INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Farm Bureau is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
Since its founding in 1919, INFB has remained focused on the same mission — to promote agriculture through public education, member engagement, and by advocating for agricultural and rural needs.
Indiana Farm Bureau was founded March 25, 1919, under the name Indiana Federation of Farmers’ Associations. Its creation was one of the first farm bureaus in the nation. At its first meeting at the Claypool Hotel in downtown Indianapolis, the organization was formed to protect the interests of farmers by education, legislation and other honorable means to promote the largest good for all people. While primarily an advocacy organization, INFB also served as a social network for Indiana’s rural farmers, especially in its earlier years.
Started by just a few farmers, INFB rapidly grew and reached several membership milestones. INFB reached 100,000 members in 1952 and was the first state farm bureau to reach 250,000 members, which it did in 1977. Since its founding, INFB has continued to grow with the help of county farm bureaus across the state.
“Farm Bureau has a presence in all 92 counties in Indiana and many county farm bureaus have been around almost as long as our state organization,” said Randy Kron, INFB president. “One of the reasons INFB has been able to have such a big impact on Indiana over the last 100 years is because we are a wide-reaching, member-driven organization with dedicated volunteers in every county in the state.”
In 1922, just two years after women earned the right to vote in the U.S., INFB outlined a program to incorporate women into the organization, which still exists today as INFB’s Women’s Leadership Committee. In 1923, Edna Sewell was the first woman to be elected to the INFB board of directors.
In order to help Indiana’s farmers with their unique insurance needs, INFB founded Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance in 1934. Its first insurance policy was sold in February of 1935.
Throughout the years, INFB has been instrumental in educating Hoosiers about the issues and concerns of Indiana’s farming community and has encouraged its members to advocate for their needs locally and at the state and national levels. For example, in 1939, 15,000 INFB members marched to the statehouse to successfully save gross income tax repeal. And in 2016, INFB helped reduce farmland property taxes by approximately $500 million.
As the organization grew, it continued to build a variety of programs. In 1982, INFB formed Farming the Classroom, now called Agriculture in the Classroom, which is a volunteer-led program that teaches children across the state about farming and where their food comes from. In 1938, INFB formed Indiana Rural Youth, a networking and education program for young adults in farming. Today, INFB runs a Young Farmers program, which provides education, leadership and networking opportunities for young adults in agriculture.
“Indiana Farm Bureau has always realized the importance of youth and youth development,” Kron said. “As the future of Indiana Farm Bureau, we look forward to seeing how they shape this organization and how they influence agriculture in Indiana for many years.
Over the past 100 years, INFB has evolved to meet the needs of Indiana’s farmers and agribusiness professionals while remaining a grassroots, member-driven organization.
“As INFB members, we’re so proud of the legacy of this organization and we look forward to doing our part to carry that legacy into the next century,” Kron said. “I’m confident that we will remain true to the founding purpose of this organization — to be the voice of Indiana’s agricultural community — and continue to be a vital part of one of Indiana’s largest industries.”
To learn more about INFB’s rich history, visit infarmbureau.org/about/history/INFB100.