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History of YCFB

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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The Beginning

1914

The first gathering of the Yolo County Farm Bureau was at a picnic held in Yolo on Saturday March 7th, 1914. Sixty-seven members joined the Farm Bureau, making it the third county Farm Bureau organized in California.

* 1,500 people attended the day-long October 1, 1914 Annual Harvest Festival, which is what they named their Annual Meeting. Membership had increased to 270. The first YCFB President was a former dentist, turned banker and farmer, Dr. M.O. Wyatt.

* George Wilson, who was 95 when interviewed for the 75th History Book, commented that in 1914 there weren’t too many farmers that could stand up and conduct a meeting. That is something the Farm Bureau has helped members with over the years through its Leadership Program.

* Between May and July of 1914, nine Charter Farm Centers were formed. Farm Centers were focused initially on agricultural topics, but they also formed committees and worked towards improving their communities and infrastructure. (Minutes from the Clarksburg Farm Center in the 1920’s covered topics like where to put what eventually became the Freeport Bridge and landscaping the School Grounds.)

* In 1912, the Yolo Consolidated Water Company (YCWC) was purchased by the Yolo Power and Water Company (YPWC) of New York. In 1914, YPWC completed a dam across Cache Creek near Lower Lake and began impounding runoff. This inaugurated a six-year legal battle over water rights.


The population of Yolo County was 14,057. The first Farm Advisor was G.H. Hecke. He withdrew after a year and Niles Pond Searls became Yolo County’s Farm Advisor until June 30, 1919. The Yolo County Horticultural Commissioner was William Gould (1619 – 1923).

The first Farm Advisor’s office and the meeting room of Farm Bureau directors was in the Yolo County Hall of Records, located in Woodland, east of the original 1863 courthouse.

Farm Centers were organized for Woodland; the Capay Valley; West Sacramento; Esparto; Winters; Yolo; Davis; Knights Landing; and Clarksburg. During the next few years, several Centers dissolved and merged with others. By 1920, the Sacramento River farmers organized the Elkhorn Farm Center and the Spring Lake Farm Center was formed.

1915

Membership increased to 321 members. On September 4, 1915, the second Harvest Festival was held in Esparto in conjunction with the first Almond Festival. An estimated crowd of 4,000 attended, 1,500 of whom were said to be “farmers and their wives.”

1916

The third Annual Meeting and Harvest Festival was held in the Armory Hall in Woodland on October 7, 1916. The Cooperative Extension provided tremendous support for FB in the early years providing office staff and program topics.

1917

Membership increased to 425 members. During WWI the focus was on producing more essential crops with less labor and supplies. During this time, the UC Extension organized a rural fire control system.

WWI caused an Ag Boom, which led to overproduction in the 1920’s and depressed prices. The improvement of rural life continued to be a joint concern of the Extension Service and the Farm Bureau. New town halls where farm center meetings were held were built at Madison, Zamora, and Dunnigan between 1915 and 1918. These were jointly financed by local subscription and the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. The united efforts of the Farm Bureau also helped pass county bond issues for the construction of a new $200,000 courthouse in 1917 and $1 million worth of road improvements in 1919.

1919

Warren D. Norton became the Agricultural Extension Farm Advisor in 1919, replacing Niles Pond Searls. According to a 1944 Daily Democrat clipping “Warren D. Norton, extension service agent, is one of the many Yoloans who appreciates the good work being done by farm laborers as a whole. He has played a prominent role, through the extension service labor office at 715 Main Street, in bringing Mexican Nationals here. Norton this year is celebrating 25 years of service as Farm Adviser. Members of the Farm Bureau last spring honored him at several meetings. Last March, he received a silver set in appreciation for his outstanding work on behalf of farmers. Norton has a reputation of never being too busy to assist a friend.”


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The Next Decade


1920s

In the 1920’s airplanes were first used for orchard spraying, crop dusting, rice seeding and spraying. The Hog Calling Contest was an integral part of annual Farm Bureau picnics in the 1920s and 1930s. Celebration of the annual Farm Bureau meeting with a Harvest Festival continued until World War II.


1922

Agricultural clubs for boys were organized at most Yolo County schools in the 1920s, before they became co-educational and were called 4-H clubs.

1923

Farm Bureau Directors, Home Department Officers, and members of the Extension Staff formed a work party to landscape the Clarksburg Union Elementary School. When the school was completed, Yolo County Farm Advisor Warren Norton contacted Harry Shepherd of the Landscape Division at the University Farm who drew up a landscape plan at no charge. The Clarksburg Farm Center then provided funds for the purchase of shrubbery and conducted two labor days when the concrete work and planting was completed.


1924- 1929


In 1924, the potential threat of an epidemic of hoof and mouth disease was thwarted in Yolo County when Farm Bureau members assisted authorities with prevention and quarantine regulations.

Diversification of agricultural crops grown in Yolo County continued. Scientific knowledge and rural electrification improved irrigation systems and improved farm equipment. The 1925 State Fair theme was “Good Equipment Makes a Good Farmer Better”. University research made it possible to begin producing certified seed for barley, wheat, onions, beets, carrots and parsnips.

“In-service” programs for Farm Bureau members begun during the 1920s. The first, a worker’s compensation policy, was offered to members on an individual basis in 1924 through the State Fund of the California Farm Bureau Federation. The first Workman’s Compensation Group Plan, initially purchased from the firm of Wraith and Farish, has been renewed annually since (State Fund initiated a Group Plan in 1943).

Extension programs and the agricultural clubs for boys and girls were expanded during the 1920s through grammar and high school agriculture classes and were sponsored by some of the Farm Bureau centers, which became known as 4-H Clubs.

The first annual County Achievement Show of 1924 grew to a popular event in 1929 when 200 children and 200 adults filled the Willow Oak Park Hall. Records from 1929 show 72 of the 147 4-H club members were girls.


1930's Population

Blacks township 399


Cacheville township 729


Capay township 580


Clarksburg township 3,021


Cottonwood township 742


Dunnigan township 255


Esparto township 575


Grafton township 1,428


Putah township 2,097

(Davis city 1,243)


Washington township 4,137


Winters township 1,561

(Winters town 896)


Woodland township 7,654

(Woodland city 5,542)


Total 23,644

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