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Bell, Florence C. (Florence Colfax), 1899- / Farmer co-ops in Wisconsin

Grange fostered cooperation,   pp. 7-8 PDF (558.0 KB)

Page 7

One of the conditions which vitally
affected the development of Wiscon-
sin cooperatives was the shift from
wheat farming to dairy farming which
took place during approximately the
third quarter of the nineteenth cen-
tury. This change brought with it
the need for the rapid development of
market outlets for milk and cream,
and an opportunity for cooperatives to
render a real service to member-dairy-
The change from wheat to dairying
was made easier by the work of several
outstanding leaders in the State dur-
ing this period. In 1872, William
Dempster Hoard, a former Governor,
was the moving force behind the
organization of the Wisconsin Dairy-
men's Association. He was one of a
group of leaders who had become con-
vinced that Wisconsin's financial fu-
ture lay in dairying rather than in
wheat. This idea met with increasing
response from farmers after the depres-
sion in the early 70's and the plagues
of chinch bugs in 1874, '75, and '76,
which seriously damaged the wheat
fields. Extensive contributions to the
dairy program were made by William
Aaron Henry of the university, who
was instrumental in establishing the
Agricultural Experiment Station at
Madison. He made pioneer investi-
gations in the feeding of livestock,
inaugurated in 1886 the first agricul-
tural short course, and 4 years later
organized the first dairy school. Dairy-
ing was practically revolutionized by
another member of the university
faulty, Stephen Moulton Babcock,
w ho in 1890 invented the "Babcock
test" to determine accurately and
piickly the amount of butterfat in
silk. Under the leadership of these
notable men, and many others, Wis-
consin became the leading dairy State
in the Nation, and a fertile field for the
development of dairy cooperatives.
Grange Fostered Cooperation
  The Grange played a very important
part in the early development of agri-
cultural cooperatives in Wisconsin as
in many other sections of the United
States. The grange movement reached
Wisconsin in 1871, when the first local
unit and the Vis-consin State Grange
were organized. By October 1, 1875,
the number of subordinate granges was
not far from 450 with a membership of
more than 17,000.
  The farmer-members of many of the
subordinate granges put into effect
plans for buying farm supplies cooper-
atively, and some stores were or-
In the feed uarehouse of the Larsen Cooperative
Co., Larsen, Wis.  This company, which
toas established more than 20 years ago, has
expanded and increased ais services several
times. It sells for cash, and the manage-
ment says that while this has made temporary
enemies out of a few members, they hale
nearly always returned as patrons and
endorse the cash policy. There are over
700 stockholders. The company grinds feed,
and merchandises standard farm supplies,
such as tools, oils, paints, harness, etc.
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