Sonoma County Farm Bureau reached a major milestone in 2007, celebrating 90 years as the respected voice of Sonoma County agriculture. For nearly a century, Farm Bureau has offered farmers and ranchers the chance to work collectively on issues important to their land and livelihoods.
The first Sonoma County Farm Bureau meeting was held in the fall of 1917 as farmers wrapped up the harvest during the closing days of World War I. The call had gone out from the national administration urging the farmers of the nation to increase food and fiber production to alleviate shortages created throughout the world by the prolonged conflict caused by the war.
University leaders and farm advisors carried the message to local growers and many new county Farm Bureaus were immediately organized, including this one in Sonoma County.
In the tenth year the of the national Farm Bureau organizational movement, Sonoma County Farm Bureau finalized its first by-laws, and the association was underway with a membership of 600 farm families. Sheridan W. Baker of Santa Rosa, who served as temporary chairman during the organizing day, was elected its first president.
Farm Centers were instituted throughout the county, with a number of these organizations escalating to 30 by the year 1922.
In 1919, the parent state organization, California Farm Bureau Federation, was established to unify activities of the various county Farm Bureaus. Sonoma County has been a charter member of this Federation since its initiation, and also holds membership in the American Farm Bureau Federation.
As the nation’s largest farm organization, the Farm Bureau operates as a voluntary, bi-partisan alliance of farmers working to promote agricultural interests. Policies and programs of the Farm Bureau are developed from grass roots recommendations originating at the community and county levels. Farm Bureau members are concerned with a wide variety of issues affecting both agriculture and the consumers of agricultural products. Efforts range from protecting consumer’s freedom of choice at the market place to keeping government appending under control at all levels.
The Farm Bureau remains active in the political arena, monitoring both elected officials and legislative measures. The organization was a primary force behind passage of California’s Williamson Land Conservation Act designed to preserve open space and rural atmosphere where appropriate. Through its own political action committee, FARM PAC, the Farm Bureau is able to strengthen the voice of agriculture in government by raising funds for candidates and lobbying for or against state ballot measures pertinent to agriculture.
Maintaining agricultural integrity for future generations is another concern of the Farm Bureau. Young Farmers and Ranchers is an integral part of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, helping young agriculturalist solve occupational problems and introducing them to an active role in the Farm Bureau program. Ag Education programs provide resources and free materials to teachers for use in their classrooms.
The Farm Bureau works to assure a reasonable balance between rural and urban lands while helping protect individual property rights and to retain California’s status as one of the world’s most varied and productive agricultural areas.