All About: Montana Farm Bureau’s Legacies
Montana Farm Bureau’s New Series “Legacies” is available for streaming on RFD-TV Now!
The idea of a legacy is crafted with future generations in mind, but the reality of one is chiseled by thousands of big and small choices made by generations gone by. If we study the past, can we find hope for the future? Can a foundation of organized agricultural democracy still be used to improve the quality of rural life?
Throughout the past 100 years, the people, principles, and purpose of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation have offered a resounding ‘yes’ to these questions.
The book “Legacies” captures the essence of some of Montana agriculture’s brightest, boldest, and most courageous leaders. For a century, these men and women have led their peers and neighbors in grassroots campaigns for empowerment through agriculture education, a unified voice for Montana’s farmers and ranchers, and a path forward for our rural communities.
These are their stories.
These are your stories.
These are our legacies.
The full series, “Legacies” by Montana Farm Bureau will be available to stream for free on RFD-TV Now starting Aug. 24! And don’t miss Montana Farm Bureau’s appearance on Market Day Report talking about the series and their new book on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 11:25 a.m CT.
You can also watch the entire series now on YouTube.
Episode 1: Empowerment Through Education
A series of momentous laws toward the end of the 19th century and into the 20th propelled agricultural education forward in America. The Morrill Land Grant College Act (1862), Hatch Act (1887), and Smith-Lever Act (1914) lead to bringing land grant university-level research, education, and cooperation to the people on the land.
In its earliest days, Montana Farm Bureau was established to provide a farmer-driven, grassroots network to assist extension agents in sharing information and implementing ideas on the ground. Since 1919, county Farm Bureau leaders are still committed to learning and sharing the latest farming and ranching techniques in this grassroots, peer-to-peer network.
Episode 2: Vitality in Our Rural Communities
Following a severe drought and a crash in market prices that followed World War I, the new agricultural industry that had a prosperous start was already falling apart. It was during this time that Montana’s county Farm Bureaus came together during their first state convention and made a commitment to come together and provide their communities with their best and boldest efforts.
Episode 3: Unity Through the Democratic Process
Montana Farm Bureau was growing in both size and scope but lacked the right structure to address issues with state, national and international implications. in 1923, Montana Farm Bureau formed the Committee on Organization to select a manager that would direct and supervise work in the state organization. Later that year, they selected Wiliam L. Stockton and he soon went to work representing Montana Farm Bureau members at congressional hearings. His leadership would be the beginning of the Farm Bureau’s unity through the democratic process, particularly during the Great Depression in the 1930s and the New Deal era.
Episode 4: Growth Starts with Good Questions
After Montana’s House Bill 273 formally separated Farm Bureau from the Extension Service, a new era set in with lots of questions. By setting up a system to gather answers and put them to use, the stage was set for the traditional Farm Bureau approach to local problem solving: gather the facts, take a stance, find consensus, take action, make decisions public and stand by the process.
Episode 5: Freedom is a Vessel for Responsibility
No word is mentioned more often in the eleven simple, declarative sentences of the Farm Bureau beliefs than “freedom.” Although anytime we want more freedom, it is matched with responsibility for that freedom. From 1947 to 1987, Montana Farm Bureau members were faced with difficult decisions over government planning and assistance in agriculture.
Farm Bureau members at the time were against the top-down approach of the federal government that pressed into western states. the 1964 Public Land Classification and Multiple Use Act, an increase in grazing fees on federal land and 9 million acres in the west considered for the National Wilderness Preservation System and more threatened the economic basis of rural communities. Sticking the plan of progress, Farm Bureau members not only prevailed during these times but prepared future generations of agriculture for the changes coming and staked a claim to be part of the conversation for those changes.
Episode 7: Failure Doesn’t Have to Be Fatal
A decade after hitting a membership high, Farm Bureau fell to a membership low in 1987. This dip caused Farm Bureau to lose its status as the largest agricultural organization in the state of Montana. This era saw a handful of members stand up and commit themselves to the organization and ensure their failures were not fatal.
Episode 8: Leading Montana Ag Towards a Future
As the agricultural industry continued to grow, Montana Farm Bureau stuck to its principles and values to lead Montana toward a future with a prosperous agriculture economy and thriving rural communities. These time-tested principles and values set the stage for Montana Farm Bureau to represent farmers and ranchers during times of property rights battles, drought conditions, grasshopper infestation, low cattle and grain prices, and other issues.