100 years is a long time. More than 36,500 days long to be exact. So, to say a copious amount of history can be crammed into that time is a huge understatement.

Laura Nelson, an agricultural journalist, found that out herself when she embarked on a task to compile the history of Montana Farm Bureau in a commemorative centennial book. A book that details the values, principles and purpose of Montana Farm Bureau.

Nelson spent an incredible amount of time delving through old newspapers and records at the Montana Historical Society and local history museums, poring over past Montana Farm Bureau publications, visiting farms and ranches and talking to an incredible array of Farm Bureau leaders.

“From the beginning, Farm Bureau leaders were people who believed in empowerment through education, vitality in their rural communities and finding a unified voice through the democratic process,” Nelson said. “Those values still ring true today, I think that’s why the Farm Bureau is still going strong 101 years later.”

Nelson’s book titled Legacies is primarily a history book, and there is much to tell in the 100 years of Montana Farm Bureau, Montana state and general agricultural history.

“The fascinating thing about studying history is that we can use it to help make sense of who we are today and where we might go in the future,” Nelson said. “As I researched and wrote these stories, I found comfort and inspiration in the seeing the struggles and successes of farmers and ranchers who came before us. It made me excited for the next generation of agricultural leaders who are making history right now.”

The book explores the values, principle and purpose of the Montana Farm Bureau through its historic and present farming and ranching leaders. These stories bounce from past to the present as Nelson weaves modern-day interviews linking to Farm Bureau leaders of the past.

In an interview with Northern Ag Network, Nelson reminisced about Montana Farm Bureau forming during World War One, an intense drought burdening homesteaders and the Spanish flu pandemic. Nelson recognized history’s trait of repeating itself and said “the resilience of the human spirit is something to be admired.” Nelson also noted “we may not be facing the exact same challenges this year, but similar ones before.”

The 218 page hardback book filled with stories, photos, sidebars and quotes from past, present and future agriculturalists is available for purchase from Montana Farm Bureau.

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Montana Farm Bureau

Northern Ag Network – 2020

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