Visionary leadership, for nurturing the cooperative movement, belief in the power of group action, and lifelong dedication to promote the interests of farmers as a cooperative founder
In 1908, William Hirth published the first issue of The Missouri Farmer and Breeder. He used his editorial platform to call for the formation of farm clubs. Starting with the first club formed in 1914 in Chariton County, Hirth served as a clearinghouse for clubs, collecting group orders and submitting them en masse to manufacturers for tremendous discounts. He also encouraged farmers to market their grain and livestock cooperatively.
It was the beginning of the Missouri Farmers Association. In less than three years, MFA had nearly 50,000 members who staged a feat of organization that has never been equaled before or since. As the founder of MFA Incorporated and as its first president, from 1914 until his death in 1940, Hirth guided MFA from meager beginnings to become the largest cooperative business in the Midwest.