!*<> \Z<\ Dy 3 ^^
April 22, 1965
TO: UCA Board of Directors
Each spring for several years a number of county Farm Bureau
presidents in Utah have sold key farm supply items direct to farmers.
They have purchased and delivered these items to farmers as a "service
of the Farm Bureau". Items handled have included mainly big ticket
items - fertilizer, twine, tires and sprays. These goods have been sold
at cost or near cost. The basic reason given by Farm Bureau has been to
"save the farmers money". Actually the plan is being used primarily as
a device for selling memberships in the Farm Bureau. Occasionally the
merchandise has been purchased through Intermountain Farmers Association,
but often carload deals have been obtained from non-co-op sources.
This program has been carried forward mainly in counties where the
Farm Bureau president has been willing to assume personal financial risk,
spend time soliciting and filling orders and generally carry on a merchandising operation without pay.
At first glance, this approach may appear to be a reasonable, even
commendable Farm Bureau activity. After all, the program saves the
farmers a little money. It builds Farm Bureau memberships. What is
wrong with this?
Several things are wrong with the approach:
First of all, in almost every county, Utah's agricultural base is
small. Volume of farm supplies or products available for co-op marketing is usually so small that co-ops find it difficult to grow.
Second, by using this approach, the Farm Bureau is taking a positive
step to weaken or eliminate cooperatives which farmers have spent years
building. Farm Bureau's action in creaming off just enough of the farm
supply business to curtail the profitability of several of the local co-ops
simply is not good agricultural policy.
Third, by its very act of competing with the farmers' own co-ops,
the Farm Bureau undermines the morale and shakes the confidence of members.
Logically, these questions can be raised:
1. Has the Farm Bureau abandoned its long-standing position that
cooperatives are vital to Utah farm people?