Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019. This is the second of five stories documenting the history and current importance of Indiana’s largest farm group.
This article looks back at key milestones from the second half of INFB’s existence. Refer to the first story in the series for a look at the first 50 years, 1919 to 1969. Here are eight key events that happened from 1970 to 2019 that helped form Indiana Farm Bureau into the organization you know today.
1977-78: Indiana Farm Bureau membership leads the country. Marion Stackhouse, Westfield, became president in 1976 after George Doup, Columbus, resigned. Total Indiana Farm Bureau membership grew and was recorded as the highest of all state Farm Bureaus in the country in both 1977 and 1978.
1983: Political action committees form. INFB entered a new era when it formed political action committees, known as Indiana Farm Bureau ELECT. The program began in districts 1, 3, 5 and 9 of INFB’s 10 statewide districts, but soon spread across the state. The goal was to enhance member involvement through education and grassroots decision-making by INFB members.
1987: INFB takes position on federal property rights legislation. Harry Pearson, Blackford County, became president following Stackhouse’s death in 1987. During this time, INFB delegates were instrumental in pushing the American Farm Bureau Federation to adopt policy opposing federal legislation by Congress that allowed public access to private property without the owner’s permission. It was another key piece of INFB’s continued push for personal property rights.
1992: Headquarters are relocated. This wasn’t just any move. INFB and Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance engaged in purchasing and rehabbing what had once been a rubber factory on East Street on the southeast side of Indianapolis. When the building was done, it became a modern showpiece of brownstone development — reclaiming a previous building site — and continues to be INFB’s home today.
2001: Progress is made on state tax issues. Don Villwock of Knox County became president in 2001. Shortly after, INFB began a successful push to repeal the state inheritance tax. In doing so, INFB continued its long history of protecting farmers from what it considered undue taxation, and from bearing what appeared to be an unfair share of the tax burden.
2005: INAgLaw is formed. The Indiana Ag Law Foundation is housed in the INFB offices. It is supported financially by INFB and county Farm Bureaus across the state. The foundation recently assisted in a landmark case in Hendricks County upholding Indiana’s Right to Farm Law. INAgLaw’s purpose is to assist in what could be precedent-setting cases related to agriculture.
2016: Property tax reform takes center stage. Advances were made in the decade leading up to 2016 through the Indiana Legislature, but farmers were still paying more than their fair share in property taxes. New president Randy Kron, Evansville, helped push the ball across the goal line, with meaningful reductions in property taxes on farmland occurring over the past couple of years.
2018: Political action committee established at state level. INFB formed AgELECT to give the farm organization a greater voice on the state political scene. This entity can only support state-level candidates, primarily Indiana state senate and house members. Other organizations can also contribute.
Keep watching the website for more stories about Indiana Farm Bureau history and its impact today.