United Farmers of Ontario

United Farmers of Ontario, a farmers' educational, social and political organization formed Mar 1914 in Toronto. The UFO united several small Ontario co-operatives, the Grange and the Farmers' Association. Immediately after the founding of the UFO, the same farmers organized a "twin" company, the United Farmers' Co-operative, to buy supplies and sell produce for Ontario farmers. The UFO grew slowly until late in WWI, when labour shortages, inflated costs and a general dissatisfaction with existing political parties led to a rapid growth in membership. Auxiliary organizations, the United Farm Women and the United Farm Young People, helped to mobilize rural areas.

In 1919, with over 50,000 members, the UFO entered politics and won a plurality in the provincial election. E.C. DRURY, a Barrie farmer and longtime rural leader, was chosen premier. The UFO-labour coalition formed an honest and efficient, if unimaginative, administration that significantly improved rural education, transportation and hydroelectric services. After its defeat in 1923 the UFO declined steadily. Maintaining the enthusiasms of the early period proved difficult; many effective farm leaders were drawn to work with the United Farmers' Co-operative, and the destruction of the federal PROGRESSIVE PARTY was disheartening. During the 1930s, under the idealistic leadership of Agnes MACPHAIL, H.H. HANNAM and Leonard Harman, the UFO organized folk schools and supported the Farmer's Sun and the Rural Co-operator, and promoted orderly marketing. It briefly supported the CO-OPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH FEDERATION. In 1944 the UFO joined with other farm groups to form the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. In 1948 the United Farmers' Co-operative became the United Co-operatives of Ontario, today it is one of the largest farmer-owned companies in Canada.