Yadkin County Farm Bureau
Yadkin County Farm Bureau is a non-profit agricultural advocacy organization that began in 1940. It officially organized after the American Farm Bureau Federation was founded in 1919 and North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation in 1936. Rev. E.R. Crater and Dwight Williamson began enlisting members in Yadkin County in 1940.
Reverend Crater was very involved in getting electricity to the most rural areas of North Carolina and the United States. He served on numerous rural electrical cooperative boards and also served as the first Administrator to Hoots Hospital in Yadkinville. There is no doubt, based on his service, that Mr. Crater had a passion to see rural communities progress. He began enlisting members and forming our county organization due to North Carolina Farm Bureau's active involvement in rural electrical needs and desire to help rural communities move toward the future with electricity. Reverend Crater penned a quote for NC Farm Bureau and won a prize for writing, "For a progressive state and nation, join the Farm Bureau Federation."
On April 30, 1953, Reverend Crater made remarks entitled "Out of the Darkness" to a meeting in Washington DC, which was attended by members of Tarheel Electric Membership Association of North Carolina and by members of the North Carolina delegation to Congress. At the time of Reverend Crater's address he was Vice President of the Davie Electric Membership Corp. and past President of Tarheel Electric Membership Association. In those remarks, Reverend Crater outlined why electricity in rural North Carolina was so important to all who live in rural North Carolina but specifically the farm community. He said, "...the farmer... the forgotten Americans, a lonely solitary segment of our people apparently bypassed by the times and disinherited by even progress herself." His entire address was entered into the Congressional Record of the US House of Representatives by Representative Howard D. Cooley on Tuesday, May 9, 1953.
Yadkin County Farm Bureau’s roots as an organization are tied to rural electrification. President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) in 1935 at a time when less than 3% of North Carolina farms had power and less than 11% of farms nationwide. It wasn't until the late 1940's and into the 1950's that most North Carolina farms received power. Prior to electricity, according to a USDA study in 1919, rural families spent 10 hours per week simply hauling water from a well or spring to the home.
"For a progressive state and nation join the Farm Bureau Federation."
-Reverend E.R. Crater Sr.
Reverend E.R. Crater Sr (about 1953)
July 1939. Shoofly, North Carolina. Tobacco field in early morning where white sharecropper and wage laborer are priming tobacco -Photo credit, Farm Security Administration, Dorothea Lange
"I would rather be on my farm, than be emperor of the world."
Ariel view town of Yadkinville about 1948 looking southeast
From 1940 till 1953 four served as President of Yadkin County Farm Bureau, Reverend E.R. Crater, W. Herbert Fleming, Bill Moxley and J. Frank Bryant.
In June of 1953 Yadkin County Farm Bureau was chartered. Members of the Board of Directors meet with Yadkin County Clerk of Court, Lon West, and the Articles of Incorporation were filed with NC Secretary of State Thad Eure. Charter Board Members were: President Frank Bryant, Vice President Hazel Poplin, Secretary/ Treasurer Cressie J. Brown, Directors: Clinton Hobson, Fonzy Brown, Frank Fleming, Claude Shore, W.H. Fleming, A.R. Moxley, N.P. Bryant, Vance Ray, Bill Moxley, E.W. Pardue, Leon Thomasson and Roy Doub.
Also, in 1953 members of the NC Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors voted to establish the NC Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company. This was the first of the Farm Bureau Membership Benefits program. Today there are numerous member benefits offering a wide range of savings and services. The NC Farm Bureau Board of Directors recognized the need and the lack of service for reliable insurance products in rural sections of North Carolina. Their forethought and desire to serve the organizations members set a strong precedent that we continue to this day.
Clinton D. Hobson was elected president in 1953 and served till 1964.
December 4, 1962 marked the first annual meeting for Yadkin County Farm Bureau, it was held in the courthouse in Yadkinville. Annual Meetings were held in the courthouse until 1970. From 1971 till 1979 Annual Meetings were held in the fellowship hall of Yadkinville First Baptist Church. From 1996 through 2015 Annual Meetings were held at the Yadkin Moose Lodge. Since 2016 Annual Meetings have been held at the newly constructed Yadkin County Agriculture and Education Center at Surry Community College, Yadkin Campus.
In 1964 Yadkin County Farm Bureau reported 521 member families.
J. Hazel Poplin served as President of Yadkin County Farm Bureau from 1954 till 1967.
E. Weldon Pardue served as Yadkin County Farm Bureau President from 1968 till 1971.
Roy A. Steelman was elected Yadkin County Farm Bureau President in 1972 and served for 14 years until 1986.
On June 11, 1973 the board met for the first time in the newly constructed building at 204 W. Cherry St., Yadkinville. Prior to the Cherry St location Yadkin County Farm Bureau had been housed in the Todd Building at 122 W. Main St., Yadkinville. Prior to the Todd Building YCFB was located in a building owned by Bill Rutledge on Jackson St., east of the Yadkin County Courthouse.
In 1981 Yadkin County Farm Bureau reported over 2,400 member families. In 9 years Yadkin County Farm Bureau experience a nearly 30% growth in membership and in 1990 reported over 3,075 member families.
Jack F. Shore served as President of Yadkin County Farm Bureau for 17 years from 1987 until 2004.
As the organization continued to grow the need was realized to open 2 county sub-offices. The Jonesville sub-office opened June of 1991 in the Foothills Market Shopping Center, located at the corner of NC Highway 67 and Valley Road. On June 1, 1994 the Jonesville sub-office held its ribbon cutting at its current location, 105 Winston Road. The East Bend sub-office opened October 3, 1994.
Bobby J. “Bud” Matthews Jr., served as President from 2005 through 2009.
The success of the Farm Bureau agricultural advocacy organization as well as the success of the NC Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company was creating growing pains across the organization. On June 6, 2005 the Yadkin County Farm Bureau Board of Directors voted to accept the Restructure Agreements presented by NC Farm Bureau as recommended by the Internal Revenue Service. The agreements went into effect on July 1, 2005. While the restructure was a challenge to implement, the benefits have far outweighed the challenges of implementation. The roles of employees and volunteers were more clearly defined, and gave Yadkin County Farm Bureau the opportunity to focus on our mission, to be an advocate for agriculture and rural communities, more so then we were ever able to in the past.
During 2006 Yadkin County Farm Bureau’s board of directors voted to start an agricultural scholarship program. In 2006, the program awarded $500 to a graduating high school senior from each of the Yadkin County high schools that will be pursuing a degree in an agriculture related field. In 2010, the award amount was increased to $1,000. In 2011, the board again voted to change the Yadkin County Farm Bureau Agricultural Scholarship, in a statement that our county organization is serious about agriculture education, the award was changed to $1,000 per year for up to four years as long as the student continues to qualify, total value is $4,000.
W. Justin Somers started serving as President of Yadkin County Farm Bureau in 2010.
In 2014 Yadkin County Farm Bureau reported 5,738 member families.
Here We Grow
"“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.”"
The newly constructed Yadkinville Office in 1973
Jonesville Office Ribbon Cutting in 1994
East Bend Office Ribbon Cutting in 1994
Picture of Kansas Rural Electrification setting poles.
Congressman Harold D. Cooley (D-NC4) served from in the United States House of Representatives from 1933-1967. Cooley was Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee from 1949-1953 and 1955-1967
In 1939, Clay Riley, John Henry Stokes, Jay Stokes and Clayton Holcomb, sitting on Old Nell, work in the tobacco field. Families often helped each other prime tobacco instead of hiring outside help. -Photo Credit, Anne Riley
"Yadkin County Farm Bureau is well suited to take on the challenges of the future and to continue to be the voice of agriculture for Yadkin County Farmers."
-W. Justin Somers
Ribbon cutting of the new Yadkinville Office in 2020.
Yadkin County Farm Bureau was recognized during the NC Farm Bureau Annual Convention in December of 2015 with the Legislative Program of Excellence Award, President Justin Somers accepted the award from NC Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten. In addition, the Yadkin County Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Committee was also awarded the YF&R Program of Excellence Award, county chair Autumn Hunter accepted the award from NC Farm Bureau Vice President Scott Whitford and NC Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Chair Kevin Wilson.
During the 2016 NC Farm Bureau Annual Convention, Yadkin County Farm Bureau was awarded the 2016 County of Excellence Award. President Somers accepted the award on behalf of all Yadkin County Farm Bureau members and volunteers from NC Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten.
On March 5, 2018 President Justin Somers appointed a Building Committee, with the consent of the board of directors, that would begin the task of exploring options and seeing through to completion a new Yadkinville Office. The Building Committee consist of: President Somers who served as Chairman, upon recommendation by the committee to the Board of Directors, Van Hemric, Renee Moxley, Shelby Shore, Wayne Smitherman and JoAnn White. Ex-Officio Members of the Committee consist of Callie Carson, NC Farm Bureau Field Representative, Charles Soots, Agency Manager and Jeff Smith, Secretary/Treasurer. The Committee held its first meeting on August 23, 2018. Through a rigorous interview process the committee recommended to the board of directors that Omega Construction of Winston Salem building the building, Thomas H Hughes Architect of Winston Salem be the Architect of Record and designer of the building and SunTrust Bank will serve the financing needs of the organization. A ground breaking was held on November 4, 2019 with NC Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten present.
In 2018 Yadkin County Farm Bureau was recognized with the County of Excellence Award and the Legislative Program Award. President Somers accepted both awards from NC Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten.
President Somers once again accepted the County of Excellence Award from NC Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten at the 2019 NC Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Greensboro, NC.
Several Yadkin County residents have served on the NC Farm Bureau Board of Directors in the last 75 years, they are: E.R. Crater 1950-1951, J. Frank Bryant 1955-1975, 1979, 1982-1987 and served as NCFB Vice President 1966-1975, Frank Fleming 1989-2000, Jack F. Shore 2001-2014 and W. Justin Somers 2015-Current.
Since our founding we have fought for issues that are important to rural farm people and the citizens of Yadkin County. We have taken the concerns of Yadkin County farmers to the Halls of Congress, the state General Assembly and to the county Courthouse. We promote agriculture and farmers. We train future leaders though our support of FFA, 4-H programs and programs that are offered by the NC Farm Bureau Federation and the American Farm Bureau Federation. Over the years, Yadkin County Farm Bureau has had an active Women’s Committee, Young Farmer & Rancher Committee, Legislative Programs and Policy Development Programs.
Farm Bureau was organized with the goal of protecting the interests of farm and rural families. For the first time, an organization would give farmers a unified voice on agricultural issues. Now, as then, Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization, serving as a legislative advocate for our members at the local, state, national and international levels. From the county courthouse to the halls of Congress, Farm Bureau provides powerful and effective representation for agriculture and rural communities.