During its annual meeting, the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation released its centennial book, “100 Years and Growing …The People of the Minnesota Farm Bureau.”
The 70-page album was written by Carolyn Van Loh, who also wrote MFB’s 90-year history book “Strong Roots — The People of the Minnesota Farm Bureau.”
Photos, timelines and interesting facts fill the book. Here are several history highlights of the organization:
Farm Bureau’s Minnesota origins. Traverse County was the first county Farm Bureau in Minnesota in 1913. Between 1913 and 1929, county Farm Bureaus formed across the state, the vast majority organized so farmers could have access to county Extension agents.
Federation formation. On Sept. 4, 1919, a conference was held at the University Farm in St. Paul to discuss the formation of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. Approximately 125 farmers from 57 counties with 40 authorized delegates went on record as being favorable to the formation of MFBF. The organizational plan of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation was approved at its first annual meeting Nov. 8, 1919.
Diversity from day one. The original MFBF bylaws stipulated that a woman should have a seat on the state board of directors.
Land O’Lakes loan. In 1921, MFBF loaned $1,000 to help the Land O’Lakes dairy cooperative become established. When the cooperative celebrated its 20th anniversary, it acknowledged how MFBF helped. “From this humble beginning, with a loaned desk in the office of the MFBF and with three employees, this organization now has stockholders and members in 10 states and representing nearly 100,000 farmers,” a 1941 Land O’Lakes news item said.
Let there be light. With the advent of rural electrification, the MFBF board of directors voted in December 1936 to establish a model electric farm for demonstration purposes in Meeker County in order to further promote electricity for farmers.
Butter substitute tax. A 1940 annual meeting resolution sought a federal tax on oleo, imported edible fats and oils, and other butter substitutes, equal to the tax on butter at the time.
Gas tax support. After much debate at a 1947 MFBF board meeting about roads, the board passed a resolution supporting a gas tax to counties to upgrade rural farm-to-market roads from dirt to paved.
Immigration control. In 1952, the American Farm Bureau and a farm organization in Mexico supported efforts to control immigrants from entering the United States illegally in 1952. The two farm groups encouraged "further development of the program of bringing Mexican nationals to this country in a legal and supervised manner for those periods of time when additional help is needed in certain agricultural areas in the United States."
Tabling farm foreclosure bill. After meeting with MFBF and other farm groups in 1982, Gov. Rudy Perpich endorsed a voluntary moratorium that encouraged a policy of seeking options, such as the expansion of voluntary professional financial counseling or voluntary mediation, rather than foreclosure on farm real estate. MFBF had successfully lobbied for tabling a farm foreclosure bill that would have jeopardized adequate sources of credit and operating capital for the agriculture industry.
Adopt-a-Classroom. In the fall of 1985, the Adopt-a-Classroom program was introduced at Women's Committee district meetings. The goal of the program was to explain to metropolitan fourth graders what farming was all about. The committee also worked with the General Mills kitchen staff to prepare a meal they served to business people. The state Women's Committee also served meals, with the help of area Farm Bureaus, to targeted groups. In 1986, they served nearly 600 Minnesota kindergarten teachers at the Minnesota Kindergarten Association Workshop in Duluth for less than a dollar a meal.
Ag land property tax. The first house, garage and 1-acre law was passed in 1989 to help lighten farmers’ ag land property tax burden for local school funding. However, language wasn’t clarified until 1999 when more than 300 farmers from all the major farm groups attended a property tax reform rally at the Capitol. It wasn't until the 2001 legislative session that a bill was enacted including language on referendum market value dealing with the house, garage and 1 acre. Since then, all school referendums exempt ag land, as well as timber land and non-seasonal recreation land, from property tax.
Read more history facts at fbmn.org/centennial.