years following World War II have been associated with improved living
standards throughout the United States. According to historians, in 1947
a housing crisis became a national concern. On a more positive note,
"Howdy Doody" premiered on NBC in December 1947 and by 1950,
nine percent of the homes in the U.S. had television sets.
of the past four Sentinel articles have focused upon FFA
activities from the 1930s to the war years of 1940-45. The lifestyle of
most rural Americans changed dramatically during the years of 1946-50,
because of indoor plumbing, electricity provided through electric
cooperatives and improved medical care. The 1940-41 school year, per the
June 1941 Alabama Future Farmer, listed the Alabama FFA
Association with 5,837 members in 202 chapters. The 1949-50 school year
had 11,897 members in 250 chapters said the June-July 1950 Alabama
Future Farmer. A 49 percent increase in membership and an increase
of 48 chapters during this same nine-year period. Not only were American
lifestyles improving, so was the FFA and FFA membership.
boost in membership evidently caused a problem for Alabama cattle
producers for calves for the "fat stock shows" to be held in
the spring of 1946. Three carloads of steers were shipped from Texas to
help meet the demand for calves, said the November 1945 Alabama
Future Farmer. Calves shown were primarily Angus, Hereford/Polled
Hereford and Shorthorn. Chapters reporting members showing calves was
astounding. The chapters reporting the most members showing were Elba
with 26 members showing 42 calves, Paint Rock Valley with 19 calves,
Sidney Lanier with 16 calves and Collinsville with 21 members showing 31
Birmingham Fat Stock Show was presenting special awards for the top
three carcass grades consisting of prime, choice and good at its spring
1946 show. Joe Farquhor, president of the Livingston Chapter, had
champion steer at the Demopolis Fat Stock Show. At the Montgomery Fat
Stock Show, Sidney Lanier members won seven of the nine classes. At this
time, the Sidney Lanier chapter was only three years old.
FFA members discovered there was not enough corn produced at their
family farms to sufficiently feed their calves. Under the guidance of
their adviser E.P. Gieger, the members decided to corporately purchase
600 bushels of yellow corn at $1.70 per bushel, reported Donald Kelly,
1946 Elba Chapter Reporter, in the April 1946 Alabama Future Farmer.
members were profit makers on their steer projects according to the June
1946 Alabama Future Farmer. Members received $7,385.41 for their
calves. The total cost of calves and feed was $4,402.89. This left a net
income of $2,982.52. Collinsville calves also placed second in the
county group benefiting the chapter $25. Total prize money received by
Collinsville FFA members was $181.
were nine district or area "fat stock shows" throughout the
state. Dates ranged from late March to early May. The host cities
included Grove Hill, Demopolis, Montgomery, Selma, Dothan, Gadsden,
Mobile, Decatur and Birmingham.
State Star Farmer began in 1946. Joe Minter of the Camp Hill Chapter
(Tallapoosa County) was the winner of the first Star Farmer. He was one
of 147 state degree recipients. Minter’s supervised agricultural
experience project was dairy production. He averaged a profit of $200
per month selling milk. Not bad for a high school FFA member considering
in today’s currency it would be equal to $1,549 per month.
evidently, played an important part in supporting the Alabama Future
Farmer. Swift and Company of Chicago and Portland Cement Association
of Birmingham advertised in every issue. The Progressive Farmer
magazine occasionally advertised.
and Company had "small" articles within its two pages of
included animal nutrition, health and selection, pasture improvement,
weed control, agriculturally related economic information and recipes.
the February 1948 Alabama Future Farmer, Swift and Company
ad detailed how the company’s dollar was divided. Out of each dollar
79.3 cents went to producers, 9.7 cents to employees, 3.8 cents for
supplies, 1.8 cents for transportation, 1.3 cents for taxes, 3.1 cents
for other expenses (employee benefits, research, insurance, advertising,
postage, telephone, etc.) and 1 cent as earnings. According to the ad,
approximately $30 billion was received by ranchers and farmers for their
agricultural products, which was a record high year for agricultural
sales. Out of that amount, $1,782,472,718 went to producers from Swift
and Company in payment for the products sold to the company.
Cement Association, as expected, advertised the effects of concrete
usage around the farm. Ads encouraged the use of concrete to "build
farm improvements which will save labor and increase profits."
Barns and feeding floors, walks and runways, foundations, watering
troughs, septic tanks, well platforms and manure pits were just a few of
the suggested improvements that would increase profits and give "a
lifetime of service with little expense for upkeep," said the
December 1947 Alabama Future Farmer.
1948-49 school year saw an increase in advertisements for the Alabama
Future Farmer from other companies like Alabama Power,
Standard Oil Company, American Turpentine Association, Dixie Canner
Company, Ball Brothers Company and the L.G. Balfour Company. Each
company echoed its products and services.
Service has always been a part of the FFA. Many readers can remember the
community canning plants. Most counties had at least one and several had
two canning facilities. Clay County had three. Vegetable growers and
gardeners could take their produce to the canning centers where it was
processed and canned, which was an alternative to the home canning
practices. Most often, but not always, the local vocational agriculture
teacher was the person in charge of the canning centers. Local FFA
members assisted from time to time.
FFA membership for Alabama in 1948-49 was 10,527, which ranked the state
seventh nationally. The Northport Chapter (Tuscaloosa County) had 128
members. There were 223 chapters by this time. Membership ranked from
Northport’s 128 members to Kennedy’s (Lamar County) 10 members said
the August-September 1949 Alabama Future Farmer.
1949-50 school year saw the implementation of a swine improvement
program commonly known in FFA and state agricultural circles as the
Sears Pig Chain, then commonly referred to as the Sears Roebuck
(Foundation) Pig Chain. (The Sears FFA bull program had been established
about a year earlier.) Twenty-five registered bred gilts were placed in
selected chapters throughout the state.
to the October-November 1949 Alabama Future Farmer, the pig
program worked as follows. A Chapter received a bred gilt. When her pigs
had been weaned, the males were sold or disposed of as the chapter
desired. The gilts were to be placed with deserving boys (FFA was for
boys only from 1928 until 1969) in the local Chapter. (Some chapters
kept all the gilts.) The gilts were to be grown out as breeding stock,
as directed by the Chapter. When these gilts reached six to eight
months-of-age, the local Chapter was to hold a local show. At this show,
the two top exhibitors were selected to enter the area show.
the boys attended the local and area shows, the gilts were to be bred as
directed by the Chapter and when the gilts farrowed each boy was to
return to his Chapter one choice pig, as selected by the Chapter. He
then had completed his obligation and would have paid for the pig placed
with him by the local Chapter.
gilt returned to the Chapter could be given to another boy or kept by
the Chapter. The original gilt was to be bred again so as to keep the
chain going and continuing the process. One of the objectives of this
program was to eventually provide local swine producers with better
were 10 bulls in the Sears Bull Chain Show in 1948-49. The show was held
during the State Fair at Birmingham. The Five Points Chapter (Chambers
County) had the champion bull, which happened to be a Horned Hereford.
The Sears gilt and bull programs still exist.
saw color introduced in the Alabama Future Farmer Magazine, as
well as "slick paper," like what most magazines use today.
Twenty-six more chapters were added to the state making a total of 250
our country, states and local communities were growing economically, so
was our population with the millions of Baby Boomers. Because of
improved living conditions and prosperity brought about by better
technology and farming practices, the FFA was a benefactor as evident by
the written record. The FFA was on a course for continued growth and
time we’ll reminisce about the years of 1951-55.