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

Wisconsin Society of Equity initiated broad program,   pp. 8-9 PDF (538.0 KB)

Page 8

ganized. The State Grange appointed
a State agent in 1871, and in 1876
established a central business agency
at Milwaukee. Although these early
business enterprises of the Grange
declined rapidly in the late 80's, they
created a lasting influence because of
the valuable experience gained by the
farmers in carrying on business co-
  Wisconsin Grangers were greatly
interested in the political questions of
the day, particularly in those relating
to railroads. A bitter fight was waged
in connection with the passage of State
legislation for the control of the rail-
roads, and later its repeal.
  Senator Bob La Follette, Sr., in his
Autobiography wrote:
As a boy on the farm in Primrose Town-
ship, I heard and felt this movement of the
Grangers swirling about me; and I felt the
indignation which it expressed in such a way
that I suppose I have never fully lost the
effect of that early impression. It was a
time, indeed, of a good deal of intellectual
activity and awakening.
Wisconsin Society oF Equity
hnitiated Broad Program
  In the early years of the twentiqo
century a gene:l farm organizatwi
was formed which made an important
contribution to the development of
cooperation in the North Central
States. This was the American Society
of Equity. A Wisconsin State Union
of the Society was organized in 1903.
* tIC  -JSL   hitivJ U f hath  tLh
national and State organizations was
to improve farm prices.
  The Wisconsin Society of Equity
worked along several different lines.
It fostered legislation to provide for
the incorporation of cooperative busi-
ness enterprises. It initiated a pro
gram of voluntary control of produc
tion. It stimulated the organization
and development of local marketing
and purchasing cooperative associa
tions. The Society built or lease(
cooperative warehouses for storinq
farm products so that they might move
to market in an orderly manner al
times when they could be sold at prices
that would mean a fair return to thb
farmer. "$1 wheat" and "50-cen
potatoes" became popular slogans
Some large-scale cooperative busines
enterprises were attempted.
  In 1911 the Society demanded the
enactment of "fundamental coopera.
tive laws so that cooperative enterprise
may be organized and incorporated ox
the basis of 'one-man one-vote'." As a
result, the State legislature passed the
Wisconsin cooperative statute whicd
provides for democratic control of co.
operative business associations.
  Efforts to regulate the productior
of certain crops did not succeed. Som(
large-scale marketing activities like
wise failed. In assisting farmers t
form local cooperative marketing asso
ciations, however, Equity played at
important part. It helped farmers t
establish cooperative livestock shippiq
associations and grain elevators. Ii
built or leased warehouses for the stor
ing of wool, potatoes, and tobacc
Many of the marketing association
established under Equity auspices late'
discontinued their marketing service
and developed the cooperative pur-
chasing of supplies exclusively.
  In 1920 there were 400 marketinl
and purchasing associations whict
bore the name "Equity." Althougl
the name might be used by any grouf
of farmers, it doubtless is true that I

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