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CUYAHOGA COUNTY FARM BUREAU

CUYAHOGA COUNTY FARM BUREAU

 

The CUYAHOGA COUNTY FARM BUREAU was organized in 1915 to provide farmers in the county with a vehicle for collective action in representing, promoting, and protecting farm interests. Located at 285 E. Bagley Rd. in BEREA, by 1986 the bureau functioned mainly to organize and operate the annual Cuyahoga County Fair. Geo. Cooley led the effort to organize a farm bureau program in Cuyahoga County. Once established, the bureau quickly formed a close working relationship with the County Extension Service. Between 1915-55, the bureau was under the control of a board of 15 elected directors, 1 from each of 15 districts. In 1919 the Cuyahoga County Farm Bureau was a leader in promoting the establishment of the Ohio Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau incorporated in 1932. In 1934 it organized the Cuyahoga County Farm Bureau Cooperative Service Assn. as a farm supply organization and purchased property in STRONGSVILLE for a sales outlet. In 1938 the bureau moved from downtown Cleveland and combined offices with the cooperative in Strongsville. By 1947, however, the bureau and the cooperative became separate organizations and the following year the Farm Bureau's insurance program separated from the State Bureau. In 1955, the Cuyahoga County Farm Bureau eliminated its board of directors and placed operations under the bureau's officers. The heart of the county bureau's program was the county agricultural agents, who offered farmers every possible assistance for improving farm-management practices. They helped form marketing and buying cooperatives, introduced new innovations and health practices, arranged for speakers to talk on solving technical problems and operating farms efficiently, helped farmers set up management records, and worked with farm children through boys' and girls' clubs.

With the increased suburbanization of Cuyahoga County after World War II, the Farm Bureau's importance declined. At the beginning of the 20th century, Cuyahoga County had over 4,571 farms and farming occupied over 80 percent of land use. By the end of that century, however, farming occupied just 6,000 acres of the county and the Farm Bureau represented less than 400 farmers and nursery owners, with the majority of those concentrated along the southern and western sections of the county between VALLEY VIEW and WESTLAKE. Despite this decline, the county's agricultural production generated approximately $25 million in 2000. As of 2003, the Farm Bureau continued to organize local charitable events and, since 1993, sponsored a museum exhibit during the annual county fair in Berea to document Cuyahoga County's agricultural history.