For over a century, the Imperial County Farm Bureau has advocated on behalf of the Imperial Valley’s agriculture community. Our organization’s founding all started on December 18, 1915, when over 1,200 people from all over the Imperial Valley journeyed to Brawley for a meeting to form the Imperial County Farm Bureau. This endeavor was led by W.E. Wills of Brawley, Walter E. Packard of the Meloland experiment station, and A.M. Nelson of El Centro.
At the time, cities had formed commercial clubs and chambers of commerce to promote the civic, industrial, and social welfare of the urban population, but there was a need for an organization that would represent the interests of the rural and agricultural citizens of the Imperial Valley. At this first meeting, the preliminary plans were laid for an organization that would do just that, the Imperial County Farm Bureau. By March of the following year, all of the plans were finalized and the organization that has grown to play such a huge role for agriculture in the Imperial Valley was up and running.
The Farm Bureau played a unique role in the agricultural community; it acted as a rural chamber of commerce, a social gathering place, and an educational organization where one could learn about agricultural experiments from the USDA and UC Cooperative Extension. Since the Farm Bureau’s scope was county-wide, fourteen local associations, called farm centers, were formed, including Acacia, Mt. Signal, Heber, Verde, Eastside, Meloland, Eucalyptus, Seeley, Magnolia, Westmoreland, Mesquite Lake, La Vern, Silsbee, and South Fern.
Each farm center had its own set of officers and usually met monthly at the country schoolhouse in that area. Meetings typically included demonstrations and talks from the farm advisor, home department, USDA, University of California experiment station, public officials, and many others. Farm center meetings were a family affair; they would provide the opportunity to socialize with others in your area, and there would often times be entertainment like music or movies.
The presidents of each farm center would act as a director of the Imperial County Farm Bureau and represent the specific needs of their farm center at the county-wide meetings. Even in its early years, Farm Bureau discussed a diverse array of issues, including pest eradication, farm loans, disease control, irrigation problems, and many other topics. The Farm Bureau was not hesitant to let its unified voice be heard.
Today, we no longer have farm centers, as improvements in transportation enable members from throughout the Imperial Valley to gather much easier. Our current thirty member board of directors is from all over the Imperial Valley and represents the diverse agriculture industry we have here.