Date of Award

12-2018

Degree Type

Report

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

History

First Advisor

Rebecca Andersen

Second Advisor

Norman Jones

Third Advisor

Robert Parson

Abstract

Agricultural historians have long grappled with the causes leading to the dissolution of the farming community and their disassociation with their lands. Cooperatives were key to maintaining this relationship. The cooperative economic model sustained farmers to shape, negotiate and create a place for themselves in the 20th century agrarian landscape. Long time agricultural leaders like W.B. Robins worked to bolster cooperative ideologies and prevent integration into large scale American agribusiness between 1940 and 1970.

This plan B paper examines a series of failed mergers that Robins had intended to thwart the decline of the Utah Cooperative Association (UCA). W.B. Robins’s career as General Manager of the UCA provides a lens to examine why the cooperative mergers failed and their context to the larger decline of the Utah cooperative movement. Examining why the mergers failed sets the foundation for answering the following questions. First, what economic conditions existed that made the mergers necessary? Second, what political ideologies were exposed between competing capitalist and socialist farm organizations. Lastly, what part did religious influence of Mormon ideologies play to threaten the continuity of cooperatives and Utah agriculture as a whole? In answering these questions, this paper makes two important contributions. It updates and explains the local history of farmer cooperatives in Utah after 1940, and builds on the work of historians Hal S. Barron and Keilor Stevens, by exploring the era when Utah agriculturalists resisted and accommodated market changes.

To uncover the merger history of the UCA and its manager W.B. Robins I marry archival and secondary sources together to illustrates the history of farmer co-operatives throughout Utah and the movement’s longstanding connection with Utah State University.

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