FARM COOPERATIVES, FARMERS MARKETING ASSOCIATION
In 1922 the Bartholomew County Farmers Association, leased and later purchased property on Second Street west of Haw Creek. In November a shed-like structure was built and a store was opened where farmers could purchase feed and other supplies could be purchased at bulk prices through the Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau manager was J. D. Kirkpatrick.
The Farmers Marketing Association was organized in April 1923 when it was determined that it would benefit local farmers to establish their own market for dairy products. The first board of directors included Harley C. Glick, president; J. Clint Glick, vice-president; Ransom D. Perry, secretary-treasurer; Louis C. Voelz; William Nienaber; George Armuth and Fred H. Suhre. This forward looking group obtained sufficient land for future expansion.
The first land purchased was the triangular piece of ground at the intersection of Second and Third streets for $2,000.00. A concrete creamery building was erected at a cost of $4,500.00.
The operation of the creamery began on October 2, 1923, with Mr. Fred Suhre as manager. The first purchase of cream was $23.85 to J. C. Glick, whose farm was being operated by his son-in-law, Marion Amick. Mr. Glick’s check stated the association produced “Gilt ‘Edge Creamery Butter.”
Around a month later, Kirkpatrick took a position, at Indianapolis, with the Indiana Farm Bureau Cooperative. Mr. Suhre became manager of the creamery and the feed sales at that time and the feed sales area was moved into the west end of the creamery.
In 1929 the U. S. Internal Revenue Service held that the livestock department was not entitled to the cooperative tax-exempt status of the creamery. The feed department was then incorporated as Farm Bureau Services, Inc., but do not confuse that with the parent group, Bartholomew Count Farm Bureau Association.
The association continued to run the creamery and expanded over the years to include farm implement sales, petroleum sales, a grain elevator, a locker plant, and a hatchery.
In 1947 in compliance with Cooperation Corporation Act of Indiana, Farm Bureau Services and Farmers Marketing Association operation were merged under the name, Farmers Marketing Association, Inc.
For many years the creamery purchased only cream. Farmers used cream separators on their farms, selling the cream and usually feeding the skimmed milk to livestock. Farmers Marketing butter was sold under the Valley Lea trade name. The Jamestown Cold Storage Company of Jamestown, New York, bought 50,000 to 60,000 pounds of butter each month for more than 30 years. In 1933 the creamery produced more than three million pounds of butter. That amount was reported to be enough to coat U.S. 31 from Indianapolis to Louisville with a 1/16th inch layer.
During World War II the U. S. Government urged farmers to change their ways and sell whole milk in order to provide dried milk for the war effort. In 1941 the government sought 200 million pounds of dried milk to send to Great Britain for human consumption under the Lend-Lease Act.
The Farmers Marketing Creamery installed $34,000 in equipment and during the week following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, began processing whole milk. The first shipment, 40,000 pounds of dried milk derived from 60,000 pounds of raw milk, was shipped out in February 1942. After the war the creamery continued to buy whole milk, and dried skim milk powder was manufactured in addition to butter.
A market was provided for the power and some of the butter by the Mid-West Producers’ Creameries, Inc. Mr. Suhre, one of the organizers of this marketing cooperative, served as president until 1962.
Dairy farming in the county was changing. The dairymen who were staying in the business changed their operation to meet Grade A milk specifications. Cream separation on many farms was no longer a routine chore and the creamery’s supply of Grade B milk for butter had decreased. The production of butter and skim milk was no longer produced at the creamery was halted in August 1965. Sweet cream and condensed skim milk was then produced. The production of sweet cream and condensed skim milk required less equipment and labor, but the profits were not sufficient to continue operations. The creamery was closed May 1, 1966.
By 1930 mechanized farms was rapidly replacing workhorses on Bartholomew County farms. At that time the Farmers Marketing Association established farm implements and bulk petroleum departments. Allis-Chalmers and New Idea farm equipment was sold from a concrete block building on the north side of Third Street with Fred Dinkins as the first manager. A bulk petroleum plant and service station were also built on the north side of Third Street. The first two tank truck drivers were Carl Meyer and Chester Newsom.
In 1934 an eight-acre plot of land located on the south side of Second Street was purchased. This plot later became the location of most of the cooperative’s operations.
In 1935 a 12,000-bushel grain elevator was erected on the north side of Third Street. The grain and feed operation was then moved from the west end of the creamery to that location. Early on May 23, 1946, the 75-foot tall elevator burned to the ground. The loss was estimated at $50,000.00 and included part of the equipment in the basement.
Later that year, plans were made to build a 20,000-bushel elevator on the south side of Second Street. The new elevator was completed in 1948. Alf Borgman was the manager of the elevator and grain operation for 33 years before his retirement in 1960. The capacity was increased to 125,000 bushels with expansions in 1964, 1967 and 1971.
The general offices were moved to the west end of the grain when the creamery closed in 1966.
In 1938 a locker plant for cold storage of meats and other foods was built on the north side of Third Street with 150 rental lockers. As business grew, more lockers were added until there were 1,383.
In 1945 a hatchery was built just west of the locker plant which was operated in conjunction with the Indiana Farm Bureau Cooperative. Cummins purchased the hatchery site in 1961 and the remaining property on the north side of Third Street property in 1965. As part of the negotiations for the 2.54*acre locker plant location, Cummins funded a new locker plant on Vollmer Avenue between Second and Third Streets, which opened in 1966 with Lawrence Wagner as manager.
In 1957, a new brick building was erected in the area south of Second Street for an expanding implement sales operation. Ed Wiley was manager and that department expanded to include building supplies. The building supplies soon needed more space and a new building was opened in 1964.
Manger Robert Fulp of the grain elevator, and been handling the fertilizer program. As procedures and methods changed, farmers were demanding better products and services. A new plant-food department, with Keith Bode as manager, opened a new building, in the complex, in 1965. Three 20,000-gallon liquid fertilizer storage tanks had been installed from 1961 to 1963. A second plant-food building was erected in 1966 and accommodated bulk fertilizers delivered by the railroad. These bulk fertilizers were then custom-blended.
Source, The history of Bartholomew County Volume Two.
The history of Bartholomew County Volumes One and Two, can be ordered at the following link; www.barthist.com/prodserv.html
Copies may also be purchased at;
Bartholomew County Historical Society
524 Third Street Columbus, IN 47201
Phone (812) 372-3541 Fax (812) 372-3113