On March 10, 1914, seven farmers from Brunswick, in central Missouri, met in the Newcomer Schoolhouse. Invited to the meeting by local farmer and stockman Aaron Bachtel, the men formed a farm club and submitted an order for binder twine to William Hirth. The purchase netted the farmers $400 in savings.
Hirth had been preaching the value of farm clubs and cooperative marketing in the pages of The Missouri Farmer. Bachtel noted that Hirth’s ideas had “appealed to me very forcibly.”
The twine order marked the genesis of the Missouri Farmers Association, the cooperative known today as MFA Incorporated.
MFA continues to be the farmer’s vertical integration into the farm supply and grain business. What began with seven farmers in a schoolhouse is now the oldest regional farm supply and grain marketing cooperative in the nation. MFA Incorporated today has net sales exceeding $1 billion and serves farmers and ranchers in Missouri and surrounding states.
The history of MFA Incorporated is the celebration of contributions made by thousands of individuals. It reflects the history of agriculture and the nation as well.
It’s a proud history of accomplishment. Specifically because of MFA action, Missouri has:
• a pure seed law, which stopped the dumping of inferior seed;
• standardized weights and measures to correct haphazard scales;
• farm-to-market roads to pull farmers out of the mud;
• high-school educations for rural boys and girls;
• pesticide labeling laws to keep pesticides out of soda bottles;
• egg-grading laws to protect consumers from inferior eggs;
• high-analysis fertilizer to power agriculture;
• a four-year medical school at the University of Missouri in Columbia, not Kansas City.
But more importantly, the history of MFA is the history of those who built an organization to provide themselves with economic power and a voice in their destiny.
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