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The history of American Farmers & Ranchers is rich with culture and growth and began with the membership services organization Oklahoma Farmers Union. The longevity of this company reflects the strength that has remained within the organization since its beginning. Going back to its early roots, the organization membership was involved in debating the statehood of Oklahoma and taking part in writing the Oklahoma State Constitution. Its members were a persuasive part in the passage of the bill creating the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, and one of the early Farmers Union Vice Presidents, J.P. Conners, served as the very first President of the Board of Agriculture. Over the years American Farmers & Ranchers has been a leader in cooperative development, legislative and education programs.
The Oklahoma Farmers Union Mutual Fire and Lightning Insurance Company was formed in 1919. The company's intent at that time was to serve rural areas in covering farm buildings, household goods, farm implements, farm products and livestock. A tornado clause and a death benefit were added at a later date.
Z.H. "Zed" Lawter, a Custer County Farmers Union member and a neighbor of Oklahoma Farmers Union President, John Simpson, moved to Oklahoma City to take charge of the newly formed insurance company. Lawter was required to find 1,000 members who would apply for a policy before OFU could be chartered. None of these policies could be less than $500. With 284 policyholders, the company began in January of 1922.
In the beginning years, the local agents or membership organization secretaries would sell the insurance policy, adjust a claim and often complete the repairs on the loss. As the insurance business began to grow, the headquarters were moved from rural Custer County to Oklahoma City. By 1924, fifty percent of the members participated in the insurance company. In 1935, the insurance department reported a count of over 13,000 policyholders.
In 1938, the Hail-Crop Insurance Department was created as was the Union Mutual Insurance Company, which insured churches, schoolhouses, community halls and lodges. The company began writing automobile insurance in 1945 with the Farmers Union Automobile and Casualty Company, a national mutual company operated as a cooperative by the National Farmers Union. OFU began the Union Casualty Company and wrote its own automobile insurance separate from the National Farmers Union Automobile and Casualty Company in 1959. During this time, a new property company began and an interest was acquired in the Farmers and Ranchers Life Insurance Company.
Throughout the years, the company saw significant growth. Many of the agents and officers in the company are multi-generational which has resulted in customer loyalties and trust in the organization. The company celebrated its centennial in 2005 and continues to make a mark on state and national government. The company expanded outside the state of Oklahoma by acquiring a property insurance company in Idaho known as Twin Falls Mutual. At that time the name was changed to American Farmers & Ranchers Mutual.
American Farmers & Ranchers is recognized as a leading domestic insurance carrier in the state of Oklahoma.
Membership activities are conducted in both the AFR and OFU names with insurance one of many membership benefit services. Dues paid to AFR also include membership in not only Oklahoma Farmers Union but the affiliated National Farmers Union and the local and county AFR/OFU organizations.