The Farmers Improvement Society was founded in hopes of abolishing the share-cropping and credit system that ensnared poor farmers. The society wanted to encourage home and farm ownership, promote crop diversification and improve farming methods, help with health benefits, and encourage networking among other business leaders.
The Society was founded in 1890 by Robert Lloyd Smith. The organization was established as a farmers’ association for African Americans.
By 1898, the society has over 1,500 members and had eighty-six locations including branches in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. In addition to the cooperative business, it established the Farmers’ Improvement Agricultural College at Wolfe City in 1906 and, to implement the overall program, the Farmers’ Bank at Waco in 1911.
In 1912 the membership owned 75,000 acres of land which was had a value of over a million dollars. The society often sponsored agricultural fairs to demonstrate the effectiveness of its programs.
By 1920, the society was declining but for twenty years, it helped elevate business leaders reach the next level in their career.