Maryland Farm Bureau is a private, non-profit
membership organization. It is completely controlled by its members through the
democratic process and is financed by voluntary membership dues. Its strength
comes from the active participation of over 30,620 member families that belong
to the stateís 23 county Farm Bureaus. The American Farm Bureau Federation
represents over 6.2 million member families in over 2,800 counties.
Farm Bureauís purpose is to increase net farm income
and improve the quality of life by providing a legislative voice, increasing
public understanding and promoting member involvement. The organization helps
members accomplish their goals together Ė something they cannot do alone.
The organizationís vision statement reads,
"Maryland Farm Bureau shall be recognized as the leading voice of Maryland
agriculture and the predominant force in agriculture policy development.
Maryland Farm Bureau will be regarded as the most credible source of information
and the strongest advocate of safe, environmentally responsible and economically
sound food and fiber production."
The birth of Maryland Farm Bureau sprang from an
independent non-governmental volunteer organization of farmers.
Seven commodity organizations joined alliances in 1915
and formed the Maryland Ag Society. Their purpose was to form a state board of
agriculture and their objective was agriculture education in the public schools.
Colonel A.W. Sisk served as the acting chairman. S.M Shoemaker was elected
president with T.B. Symons as secretary. Discussions concerning affiliating with
the National Board of Farm Organizations began in 1919.
But in 1920, the group decided to affiliate with the
American Farm Bureau Federation. E.P. Cohill, later elected the first president
of Maryland Farm Bureau, was selected as the first delegate at the national
convention. He also was elected to serve on the resolution committee of that
convention where 33 states were present.
During the first five years, consumption, sales tax,
brucellosis eradication and establishing property taxes based the land use were
hot items for discussion. At the annual meeting in 1922 the new name of Maryland
Ag Society/Maryland Farm Bureau Federation was adopted. The following year,
reorganization was officially adopted and 13 counties paid dues to the
In 1923, it was decided that the membership would
include the entire family. The role of women was recognized and the Home and
Community Committee was established. It was later named the Associated Women,
then the Womenís Committee and now is referred to as Farm Bureau Women.
Commodity marketing played a key role in the
development of the organization. The Farm Bureau Co-opís that were founded
under the Agricultural Corporation of Maryland were sold in 1934 to the Virginia
Seed Company, a company known today as Southern States.
The publication of the Maryland Farm Bureau Co-op first
began in June of that year. Later in 1925, Co-op Purchasing bought out the
Agricultural Corporation and the county Farm Bureaus went through reorganization
and an effort to organize the last five remaining counties began. By 1927, the
American Farm Bureauís publication, The Bureau Farmer, was made available to
The Maryland Farm Bureau Newsletter was produced from
1936 to 1952 and then became the Maryland Farm News. In 1970, the Northeast
Agriculture publication was introduced which evolved into its own Maryland
edition called Maryland Agriculture in 1983. In the early 1990s, the present
publication, Spotlight, took over as the stateís communicator.
Maryland Farm Bureau signed the documents that created
our sponsorship with the Ohio Farm Bureau Auto Insurance Company which grew into
Nationwide Insurance Companies. When Maryland Farm Bureau leaders became an
official sponsor in November of 1927, little did they know it was a living
heritage. Over the next seven decades we have worked together to accomplish
The discussion group program started in 1938, with 31
groups forming that first year. Of the original 31, four still continue today.
Those groups have contributed four state presidents and several county
presidents to the leadership of the organization. The 1940s and 1950s saw the
beginnings of the Young Farmer program, then named the Associated Young People.
The house and lot where the present office is located
were purchased in 1958, under the leadership of Randall Spoerlein. The office
was built in 1959. Maryland Farm Bureau purchased the Records and Tax Program
from Federated Business Systems in 1964 and that continued into the early 1980s.
The board of directors adopted an expanded program
which included Service Company, the Accidental Death and Dismemberment Program
and the Reward Program in 1966.
The need to increase human and financial resources for
the organization was recognized under the leadership of Willard Oakley. He
guided the organization to expand membership by including agribusiness and
Recording memberships began in 1920 Ė there
were 500 members. During the war years, with many young farm men on foreign soil
fighting battles, the membership roles declined. But as the conflicts concluded,
memberships almost immediately swelled. The organization grew to 14,668 member
families in 1987 and then continued major membership booms in the 2000ís. At the
end of the 2008 membership year, an all-time high of 30,620 families were
Programs have grown with increased membership. Current
programs for farmer members are our strong grassroots policy-making process and
legislative action, the Young Farmers program, Farm Bureau Women, farm queen and
scholarship programs, discussion groups, commodity advisory committees, three
Farm Bureau publications, a newly developed website and the Maryland Friends of
Agriculture Fund, a political action committee for Maryland Farm Bureau.
All Maryland Farm Bureau members can take
advantage of group savings and discounts through our partnerships with numerous
companies and businesses. Among them are Nationwide Insurance, Custom
HealthCare, Grainger, Griffith Energy and Choice Hotels.
From a humble beginning, Maryland Farm Bureau has
progressed with agriculture into a new millennium Ė offering more ag-vantages
and more add-vantages to all members who believe agriculture has a place in the