The Farmer’s Advocate

Improving the lives of rural Oklahomans is the main mission for the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, which turns 75 this year.

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Farmers attend a 1950s field day at an experimental plot to learn methods to improve their farms. Photo courtesy Oklahoma Farm Bureau

The Oklahoma Farm Bureau, a grassroots organization established in 1942, has more than 95,000 members across the state and represents an industry providing many Oklahomans with jobs and an almost $40 billion economic impact on the state.

The bureau is celebrating its diamond-gold anniversary in a big way; events throughout Oklahoma have marked the nonprofit’s numerous accomplishments on behalf of farmers and ranchers.

In the spring, the group dedicated a special 75th anniversary courtyard at its home office in Oklahoma City. The courtyard contains 77 metal pillars, representing every county in the state. Each pillar contains soil from the county it represents. Festivities culminate in November at the annual convention, which includes a banquet for all the county farm bureaus to celebrate the milestone.

Meet-the-Candidate forums began early in Oklahoma Farm Bureau history as a way for members to hear from those seeking public office. Photo courtesy Oklahoma Farm Bureau

The setting for the beginning of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau was grim. Farmers dealt with the results of the stock market crash, the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. With farm prices falling to starvation levels, farmers struggled and many failed. The number of Oklahoma farms declined 17 percent between 1935 and 1940, a loss of more than 36,000 farms.

The importance of the farm bureau’s mission increased over the years because it speaks for a minority population that produces crucial goods. In the 1940s, the state had about 196,000 farms and ranches. Today, there are about 83,300.

The farm bureau has helped improve the lives of Oklahomans through legislative representation, education of the public and assistance to residents throughout the state with a variety of programs and activities.

“With our members at the helm, OKFB works on their behalf to advocate for agriculture and enact changes, whether legislatively or otherwise, that will ensure our state’s farmers and ranchers can continue to feed, clothe and fuel the world,” farm bureau president Tom Buchanan says. “The success of our rural communities is directly tied to the success of Oklahoma agriculture, and, by advocating for agriculture, we can help ensure that all rural residents will have a bright future.”

The Pontotoc County Farm Bureau held this field day in 1953 at its demonstration farm to show local farmers new agricultural practices. Photos courtesy Oklahoma Farm Bureau

The farm bureau has stayed true to its original mission and has expanded its services to include the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Legal Foundation, the OKAgFund and the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation. All programs help to further the goals of its members in the legislature, the courtroom and the community.

“Oklahoma Farm Bureau members know that while we have accomplished much through our past 75 years, Oklahoma agriculture will continue to need a voice in our state and beyond,” Buchanan says. “OKFB is positioned to provide that voice for our farm and ranch families into the future, whether it be in Oklahoma City, Washington, D.C., or in each of our 77 counties.”

County farm bureaus host a variety of events for both members and non-members throughout the year. Oklahomans can learn more about the organization’s history and upcoming events by visiting facebook.com/OKFarmBureau.

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