The organization took root as homesteaders arrived and farmers and ranchers discovered the necessity of getting together in one common cause. It was believed that the desire for a profitable market for the products of the farm or ranch could best be accomplished by real cooperation.
The first inquiry about starting a Farmers Union organization in Montana was in the eastern part of the state, but it was across the state in Ronan in 1912 that the first Farmers Union local started. After locals were set up, county organizations followed. Once a threshold of members was reached, Montana organized a state organization and held its first convention in Great Falls in 1916. There were delegates from 37 locals representing nine counties..
In those first organizational years, Farmers Union members addressed their challenges and built security through an integrated program of education, legislation and cooperative business institutions. As the organization expanded around the state, slowly a definite pattern developed whereby local ideas and local needs were channeled through county organizations to the state organization. It was from all the local and county ideas, discussions, debates, agreements and resolutions that the state organization developed its annual program. That still remains the practice today – making the Montana Farmers Union a true grassroots organization. The year 1934 is noted as being a year of change, with steady growth and at 18 ½ years old, MFU matured as an organization. Structure began to take on a more settled form and patterns were developed that were used from that time on.
The triangle: the symbol of the organization. To begin the work of education or legislation or cooperation, there first had to be the organization itself. It was the organizational work that was the cement that bound the sides of the triangle together. At that time, the Farmers Union local formed the base of the total Farmers Union and were the most significant part of the organization. From the local came the ideas, the suggestions and the will to build the organization.