American Farm Bureau Federation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
American Farm Bureau Federation
FounderJohn Barron
TypeLobbying organization, insurance company
Area served
United States
Key people
Vincent "Zippy" Duvall (President)
Farm Bureau office in Pinckney, Michigan
1935 FDR remarks for the American Farm Bureau Federation on agriculture during the Great Depression

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), also known as Farm Bureau Insurance and Farm Bureau Inc. but more commonly just the Farm Bureau (FB), is a United States-based insurance company and lobbying group that represents the American agriculture industry. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Farm Bureau has affiliates in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Each affiliate is a (regional) Farm Bureau, and the parent organization is also often called simply the Farm Bureau.

Founded in 1911, the Farm Bureau movement birthed a national lobbying organization in 1920. In general, it has tried to shape legislation to the benefit of larger farms more than smaller ones.[1] It also lobbies for policies that benefit its for-profit activities, such as federal subsidies for the crop insurance it sells.[2] For some two decades, it denied that climate change was real.[3]


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 Chamber of Commerce of Binghamton, New York. 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 later formed in counties across the U.S., as listed with dates at "List of Farm Bureaus".[4]

In 1914, with the passage of the Smith–Lever Act of 1914, Congress agreed to share with the states the cost of programs for providing "county agents", who supplied information to farmers on improved methods of animal husbandry and crop production developed by agricultural colleges and experiment stations, which has evolved into the modern-day Cooperative Extension Service.

In 1915, farmers meeting in Saline County, Missouri, formed the first statewide Farm Bureau.

In 1919, a group of farmers from 30 states gathered in Chicago. They founded the American Farm Bureau Federation with the goal of "speaking for themselves through their own national organization".[5] 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.[5]

The initial local and state farm bureaus (1910s-1940s) had a social and educational function furthering the extension service efforts, and they also pursued the functions of pooled negotiating power for purchasing of supplies suc as seed and equipment (comparable in that respect to farm co-operatives, but with potential for larger/wider unification) and pooled capability to provide fire insurance and vehicle insurance for their farms, via both negotiating power (in group purchasing of insurance) and self-insuring capability (in forming new insurance companies of their own); they were comparable in that respect to mutual insurance companies (and indeed founded various such companies). In all of these functions, local and state farm bureaus thus became an analogue of a farmers' union or a trade association for farmers in the United States; the National Farmers Union was the other such effort, outside of small co-ops. More precisely, the local and state farm bureaus formed a network of such unions or associations with a national parent organization. They were thus somewhat analogous in that respect to a federation of trade unions (such as the AFL–CIO), but with individual family farms being self-employed, the parallel with trade associations is the more relevant analogy.

In the 1930s, the American Farm Bureau Federation developed a lobbying presence in Washington, D.C.,[6] where it pushed for changes in New Deal programs to favor large farms with many employees over family farms.[1] Meanwhile, the Minnesota Farmer–Labor Party (FLP), a political party which represented small operators and favored radical programs, was left without power by the New Deal policies, and so in the 1940s the FLP and similar groups in the upper Midwest died or were merged into the Democratic or Republican parties.[7]

Along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Farm Bureau and other "advocates of a mechanized, highly commercialized agriculture helped initiate an abrupt two-decade shift to machines and wage labor."[1] By World War II, the organization was "the most influential representative of large farmers."[1]


A 2012 investigation by The Nation detailed the large-scale federal and state political operations of the Farm Bureau:[2]

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."

The Farm Bureau retains 22 registered lobbyists. In 2012, it was the top contributor to federal candidates, parties, and outside groups with payments over $1 million, with 62% to Republicans. Over the past decade, the Farm Bureau spent $16 million, which was 45% of the total amount spent by the 10 largest agribusiness interests in the U.S.[2]

The Farm Bureau supported the Fighting Hunger Incentive Act of 2014 (H.R. 4719; 113th Congress), a bill that would amend the federal tax laws to permanently extend and expand certain expired provisions that provided a bigger tax deduction for businesses that donated food to charitable organizations.[8] The Farm Bureau 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".[9]

Climate change[edit]

The Farm Bureau has long opposed regulation or taxation of greenhouse gases and climate policy, justifying its actions by denying the scientific consensus on climate change. "For decades, the Farm Bureau has derailed climate action, deploying its political apparatus and 6 million members in a forceful alliance with conservative groups and the fossil fuel industry," Inside Climate News wrote in 2018.[10]

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.

In 2003, Farm Bureau economists joined the Heartland and Hudson Institutes in publishing a paper that "called state or federal regulation of greenhouse gases 'unnecessary, enormously expensive, and particularly injurious to the agricultural community.'"[11]

In 2010, 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".[12] The climate change session at the Farm Bureau's national meeting that year was entitled "Global Warming: A Red Hot Lie?" It featured Christopher C. Horner,[13] a climate change denier and lawyer for the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, a largely industry-backed group that strongly opposes limits on greenhouse gases.[14] At the 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".[15] Right before the 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.[15]

By 2019, the Farm Bureau had ceased to publicly deny climate change, but remained opposed to non-market-based solutions. Politico called it a “longtime, powerful foe of federal action on climate."[16] It 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 greenhouse gas emissions by an agricultural entity, any regulation of such emissions by the EPA, and any attempt to regulate methane emissions from livestock.[17]

In 2022, the Farm Bureau joined a coalition of groups pushing for measures to reduce greenhouse emissions.[18] But The New Republic reported that the organization "wants guarantees that farmers will get paid for soil sequestration without anything else in agricultural business-as-usual changing."[19]


In Missouri, the Missouri Farm Bureau came out publicly against Missouri 2020 Constitutional Amendment 2.[20] This amendment expands Medicaid eligibility to individuals age 19 to 64 with incomes below 133-138% of the poverty level starting in July 2021.[21] (Individuals older and younger than this from low-income households were, in some cases, already eligible for Missouri Medicaid.)[22][23] Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government pays for 90% of the cost of this expansion in eligibility, leaving Missouri to pay for the remaining 10%.[24] Although organizations like the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis projected that the measure would ultimately reduce costs to the state budget based on the results in other states, possibly by over a billion dollars,[25] the Farm Bureau emphasized the estimated $2 billion cost by 2026, of which the state would pay $200 million, saying Missouri "can’t afford to take on this costly Obamacare program." While acknowledging issues with access to healthcare in rural areas (in a state where 12.3% of the rural population are uninsured, compared with 10.1% in urban areas),[26] the Farm Bureau said that access to healthcare should be addressed without "massively expanding government."

Amendment 2 to expand Medicaid in Missouri passed with 53% of the vote on August 4, 2020,[27] one day after the Missouri Farm Bureau advised voters to "vote no on Amendment 2". Afterward, the Missouri Farm Bureau issued a statement on August 7, 2020, calling for "a serious conversation about initiative petition reform", saying that the amendment process "encourages irresponsible spending".[28] Missouri's initiative petition process is governed by sections 50 and 51 of Article III of the Missouri Constitution, and by various statutes within Title IX, Chapter 116 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.[29] Section 51 states that amendments are passed by majority vote and that an initiative "shall not be used for the appropriation of money other than of new revenues created and provided for thereby",[30] while the Farm Bureau argued that "the easy access to the ballot and the requirement that constitutional amendments only need a simple majority to change the state constitution are the equivalent of handing an unlimited line of credit to a majority of the state’s voters." The Farm Bureau described the difficulties for the state's budget amid the Covid-19 pandemic and then stated, "those who want to change the state, for better or worse, will be busy lining up founders and consultants for the next assault on our constitution."

Animal welfare[edit]

In 2022, the Farm Bureau joined the National Pork Producers Council in petitioning the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn California's Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross.[31][32]


In addition to its political lobbying activities, the Farm Bureau is "a multi-billion dollar network of for-profit insurance companies" and the third-largest insurance group in the United States.[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.[33]

An organization independent of the Farm Bureau called FBL Financial Group based in West Des Moines, Iowa, sells insurance under the brand name Farm Bureau Financial Services. It also uses the Farm Bureau logo.[34]

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.[35] 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, which serves 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 Bureaus[edit]

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 Wethersfield, 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 1919 Rural Mutual Insurance
FBL Financial Group
Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Laramie, Wyoming 1920 Mountain West Farm Bureau Insurance
FBL Financial Group


  1. ^ a b c d Daniel, Pete (1990). "Going among Strangers: Southern Reactions to World War II". The Journal of American History. 77 (3): 886–911. doi:10.2307/2078990. ISSN 0021-8723. JSTOR 2078990.
  2. ^ a b c d e Shearn, Ian T. (July 16, 2012). "Whose Side Is the American Farm Bureau On?". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
  3. ^ "Harvesting Peril". Inside Climate News. Retrieved 2022-10-08.
  4. ^ Grant McConnell, The Decline of Agrarian Democracy (U of California Press, 1953), pp 44-54 DOI:
  5. ^ a b "About Farm Bureau". Delaware County Farm Bureau. Archived from the original on October 18, 2019. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  6. ^ John Mark Hansen, Gaining access: Congress and the farm lobby, 1919-1981 (U of Chicago Press, 1991).
  7. ^ Richard M. Valelly, Radicalism in the states : the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party and the American political economy (1989) p. 15.
  8. ^ "CBO - H.R. 4719". Congressional Budget Office. 5 June 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  9. ^ "Fighting Hunger Incentive Act will increase food bank donations". Farm Bureau News. 10 June 2014. Archived from the original on 25 July 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  10. ^ Gustin, Georgina (2018-10-24). "How the Farm Bureau's Climate Agenda Is Failing Its Farmers". Inside Climate News. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Scientists Ask Farm Bureau to Recognize Climate Change". Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  13. ^ Winter, Allison (12 January 2010). "Farm Bureau Fires Back Against Climate Bill's 'Power Grab'". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  14. ^ "Challenges to Both Left and Right on Global Warming". The New York Times. 13 November 2007.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "How a closed-door meeting shows farmers are waking up on climate change". POLITICO. December 9, 2019. Retrieved 2022-10-09.
  17. ^ "AFBF Policy on Climate Change". American Farm Bureau Federation.
  18. ^ "Farmers Are Warming Up To The Fight Against Climate Change". Retrieved 2022-10-08.
  19. ^ Mitchell, Charlie; Dutkiewicz, Jan; Rosenberg, Gabriel N.; Dutkiewicz, Jan; Rosenberg, Gabriel N.; Ford, Matt; Ford, Matt; Russell-Kraft, Stephanie; Russell-Kraft, Stephanie (2021-04-02). "The Farming Lobby's Cunning Plan to Fight Climate Change—and Regulation". The New Republic. ISSN 0028-6583. Retrieved 2022-10-09.
  20. ^ "Amendment 2 Not the Answer to Missouri's Healthcare Problems". Missouri Farm Bureau. 2020-08-03. Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  21. ^ "2020 Ballot Measures". Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  22. ^ "MO HealthNet for Kids |". 2020-08-13. Archived from the original on 2020-08-13. Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  23. ^ "MO HealthNet (Medicaid) for Seniors |". 2020-08-13. Archived from the original on 2020-08-13. Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  24. ^ "To Expand Or Not To Expand Medicaid: Missouri Voters To Decide In August". St. Louis Public Radio. 2020-07-23. Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  25. ^ "Medicaid Expansion in Missouri Policy Briefs and Discussion Series | Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis". Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  26. ^ Martin, rew D.; Perlmutter, David H. "The case for Medicaid expansion in Missouri". Office of the Chancellor. Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  27. ^ "Missouri Amendment 2, Medicaid Expansion Initiative (August 2020)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  28. ^ "Amendment Process Encourages Irresponsible Spending". Missouri Farm Bureau. 2020-08-07. Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  29. ^ "Laws governing the initiative process in Missouri". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  30. ^ "III Section 51". Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  31. ^ "Supreme Court to Review California Prop 12". The National Law Review. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  32. ^ "Supreme Court to consider California rules regarding treatment of pigs". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  33. ^ Crop Insurance a Boon to Farmers – And Insurers, too, Published June 18, 2012. Archived June 8, 2019.
  34. ^ FBL Financial Group financials, Google Finance, retrieved December 9, 2011.
  35. ^ "New York Farm Bureau and Nationwide Insurance announce Strategic Partnership". New York Farm Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-01-28.

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