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Georgia Farm Bureau turns 75

Dougherty County Farm Bureau President Laney Wooten said it’s not necessary to be a farmer to purchase Farm Bureau insurance or to become a member. Many who purchase the insurance aren’t aware of how the 75-year-old organization benefits farmers and rural communities.

Dougherty County Farm Bureau President Laney Wooten said it’s not necessary to be a farmer to purchase Farm Bureau insurance or to become a member. Many who purchase the insurance aren’t aware of how the 75-year-old organization benefits farmers and rural communities.

ALBANY, Ga. -- When you hear the words Farm Bureau, you probably think of insurance -- unless you're a farmer.

Georgia Farm Bureau is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and when those first 50 farmers from 25 Georgia counties met to form their first "bureau," insurance was still on the back burner.

According to the organization, Georgia Farm Bureau owes its 1937 beginning to that farm group, created for the purpose of advancing agriculture in rural Georgia. While the American Farm Bureau Federation preceded the Georgia group by 18 years, the original Georgia organization was not affiliated with the national organization until 1939. Before that time, the group was known as the United Georgia Farmers.

"Back then, the emphasis was on establishing electricity in rural areas and getting our goods to the markets," said Zippy Duvall, president of Georgia Farm Bureau, headquartered in Macon. "A lot of it had to do with market regulations, taxes and roads -- similar to the issues we have today."

According to the company, the Dougherty County Farm Bureau, now located on Eva Street, was established in 1941 by founding members M.M. Hester, J.W. Kieve, W.F. Fleming, J.T. Gaissert, C.W. Johnson, C.M. Pippin, Will Mock and Ed Bland.

"Dougherty County Farm Bureau truly is a local organization," Dougherty County Farm Bureau President Laney Wooten said. "Our staff live here, so they know the residents of Dougherty and they care about our community. You don't have to be a farmer to purchase Farm Bureau insurance, and you don't have to purchase insurance to be a Farm Bureau member."

Property and casualty insurance, the better-known trade of Farm Bureau, came about for Georgians in 1958 when GFB members voted to establish their own insurance company, Wooten said.

"You see a lot of companies that grow and change," Duvall said. "It's important that people realize Georgia Farm Bureau started as the voice of Georgia agriculture, and that much hasn't changed."