“More Food” is the slogan for the organization of farmers in Yellowstone County. Farm Bureau, the county organization was formed in March 11, 1918 at a meeting at the County Courthouse. The organizing committee consisted of S. C. Tolliver, J. D. Brittain, Albert J. Bowman, Ralph Furhmeister and I. D. O’Donnell.
Discussion at the meetings was to explain the purpose of the Farm Bureau. One of the organization's goals was to “enable farmers to better op-operate with one another in assisting the county agent in the work of increasing food production.” Speakers included “Uncle Sam” Hampton, Howard Brossard (agriculturist at the state college in Bozeman) and Fred Bennion (assistant state instructor of county agents).
The group held various meetings through out Yellowstone County and then in late March planned a county meeting to elect officers. Local county meetings were schedule for Shiloh School House, Progressive School, Shepherd, Hawthorn School, Hesper, Canyon Creek, Pompey’s Pillar, Osborne, Pompey’s North Bench, Worden/Ballantine, Huntley, Duck Creek, Waco, Custer, Hibbard Creek, Pineview, Commanche, and Broadview.
One of the first things the Yellowstone County Farm Bureau accomplished was developing a Yellowstone County Farm Bureau Bulletin. It was to be published monthly. The first edition was printed about April 17, 1918 and was ready for circulation April 20, 1918. The editorial committee was Miss Frances Miller, I.D. O’Donnell, J.T. Brittain and R. S. Fuhrmeister.
In October of 1918, farmers in Yellowstone County were urged to save a least a half a bushel of corn from each acre of corn they grew. Seed corn grown in Yellowstone County was in high demand and saving seed would be an opportunity for selection of seed and create a carry-over reserve. Some farmers reported to the experiment station in Bozeman that they purchased supposedly northern grown seed, but in reality it was a late maturing variety. Because of the campaign handled by the Yellowstone County Farm Bureau, there is no shortage of seed corn for the 1919 planting.
Demonstration tours were held by the county Farm Bureau. The farmers and interested business members met in Billings and began a tour of crops and feeding demonstrations. Talks were conducted by farmers as to the various irrigation methods, special crops and silos were demonstrated
Yellowstone County Farm Bureau then created a farmer’s exchange. The purpose was to serve as a clearing house for the buying and selling of seed, feed and livestock among county farmers associated with the Farm Bureau. The county agent sent out 3,000 blank cards to the area farmers requesting information on what produce was available to sell and what was needed to buy. The exchange idea was copied from an experiment station in Bozeman. The goal was to eliminate costly transportation. The county agent, Mr. Brossard, was to keep the information up to date as the farmers report any changes in the amount of product available for sale or change in what they need.
“The plan is declared by experts to be the most comprehensive of its kind ever worked out and has proved successful in other counties, so far as the scheme has been tested. Mr. Brossard plans to insert an exchange list in succeeding issues of the Farm Bureau News, official organ for the association.”
On February 19, 1920, articles of incorporation for the Yellowstone County Farm Bureau were filed in Helena. The organization was formed by R. S. Fuhrmeister, S. C. Tolliver, A.J. Bowman, J.D. Brittain, J. J. Larimer, I. D. O’Donnell, H. O. Hefflinger, J. W. Volker, Thomas Hunt, F. E. Huddleston, Frances Miller, Mrs. O. H. Ernest and F. M. Lawrence.
A narrative report in 1920 from the County Extension Office in Yellowstone County mentions that Health and Sanitation and Poultry had been adopted in six of the county's Farm Bureau communities and a Garden project in another. Summer activities were planned and picnics were held for community meetings. The county agent was very busy demonstrating various dress forms, menus, and raising poultry. There were community project leaders for many of these projects. If there were no project leaders for home projects, the wives of the committeemen were invited to attend the community meetings. It was suggested that community fairs would develop good community spirit and cooperation. Fall was suggested as a time for a community fair and have several communities join together.
The American Farm Bureau Federation held a meeting in Indianapolis in December of 1920. Mr. I. D. O’Donnell from Billings attended. The purpose of the meeting was to develop in conference with representatives of business and financial interests, a comprehensive plan of co-operation. Mr. O’Donnell attended as the representative of the Montana Development Association. He was to give a report to the Montana State Federation of Farm Bureau’s in January of 1921 at their meeting in Bozeman.
The Broadview Farm Bureau held a community meeting in December of 1920 to make plans for next year’s work. Paul Weichert was elected chairman. Ed Heacock, corn; James Byers grains; Walter Worden, livestock; and Miss Mae Byers, farm and household accounts. The program of work for next year included organization of a livestock shipping association; organization of five co-operative bull associations; organization of 20 demonstrators to keep household accounts; selection of three demonstrator to produce better wheat, oats, barley seed for the supply of the community; appointment of two summer fallow demonstrators; and the planning of a generation demonstration on the treatment of wheat for smut. In addition the conference considered a plan for the organization of one automobile tour the next summer. Similar meetings were held in Ballantine and Comanche. The members of the executive committee were: R. S. Fuhrmeister, president; F. E. Huddleston, F. M. Lawrence, J.E. Mooney, J. F. Engle, J. D. Brittain, E. N. Cooper, I. D. O’Donnell, Miss Frances Miller, J. J. Larimer, Mrs. A. C. Malmin, Mrs. I. B. Hale and Mrs. I. Drury, all of Billings; H. O. Hefflefinger, Commanche; J. M. Voelker, Bew; Sidney Collins, Pine View; and A. J. Bowman, Huntley.
In October of 1920 the Yellowstone County Farm Bureau organization met to review recommendations on the standardization of Yellowstone County potato, wheat, corn and barley crops. The farm bureau conducted experiments with the growing of the various crops and the guidelines will help farmers selection of seed for the fall planting. They group also considered the forming a hay growers association to aid in the movement of surplus hay. The group will also consider holding a number of community fairs throughout the county prior to the Midland Empire Fair next year.
In September of 1921 the Yellowstone County Farm Bureau completed a membership drive and secured 517 members. The members signed up on a $5 a year basis for three years.
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Thanks to Sydney Gabel for compiling this fascinating history of the Yellowstone County Farm Bureau. We'll share more county Farm Bureau histories over the weeks to come. If your county hasn't written yours yet, there's still time to leave your mark in the Farm Bureau history.
Learn more about the Montana Farm Bureau's inspiring past in the Centennial Celebration book, LEGACIES, on sale now.
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