Extension, Enterprise, and Education: The Legacy of Co-operatives and Cooperation in Utah: Utah Cooperative Association
Utah Cooperative Association
The State Self-Help Co-operative Board helped pave the way for organizing the Utah Co-operative Association in 1936.
To centralize the existing system of Self-Help Co-operatives, the Self-Help Board created the Utah Co-operative Association (UCA) by merging in August 1936 the Consumers' Co-operative Association and the Farm Bureau Supply Co-operative. The UCA helped market farm produce, buy farm supplies, and assist farm families with persistent credit problems made worse by the Great Depression.
While for its first five years UCA was financially unstable, its fortunes improved after 1942 when it separated from the Self Help Co-operative Board and affiliated with the National Co-operatives, Inc. UCA began supplying farmers with barbed wire, paint, and milking machines. In 1945, it increased its buying power by purchasing its own warehouse and then affiliating with the Co-operative League of the United States of America.
In the early 1950s, the National Farmers Union invested substantially in UCA enabling it to expand by acquiring the Kelly-Western Seed Company and an oil refinery in the Uintah Basin. In 1976, UCA merged with the western regional Farmer's Union Central Exchange (CENEX) which brought even greater buying power to its store affiliates, but also ended a chapter in the history of co-operatives in Utah.
W. B. Robins' interivew discusses the changes coming to Utah farmers as those with shares in the UCA voted in support of the merger with CENEX. He explained that farmers' buying power would increase and their ability to sell would improve. This merger brought an end to individual farmers working to support the UCA and became farmers participating in a business.
Utah Co-operative Association Minutes, History and Articles of Incorporation