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Northampton Farm Organizations, 1917 - 1933

1917 - 1933

On August 18, 1917, a delegation of Northampton County Farmers from almost every township, with the exception of Upper Mt. Bethel, Saucon and Williams, met to hear a Pennsylvania State College professor, Ed Hibschman, at the Moorestown Church. He explained the means and advantages of starting a local farm bureau. In partnership with Penn State the farmers unanimously organized the Northampton County Farm Bureau to "assist an extension representative in his work in the county and to aid him in the development of agriculture in all its phases, and such allied industries as may properly come within his provision."

A meeting between the executive committee and county commissioners was held April 8, 1918 to request $1,500 to pay the community's share of the cost of having a county agent. Northampton County provided an appropriation of $1,000. Prior to the end of 1918 Charles W. Klapp was assigned by Penn State as Northampton's first County Agent.

Empowered by the passage of the Capper-Volstead Act of 1922 area farmers organized the Northampton Cooperative Farmers, Inc. in 1923 initially for the purpose of buying supplies, feed, seed potatoes and chemicals, according to a local farmer, Clarence T. Dewalt, who was a prominent advocate of the farm bureau movement in the county and the sate of Pennsylvania.

The concept of a cooperative was to increase the profitability of its members by allowing them to purchase in bulk as a group and thus obtain lower prices. It also allowed the farmers to combine and market their crops through a single entity. As an ancillary benefit, the staff would naturally became a valued asset as a repository of agricultural information and expertise.

The county agent supported the new cooperative. Penn State discontinued their assistance, refusing to have their county agent participate in the cooperative's business. Mr. Klapp was hired as manager of the Northampton Cooperative Farmers, Inc. and established his office in Bethlehem.

Recognizing the importance of disseminating agricultural knowledge and research, B.L. Coleman was hired after the Pennsylvania State College was petitioned in 1924 to reinstall a new county agent. Under the agreement the membership of the Northampton County Farm Bureau continued to sponsor and support the agricultural extension.

Records from the seven year period from 1924 until 1931 are incomplete. It is known that in 1930 Northampton Cooperative Farmers, Inc. became affiliated with the Farm Bureau Insurance Company and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau was re-activated. Also, prior to 1931 Mr. Klapp resigned his position and their offices were moved to Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

The Northampton County Farm Bureau obtained a corporate charter on February 29, 1932. Clarence T. Dewalt was elected president at its first annual meeting on January 11, 1933. The Board of Directors voted to "affiliate with the State and National Farm Bureau." The Northampton County Farm Bureau, Inc. chose Clarence T. Dewalt and John I. Rinker as representatives to the state Farm Bureau organization. At the April 3, 1933 directors meeting it was decided the Ohio Farm Bureau Automobile Insurance Company would be provided space in their offices.

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