For 100 years, Intermountain Farmers Association (IFA) has supported the region’s farmers, ranchers, growers and producers by dedicating ourselves to helping people grow the things they love.

Folks familiar with IFA will likely know us as a thriving farm and ranch cooperative with three key divisions: feed and nutrition, agronomy, and farm supply. Together, these three divisions constitute a modern network of resources, products, and services that are unique in the industry. But as sophisticated as IFA has become, 100 years ago, it was a simple idea amongst a small group of poultry farmers in the little town of Gunnison, Utah…

Coming Together to Help Local Farmers

In 1923, a group of small businessmen in Central Utah formed the Utah Poultry Producers Co-op Association (UPPCA) as a marketing cooperative for surplus eggs in the region to improve the economy in their community. By joining together, co-op members benefited from increased purchasing power, lower costs, and united marketing efforts.

In March of 1923, egg receiving plants were opened in Salt Lake City, Ogden, American Fork, and Provo, and by December that same year, co-op membership had grown to nearly 600 producers.

Eggs Head West and a Cooperative Grows

Growth began during the first year of operation when the founders took a risk and discovered that Los Angeles was even more profitable than Utah markets. The 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.

During the coming years, membership in the co-op grew as the business expanded into poultry feed and supplies. As the Great Depression washed across the country, many Utah families benefited from the co-op and their cash-crop of eggs, and it was often said that egg checks fed families and saved homes.

Marketing Eggs Coast-to-Coast

From the onset, one of the priorities of the co-op was to market the white eggs produced by Utah’s White Leghorn chickens as prestigious and of the highest quality. The distinctive “Milk White” trademark and label was created – catching the country’s eye – and soon the Milk White label was popular from coast-to-coast with a particularly loyal market in New York City.

Around this same time, the co-op experimented with shipping carloads of turkeys and poultry to market. This produced plenty of headaches initially, but had considerable success after processing and packaging issues were solved. These solutions would prove critical to survival in the coming decades, and especially during the demanding years of World War II, when new challenges arose such as labor shortages, supply embargoes, and shipping to troops overseas.

Growing to Grow Local Growers

After the war, the association struggled with its identity – and with new growing pains. Management realized the need to extend its services beyond the poultry market, and thus, the co-op’s name was changed to “Utah Poultry and Farmers Cooperative” – to reflect its product and service offerings to cattlemen and other livestock producers.

The next 15 years would see even more change as co-op branches began to sell products like home goods, fencing, hardware and auto parts. Feed production kicked into high gear as more ingredients and upgraded equipment became available. There were mergers with organizations such as the Draper Egg Producers and the Draper Poultrymen. The cooperative got into the fertilizer business. And then, in 1961, another name change…

The IFA Seeds Are Sown

On February 25th, 1961, the co-op became Intermountain Farmers Association (IFA). This change led to extensive reorganization and rebuilding: All egg receiving plants and poultry processing plants were closed, and – to the surprise of many – the egg marketing business was sold. Older stores were rebuilt and began selling all types of feed, seed, fertilizers, and an ever-expanding inventory of farm supplies.

In Spanish Fork, the new IFA implemented a “corn for grain” program and installed a corn dryer and storage bins which provided a new income opportunity for farmers in the area. And in Draper – after a fire swept through the old feed mill – a new mill was built, and became the most modern feed mixing and storage plant in the region.

Improving Capabilities and Service

By the mid-70’s, IFA had five new mills complementing the larger Draper Mill, and dairy’s had become an important part of the business. In fact, a dairy equipment sales and service program was developed that would soon become one of the best in the nation.

By 1979, IFA had computerized its feed manufacturing operations – allowing for up-to-date, daily reviews of feed ingredient costs. Around this same time, IFA made further investments in its fertilizer business, leading to expansions such as bulk blending plants, advanced spreader equipment, and larger storage bins.

Experts in the Agricultural Industry

In the mid-80’s, IFA began placing a greater emphasis on emerging technologies in crop advising, feed nutrition, and veterinary services to help members improve production. And, once again, it expanded its feed and nutrition division by building a brand new mill in Lewiston, Utah.

The 90’s saw tremendous growth in IFA’s Farm Supply Division, with sales of clothing, fencing, livestock handling equipment, equine products, and home and garden items climbing year after year. Sales were so strong that most retail stores were completely remodeled and renamed “IFA Country Store.” Meanwhile, IFA’s Agronomy and Feed Divisions were growing just as aggressively – leading IFA to add field sales agents and nutritionists to its staff.

Stepping Up Technology and Product Offerings

As a new century dawned, all three of IFA’s divisions continued to evolve and grow. Spreader and sprayer technology evolved dramatically from a truck and guesswork to autosteer and GPS precision. Innovative new lines of equine feed products were created. The retail stores began offering more lines of workwear and western clothing, footwear, and accessories. And the fertilizer business saw incredible growth with the development of the new IFA 4-Step Lawn Fertilizer program directed at homeowners.

[Read how the IFA 4Plus lawn care program – blended specifically for soils in the Intermountain West – are still the very best lawn fertilizers in our area today.]

Helping You Grow Today and Into the Future

Over the course of the past 100 years, IFA has been fortunate enough to evolve at key moments that in turn have enabled growth, stability, and the empowerment of co-op members and their communities. Moving forward, we seek to continue this path – to support both the business and lifestyle of local agriculture. Of course, we don’t know what the next 100 years may hold, but one thing we do know is that we’ll spend it being dedicated to Helping People Grow The Things They Love.