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It was not until the depression that co-operative associations, as we know them, were organized in Rhineland. Hard hit by low prices, crop failures and impending foreclosures, farmers began to examine ways of improving their economic situation. In January of 1931 a small group of men met in Altona to see what could be done locally to alleviate the community crisis. This group, including farmers, businessmen and teachers, concluded that some sort of mutual aid or community action was necessary. Towards this end, another meeting was called to deter­ mine a specific course of action.

This second meeting was held a few days later and was attended by twelve persons representing both farmers and town residents. At this meeting it was agreed that efforts should be made to improve the agricultural situation. It was decided that an agricultural society be organized to study the farmers' problems in the district and work toward a solution. Out of this proposal emerged the Rhineland Agricultural Society (RAS). Its first meeting was held January 17, 1931 in Altona, and attracted twenty-three people from the Gretna, Halbstadt, Horn­ dean, Plum Coulee, Rosenfeld and Lowe Farm areas."

Headed by Jacob G. Neufeld (president), Jacob 1. Siemens (vice­ president) and Peter D. Reimer (secretary-treasurer), the RAS took immediate steps to alleviate the economic plight of area farmers. Convinced that the one crop economy had undermined agriculture in the area, society members believed that diversification would relieve the impact of the depression; mixed farming would not leave the farmer as vulnerable in the event of crop failure or low prices, and crop rotation would improve the land. To this end the Agricultural Society requested

Sweet Clover Stacks near Gretna - 1931. Sweet clover mixed with oats was a common cattle feed in the 1930's.

Credit: PAM