My Impressions of the Farmers Federation

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By A. C. Reynolds, Jr., Farmers Federation News, December, 1943

As I leave the Farmers Federation and enter the United States Army after eighteen months of the most enjoyable and satisfying work of my life, I feel that I would like to tell you, its members and friends, just what my impressions of the Federation are. As Field Secretary, I have been in a position to know what the inside workings are and to know something of the past accomplishments and future plans of the organization.

I enter the army knowing that the Farmers Federation is effectively using all of its energies and resources to help Western North Carolina agriculture to do its full part in aiding our government and its allies to win the war. Also, I know that the Farmers Federation is now working and planning a post-war program of development that will help to make Western North Carolina a place where all of us can live richer and fuller lives; a place where you who remain and we who return will have the right and opportunity to live decently as individuals and to work cooperatively with each other.

As with any true cooperative, the ultimate aim of the Farmers Federation is service, not profit. However, the directors and officials know that no organization is in position to render really worthwhile service unless it maintains a sound financial position. No cooperative can operate a "cut-rate" business and expand its services and be in good financial position at the same time.

The Farmers Federation is doing business on a business-like basis and is constantly expanding its services, facilities, and holdings. All profits are either returned to patrons in the form of patronage dividends, paid to stockholders as interest on their investment in the business, or used to expand the business and increase the value of assets backing up each share of stock. This makes a sound, progressive, and constructive program possible and is constantly making the Federation a more valuable service organization to the Farmers of Western North Carolina.

The Educational and Development division of the Federation makes it a unique cooperative. No other cooperative in the United States is doing so much to try to increase farm income, develop new industries using farm and forest products, and to promote the social and spiritual well being of the people it serves. The Lord's Acre Movement started by the Farmers Federation in Western North Carolina has spread to rural churches throughout the Nation and to many foreign countries.

The poultry program, based on rigid quality and high production standards, has done wonders in increasing the egg production per hen for owners of commercial laying flocks and hatchery supply flocks. The dairy herd improvement program will take longer to show results. But with careful breeding, feeding, and testing I have no doubt that the dairymen participating will be getting 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of milk from each cow in their herds within a few years. Today the average cow is producing less than 4,000 pounds of milk per year.

Scientific management and cutting of forest lands and the cooperative marketing of timber and other forest products is another field in which I expect the Federation to do big things. We know now that unless our forest lands are handled properly and put on a sustained yield basis that in addition to depleting one of our greatest natural resources we will lose much of our good mountain soil as well by erosion. The forest products division is now doing actual and research work along the lines mentioned above that will ultimately bring added income to woodlot and forest land owners and at the same time perpetuate the source of the income.

There are a number of other development and progressive projects of the Federation which I could mention if space permitted. However, you are already familiar with most of them, for they are already showing results in your community. These development services are really just in their beginning stages and will be in the future a greater and greater aid in promoting the economic, social, and spiritual well-being of rural Western North Carolina.

I have been most favorably impressed by the type of people who are the officers and employees of the Federation. They are efficient and fully capable of handling their responsibilities and jobs from a business standpoint. Also they are a group of men and women of real Christian character who are active in the civic and church life of their communities.

With all of the accomplishments of the Federation since Mr. McClure and ten other farmers started out with a small building at the Fairview railroad siding 23 years ago, I feel that it is just now reaching the point where it can begin to render the services intended by its founders. Building the Farmers Federation from its small and humble beginning into the strong and expanded organization which it is today has been a tremendous task. It has taken patience, fortitude, vision, real work, and the ability to keep going when the going gets tough. It has been necessary for the members to realize that it takes time, money, work, and cooperation to build a strong cooperative farmers organization.

And now with the Federation occupying the strong position which it does and rendering a great service in helping Western North Carolina agriculture to make an effective contribution to the war effort, I can see nothing but the brightest of futures for it. Now it is in position to help the farmers secure high quality supplies and to help them in finding the best markets for their products. If services are needed that are not already supplied by the Government agricultural agencies the farmers can initiate them for themselves through their own cooperative organization. Whenever policies of government affecting agriculture are being formulated the farmers of Western North Carolina will be able to make themselves heard through the officers of the organization.

You who are already members of the Farmers Federation can make it stronger by being more active in your membership both by trading at Federation warehouses and attending stockholders meetings. Every stockholder has the same voice and rights so far as the directing of the organization is concerned. Every member has one vote and only one vote. You who are not members should become members. The Farmers Federation is doing great things for Western North Carolina. It will do greater things. The speed with which it does them and the benefits derived depend on you; for after all, the Farmers Federation Cooperative is your organization.