For more than 140 years, the Grange has been a leader in the fight to bring prosperity and opportunity to farmers and rural Americans. Born in the aftermath of the Civil War, where nearly one in eight Americans were killed, wounded or left homeless from the effects of the great conflict, there was no active, representative civil government for the former Confederate states.
This triggered large migrations of people seeking a new start, from both the north and south, toward the previously sparsely settled territories in the Midwest, the plains and the pacific coast. Large and powerful new corporations (using loopholes in state laws to reorganize themselves as “trusts”) captured nearly complete legal control over the application and distribution of products and services arising from new technologies, such as railroads, telegraph, oil refining, and steel production. Protests against the economic power of these monopolies would be the catalyst for civil uprisings all over the nation, and most importantly the creation of the Grange and “Granger Laws.” These laws and court appeals would set the cornerstones of corporate citizenship that are still used today.
Just as the issues for rural Americans have changed, we too at the National Grange have evolved to meet those needs. Today our issues range from protecting the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers through the most efficient agriculture legislation and regulation, to advocating for the build-out of affordable access to high-speed broadband in rural areas. We realize the importance of affordable, sustainable health care as well as making sure rural schools can provide the same quality education as urban districts, and work towards the delivery of those systems.
Opportunities to Impact Federal Legislation
The National Grange Legislative Department annually hosts a two-day fly-in at which any member who attends receives information on some of the most current issues of interest to the organization and visits their Congressional representatives to advocate for rural America and agriculture. In 2013, the 23 Fly-In attendees heard from Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) on the movement of the 2013 Farm Bill and were present when a representative from RAM received the first William Saunders Award for Rural Awareness. More than 40 scheduled Hill meetings between members and their Senators or Representatives allowed attendees to talk about issues such as the Farm Bill, rural broadband and health access, the LifeLine program, the second Amendment, and state or regional issues of interest.