Farm Bureau History
November 1919, delegates from 32 counties met in Berkeley, California for the purpose of organizing a state federation of county Farm Bureaus. The greatest war in history had ended one year earlier, and the world would never again be the same. Farmers in California had been affected by that war as much as any other segment of the population. They and their sons had gone to France. They had seen the first massive involvement of the federal government in the lives of American citizens, business and industry.
The post-war economy had started to boom, but the farmers were not sharing the benefits as equally as they had shared the burdens. They were having a tough time of it with very little credit available to finance their farms and crops, no solid marketing systems to move product to market, and prices that would not return a reasonable profit.
Such was the background of events when the California Farm Bureau Federation was formed. Farm Bureau in California and throughout the nation had been conceived as a means through which farmers could learn better farming methods. In 1914, Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act creating a cooperative extension program to be operated by the Secretary of Agriculture through the land grant colleges. The land grant college in California was the state university. The University of California had already organized an Agricultural Extension Service and was working to set up farm organizations through which the service could function.
The sponsors intended the organizations to be the channels through which county farm advisors and extension specialists would work in reaching individual farm operators and their families. The appointment of a farm advisory to any county was made contingent upon the formation of a county Farm Bureau with at least 20 percent of the farmers in the county as members. The first Farm Bureau in California was organized in Humboldt County in the summer of 1913. University of California records show that in its fiscal year 1913-1914, Farm Bureaus were formed in Yolo, San Joaquin and San Diego counties.
By 1919, there were thirty-two county Farm Bureaus in California and more in the process of organization. As they grew in number and increased their activities, it became apparent that many problems concerning farmers were statewide and even nationwide in scope. Effective and concerted action on such matters could not be taken while each county operated independently of the others.
By November of 1919, delegates from thirty-two counties, representing a combined membership of 24,168 met in Berkeley and organized the California Farm Bureau Federation. The organizational structure created in 1919 continues today. The word "Federation" in the name means just what it says; a Federation of county Farm Bureaus banding together to work together in solving problems and providing education for farm and ranch families.
Lake County Farm Bureau was formed in 1924.