Our History: 1951 - 2000 | Iowa Farm Bureau View the milestones that have helped shape and define Farm Bureau and Iowa agriculture over the past century!

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1951 – 2000

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1953 - The Spokesman goes statewide.

The Iowa Farm Bureau Messenger (1919-1936) was Iowa Farm Bureau’s first publication for members.

In 1934, a newspaper publisher in Grundy Center began The Farm Bureau Spokesman for the members of Tama, Black Hawk, Marshall, Grundy, Hardin, and Franklin counties.

Iowa Farm Bureau began another publication, The Iowa Bureau Farmer, in 1936 and it lasted until 1953, when Iowa Farm Bureau purchased the Farm Bureau Spokesman.

Today, the Farm Bureau Spokesman has a weekly circulation of roughly 90,000. It has the largest circulation of any weekly agriculture publication in the U.S.

1963 - State Fair welcomes Farm Bureau Cookout Contest to Grand Concourse.

The Iowa State Fair has been a central gathering place for farmers since its beginning. Leaders of early Farm Improvement Associations (the precursors to county Farm Bureaus) would put together conferences during the fair and hire speakers to address the audience.

Farm Day at the Fair (as it was known) was an early forerunner to Iowa Farm Bureau Day at the Fair – which continues today. In essence, Farm Bureau Day at the Fair existed before Farm Bureau did.

One staple of Farm Bureau Day at the Iowa State Fair is the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout Contest, which began in 1963.

1970 - Members gain access to health insurance benefit.

Responding to members’ needs for quality health insurance options, Iowa Farm Bureau brought on Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa as a partner in 1970. The Farm Bureau Health Insurance group was formed in a contract with Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

1973 - Iowa Farm Bureau moves west.

Iowa Farm Bureau finished constructing its current West Des Moines building in 1973. This silent video provides a glimpse at the 1973 building dedication and time capsule installation.

1976 - Century Farm Awards begin as part of U.S. Bicentennial celebration.

In 1976 (as part of the U.S. Bicentennial Celebration), Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Department of Agriculture (now the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship) began awarding Century Farm Awards to farms that have stayed in the same family for 100 years. In 2006, Iowa Farm Bureau and IDALS added a Heritage Farm Award, for farms that have been in the same family for 150 years. Since 1976, 20,427 awards have been presented (including 473 in 2017). The awards ceremony is held annually at the Iowa State Fair.

1977 - Ag Productivity Formula provides farmers property tax relief.

Iowa Farm Bureau played an important role in the development and implementation of the Ag Productivity Formula, along with Iowa State University economists. Prior to this time, property taxes on farm land were assessed primarily on the value of the land. During poor crop years, a farmer was hard-pressed to afford the taxes. The formula uses land values and also the price of corn and soybeans over a five-year average in order to smooth out the curve of taxes assessed. Other states have copied the formula, which has been a huge victory for farmers.

Pictured: Iowa Farm Bureau members work with their elected officials to enact public policy that benefits all Iowans, including property tax relief.
1980s - National Farm Crisis brings tragedy.

The 1980s were marked by the National Farm Crisis and extreme drought conditions. The great emotional strain was felt in every rural community. Groups met at the Iowa Farm Bureau building to discuss ways of helping farm families navigate through this troubling time. Efforts were made to identify professional counseling services that could make a direct impact on affected families. County Farm Bureau leaders were trained on how to look for signs of depression in their neighbors and friends and respectfully recommend that they take advantage of those services (many of which were offered free of charge to begin the process).

1996 - Farm Bureau Life goes public. Iowa develops cost-saving federal crop insurance solution.

Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company was taken public by Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) through the sale of shares in the holding company, FBL Financial Group (“FBL”), on the New York Stock Exchange. The public offering was done to provide the company with access to capital to continue its growth through transactions with other Farm Bureau affiliated insurers in other states. FBL has prospered since the public offering, with IFBF remaining its largest shareholder.

Also in 1996, due to the ineffectiveness of the federal crop insurance, a taskforce consisting of Iowa Farm Bureau, Farm Bureau Mutual, and Iowa State University economists set out to create a better product. The result was the Revenue Assurance program currently used today. What’s not well known is that the Revenue Assurance solution was given to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at no cost, without any royalty fee for the first time in USDA history. The cumulative savings for American taxpayers is in the billions of dollars and increases every year.

1998 - Ag Leaders Institute prepares members for local, state and national leadership roles.

In 1998, Iowa Farm Bureau developed the Ag Leaders Institute – a yearlong training program to prepare Iowa members for leadership roles within Farm Bureau and beyond. To date, 20 classes (450 total members) have graduated from the Ag Leaders Institute. Ag Leaders graduates have gone on to become Farm Bureau board members, farm commodity group leaders, county supervisors, school board members, state legislators and more!

Pictured: The 2016 Ag Leaders Institute visits Washington D.C.
2000 - Iowa Farm Bureau helps create a market for cleaner-burning fuel.

Farm Bureau members have worked to build the renewable energy industry in Iowa through state and national policy efforts and support for private enterprise since the mid-1970s. In December 1999 through 2000, Iowa Farm Bureau hosted a series of widely-attended meetings for farmers and other individuals interested in investing in local ethanol plants. These meetings and grants provided by Iowa Farm Bureau helped spawn roughly a dozen locally-owned ethanol plants.

Later, Iowa Farm Bureau helped advance a state tax credit for fuel retailers that provided ethanol blends (as well as other state and national policies supporting renewable fuels), helped form the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (along with the Iowa Corn Growers Association and other partners), and advanced the biodiesel industry in the state.

According to a 2017 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study, ethanol helps reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) by about 43 percent. Today, Iowa leads the nation in ethanol and biodiesel production.