the strongest attack 
upon the entire farm bureau movement will be made by 
those who fear its power, particularly if it happens to 
curtail private profits. 

Already such attacks have been launched. The at- 
tack will probably be made both through the membership 
and through the general public. To the latter it will be 
assiduously claimed that the producers are forming a 
monopoly to force up the prices of food to the consumer. 
Among the former the spreading of the seeds of distrust, 
disloyalty and dissensions is the usual plan of procedure 
followed by the enemies of cooperation. 

It is therefore particularly important that the Farm 
Bureau, no less than the membership of the Grain 
Growers' organization, insist that the affairs of the grain 
marketing organizations be conducted with the utmost 
wisdom and caution. Some have undoubtedly gone into 


these projects with the thought that very large savings 
can be effected through cooperative grain marketing, and 
there is danger of disappointment and dissatisfaction with 
what may well be considered excellent results secured by 
an organization handling a product so staple and on which 
margins normally are relatively small. 

The local dealer, and the manufacturer who supplies 
him with his stock in trade, are counting on breaking up 
the local cooperative buying units by being in position to 
extend credit to purchasers, who one by one find them- 
selves in need of feeds, fertilizer, and other supplies and 
without the cash with which to order cooperatively. To 
combat this tendency it is important to improve rural 
credit facilities along the lines recently proposed in financ- 
ing measures urged by farm organizations before Con- 

If references to the possibilities of failure seem to the 
reader to be too constantly recurring in these pages, let 
his impatience be tempered by the recollection of the 
astounding ease with which former great agricultural or- 
ganizations have gone to pieces when apparently at the 
very crest of popularity. It is rather generally conceded 
that a collapse of the farm bureau movement would set 
Agriculture back in this country a half century. It is 
considerations of this kind that make it so highly impor- 
tant that both officers and members be thoroughly charged 
with the importance of the economic and social develop- 
ment they are undertaking. 

Through broader education and wider reacjing the 
farmer of to-day is better informed on current events 
and economic tendencies and there is less likelihood of 
trouble from radicalism and unsound theories than for- 
merly. In general the farmer has a better income and 


more time for reflection and for participation in organiza- 
tion activities than he had in the 90's. This ought to 
work out to the advantage of the organization. 

The advantages of the Farm Bureau over any previous 
farm organization are many and real, but there are diffi- 
culties which all farm organizations have had to struggle 
with and which exist to-day almost as prominently as 
ever. These are simply manifestations of human nature 
and so cannot well be eliminated. Chief among these are 
personal ambitions, jealousy, and the willingness to use 
the organization for the furtherance of some personal 
plan or scheme. These, together with honest differences 
of opinion, particularly between sections, ordinarily soon 
lead to factionalism and strife. It is useless to rail against 
this situation. It exists in practically every worth-while 
organization. As already suggested, the best that can be 
done is to guard against the ill effects and the cessation 
of labors that usually accompany it. 

Inaction is after all, perhaps, the most deadly of the 
ills that beset farmers' organizations. An organization 
must be kept working in order to be healthy and this 
applies to the local units as forcefully as to the national 
organization. History of the earlier organizations shows 
that nothing will pull together the contending factions, 
invigorate the local units, and swell the membership and 
influence of an organization quite so well apparently as a 
big, broad program of work vigorously prosecuted in such 
a way that every officer and every member may feel that 
he has a part to perform. 

The Farm Bureau has it within its grasp to become 
the most powerful single influence in the United States. 
Its ideals put into practical effect should go far toward 
improving the social and material status not only of every 


farmer and every artisan depending upon the farm, bat 
of every consumer as well. 

It contemplates nothing socialistic, not even anything 
revolutionary. It hopes merely to apply to the various 
phases of agriculture as an industry, the ordinary prin- 
ciples of good business and good government and asks 
only that existing restrictions be removed so that free 
opportunity is given for the realization of these aims. 
The farmer has no desire to perform merchandising, 
manufacturing or other services now efficiently performed 
by existing agencies and he will show the kindliest of 
spirit toward and interest in any existing agency which 
exhibits an honest desire to modify its methods to bring 
about a degree of efficiency more nearly in accord with 
the new standard of service which the farmer himself 
expects to set. But he will have scant patience with any 
agency which persists in setting up barriers and interpos- 
ing obstructions which interfere with the realization of 
his ideal — the greatest service at the least possible cost 
consistent with legitimate returns for effort and capital 
actually expended. 



(August I, 1921.) 





C W. Rittenour, 
Montgomery, Ala. 


H. T. Brown, 
Little Rock, Ark. 

Harry F. Kapp, 
Little Rock, Ark. 


Charles S. Brown, 
Tucson, Arizona. 

W. C. Schneider, 
Tucson, Arizona. 


W. H. Walker, 
Willows, California. 

W. H. Heileman, 
Berkeley, California. 


J. M. Rodgers, 
Willington, Colorado 

F. R. Lamb (Tern.), 
Penrose, Colorado. 


W. C Wood, 
New Canaan, Conn. 

W. V. Cosden, 
Dover, Delaware. 

Stancliff Hale, 
South Glastonbury, 


L. M. Rhodes, 
Jacksonville, Fla. 

Miss Ella Shepard, 
Pomona, Florida. 


R. A. Kelley, 
Atlanta, Georgia. 

J. G. Oliver, 
Atlanta, Georgia. 


W. S. Shearer, 
Lewiston, Idaho. 

C. B. Ross, 
Pocatello, Idaho. 


Howard Leonard, 
Eureka, Illinois. 

D. 0. Thompson, 
Chicago, 111. 


John G. Brown, 
Monon, Indiana. 


Perry H. Crane, 
Indianapolis, Ind. 














New Hampshire 

New Jersey- 

New Mexico 

New York 


C. W. Hunt, 
Logan, Iowa. 

Ralph Snyder, 
Oskaloosa, Kansas. 

E. H. Woods, 
Louisville, Ky. 

Julien Emery, 

Bar Harbor, Maine. 

D. G. Harry, 
Pykesville, Maryland. 

H. P. Hinckley, 
Agawam, Mass. 

James Nichol, 
South Haven, Mich. 

L. E. Potter, 
Springfield, Minn. 

Chester H. Gray, 
Nevada, Missouri. 

W. B. Harland, 
Como, Montana. 

Elmer Youngs, 
Lexington, Nebr. 

E. C. Riddell, 
Deeth, Nevada. 

Geo. M. Putnam, 
Concord, N. H. 

H. E. Taylor, 
Freehold, N. J. 

Francis E. Lester, 
Mesilla Park, N. M. 

S. L. Strivings, 
Castile, N. Y. 


E. H. Cunningham, 
Des Moines, Iowa. 

Chas. R. Weeks, 
Manhattan, Kansas. 

Geoffrey Morgan, 
Louisville, Ky. 

A. L. Deering, I 
Orono, Maine. I 

T. B. Symons, 1 
College Park, Md. / 

Fred D. Griggs, 
Waltham, Mass. 

C. L. Brody, 
Lansing, Mich. 

F. L. French, 
St. Paul, Minn. 

E. H. McReynolds, 
Columbia, Missouri. 

F. S. Cooley, 
Bozeman, Montana. 

H. D. Lute, 
Lincoln, Nebr. 

John Pohland, 
Reno, Nevada. 

Frank App, 
Trenton, N. J. 

S. G. Cailsch, 
Montoya, N. M. 

E. Victor Underwood, 
Ithaca, New York. 


North Carolina 

North Dakota 




Rhode Island 

South Dakota 







West Virginia 




B. B. Miller. 
Mt UUa, N. C 

Hans Georgeson, 
Niagara, N. D. 

O. E. Bradfute, 
Xenia, Ohio. 

George Bishop, 
Cordell, Okla. 

G. A. Mansfield, 
Portland, Oregon. 

C. N. Potter, 
Auburn, R. I. 

W. S. Hill, 
Mitchell, South Dak. 

^F. Porter, 
illiamsport, Tenn. 

J. T. Orr, 
Dallas, Texas. 

D. D. McKay, 
Huntsville, Utah. 

E. B. Cornwall, 
Middlebury, Vermont 

Gov. H. C. Stuart, 
Elk Garden, Va. 

W. B. Armstrong, 
Yakima, Wash. 

R. H. Orr, 
Triadelphia, West Va. 

Geo. McKerrow, 
Pewaukee, Wisconsin. 

Dwight O. Herrick, 
Laramie, Wyoming. 


H. B. Fuller, 
Fargo, N. D. 

Murray D. Lincoln, 
Columbus, Ohio. 

M. A. Beeson, 
Stillwater, Okla. 

P. O. Powell, 
Portland, Oregon. 

H. W. Tinkham, 
Warren, R. I. 

M. R. Benedict, \ 
Huron, So. Dak. ] 

C. O. Moser, 
Dallas, Texas. 

James M. KirkhUm, 
Salt Lake City, Utah. 

G. M. Hazard, 
Burlington, Vt 

E. K. Coyner, 
Marion, Va. 

Ivan G. Foster, 
Yakima, Wash. 

J. B. McLaughlin, 
Morgantown, W. Va. 

Chris. J. Schroeder, 
Madison, Wisconsin. 

T. J. Brough, 
Lyman, Wyoming. 



Harvard College Littauer Library 
Cambridge, MA 02138 (617) 495-2560 







The farm bureau movement. 

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