Formed in 1935, Arkansas Farm Bureau began with the sole purpose to help farmers. Boone County Farm Bureau began on July 17, 1950.
The “history” page of Farm Bureau website explains, “The American Farm Bureau was created in 1919 to disseminate college research results to farmers, and has since grown into one of America's strongest lobbying organizations, with six million members, affiliated services and member benefits that include highly respected insurance companies. Each county in the nation and Puerto Rico has a Farm Bureau organization. Those county groups belong to a state federation such as Arkansas Farm Bureau, and the state federations to the American Farm Bureau. Each organization is autonomous, but all work together on behalf of farmers, ranchers and rural people.”
Also explained on the website, “In Arkansas the years of the Depression hindered establishing an Arkansas Farm Bureau, two times. But the third attempt worked, and J. F. Thompkins, who would eventually become the organization’s first president, met with 15 farmers and ranchers from across the state and Dan T. Gray of the University of Arkansas College of Agriculture in 1935. With the full blessings of the American Farm Bureau, they voted to establish the Arkansas Farm Bureau and set up an office in Little Rock.”
Thompkins was known for telling anyone who would listen to the benefits of Farm Bureau — so farmers could find proper solutions to problems, spread correct information to influence public opinion about farming and to advocate for farmers’ rights and to oppose legislation that was not in the best interest of the farmer.
Local manager, Neil Mitchell said, “If it hadn’t been for Farm Bureau, electricity wouldn’t have been taken to rural areas. They also helped add to the road systems for farmers.”
Board of Directors president, Nick Simon said, “Farm Bureau was started by farmers to band together to get things accomplished. It gives farmers and ranchers a voice on important issues.”
“So many are confused, thinking Farm Bureau is just about insurance, but it is so much more,” Board member, Jim Harp told the Kiwanis Club.
Farmers began to need insurance policy for their equipment and farms, and the Farm Bureau Insurance was started. Now there is even a Farm Bureau Bank. “We are all part of Farm Bureau, but are unique and different entities,” Mitchell explained.
Simon said there are currently 3,368 members in Boone County. “You don’t have to have insurance with Farm Bureau to be a member.”
Harp said, “There are some great discounts and benefits to being a member — including $500 off of some Ford products.” Membership is $40 a year and is a great benefit to local communities. “If you take advantage of a couple of the discounts, it pays for itself quickly,” Mitchell added.
Simon added, “The Arkansas Farm Bureau hosts a contest each year to encourage new members. The more new members we get signed up, the more money we get to give back to the community.”
Some of the projects the Boone County Farm Bureau participates in is helping the youth of the area with FFA, 4-H, County and District Fairs, Farm Safety Days, Gloves to Schools, Northark Hydroponics, Adult and Youth Leadership programs, M.A.S.H. and the BackPack program.
“Agriculture is our first and foremost goal. Plus we promote agriculture education and lobbying so we can support farming and farmers. The good science of farming projects will be defended,” Simon said. “There are politicians out there that have an ‘off agenda’ and want to push farmers around. But when we band together as Farm Bureau members — people listen.”
Harp said, “We aren’t bad folks. We don’t pollute the land or mistreat animals. There just aren’t very many of us anymore.”
Simon added, “Everybody in the world relies on farmers. The U.S. has a healthy and stable food supply. Everybody in the world doesn’t have that opportunity. Farmers are often overlooked and overshadowed. But agriculture is vital in the grand scope of the world.”
“Just like I said when we presented agriculture books to the library — education is so important. The child who thought drinking milk was bad because it kills the cow, it's just unacceptable,” Simon said.
“Agriculture brings people to the table,” Nita Cooper repeated the theme for this year’s Agriculture Week celebration.
For more information about the Boone County Farm Bureau visit arfb.com or visit 110 Industrial Park Road. The phone number is 870-741-3488.