Your farmer’s cooperative was formed in 1923 by a group of men with an ambitious vision for the future and a lot of hard work. Organized in Gunnison, Utah as a marketing cooperative for surplus eggs in the region, the talents of Albertus Willardson, Benjamin Brown, and Clyde Edmonds merged and were immediately recognized by producers as well as groups like the Utah Farm Bureau, the railroad companies and small town businessmen looking to improve the economy of their community.

With very little capital and a unique business model that was a hybrid of standard practices at the time – including both federated community boards as well as a centralized set of officers who negotiated prices for the whole group – Utah Poultry Producers Association garnered national attention because of its fairly immediate and rare success – overhead was low and income was high giving stability to the fledgling organization.

At about the same time, approximately 10,000 other agricultural cooperatives and bureaus were organized in almost every U.S. state representing each commodity at the end of World War I in accordance with the Capper-Volsted Act, but only a handful have had the longevity of Utah Poultry Producers which eventually became Intermountain Farmers Association.

Growth began during the first year of operation when the founders took a risk and discovered that Los Angeles would be an even more profitable market than Salt Lake City alone. Their first shipment of eggs to the West Coast went by express, which was expensive, but the venture paid off when the eggs brought 18 cents per dozen compared to 10 cents in Salt Lake City. Proving their potential, investors and more employees were brought on board.

On March 5, 1923, egg receiving plants were simultaneously opened in Salt Lake City, Ogden, American Fork and Provo. The general office building was relocated to the McCormick Building in Salt Lake City and the entire staff of the company, including managers, candlers, laborers, truck drivers, clerks, stenos, salesmen and others numbered around 30 people.

By December 27, 1923, the organization had a membership of 500 to 600 producers. During the next 20 years, those numbers skyrocketed to as many as 5,000 members across the state who also purchased feed and poultry supplies from the local branches. Many families benefited from their cash-crop of eggs during turbulent economic times and it was often said that egg checks saved homes, fed families and softened the harsh effects of the Great Depression in many communities.

One of the first priorities of the company was to establish the distinctive “Milk White” trademark and label for high quality products and prestige. Utah’s white egg produced from White Leghorns caught the country’s eye and taste buds and moved to the top in sales. As more Americans began to prefer the white egg over the brown egg, the Association rapidly expanded due to increasing sales from coast to coast with a loyal market in metropolitan New York City.

Not long after the egg venture to Los Angeles, the Association shipped several carloads of turkeys and poultry to market. This produced plenty of headaches, but had considerable success especially when they standardized processing and packaging.

In the following years, production went from 17 carloads of eggs to 2,000 cars boosting production to upwards of $14 million per year in eggs alone. By 1936, a total of 28 plants had been established in strategically located communities, making the complete service of the association easily accessible to all members. Millions of bushels of grain which ordinarily would have been exported were used in Utah markets to feed the increasing number of poultry.

For several decades, Utah Poultry’s Women’s Auxilliary was very instrumental in increasing brand loyalty, improving distribution through local grocery outlets and sharing knowledge of safe handling practices as well as recipes and cooking demonstrations to increase egg consumption. They were very community-minded by supporting youth projects and contests, creating Utah Poultry floats for parades and improving the public image of the Association.

During World War II, the cooperative faced many challenges that included a shortage of labor, supply embargoes, aggressive contracts with the government to send poultry products to feed troops overseas and stiff competition from an increasing number of competitors as other regions of the country much closer to the distant markets entered the poultry business.

From the beginning of the history of the organization, IFA was always a major supporter of 4H, FFA and other student groups and now offered incentives and discounts on feed and supplies through its “Young Producer Program.”

During the post-war years, the association struggled with re-identification and growing pains. Management realized the organization needed to extend its services beyond the poultry market and serve other farmers and producers. The name was changed for a short time to “Utah Poultry & Farmers Cooperative” indicative of new target markets.

At this time, several plants were combined and some were closed. Feed production kicked into high gear as more ingredients and upgraded equipment became available. New products were sold at the branches including tires, batteries, appliances, paint and fencing. Strong-willed men stood shoulder to shoulder to keep the vision of the cooperative going and to maintain the trust of its members.

The chain of command was also changing with the times. The first president, Benjamin Brown only served the first two years before going to New York to manage the sales office. Clyde Edmonds then spent the next 30 years at the helm and was instrumental not only in leading Utah Poultry Producers but many other struggling cooperatives who needed his leadership temporarily. He was a pillar of wisdom to the entire industry and served on many national boards and government committees during his tenure. In 1955, he passed the leadership to his right-hand man, Hyrum M. Blackhurst, who served from 1955-1960.

Mr. Blackhurst had served most of his career as the feed manager and developed a grand vision of the potential of both the Feed and Fertilizer Departments and worked hard to expand their product lines.

In 1960, Mr. C. K. Ferre, another long-time employee, took over the leadership of the association and on February 25, 1961, the name “Utah Poultry & Farmers Cooperative” was changed to “Intermountain Farmers Association.” This new brand represented the merger of several organizations with the co-op like Draper Egg Producers and Draper Poultrymen, Inc.

Mr. John Roghaar became General Manager of IFA in 1965. With extensive experience in the retail grocery market, he immediately began reorganizing and rebuilding the association. Some of the existing branches were either eliminated or consolidated according to their location and profitability.

The egg receiving plants were the first to be closed as well as the poultry and turkey processing plants. The egg marketing business was sold to Olson Eggs from California and many employees were transferred to different stores with new responsibilities.

In Spanish Fork, IFA implemented a “corn for grain” program and installed a corn dryer and storage bins which provided a whole new cash crop opportunity for farmers in the area. Starting in Logan, Mr. Roghaar replaced older stores with newer structures that would have a consistent design. Branches were now selling all types of feed, seeds, fertilizers and expanded farm supplies.

The Draper feed mill and warehouse was expanded and replaced the Salt Lake mill. In March 1967, a fire consumed the Draper buildings. The mill was rebuilt and back in business by the first of the next year and became one of the most modern feed mixing and storing plants in the region, making it possible to furnish uniform feed in any volume. The huge mixing facilities produced custom-mixed feed in a matter of minutes. Feed ingredients were brought to the mill by rail and trucks.

By 1974, IFA had five completely new satellite mills complementing the major mill at the Draper facility. Draper became the center for all bagged feeds and bulk supplements that were distributed through IFA branches as well as large tonnage of bulk feed.

A feed lot was also constructed in Delta which supplied quality feed and experienced supervision for 3,000 head of livestock at a time. During this period, dairies became a very important part of the cooperative. A dairy equipment sales and service program was developed and serviced members in Utah, Idaho, and parts of Nevada with dairy equipment and supplies. These new operations received accolades from the dairy industry and were dubbed the best in the nation.

Several years earlier, Utah Poultry had held ownership in a group called Western Fertilizer Association which owned a phosphate mine in Georgetown, Idaho. When the company was bought out by Central Farmers Fertilizer, IFA had to make the difficult decision of selling its shares or making additional investments. IFA’s Board of Directors approved the investment which at the time seemed risky, but has proven to help IFA expand its fertilizer operations and services to the extent we see today. Other proactive, yet drastic, decisions by the board eventually guided IFA down a path of success and stability and has reached out to more segments of the agricultural market and provided more specialized services.

IFA experienced tremendous growth during the 1970s. An irrigation department was created. Delta added a seed cleaning plant and storage bins to offer farmers the highest quality grain seed possible. Bulk fertilizer blending plants were built in Spanish Fork, Tremonton, Price, Richfield and Cedar City. Bulk fertilizer storage bins were constructed adjacent to several existing branches. Improvements to the retail stores were implemented in almost all of the branches. At this time, IFA adopted new marketing strategies for the retail stores to make them more convenient and attractive for customers. During the remodeling of several branches, bays were added for mounting tires and gas pumps offered competitive prices on fuel.

IFA’s transportation department continued to grow and improve and included 15 diesel tractors and 38 trailers which all displayed the new IFA mountain logo. John Roghaar had great faith in the transportation department and often called it the bloodline of the whole organization.

By 1975, IFA’s product lines were numerous and new product managers were assigned to help the branches effectively stock store shelves with the right quantity of quality products. IFA’s advertising efforts also increased and carried the slogan, “If IFA sells it, you can depend on it.”

In 1978, property was purchased for the new general offices and store location at 1147 West 2100 South in Salt Lake City. All general office operations for the organization were moved to this location and the offices on 1800 South and West Temple were closed and sold.

By 1979, feed manufacturing had become a computerized operation and was capable of providing an up-to-date, daily review of feed ingredient costs. Fourteen bulk fertilizer storage plants were scattered throughout IFA’s service area, and new spreader trucks and carts were purchased to keep up with the farmers’ demand. Farm supply’s inventory was expanded at this time and now included chemicals, a complete line of tillers and mowers, fencing and livestock equipment. The animal health product lines were also expanded and two veterinarians were hired to answer questions and give customers a full range of service and supplies as had been done in the past.

At this time, IFA worked with the Utah Crop Improvement Association to supply farmers with large quantities of certified grains. IFA’s fleet of trucks kept widespread stores supplied with quality seed.

Chemical use by farmers was steadily increasing and as a result, the Environmental Protection Agency implemented many new regulations. IFA provided personnel who were highly trained to assist farmers in the use of these chemicals and to keep our members in compliance with the new safety standards and regulations. Sales of garden chemicals also took a large upswing and all store employees were trained to share expert knowledge of IFA’s product lines.

On December 31, 1979, John Roghaar retired after 15 years of dedicated service to the association. He passed the reins of his successful tenure over to Mr. Robert Turley.

With the advent of a new decade came the beginning of a new era for IFA. Tremendous growth took place under Mr. Turley’s leadership and with an emphasis on sales, IFA’s revenue quadrupled to more than $110 million per year.

By 1984, the number of branches was expanded to 29 and included three new irrigation branches. IFA’s priorities were not only to improve its retail branches but also to provide the emerging technologies and expert services that would help members improve their production.

During the 1980s, IFA purchased 10 farm service centers in Idaho and Oregon which helped IFA develop expertise and confidence in providing fertilizer, seed and crop protection products. Farm supply expanded its inventory to include new clothing lines, farm and home items, and western tack. IFA established relations with outside commodity feed companies to compliment its pet food and feed product lines.

By 1993, the association included 58 operating units and stretched from Ontario, Oregon to Las Vegas; from Yerington, Nevada to Cortez, Colorado; and from Riverton, Wyoming; to Farmington, New Mexico.

August 1995 brought another change in IFA general management when Robert Turley retired and Steven Palmer was named to succeed him as president at the Annual Meeting.

Under Mr. Palmer’s direction, the farm supply division had tremendous growth. The clothing department quickly became the second leading farm supply department in sales per year. The fencing and livestock handling equipment department grew to become the top department in farm supply. Home and garden saw exponential growth in sales. Palmer also moved the advertising department from an outside agency to become an in-house agency.

Difficult decisions soon followed IFA’s tremendous growth during the late 1980s and early 1990s when a downturn in the Idaho potato market caused a major capital drain on the association. Under Mr. Palmer’s direction, the association’s fertilizer plants in Idaho were sold to Cenex Land O’ Lakes, a sister cooperative; the tire shops were closed and the Salina irrigation store was sold. Over the years, the expansions also required scaling back on some earlier ventures like feed lots, seed plants and gasoline.

These changes gave the association the necessary capital to upgrade the fertilizer facilities in Garland, Utah; Yerington and Fallon, Nevada; and Riverton, Wyoming. A feed mill was built in Lewiston, Utah, and existing mills in Cedar City, Delta, Spanish Fork, Richfield, and Draper, Utah, were expanded and improved. Field sales staff were added in both agronomy and feed nutrition to better serve IFA agriculture patrons. The wholesale distribution of products to dealers for resale was expanded and consignment operations were eliminated.

IFA’s increased involvement in the equine market led to more support of hobby farmers in general throughout the Intermountain West in both rural and highly-populated communities. To provide better service to dairy farmers, IFA’s trained nutritionists became full-time staffers and provide unparalleled service.

From the beginning of the history of the organization, IFA was always a major supporter of 4H, FFA and other student groups and now offered incentives and discounts on feed and supplies through its “Young Producer Program.”

In 1999, IFA purchased a new fertilizer storage and blending facility in Roosevelt, Utah, to better serve customers in the Uintah Basin. This facility has greatly increased IFA’s fertilizer storage capacity and improved IFA’s service and ability to provide competitive prices and advanced services to patrons in the area.

The IFA retail division broadened its customer base to target home and garden consumers as well as farmers and ranchers. Many of the stores were completely remodeled or rebuilt and were renamed “IFA Country Store” to reflect this broader customer base.

In 2001, a feed commodities office was opened for the purpose of selling truckload quantities of feed commodities to dairies, cattle feeders, and other animal-raising operations. And during the same year, IFA trucking was contracted to an outside carrier, freeing up capital for income-producing ventures elsewhere. Several branches were closed or combined during these years including the Payson store which combined operations with Spanish Fork. The expanded Spanish Fork branch included more retail and agronomy services which allowed the larger farmers and fruit growers in southern Utah County to receive more specialized agronomy service.

For several years, IFA rolled grain at four feed mills throughout central and southern Utah but changed processes after learning of the greater nutritional value in steam-flaked grain. Revolutionary new flaking systems were installed in the new North Region Feed Mill built in Lewiston, Utah in 1995 and dairies in the area that used this flaked corn saw an almost instant increase in milk production.

In 2004, IFA leased the Planters Cottonseed Oil operations in Trenton and Logan, Utah. The feed mill in Trenton added production capabilities with the mill in Lewiston, Utah to expand IFA’s feed services in the north region – not only did corn and mixed feed tonnage increase, but a new mineral-mixing facility began operation.

It wasn’t long before producers in the central and southern region wanted this same quality of feed. IFA began looking at building a new mill in central Utah at about the same time that Moroni Feed Company was developing plans to build a new rail receiving facility south of Nephi, Utah which would be capable of unloading a full unit train of 100 cars of corn in less than 15 hours. IFA’s need for a new mill along with Moroni Feed’s need to receive corn in 100-car trains became the basis for building separate facilities on adjacent pieces of property. In June 2002 the rail car facility was finished and nine months later the new IFA South Region Feed Mill began cooking and flaking corn in the most state-of-the-art grain flaking mill in the Intermountain region. The inspiration for these changes and improvements came from the IFA vision statement that was developed under Mr. Palmer’s leadership: “IFA will become the preeminent agricultural supply company in our chosen markets.”

He passed the reins to Mr. Layne Anderson January 1, 2011 where the focus was to appreciate the past and look forward to the future. New stores were opened in the Spring of 2011 in both Cedar City and Richfield, Utah. The agronomy centers in those two branches remained located at the old addresses. The Agronomy Service Center in Cedar City then became a separate branch which brought focus to both the country store and agronomy business and increased sales and service to the members. More emphasis was also directed to the beef industry in IFA’s market area to help strengthen production capabilities with program developments and service in the field.

In 2012, IFA continued to invest in the future with the purchase of a feed mill in Trenton and the store and fertilizer facility in South Logan that were previously leased and also partnered with Moroni Feed and J.D. Heiskel & Co. to form a new joint venture called Central Utah Grain that owns and operates a 100-car track and unloading facility adjacent to our South Region Feed Mill. These actions brought increased security and stability to the supply of inputs for IFA patrons.

After 90 years, cooperation between officers, employees, board members and patrons has created a history of agriculture excellence to be proud of during good as well as challenging times. Today, IFA is committed to continue supporting one another as we “grow the things we love.”