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In the Beginning

During the winter of 1920 interested farmers from all over the county met in several different locations to discuss the organizing of a Cook County Farm Bureau. Meetings were held at Arlington Heights, Des Plaines and Blue Island. Later in the year another meeting was held to officially launch the Cook County Farm Bureau and elect a Board of Directors. Mr. H.A. Dooley was elected President; Gust Termunde, Vice President; Louis Wetterman, Secretary; George Henke, Treasurer; and Adam Schilling, G. Ruff, Frank Dickman, Herman Schwake, and Dan C. Gilly made up the rest of the Board of Directors.

These are the farmers that met in a Chicago hotel room and decided to proceed with the organizing of a Farm Bureau in Cook County. Left to Right, front row sitting: Sam Powers, A.A. Fulton, Fred Hamann, Second Row: Louis Wetterman, Adam Schilling, Arnold Huber, H.A. Dooley, J. D. Bilsborrow, Fred Schroeder, George Henke, and Fred Bachman. Third row: Herman Schwake, Gust Termunde, W.E. Meier, Dan Gilly, John Welinske, Harvey Adair, (man unidentified), Dave Thompson, H.L. Bingham, Ezra McClaughry, Hugh Breyfogle, Edward Fogge, Albert Heine.

Over the next 85 plus years, the organization grew in terms of members, programming, and influence. Office hours and several different buildings have been established over the years in Arlington Heights, Blue Island, Lemont, Rolling Meadows, Tinley Park, and Countryside.


Key Activities


  • Efforts to improve conditions of Blue Island Market
  • Established two vegetable experimental stations


  • Efforts made to support local vegetable producers


  • Cooperative marketing of iced sweet corn of local growers and promotion of local onion set industry


  • Opposed extension of Chicago Sanitary District
  • Studied Farm Draft deferment


  • Formed a Grain Marketing Cooperative
  • Promote a "Give Meat for Christmas" program
  • Held Roadside Stand Marketing Conference


  • Assists members in obtaining property tax refunds
  • Helped form group which became "Food For Thought" Committee to promote agriculture on urban radio
  • Worked with other Farm Bureau's to promote agriculture at Chicago Flower Show


  • Worked with County Assessor to establish a fair assessment level for Cook County Agricultural land
  • Developed programs to provide services for local roadside marketers
  • Established an Ag in the Classroom program to teach students about agriculture


  • Worked with Illinois Farm Bureau and rural County Farm Bureau's to help enhance finances
  • Strengthen classroom agricultural education through presentations and meat, dairy, fresh vegetable grants


  • Developed stronger working relations with area legislators making up two-thirds of state General Assembly
  • Expanded Ag Literacy efforts to reach in excess of 20,000 students annually
  • Improved communications efforts to members and the general public through development of a website, enhanced Cooperator, and public relations activities


  • Developed working relationships with County Elected Leaders and officials.
  • Entered into the world of social media to expand the Public Relations reach of the organization for members and the general public.
  • Enhanced marketing of local specialty growers through a variety of programs that helped connect producers with consumers.
  • Expanded Ag Literacy efforts with 4th grade in-school field trips and teacher training focus.

Membership Milestones

  • 1920: 1,689
  • 1930: 826
  • 1940: 2,124
  • 1950: 4,877
  • 1960: 6,253
  • 1970: 7,399
  • 1980: 16,850
  • 1990: 27,808
  • 2000: 27,670
  • 2010: 47,236