Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. A quick look back through the history of the state’s largest farm group illustrates not only how INFB has changed, but also how Indiana agriculture has changed.
Here is a look at 10 milestones from the first 50 years of the organization, dating back to 1919. Future articles will look at key events from 1969 through 2019, highlight accomplishments of INFB presidents during the past 50 years, and answer key questions about the organization as it operates today.
1919: A farm group is born. An important meeting was held in the old Claypool Hotel in Indianapolis. Key ag leaders agreed to form the Indiana Federation of Farmers’ Associations, the original name of Indiana Farm Bureau. John G. Brown, Monon, was elected the first president. W.F. Franklin, Hendricks County, ran a close second. Ten men from districts across the state were elected to serve as directors, with Brown as president. The goal was to “protect the interests of farmers by education, legislation and other honorable means.”
1922: Indianapolis Producers’ Commission Agency is formed. Later known as the Producers Marketing Association, this entity was formed to receive livestock on consignment. Operating procedure from the beginning was to withhold a percentage for commission for selling animals.
1ST PRESIDENT: John G. Brown of Monon, Ind., was elected the first president of the farm group that became the Indiana Farm Bureau.
1923: Emphasis on protecting farmers from taxes takes center stage. After William “Bill” Settle from Wells County became IFB president, he convinced Gov. Harry Leslie to call a special session of the Legislature to establish a tax levy limit on real property, saving farmers $30 million annually. Settle is also credited with laying the foundation for the INFB Women’s Department.
1926: Farm Bureau Co-op is born. After the PMA was disbanded, INFB leaders created the Indiana Farm Bureau Cooperative Association to serve farmers “not for profit, but to retain 25% of savings as reserves.”
1934: Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance is created. Lewis Taylor unseated Settle as president, because Lewis favored forming an insurance company, and Settle opposed it. Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance was formed, and Taylor bought the first policy in 1935, paying $6.30 for a six-month premium on his 1922 Model T Ford.
1936: INFB borrowing ends. Hassil Schenck became president after Taylor died in 1936. He discovered INFB was borrowing from the state co-op. He persuaded employees to take a $3,000 pay cut and raised dues to $10. INFB never needed to borrow money again.
1948: INFB establishes new headquarters. New state headquarters were established at 130 East Washington St. in Indianapolis. IFB and the co-op were housed in the same building.
1952: Membership tops 100,000. INFB recorded 100,000 farm families as members some 33 years after it began.
1958: George Doup becomes president. George Doup, Columbus, became INFB president in 1958 after Schenck retired. He would become an influential leader in Indiana agriculture.
1969: 50th anniversary celebration is held. Under Doup’s leadership, Indiana was only 1 of 3 states to reach its golden anniversary membership goal. A huge celebration was held in the cattle barn at the state fairgrounds, with 10,000 members spread over 4.5 acres of tables served dinner in 41 minutes.
Watch the website for future stories about Indiana Farm Bureau history.