Thursday, May 8, 2014

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Idaho Farm Bureau Observes 75th Anniversary

The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation will observe its 75th anniversary at 2 p.m. on Wednesday May 14th at Murtaugh City Hall.

Murtaugh is the birthplace of the Idaho Farm Bureau. In 1939, a small group of farmers and ranchers met in Murtaugh to discuss and strategize plans to protect their industry and gain a state and nationwide voice. At the time there were active county Farm Bureaus in Murtaugh, Filer, Tyhee, Grace and Lava Hot Springs. Leaders from these five county Farm Bureaus elected to form the Idaho Farm Bureau and become part of the American Farm Bureau.

“This year, 2014, marks the 75th anniversary of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation,” said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. “We’re the largest general farm organization in Idaho with active organizations in 37 counties.”

During the Great Depression farmers in Idaho and all across the nation lacked political clout. Many decisions made in Washington D.C. and elsewhere had negative repercussions on farms.  But farmers didn’t have a strong voice in American politics, despite the fact that they were responsible for a significant sector of the economy. In response Idaho farmers adopted a model being used in several other states to give themselves and their industry a voice in politics at both the state and national level.

“There were a lot of trials and tribulations back then,” said Priestley. “We were in the thick of the depression and farmers were barely hanging on. They needed a safety net so they formed a federation that addressed their political needs and later in 1947 an insurance company to help protect their farms from natural disasters.”

The Idaho Farm Bureau has more than 70,000 member families, and more than 14,000 of those families earn a majority of their living from the land. The organization is ruled from the bottom up as members representing every county in the state work together to set policy every year.

“I think one of the reasons Idaho Farm Bureau has done so well is that it’s a grassroots organization,” said Priestley.  “The direction of the organization comes from the bottom up. The Farm Bureau is the voice of our farmers and ranchers at the county level. I think our members are proud of that.”

A monument dedication will be held in Murtaugh next week along with remarks from Idaho Farm Bureau officials and local officials. A school choir will also perform. The unveiling of the stone monument will be followed by refreshments provided by the Twin Falls County Farm Bureau.

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