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The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), more commonly referred to as Farm Bureau (FB), is a lobbying group that represents large agricultural corporations and is also a multi-billion-dollar insurance company. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the AFBF has affiliates in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

American Farm Bureau Federation
Farm-bureau.png
FounderJohn Barron
TypeLobbying organization, insurance company
FocusAgriculture
Location
Area served
United States
MethodLobbying
Key people
Vincent "Zippy" Duvall (President)
Websitewww.fb.org
Farm Bureau office, Pinckney, Michigan
1935 FDR remarks for the American Farm Bureau Federation on agriculture during the Great Depression

Contents

HistoryEdit

The Farm Bureau movement started in 1911 when John Barron, a farmer who graduated from Cornell University, worked as an extension agent in Broome County, New York. He served as a "Farm Bureau" representative for farmers with the Binghamton, New York, Chamber of Commerce. The effort was financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Lackawanna Railroad. The Broome County Farm Bureau was soon separated from the Chamber of Commerce. Other farm bureaus formed in counties across the country.[citation needed]

In 1914, with the passage of the Smith–Lever Act of 1914, the U.S. Congress agreed to share with the states the cost of programs for providing what had come to be called "county agents", who furnished farmers information on improved methods of animal husbandry and crop production developed by the agricultural colleges and agricultural experiment stations, which has evolved into the modern-day Cooperative Extension Service, shaped in part by political opposition to agricultural subsidies.[citation needed]

In 1915, farmers meeting in Saline County, Missouri, formed the first statewide Farm Bureau. The initial Bureaus had a social and educational function furthering the extension service efforts, and they have additionally developed a lobbying presence as well.[citation needed]

The American Farm Bureau was founded in 1919 in Chicago, Illinois. Its initial organization papers said:

The purpose of Farm Bureau is to make the business of farming more profitable, and the community a better place to live. Farm Bureau should provide an organization in which members may secure the benefits of unified efforts in a way that could never be accomplished through individual effort. - The statement originally approved by Farm Bureau members in 1920.[1]

The AFBF moved its headquarters from Park Ridge, Illinois, to Washington, D.C., in 2003.[citation needed]

LobbyingEdit

A 2012 exposé published by The Nation detailed the political operations of the Farm Bureau, including its extensive lobbying for industrial agricultural corporations. "In rural areas, the Farm Bureau grooms compliant political candidates, mostly Republicans; it wields the power to dictate outcomes of legislative elections and appointments to powerful state agriculture committees. Then it influences which farm-related bills become law. Along the way, it has become a close second to Monsanto in lobby expenditures for agriculture-related issues, spending nearly $6 million in 2011 —all in the name of 'farmers,' " it said. [2] According to the article, the AFBF retains 22 registered lobbyists. In 2012, it was the top contributor to federal candidates, parties, and outside groups with payments of over $1 million — 62% to Republicans. Over the past decade, the AFBF spent $16 million, 45% of the total spent by all of the nation’s ten largest agribusiness interests. [2]

AFBF supported the Fighting Hunger Incentive Act of 2014 (H.R. 4719; 113th Congress), a bill that would amend the Internal Revenue Code to permanently extend and expand certain expired provisions that provided an enhanced tax deduction for businesses that donated their food inventory to charitable organizations.[3] AFBF argued that without the tax write-off, "it is cheaper in most cases for these types of businesses to throw their food away than it is to donate the food".[4]

Climate changeEdit

The Farm Bureau has long opposed regulation or taxation of greenhouse gases and climate policy that it says would decrease the competitiveness of American agriculture, especially while farmers and businesses of other nations remain unburdened by emission limitations. The Farm Bureau's opposition to climate change-related regulation began with cap-and-trade regulation measures, which the Farm Bureau argued would increase fuel and fertilizer prices for farmers. At that time, the Farm Bureau's official position was that "there is no generally agreed upon scientific assessment of the exact impact or extent of carbon emissions from human activities, their impact on past decades of warming or how they will affect future climate changes." In 2003, Farm Bureau economists joined the Heartland Institute and Hudson Institute 2003 in publishing a paper which "called state or federal regulation of greenhouse gases 'unnecessary, enormously expensive, and particularly injurious to the agricultural community.'"[5]

The climate change session at the Farm Bureau's 2010 national meeting was entitled "Global Warming: A Red Hot Lie?" and featured climate change denier Christopher C. Horner,[6] a lawyer for the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, a largely industry-backed group that strongly opposes limits on greenhouse gases.[7] At its 2010 national meeting, delegates unanimously approved a resolution that "strongly supports any legislative action that would suspend EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act".[8] Right before the 2010 meeting, the Union of Concerned Scientists sent the group a letter pointing out that its climate change position runs counter to that of every major scientific organization and urged it to support action on climate change. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said that farmers have more to gain from cap and trade than they stand to lose.[8]

By 2019, the Farm Bureau had ceased to publicly deny climate change, but remains opposed to non-market-based solutions. The Farm Bureau continues to argue that carbon and emission restrictions will raise the costs of energy and fertilizer and hamper the competitiveness of American farmers. It opposes taxes on carbon uses or emissions, any law or regulation requiring the reporting of any GHG emissions by an agricultural entity, any regulation of GHG by the EPA, and any attempt to regulate methane emissions from livestock.[9]

InsuranceEdit

In addition to its political lobbying activities, the American Farm Bureau is the third-largest insurance group in the United States: "a multi-billion dollar network of for-profit insurance companies." [2] The Farm Bureau collected $300 million in crop insurance premiums in 2011. Incidentally, the Farm Bureau was heavily involved in lobbying for the 2012 farm bill,[2] which included $9 billion in federal subsidies for crop insurance.[10]

An organization independent of the Farm Bureau called FBL Financial Group based in West Des Moines, Iowa, sells insurance under the brand names of Farm Bureau Financial Services. It also uses the Farm Bureau logo.[11]

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company began as an insurance company for members of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. It continues to serve as an insurance provider to Farm Bureaus in nine states.[12] Other insurance companies tied to Farm Bureaus include Farm Family Insurance, which serves as an insurance provider to Farm Bureaus in five states, and Country Financial, serving clients in seventeen states.[citation needed]

The Farm Bureau and its state affiliates also own American Agricultural Insurance Company, a reinsurer, and American Farm Bureau Insurance Services, a crop insurer.[citation needed]

List of Farm BureausEdit

Bureau Headquarters Founded Insurance
Alabama Farmers Federation Montgomery, Alabama 1921 Alfa Insurance
Alaska Farm Bureau
Arizona Farm Bureau Gilbert, Arizona FBL Financial Group
Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation Little Rock, Arkansas 1935 Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company
California Farm Bureau Federation Sacramento, California 1919 Allied/Nationwide
Colorado Farm Bureau Centennial, Colorado 1919 Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company
Connecticut Farm Bureau Windsor, Connecticut 1919 Nationwide
Delaware Farm Bureau Camden, Delaware Nationwide
Florida Farm Bureau Gainesville, Florida 1941 Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company
Georgia Farm Bureau Federation Macon, Georgia 1937 Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company
Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation Honolulu, Hawaii 1948
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation Pocatello, Idaho 1939 Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Idaho

FBL Financial Group

Illinois Farm Bureau Bloomington, Illinois 1916 Country Financial
Indiana Farm Bureau Indianapolis, Indiana 1919 Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance
Iowa Farm Bureau West Des Moines, Iowa 1918 FBL Financial Group
Kansas Farm Bureau Manhattan, Kansas 1919 FBL Financial Group
Kentucky Farm Bureau Louisville, Kentucky 1919 Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company
Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation Baton Rouge, Louisiana 1922 Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company
Maine Farm Bureau Augusta, Maine 1951 Farm Family
Maryland Farm Bureau Davidsonville, Maryland 1915 Nationwide
Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation Marlborough, Massachusetts Farm Family
Michigan Farm Bureau Lansing, Michigan 1919 Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan
Minnesota Farm Bureau St. Paul, Minnesota 1919 FBL Financial Group
Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Jackson, Mississippi 1922 Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company
Missouri Farm Bureau Jefferson City, Missouri 1915 Missouri Farm Bureau Insurance
Montana Farm Bureau Federation Bozeman, Montana 1919 Mountain West Farm Bureau Insurance
FBL Financial Group
Nebraska Farm Bureau Lincoln, Nebraska FBL Financial Group
Nevada Farm Bureau Sparks, Nevada Country Financial
New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation Concord, New Hampshire Farm Family
New Jersey Farm Bureau Trenton, New Jersey Farm Family
New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau Las Cruces, New Mexico FBL Financial Group
New York Farm Bureau Albany, New York 1911 Nationwide
North Carolina Farm Bureau Raleigh, North Carolina 1936 North Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance Group
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company
North Dakota Fargo, North Dakota 1942 Nodak Mutual Insurance Company

FBL Financial Group

Ohio Farm Bureau Columbus, Ohio 1919 Nationwide
Oklahoma Farm Bureau Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 1942 Oklahoma Farm Bureau Insurance

FBL Financial Group

Oregon Farm Bureau Salem, Oregon 1932 Country Financial
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Camp Hill, Pennsylvania Nationwide
Puerto Rico Farm Bureau San Juan, Puerto Rico
Rhode Island Farm Bureau Johnston, Rhode Island Farm Family
South Carolina Farm Bureau Cayce, South Carolina 1944 Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company
South Dakota Farm Bureau Huron, South Dakota 1917 FBL Financial Group
Tennessee Farm Bureau Columbia, Tennessee 1921 Tennessee Farmers Insurance Companies
Farm Bureau Health Plans
Texas Farm Bureau Waco, Texas 1933 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company
Utah Farm Bureau Sandy, Utah 1916 FBL Financial Group
Vermont Farm Bureau Richmond, Vermont 1915 Nationwide
Virginia Farm Bureau Goochland County, Virginia
(Richmond mailing address)
Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company
Washington State Farm Bureau Lacey, Washington 1920 Country Financial
West Virginia Farm Bureau Buckhannon, West Virginia 1919 Nationwide
Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation Madison, Wisconsin Rural Mutual Insurance
FBL Financial Group
Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Laramie, Wyoming 1920 Mountain West Farm Bureau Insurance
FBL Financial Group

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ We are Farm Bureau Archived August 22, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, American Farm Bureau Federation, retrieved December 9, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d Whose Side Is the American Farm Bureau On? Published July 16, 2012. Archived 26 April 2019.
  3. ^ "CBO - H.R. 4719". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  4. ^ "Fighting Hunger Incentive Act will increase food bank donations". Farm Bureau News. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  5. ^ Gustin, Georgina; Banerjee, Neela; Cushman, John H., Jr. (October 24, 2018). "How the Farm Bureau's Climate Agenda Is Failing Its Farmers". Inside Climate News. Retrieved 2019-09-12.
  6. ^ Winter, Allison (12 January 2010). "Farm Bureau Fires Back Against Climate Bill's 'Power Grab'". New York Times. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  7. ^ "Challenges to Both Left and Right on Global Warming". The New York Times. 13 November 2007.
  8. ^ a b Winter, Allison (2010-01-13). "Farm Bureau wants Congress to stop EPA on greenhouse gases". Energy and Environment News. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  9. ^ "AFBF Policy on Climate Change". American Farm Bureau Federation.
  10. ^ Crop Insurance a Boon to Farmers – And Insurers, too, Published June 18, 2012. Archived June 8, 2019.
  11. ^ FBL Financial Group financials, Google Finance, retrieved December 9, 2011.
  12. ^ "New York Farm Bureau and Nationwide Insurance announce Strategic Partnership". New York Farm Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-01-28.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit