In the Beginning...
During the winter of 1920, interested farmers from all over the county met in several different locations to discuss the organizing of a Cook County Farm Bureau®. Meetings were held at Arlington Heights, Des Plaines and Blue Island. Later in the year, another meeting was held to officially launch the Cook County Farm Bureau and elect a Board of Directors. Mr. H.A. Dooley was elected President; Gust Termunde, Vice President; Louis Wetterman, Secretary; George Henke, Treasurer; and Adam Schilling, G. Ruff, Frank Dickman, Herman Schwake, and Dan C. Gilly made up the rest of the Board of Directors.
These are the farmers that met in a Chicago hotel room and decided to proceed with the organizing of a Farm Bureau in Cook County.
Left to Right, front row sitting: Sam Powers, A.A. Fulton, Fred Hamann, Second Row: Louis Wetterman, Adam Schilling, Arnold Huber, H.A. Dooley, J. D. Bilsborrow, Fred Schroeder, George Henke, Fred Bachman. Third row: Herman Schwake, Gust Termunde, W.E. Meier, Dan Gilly, John Welinske, Harvey Adair, (man unidentified), Dave Thompson, H.L. Bingham, Ezra McClaughry, Hugh Breyfogle, Edward Fogge, Albert Heine.
Over nearly 100 years, the organization grew in terms of members, programming and influence. Office hours and several different buildings have been established over the years in Arlington Heights, Blue Island, Lemont, Rolling Meadows, Tinley Park, and Countryside.
Here are a few key organizational activities impacting members throughout the century.
A glimpse at the Cook County Farm Bureau during its first decade of life:
- 250 farmers from throughout Cook County ventured to the LaSalle Hotel in Chicago on March 15, 1920 to participate in the formation of an organization.
- HA Dooley was nominated and unanimously elected the 1st president of the Cook County Farm Bureau because “Mr. Dooley had led the organization committee along successful lines”. “All Mr. Dooley asked in response was the wholehearted support of the committee to make the Cook County Farm Bureau second to none in the state”.
- On May 13, 1920, the organization bought a Ford touring car for Mr. C.E. Durst, newly hired farm advisor, to use and discussed car insurance for the vehicle (5 years before the Illinois Farm Bureau created an insurance company that would become Country Financial!) Mr. Durst (salary $4,000) spent a lot of time in that first year getting out trying to meet with farmers through a series of evening meetings.
- Mr. Blesch of Lemont was “ashamed that their township’s Farm Bureau membership was so small”.
- An audit committee was formed in 1921 to review the finances and accounting practices of the organization.
- The Board created office hours for the Farm Advisor C.E. Durst - Thursdays at Blue Island and Saturdays in Arlington Heights. He requested that a motion or sliding picture machine would greatly aid him in making educational lectures.
- Big issues in those first 10 years included…
- Cooperating with the University of Illinois on insect control
- Supporting a livestock survey statewide
- Creating Boys and Girls Pig clubs
- Passage of a law to exempt farmers from having to pay a license to sell their own produce
- Seeking reduced freight rates for shipping line stone and farm commodities
- Establishing a relief fund for children in Europe
- Investigating trucking conditions in Cook County
- Manure handling and garbage burning on Cook County truck gardens
- Improving Cook County railroad crossings
- Investigating the development of a Cook County Fair
- Seeking improved Cook County taxes and farm assessment for area farmers
- Creation of membership picnics and field days for members
- Requesting for financial assistance from the Cook County Board to provide education regarding the destructive nature of the European corn borer
- Lobbying from the state $30,000 as a part of an Illinois bill to establish a truck garden experimental station in Cook County
- Cooperative buying of boxes of asparagus
- Local dairy production and marketing improvements
- Cleaning up Thorn Creek which was badly polluted
- The eradication of tuberculosis in cattle in Cook County
- Working on control of the onion maggot to save onion growers money
- The organization of spray rings for fruit trees to grow more and better apples
- In 1925, the board had difficulty meeting quorums requirements for board meetings and had a discussion regarding whether Farm Bureau should continue as an organization.
- We especially liked this resolution approved by the CCFB Board on October 10th, 1927 which led to the creation of a Protective Association (noted in the minutes was a motion to pay $15 for petty larceny and $25 for grand larceny)
- Efforts made to support local vegetable producers
- Cooperative marketing of iced sweet corn of local growers and promotion of local onion set industry
- Opposed extension of Chicago Sanitary District
- Studied Farm Draft deferment
- Formed a Grain Marketing Cooperative
- Promoted a "Give Meat for Christmas" program
- Held Roadside Stand Marketing Conference
- Assisted members in obtaining property tax refunds
- Helped form group which became "Food For Thought" Committee to promote agriculture on urban radio
- Worked with other Farm Bureau's to promote agriculture at Chicago Flower Show
- Worked with County Assessor to establish a fair assessment level for Cook County Agricultural land
- Developed programs to provide services for local roadside marketers
- Established an Ag in the Classroom program to teach students about agriculture
- Worked with Illinois Farm Bureau and rural County Farm Bureaus to help enhance finances
- Strengthen classroom agricultural education through presentations, as well as meat, dairy and fresh vegetable grants
- Developed stronger working relationships with area legislators making up two-thirds of Illinois General Assembly
- Expanded ag literacy efforts to reach more than 20,000 students annually
- Improved communication efforts to members and the general public through development of a website, enhanced "Co-Operator," and public relations activities
- Developed working relationships with county elected leaders and officials
- Entered into the world of social media to expand the public relations reach of the organization for members and the general public
- Enhanced marketing of local specialty growers through a variety of programs that helped connect producers with consumers
- Expanded ag literacy efforts with 4th grade in-school field trips and teacher training focus reaching 30,000 students annually reach
- Grew the Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation and Political Action Committee to become influential forces in agricultural literacy and agricultural influence
Cook County Farm Bureau –
100 years in the making!