In 2018, Iowa Farm Bureau celebrates its 100th anniversary as a leading advocate for farmers, rural communities and all of us who want a growing and prosperous Iowa.
In recognition of Iowa Farm Bureau’s centennial, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation declaring 2018 “The Year of Farm Bureau.”
Indeed, Iowa Farm Bureau works for Iowa’s farm families, but our work benefits Iowans in all walks of life. It’s always been that way, ever since the Iowa Farm Bureau was created in 1918.
Back then, leaders from chambers of commerce, teachers, bankers, lawyers, merchants, real estate brokers and more joined farmers to support agriculture as a way of life and an economic driver that benefited them all.
Today, Iowa Farm Bureau works to support Iowa’s farmers, strengthen rural communities, invest in Iowa’s future, promote quality healthcare for Iowans and help our neighbors.
A voice for agriculture
County Farm Bureaus and their members work to improve their local communities, and their decisions determine Farm Bureau’s actions at the state and national levels. It’s been that way throughout our century-long history, and grassroots leadership will remain central to our organization in the century to come.
Farm Bureau’s roots date back to World War I, when every county in the state organized a county Farm Bureau to increase Iowa’s food supply. One county, Pottawattamie County, had two Farm Bureaus, making 100 total, which remain today.
Farm Bureau members needed a voice in legislation governing their industry, improved marketing for their ag products, and relationships with other related interests.
On Dec. 27, 1918, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) was created during a meeting in Marshalltown.
In 1920, Iowa Farm Bureau helped lead the formation of the American Farm Bureau Federation and Iowa’s President James R. Howard was elected the first president of the national organization.
A few years later, in 1922, a group of eleven farm women from different areas of the state met in Des Moines and developed a plan for involving women in Farm Bureau more effectively. The Iowa Farm Bureau women’s committee worked to improve the quality of education in rural schools and libraries, promoted nutrition, helped lead Ag in the Classroom programs, along with many other activities.
Iowa Farm Bureau members voted to begin their own Iowa Farm Mutual Insurance Company at the annual meeting in January 1939. With the success of Farm Bureau Mutual, Farm Bureau voting delegates approved the creation of the Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company in 1944. Responding to members’ needs for quality health insurance options, Iowa Farm Bureau partnered with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa in 1970. The Farm Bureau health insurance group was formed in a contract with Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
In 1996, 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. FBL has prospered since the public offering, with IFBF remaining its largest shareholder.
The new century ushered in new Farm Bureau partnerships and rural development initiatives that expanded Farm Bureau’s reachand influence.
To support Iowa’s youth, Iowa Farm Bureau began its sponsorship of the Iowa High School Athletic Association in 2002 and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union in 2005.
In 2004, Iowa Farm Bureau spearheaded a collaborative effort to create the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers, an organization that helps livestock farmers interpret state and federal regulations, consult on siting locations, safeguarding the environment and enhancing neighbor relations.
Iowa Farm Bureau also created a new program - Renew Rural Iowa - in 2006 to help entrepreneurs and businesses in rural Iowa. In its first decade, Renew Rural Iowa has mentored more than 3,000 Iowans and has created $125 million in economic impact for rural Iowa.
In addition, Farm Bureau played an important role in launching the Iowa Water Quality Initiative (also known as the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy). Researchers at Iowa State University, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources developed this collaborative, research-based plan to conserve Iowa’s soil and protect water quality.
Farm Bureau partnered with the Iowa Hawkeyes in 2010 to revive and elevate the America Needs Farmers® (ANF) campaign. Three years later, Farm Bureau began a similar Farm Strong® partnership with the Iowa State Cyclones, helping connect fans to the farmers who grow and raise their food and building trust in today’s farming practices.
In 2014, the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation was launched to help students and leaders become aware of agriculture’s role in food, fiber and energy.
Today, agriculture continues to drive Iowa and its communities, accounting for one in five Iowa jobs. Iowa Farm Bureau champions and defends that progress by working for Iowa’s farmers, strengthening rural communities and helping our neighbors.