United Farmers of Alberta

The United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) was founded in 1909. This organization advocated for rural co-operatives and for the needs and interests of farmers in Alberta (see Co-Operative Movement). The UFA became involved in politics and was provincially elected from 1921 to 1935. By 1939, the UFA ended its political activities, but it continued to support provincial farmers.

The United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) was founded in 1909. This organization advocated for rural co-operatives and for the needs and interests of farmers in Alberta (see Co-Operative Movement). The UFA became involved in politics and was provincially elected from 1921 to 1935. By 1939, the UFA ended its political activities, but it continued to support provincial farmers.


UFA Board of Directors

Foundation

The United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) was a farmers' organization. It was established in January 1909 in Edmonton as an amalgamation of the Canadian Society of Equity and the Alberta Farmers' Association. The UFA was interested in rural economic, social and political issues. In 1913 it prompted the provincial Liberal government to organize the Alberta Farmers' Co-operative Elevator Co., which in 1917 joined with the Grain Growers' Grain Co. to form the United Grain Growers. (See also Co-Operative Movement.)

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In 1915, a Women’s Auxiliary of the UFA was formed. By 1916, members of the Women’s Auxiliary organized a separate organization named the United Farm Women of Alberta (UFWA). The UFWA energetically campaigned for women’s suffrage (gained in Alberta in 1916) and struggled to secure better education and health services in rural Alberta.

Irene Parlby became the president of the UFWA in 1916 (see Irene Parlby and the United Farmers of Alberta).


Politics

In 1916 the Non-Partisan League came to the province and encouraged direct political action by farmers. Close ties developed between the league and the UFA, which entered politics amid postwar unrest. The UFA was provincially elected in 1921 and remained in office until 1935. It formed a cautious, pragmatic government which advanced educational and health services and tried to meet the financial and marketing needs of farmers, but it did not cope well with the Great Depression .

The most powerful early force in the UFA was Henry Wise Wood, a charismatic farmer of Carstairs, Alberta. He supported group government, but refused to lead the UFA when it was elected in 1921. Alberta’s first UFA premier was Herbert Greenfield (1921-25), followed by John Edward Brownlee (1925-34) and Richard Gavin Reid. Reid held office until the 1935 provincial victory of the Social Credit political party. After 1935 the UFA avoided direct political involvement and by 1939 ended its political functions.

UFA Board of Directors with President Robert Gardiner, c. 1944.

After ceasing its political activities, the UFA continued to provide supplies to members through local co-operatives. In 1948 it became the United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative Ltd, one of the strongest farmer-owned organizations in Alberta.