The Founding of Michigan Farm Bureau
Founded on Feb. 4, 1919, Michigan Farm Bureau has served as the voice of Michigan agriculture for more than a century.
MFB’s first seeds were planted when Pres. Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Lever Act into law in 1914, creating the Extension service to provide a field force of local agricultural "agents" from land-grant universities through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Before a county agent could be approved, however, counties had to be organized into "farmers bureaus" that would serve as support groups to help direct local Extension projects.
Michigan farmer Clark Brody led the effort to set up the first county Farm Bureau in St. Joseph County due to an outbreak of hog cholera, a virus also known as "swine fever."
In 1915, Missouri became the first state to organize a state federation of county Farm Bureaus in 1915, followed by Massachusetts and Vermont in that same year. Michigan followed suit in 1919, when county Extension agents and farmers from 57 county Farm Bureaus met in the lecture room of the Horticultural Building at Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) and formed the Michigan State Farm Bureau. Berrien County farmer Roland Morrill was elected the first president.
In March of that year, Michigan State Farm Bureau Executive Committee defined the organization's mission as follows:
"Its purposes are to unite under a definite head of all other farm organizations. The Farm Bureau should not be considered just another farmers' organization added to the list but as THE ONE which may assist all others to better accomplish their purposes."
In 1944, the Board of Directors dropped the word "state" from the name and became the Michigan Farm Bureau.
The Founding of Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan
The members of Michigan Farm Bureau were determined to have their own insurance company so they created Farm Bureau Insurance.
In January 1949, Nile Vermillion, was hired to organize the new Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Michigan. On March 7th, the company opened for business providing auto insurance for Farm Bureau members.
As members continued to share their interests in insurance needs, the organization responded. We offered more products, more services, and more coverages serving as a leader in Michigan's insurance market.
Farm Bureau Milestones
Below are just a few milestones in the history of Farm Bureau Insurance:
1951 - We introduced the Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company of Michigan. The first company ever to specialize in Michigan's rural life insurance. Within the first 10 months of operation, the Life Company had written more than $20 million of charter life insurance breaking a record for all insurance companies in Michigan and any other Farm Bureau company in America.
1960 - Almost a decade later, we introduced America’s first ever Farmowners policy. The revolutionary policy covered all the needs of the entire farm operation in one package serving thousands of Michigan farmers.
1964 - Our name changed to Farm Bureau Insurance Group. 24 years later (1988), we dropped "Group" from our name and adopted the logo you see today.
1968 - Farm Bureau Insurance introduced another first-in-the-nation policy; group-rated auto policies. The news was so big the announcement took place in the press room of the State Capital building. For several years, our group auto plans protected tens of thousands of Michigan residents.
2011 - We introduced our Lake Estate® policy as the first policy in Michigan designed exclusively to protect lakefront homes and lakefront living in the state.
Over the last 70 years, Farm Bureau Insurance has continued protecting the people of Michigan from the risks of everyday life. What began with just a handful of agents and two boxes of insurance applications, has grown into nearly 800 associates and 450 agents spread across all regions of the Great Lakes State.
We look forward to growing, helping more people in our communities, and protecting generation after generation of Michigan residents.