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Celebrating ADGA's Centennial

The Founders of ADGA

The American Milch Goat Record Association (A.M.G.R.A.) - From War to War

The Tenth Cross Wars: How "pure" is pure?



What was happening in the world, and particularly in the United States, in 1904, early in a brand new century? What sort of people and society felt the need to begin the recognition and promotion of dairy goats?

In 1904, the U.S. population was only 82 million. Theodore Roosevelt was elected President of the United States and children of that time received their first “Teddy Bears” (their creation followed a political cartoon of “Teddy” with a bear). Construction began on the Panama Canal and the New York Subway opened for business. Cary Grant, Count Basie, Salvadore Dali, Balanchine, B.F. Skinner and J. Robert Oppenheimer were born. Helen Keller graduated from Radcliffe.

St. Louis, Missouri was host to two of the most memorable events of 1904 – Olympiad III and the biggest ever World’s Fair. In fact, the Fair was so grand that it greatly overshadowed the Olympics. The Agriculture Palace alone, the largest building at this remarkable extravaganza, covered some 23 acres!

While the theme of the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair was the Centennial of the Louisiana Purchase -- the last piece in the formation of a United States of America that reached from Atlantic to the Pacific oceans -- dairy animals and dairy science were a premier attraction and had long-lasting effects on the dairy industry. The milk from a model dairy, 100 elite cows, was processed in full public view, behind a glass wall, into a variety of dairy products (it was here that the first ice cream cones were enjoyed by Americans) that were available for tasting at the end of the processing line. New equipment (power on the farm!) fascinated a steady stream of farmers who were just then beginning the widespread use of windmills. Along with the new separators and sterilizers, a wonderful gift to the dairy industry was demonstrated here. Dr. S. M. Babcock, a chemist of the Wisconsin Experiment Station, had perfected a test for measuring the butterfat content of milk. The Babcock milk tester would be a boon to consumers who had long suffered with adulterated milk; there was now a tool for assessing milk quality.

Indirectly it was this World’s Fair that brought about the first official goat registry. While we all know that goats, both fibre and dairy, had been in the U.S. from the time the first Europeans touched this continent, they were finally recognized in an official livestock show here, at this remarkable agricultural extravaganza, at a time when agricultural technology and the recognition of new breeds of all livestock were “all the rage.”

The show organizers were disappointed, however, in the number of exhibitors. A history of the fair states that:

The milk goats, or milching goats as they were called in 1904, were expecting a large number of entries at the fair. Several goats from Switzerland, Malta, and Washington D.C. were supposed to show at the fair. However, the only recorded milking goat breeders to show in St. Louis was the Cohill family. Their breeds of milking goats included: Angoras, Toggenbergs, and Saanens.

There would have been more goats there had a Mrs. Edward Robey of Chicago been allowed to exhibit her herd of “Anerican” goats. Upon arrival, however, she was informed that only registered animals could be shown. It was clearly time for an American goat registry!

The several histories of ADGA generally note simply that its precursor, The American Milch Goat Record Association (AMGRA) was founded in 1904 by W. A. Shafor of Hamilton, Ohio, who served as its first Secretary-Treasurer. That’s true . . . as far as it goes. A later interview with Mr. Shafor, however, gives a slightly different “twist” on the sequence of events. Though the credit for founding AMGRA is usually given to Mr. Shafor, the real instigator was probably Mr. George Thompson, AMGRA’s first president who was, at that time, the editor for goats and sheep at the U.S. Bureau of Animal Industry (precursor to the present day U.S.D.A). According to Mr. Shafor, this office of AMGRA Secretary was pressed upon him simply because he had imported a few goats for other people “that put in my name at Washington.” He accepted only with the understanding that he was to “go out” at the first meeting in St. Louis in 1904 . . . but something quite different occurred.

“Well,” he says, “when the time came to elect officers, I got up and told them to let me out, and Mrs. Robey, here in Chicago, a milk goat crank, got up and said, ‘You will not only keep the office you have, but you will take mine’ (she was President at the time).”

Mr. Shafor did indeed continue with AMGRA – as Secretary -- and, though unpaid and frustrated that no qualified candidate stepped up to take over the job, stated that “. . . . there have been half a dozen applications for the secretaryship, and every one of them are shysters, and I have learned from the way they write me that they want to register a lot of common American goats and sell them at fancy prices for milk goats, and I do not want to turn it over to that kind of people.” 

Because Mr. Shafor was already Secretary of the Oxford Downs Sheep Association, the earliest dairy goat registrations are entered on the forms of that organization. The rules for registration were not all that different from those we currently use excepting the registration fees (Living animals any age, each 50 cents. Animals not living but necessary to complete a pedigree will be recorded at half price. Transfers of ownership, each 25 cents) and Rule 5 which stated: “A goat of any breed, native or foreign, which gives 2 quarts or more of milk per day when fresh is eligible for registry.”

George Thompson, who served as AMGRA President from 1904 to 1905, died in office. J.C. Darst recalls that since Mrs. Robey and Mr. Shafer were the only attendees at the 1906 meeting, Mr. Shafor elected Mrs. Robey as president and she, in turn, elected him Secretary. Mrs. Robey served from 1905-1906 and also died in office. Mr. Shafor remained as President, Secretary and Treasurer. The incorporation of AMGRA as a non-profit corporation was announced as of May 31, 1905, under the laws of the State of Illinois. It was found necessary at this time to increase the number of Directors to nine (including the President, Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer) as well as to more clearly define their duties.

By 1906 speeding motorcars had caused 15 states to make laws restricting them to 20 miles per hour and in a single month the great San Francisco earthquake literally brought down the city on the bay and Mt Vesuvius devastated Naples. On Christmas eve, the very first radio program was broadcast throughout America. Two hundred seven (207) dairy goats had now been registered with AMGRA.

Although there is little historic detail of this very early period of AMGRA’s growth, a letter from a goatkeeper’s daughter, Emma Louisa Tompkins, to Will TeWalt (AMGRA Secretary 1918-1941) tells us that the organization had some very difficult times:

I joined in 1906, as I recall, after the death of my father . . . . As a tribute to his memory I sent my application to the then Secretary, Mr Shafor of Ohio. I did not get any reply for some time. Finally the Secretary wrote me, that there had been such a determined effort to break up our then new Association, and to force it to disband, that the Board of Directors had decided to retreat, and delay all affairs, until this opposition had been overcome and died down. In this wise policy they were now successful, and could now go on, and my application for membership had been accepted and I was now a member.

Just then, one of those fateful and fortunate milestones in AMGRA’s history occurred. A. Mr. John C. Darst, in Dayton, Ohio, had been thinking about the practicality of dairy goats and contacted the Bureau of Animal Industry in Washington. Along with some information, they sent him the name of Mr Shafor. Living only 40 miles away, Mr. Darst went to see Mr. Shafor, found that he owned some very nice Toggenburgs and that he was very discouraged about the milk goat association. Darst bought a purebred Toggenburg while he was there and promised to attend the AMGRA meeting in December 1907.

In 1907 Oklahoma is admitted as the 46th state, Sir Robert Baden-Powell founds the Boy Scouts, Rudyard Kipling wins the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the first color photography process is marketed. The fledgling American Milch Goat Record Association was about to enter a new era . . . one of aggressive promotion by a dedicated champion of the dairy goat.

AMGRA’s first annual meeting, in 1907 (and all subsequent annual meetings until 1940) was held in Chicago. Four people were present and they elected Mr. Shafor President and Mr. Darst as Secretary Treasurer. At this time the proxies submitted by members to their respective representatives were used to elect the officers and to accept new members. The reasons for rejection of membership application seems somewhat arbitrary (and quite personal), the only actual “rule” being that AMGRA accepted only individuals and not farm names for membership.

It was the determination, persistence and integrity of Mr. Darst that dealt with and overcame long-overdue debts and a pile of unanswered letters to get the organization on its feet. The first thing he did was send out nearly 2000 letters to goatkeepers throughout the United States, inviting them to register their animals. At his own expense he traveled throughout the country visiting herds and promoting interest in dairy goats and in the AMGRA. AMGRA began to grow!

By 1914, when the first volume of AMGRA’s Record of Milch Goats was published, it listed 89 members and almost 900 animals. Mr. Darst had done his very best to be as certain as possible about every animal’s breeding, though he often said that he had to “put the owner on his own dignity.” According to an interview conducted by J. F. Fetter, Darst explained that “In those early years of registry, about the best to be realized was to trace a goat’s pedigree to importation. Those were accredited as purebred.” Although Mr. Darst retired in 1918 to become a minister in his German Baptist Church, he continued to breed Saanens and Toggenburgs under the “D” suffix and was responsible for the importation, from Switzerland through Cuba, of fifty-seven “purebred” animals. 

In 1916 the first capriculture magazine, The Goat World, edited & published by F. T. Heintz, a Toggenburg breeder of Baldwin Park, California, appeared. Upon the retirement of Mr Heintz in 1924, the publication was taken over by Mr. Will TeWalt, then AMGRA Director and Secretary-Treasurer, and made the official publication of he AMGRA.

Although 1917 brought the United States into World War I, a difficult time for both the country and AMGRA, the association was by this time well-established and, under exceptional leadership, was well on its way to being the most respected dairy goat registry in the world.

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The founders of ADGA, though they were certainly “uncommon” people, had one thing in common with many goat owners today . . . they became acquainted with dairy goats because of health concerns. They believed so fervently in the benefits of goat milk that several of them established milking herds that provided milk to poor families or to hospitals. They were also, at least most of them, prominent and/or wealthy people for whom goats were a hobby – an expensive hobby – but one about which they were inordinately passionate. It was their money and prestige, along with their dedication, that brought dairy goats into the public consciousness of the United States.

In reality, the American Milch Goat Record Association (AMGRA) got off to a pretty poor start.  Organized in 1904 when a Mrs. Robey wanted to show her goats and was not allowed to do so unless they were registered, it faltered for several years.

AMGRA’s first Secretary/Treasurer (and AMGRA president from 1906-1913), W. A. Shafor was a reluctant participant, an importer of Oxford Down sheep who, according to him, was caught up into this fledgling organization only because he imported a couple of goats and was therefore listed in Washington as an importer of registered dairy goats. George F. Thompson of the Bureau of Animal Industry in Washington DC recruited him to help in putting together a milk goat record association and they did so, incorporating it under the laws of Illinois with Mr. Thompson as president and Mr. Shafor as S/T. In spite of the fact that he continued his attempts to extricate himself from AMGRA, he gave liberally of time and money to promoting milk goats, but with little success. By 1907, in spite of the fact that the newly-formed association registered any kind of doe giving as much as one quart of milk per day, only 207 goats had been registered. Several hundred unanswered letters and dozens of incomplete registrations applications brought complaints from Washington. Shafor responded that “you got me in; you get me out.”

He was not, however, willing to turn it over to just anyone. He found his replacement in Mr. J.C. Darst who, referred to Mr. Shafor from the Bureau of Animal Industry, came from Dayton, Ohio to purchase a doe. Mr. Shafor, during the visit, discussed the Association and its collapse and proposed Mr. Darst take it over and “try to do something about it.” At the next AMGRA meeting, December 1907, Mr. Darst took over as S/T while Mr. Shafor remained as President.

It was Mr. Darst who brought the organization back to life by his untiring attention to detail (in terms of answering letters and registering animals) and by his extensive travel (at his own expense) to promote dairy goats. During his tenure the association published its first registry volume (1914) with 900 registered animals. He left office in 1918 only because he was elected to the ministry of his church. His interest in dairy goats continued, however, and in 1920 spent some $20,000 importing 31 Saanens and 27 Toggenburgs to his farm in Dayton, Ohio. Mr. Darst’s herd name, “D” is on ADGA’s list of historic herd names. 

Upon Mr. Darst’s retirement, Mr. Will T. TeWalt took on the S/T’s responsibility. His tenure, from 1918 to 1941, was the stable and wise influence that, along with the power and influence of other AMGRA officers, brought AMGRA to national and international recognition. Although the S/T was eventually paid a salary, Mr. TeWalt many times used his own funds to keep AMGRA solvent. He traveled widely, visiting goat breeders throughout the United States (and convincing them to register their animals); he personally handed out awards and ribbons at Fairs; he used every means and all his not-inconsiderable influence to showcase the dairy goat. He managed to rise above the internal dissention within the association and manage the chaos of innumerable complaints that went through his office. He presided over the changes that brought respect to both the organization and the registry, weathering the 
frequent storms of controversy that surrounded the often-painful growth of the dairy goat industry.

Mr. Charles Stevens, ADGA president from 1921-1931, was a “prime mover” in the establishment of dairy goat ownership as a mark of prestige. One of Chicago’s most important businessmen and co-owner (with Mr. Wm. Wrigley) of Catalina Island, he became interested in goats when a grandchild was taken ill and goat milk was prescribed. Before long he owned a herd of outstanding Toggenburgs whose milk he gave to hospitals for the sick. At a gathering of prominent Chicago businessman, his praise of the merits of goat milk initiated so much interest that several of the listeners asked him to purchase dairy goats for them. He did so on his next trip to California (where there were reputedly more good goats than any other state) and brought back his acquisitions in two large boxcars, outfitted for their comfort and accompanied by a caretaker in each car. The prospective owners -- several multimillionaires including Mr. James A. Patten and Mr. William Wrigley -- traveled by private train to Mr. Stevens’ beautiful home on Delavan Lake, Wisconsin where Mr. TeWalt (AMGRA S/T from 1917 to 1941) had already appraised the value of the animals to be sold. One of the most well known auctioneers in the country conducted 
this famous first public sale of dairy goats. These animals became the foundation for the establishment of some of the finest herds in the United States – a real boost for the dairy goat!

Multi-millionaire Mrs. James A. Patton, longtime AMGRA Director (& President from 1932-1935) became interested in dairy goats when her husband, the “wheat king” of the Chicago Grain Exchange, bought a herd of registered Toggenburgs from the sale described above at the home of AMGRA president Stevens. After her husband’s death she maintained a herd of some 75 animals. About 50% of the milk was given to charity and the rest was sold for 35¢ a quart to wealthy folks who sent their chauffeurs daily to pick it up. Although she was a very well known and respected philanthropist throughout her life, donating generously to many causes, she (according to Mrs. I.E. Ettien in a 1934 Goat World article) “contributed more financially to the building of the industry, the AMGRA, than any other breeder in our history.” She bought and donated large numbers of animals to missionary efforts both in the U.S. and abroad. Along with S/T TeWalt, she kept AMGRA’s finances afloat “in times of stress, “ particularly in 1933 when the bank holding association funds was closed.

This combination of passion, dedication, money and generosity was clearly the force behind the founding and growth of our association. During the rest of this Centennial year, we’ll learn more about the folks who were instrumental in leaving us this heritage of recognition for dairy goats in America.

While AMGRA certainly could not have endured without the determined individuals who volunteered as Directors and Officers, it was the Secretary-Treasurers who “carried” the organization . . . both literally and figuratively. These S/T’s were AMGRA Directors elected by their fellows and unpaid. It was the time and money freely spent by these individuals that brought AMGRA through good times and bad, who almost single-handedly brought dairy goats to the U.S. public and kept the association growing.

TeWalt 1917-1941

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From War To War

In spite of over two decades of disruption and change from WWI to WWII, despite the Great Depression and serious internal dissention, the AMGRA grew and gained both respect and recognition in the U.S. and abroad. Depression meant, for the AMGRA, not only a reduction in registrations but the dispersal of entire herds at pitiable prices while wartime brought double opportunity – an emphasis on the importance of milk and milk products during times of shortages and -- particularly after WWII -- a demand for replacement animals in Europe where the destruction of livestock was widespread.

Who were the iron-willed individuals who brought AMGRA through these turbulent years? For the most part, they were wealthy and quite accustomed to the privileges that wealth confers. A very few people controlled AMGRA and it was primarily those same few who owned and controlled the traffic in scarce “purebreds.” As a rule, barely half of AMGRA Directors (and until 1935, when the number was increased to nine, there were only six) actually attended either the annual or semi-annual meetings . . . and the absent Directors were allowed to transfer their votes to one of the others who did attend (making the question of quorum a moot issue). It was an elite group who met every year in Chicago in spite of considerable pressure to consider other venues. Applications for membership were considered in toto at the annual BOD meetings (only individuals were allowed membership until 1924 when the BOD decided to allow membership to organizations as well) and blackballing was not at all unusual. There was a thoroughly undemocratic proxy system characterized, in 1942, by Mrs. Carl Sandburg as “well adapted to the management of stock corporations run for profit – the stockholder being interested only in dividends, and not in participating in the management, as here questions of democracy do not enter.”

It was, however, the choice of strong, capable and enduring Secretary-Treasurers that really allowed the AMGRA to weather remarkable adversity. These resourceful individuals used their abundant talents and gave generously of their own funds to translate the BOD’s charge to “promote the dairy goat and its products” into reality. While various Directors held the Presidency, only two Secretary-Treasurers served from 1918 through 1948 -- Will L. TeWalt from 1918-1941 and Fred B Kiefer who succeeded him and served as AMGRA president as well as S/T. This continuity of key individuals who stood at the fore in terms of representing and guiding the dairy goat industry was undoubtedly critical to the growth and stabilization of what began as a relatively insignificant “club” for a handful of goat enthusiasts.

Encouraging breeders to showcase their animals at Fairs around the country was a major priority of the S/T. Wealthy breeders sent their goats long distances by rail to fairs around the country but were not often themselves involved in showing. There was a great deal of discussion in print about the need for “your man” to accompany the goats in the boxcar and to attend them closely during exhibition. That an elite group of breeders identified with their “purebred” dairy goats was exemplified by the publicity given an incident where it was found that a group of grades (!) were put up over the admittedly less attractive purebreds belonging to one of the “in-group.” A scandal indeed!

Because it was decided, in 1922, that in the best interests of the image of the dairy goat, the “Head of the Herd” should be banished from public view (“he positively will not perform as a gentleman should in the presence of ladies”), the appearance of bucks in the show ring was for many years limited to weanling kids. In 1921 the AMGRA first offered show ribbons (and sometimes cash awards) to prominent Fairs, often bestowed personally by the current S/T who traveled extensively in his tireless effort to keep a positive image of the dairy goat before the American public. It was also the 1922 AMGRA Board that decided to press for the division of shows into age classes, group classes, and champion awards (though our current recognition of permanent GCH animals came much later).

Discouraged because many fairs were hiring judges completely ignorant of dairy goats and often failed to present the special prizes offered by the AMGRA, the 1925 Board voted to suspend both the licensing of judges and special prizes (why bother if they weren’t being used?). The next year, however, S/T TeWalt convinced the Board that discontinuing awards was a great set-back in terms of dairy goat publicity. The BOD agreed and re-established the practise.

Showing was done primarily at fairs until WWII caused most of the big fairs to be discontinued for the duration and the onus for providing a forum for competition fell on local organizations. In truth, a number of shows were also disbanded because of the dissention among exhibitors at those shows (no surprise there!).

The scarcity of “purebreds” was at the root of controversy that literally rocked the AMGRA for all the years between the wars (and, as a matter of fact, continues some 80 years later). The arguments about what animals could or could not be registered and/or shown; the definitions of “purebred, “American,” and ‘grade;” and the noisy and endless protestations by dairy owners that “dairy goats should milk” allowed this very contentious issue not only to provide material for innumerable articles in industry publications and seriously affect relationships among even the most elite of dairy goat owners, but to widen rifts that gave rise to new organizations with the potential to undermine the years of effort devoted to the recognition of dairy goats in the U.S.

Several concomitant issues complicated the debate about “purebreds” Vs “native” goats. The majority of importers and knowledgeable owners of original imports were well aware that imported “purebreds” were recognized as such although, in most cases, there was no actual proof or pedigree. At that time in Switzerland, for example, all goats were considered “purebred” but could be entered into registry only after being judged at shows and designated worthy. And, in a 1936 Goat World article defending his sponsorship of the 10th Cross resolution, Mr. Winthrop Howland reminds the membership of a number of anomalies among imports, including the fact that one of the “pure Toggenburgs” imported in 1905 was “undoubtedly a cross between a Toggenburg and a Swarztenburg-Guiggisberger.“ For the first thousand registrations with AMGRA, grade bucks were registered; after 1918 only “pure blood bucks” were allowed into the AMGRA registry. Along with the changes in registration rules, a certain group of breeders engaged in revisionist history and developed a strong belief that all original imports were “purebred” along with an absolute determination not to recognize “grades” as pure no matter how many generations of breeding to purebred sires.

Given that “purebreds” were very scarce, this point of view led to the preservation of many purebreds that should have been culled which, of course, made quality “purebreds” scarce indeed . . . and expensive. When President Stevens dispersed his herd in 1922, twelve millionaires paid $24,945 for the privilege of owning them. During this same period, the dairy faction (and those who couldn’t afford purebreds) were rigorously culling their “native” and percentage animals, resulting in very rapid improvement both in conformation and milk production. The poor quality of purebreds in general combined with the relative price of purebred bucks led these breeders to (!) use their own unregisterable but superior grade bucks . . . which had the effect of removing both progeny and registration fees from AMGRA. This situation, unfortunately, led to years of escalating numbers of complaints to AMGRA, primarily misrepresentation of pedigree (easy to replace a pitiful purebred with a handsome percentage animal) and sales of unacceptable “purebreds” for which purchasers were asking redress. The resolution of these complaints required so much attention at both annual and semi-annual Board meetings that the S/T eventually advised the Board that so much of his time was spent trying to resolve complaints that unless the number were somehow curtailed, an additional staff person would have to be hired.

In recognition of the above facts, the AMGRA Board of Directors eventually decided that, since so many animals had reached 5th cross or American status (5 consecutive generations of breeding native does to purebred bucks – 1/1024 native blood), it was appropriate to consider the designation of 10th cross animals (1023/1024) as purebred. In 1934, this resolution was finally passed by the Board and caused an outpouring of opinions from both sides of the fence as well as several resolutions to rescind this action (none of which were considered). Finally, in a small attempt to mollify the opposition, the S/T moved that a designation be placed on the registration papers of 10th cross animals. It was also at this meeting that Rock Alpines (the result of breeding superior “pure” Alpine sires with does of various “persuasions”) were accepted as a breed.

1941 brought the beginning of the consolidation effort, to bring The American Goat Society (AGS) “back into the fold,” as it were. There was strong sentiment in both organizations for unification and the AMGRA S/T noted that “too many members were waiting to register animals” until this question was resolved. A committee was appointed to work on uniting the two groups and, in 1942, a questionnaire was sent to members of both organizations. The response in both cases was nearly unanimous in favor of consolidation.

A major stumbling block for AGS, however, was the very undemocratic way in which AMGRA was run. To the long term benefit of our association, AGS (and the membership of AMGRA, I might add) were adamant on the subjects of regional representation, initiative and referendum, the recordation of grades in a separate book and on postal voting. Although one of the AMGRA committee members felt strongly that those things – including consolidation – were “unnecessary” and that the questionnaire from the membership could simply be ignored in terms of those specific items, these issues were considered reasonable changes by the majority of the AMGRA Board. It passed a resolution that offered not only strong encouragement for consolidation and appointed a committee to pursue it, but directed that the Board of Directors move forward to a new and more democratic constitution for AMGRA if the merger did not go through.

The consolidation did fail when the AGS Directors -- in spite of overwhelming support from both the AGS Consolidation Committee and AGS members – refused to send it out to the membership for postal ballot (whereupon both the President of AGS and another member of the AGS Consolidation Committee resigned in protest of this action by their Directors). At this point, AMGRA turned to the second charge of the above-mentioned resolution and, at the 1943 annual meeting, focused upon making the AMGRA a more democratic organization. Dr Durant, Chair of the Consolidation Committee, in his report stating that the issue of consolidation was “deadlocked for the time being at least,” presented the new Constitution (which had been devised and agreed upon by both the AMGRA and AGS consolidation committees) to the assembled Directors with these words:

The Constitution preserves the proven good features of previous constitutions and adds the new provision of regional election of directors, which will insure to all sections of the United States equal representation in proportion to membership on the Board of Directors. Postal Voting, Initiative and Referendum, and separate registration of grade goats are all provided for in this new constitution.

We have given serious consideration to the expressed views of those A.G.S. directors who opposed Consolidation at this time. There is one recurring sentiment which underlies their arguments . . . ‘Would it not be better to wait until the AMGRA is actually operating under democratic control before trying to unite it with the AGS?’ If doubt as to ‘democracy in the AMGRA is the obstacle to unification, then I will say that we are about to remove that obstacle.

The resolution to accept the changes to the Constitution was passed. Though the long-sought consolidation was not to happen, the democratic organization under which we now operate is very clearly attributable to the influence of AGS in the consolidation effort.

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By Shari Reyna, History Chair

In the beginning . . . there were goats. Lots of goats. All varieties and kinds of goats. AMGRA’s first nine hundred registrations were non-discriminatory (with only 306 designated as purebred). Goats of all descriptions and mixtures could be registered. Among the entries in AMGRA’s first registration volume are animals described variously as Native, Schwartzenburg-Guggisburg, Mexican, Maltese, Calcutta Llamas, Austrian, Angora, Murciana, Indo-Nubian, animals registered under Rule 6 (which allowed any doe whose owner claimed 2 quarts per day to be registered), and all combinations of the above. It was almost 14 years after the founding of the AMGRA, in fact, before the Board of Directors passed a rule that someone other than the owner had to verify the eligibility of a “Rule 6” doe.

The strong desire for “purebred” goats had, early on, resulted in the importation of a relatively few animals from countries where domestic goats originated. They were certainly not “purebred” in terms of pedigree, but they did come from areas of the world where their colors and patterns were recognized. Both the importers and the breeders who could afford to buy them were aware that these animals carried no proof of purity other than their country of origin and the opinion of the sellers. Most were well aware that the concept of “purebred” was very different in Europe than in the U.S. Winthrop Howland (Goat World, Dec 1935) describes the Swiss view of purebreds.

In Switzerland goats are not registered on bloodlines, but certain individuals of the Swiss breeds are judged at shows and if deemed worthy as individuals are admitted to registration as pureblood. We have a friend who is a native born Swiss . . . and a well-educated veterinarian. He explained to me the reason Swiss goats are not registered on blood-lines is because no goats are permitted to be imported into Switzerland, therefore all those in the country are considered as pureblood if their appearance is correct.

But here is the weak feature of this practice: goats of different breeds there are cross-mated, therefore when we import goats from Switzerland, we have no guarantee that they are purebred. This fact has been brought to my knowledge several times. One of the supposedly pure Toggenburg bucks imported from Switzerland in 1905 was undoubtedly a cross between a Toggenburg and Swarztenburg-Guiggisberger, as he had considerable brown intermixed with his white markings and many of his kids were decidedly off-color. A doe I saw in Los Angeles, registered as a pure Saanen, was about half white and half Toggenburg in color and was no doubt a crossbreed.

Rules for Registration of grades, purebreds and crosses were minimal in those early days. Natives, male or female, were grades, but could be registered. Bred to “purebreds,” they became percentage grades. Many “native does” are noted as entered via Rule 6 (production), but many more lack that designation. A separate listing of “pure” animals is in the early registry, but they did not include many of the imports, e.g. the Geneva and Stucker Toggenburgs, the Cartwright and Stucker Saanens, etc. These were literally voted in as purebreds by the AMGRA Board of Directors in later years and only then added to the purebred registry. In 1917 the AMGRA Board stipulated color restrictions for the several breeds, apparently in an effort to clearly differentiate them from one another.

At the 1918 Annual meeting the rules of registration were taken up as unfinished business and several important changes were discussed and accepted by the Board. First, where Rule 6 had previously allowing registration of any goat giving two or more quarts a day as noted on her application by the owner, it was now modified to require that application for registry on this basis be accompanied by “a certificate of a Veterinarian, County, or State official, or if no official available, then the signature of two disinterested, reputable witnesses” attesting to the amount of milk produced in a 24 hour period. These does were termed “native” and placed in the Grade “class.” Secondly, The Geneva and Stucker Toggenburgs were accepted by the BOD as “purebreds” and moved to the purebred class. Third, the Board reversed its decision of the previous year and deleted Rule 11 (notation of pure blood on registration certificate) & Rule 12 (restrictions on color and markings). Rationale for the latter was that . . . our registration be confined to blood lines and milk yield . . . that color, characteristic markings, size and points of excellence be established by the Board of Directors for exhibition, judging and standard purposes and kept separate from the rules of registration.” Finally, the BOD not only rejected a proposal that bucks of the American Class be registered, but decided that henceforth no recognition be given to the sire when registering the progeny from Grade bucks. 

Seeds of controversy were sown at the 1919 annual meeting when submission of a set of rules by the California Milch Goat Association, already adopted by their group, was proposed to the AMGRA BOD “ . . . making a high class of Grades to be called ‘American’.” Subsequent discussion of these rules by the Board resulted in the acceptance of new rules 11, 12, 13, and 14. It was the combination of the new rules 11 and 13 that became known as “The Fifth Cross.

”New Rule 11-- a doe eligible to registry as an “American Saanen,” “American Toggenburg,” “American Nubian,” etc., requires five generations of continuous ancestry registered upon the books of this Association, or if the line begins with a registered half blood grade, four continuous generations are required as above. The amount of pure blood to be stated upon the certificate of registry.

New Rule 12 – does eligible to registry in the American Breed classes, must be true in general characteristics and colorings to the particular breed they represent, radical markings included. Slight variations, markings, and colorings allowed, but no great deviation. Only white will be accepted in Saanen. Not over two white spots allowed in Toggenburg. The Nubian may be any color or combinations of color and spotted. All breeds will be those resembling the finest and most perfect specimens of the particular breed they represent.

New Rule 13 – Should an American classed doe produce an offspring untrue in coloring and characteristic to the particular breed they represent, such offspring doe would not be allowed to be registered as American, but would be allowed to be registered of the 15/16 Grade. Does of the fifth grade, 31/32 pure or those higher only acceptable, for registry in the American breed classes, and removed from the Grade class.

New Rule 14 – In grading up to American breeds, all bucks must be pure blood and registered in this association. No American or Grade bucks, registered or otherwise, will be recognized for this purpose. Cartwright and Stucker Saanen are now in the Pure Breed Class.

A proposal to recognize the “Bingham Toggenburgs” purebred was rejected prior to the meeting by the Executive Committee but accepted by the full Board. Now that virtually all the of imports had been accepted as purebred, Rule 8, stating that all past imports are recognized as purebred but future imports must have “foreign registry” or “other satisfactory evidence,” was put in place.

At this point, the “wars” began. Only four years later, in 1923, the “10th Cross” proposal was first presented to the Board:

In as much as we have reached a point where we have a large number of breeders, who starting with the native doe and pure buck have climbed up to and past the fifth cross known as American Toggenburg, American Saanen, or American Nubian as the case may be, and further if a breeder adds five additional crosses, making ten crosses away from the native, resulting in an animal with only 1/1024 of native blood, and further before reaching that point will reproduce as uniformly as any, and still further in view of the fact, all pure stock of every character have been established by legislative acts on the part of the breeding Association in control of same, therefore be it resolved, that we do here and now declare such animals as above described as pure of their respective breeds and instruct our Secretary to rearrange the rules governing registration, so as to recognize them as such.

A committee was subsequently named to consider the proposal (Geo. F. Etzel, W. O. Washburn and Winthrop Howland, but no action was taken at this meeting.

Essentially, those entering the fray were divided into three groups:

  • The "purists" who argued (in near hysterical fashion) that the breeding together of two purebreeds of differing persuasions resulted (after the 1st cross) in highly defective progeny that demonstrated an astounding and virtually complete collapse of all systems caprine. Several reasons were cited for the unfortunate popularity of crossbreds, the primary ones being the poor breeding choices being made by those raising purebred stock; the prevalence of "big producing grades" rather than purebreds in goat dairies; the fact "...that many of the men who are really fitted and have the proper education for the breeding of pure breeds are more interested in the experimental side that appeals to them in the producing of crossbreds"; and a prevailing belief that much of the rationale for cross-breeding was based on the fear of in-breeding. An interesting theme that arose from this group was prejudice against horned bucks. Horns were ranked right up there with low milk production. Several writers even suggested that horned bucks should never be sold, no matter their quality.

  • Dairymen who strongly supported the breeding of grades, interested more in milk production and vigor than in the maintenance of “purebreed” stock (primarily those milk producers who refused to abandon their high producing grades and sink big bucks into purebreds who admittedly weren't milking as well).

  • A third group who accepted that some accommodation between the first two groups was required. The proliferation of very poor purebreds (attributed mainly to breeders who considered any purebred to be preferable to any grade without concern for functionality) discouraged their purchase by those breeders who wanted that functionality. This discrepancy in production had resulted in crossbreeding programs focusing on superior type and production . . . and these animals could not in conscience be excluded from future herd books. In the March, 1922 Goat World, Dr. J. W. Thompson, in an attempt to reconcile the situation, suggested record books with three divisions: purebreds ("with rigid conditions of admission to the class"); a second division "compassing all grades in process of breeding up to a set standard, either by pedigree solely or aided by performing or producing credits, with a system of rules prescribing the requirements" and a third division, based wholly on performance and production of performers, by both sexes, cataloguing the true aristocrats and supplying a measure of merit that means something."

The TENTH CROSS resolution was introduced again at the 1933 A.M.G.R.A. annual meeting and passed unanimously by directors present. The existing rule #11 read:

A doe eligible to registry as an American Saanen, American Toggenburg, American Nubian, American Alpine, etc.; requires five generations of continuous ancestry registered upon the books of this Association.

The tenth cross rule continued at this point to say that:

Does of the fifth grade 31/32 pure or those higher only, are acceptable for registry in the American breed classes. Upon attaining the 10th cross representing 1023/1024 pure, the word American shall be dropped and the word Pure used in registering all such.

The Board’s acceptance of the 10th Cross Rule brought bitter controversy that had a number of repercussions for the goat industry, one of which was the founding of the American Goat Association where only “purebreds” would be allowed registry (considerable irony here since Rock Alpines were accepted by them as “pure.” The first ad noting the incorporation of the American Goat Society "for the purpose of establishment, maintenance and publication of pedigree records of purebred dairy goats . . ." appears in the October 1935 issue of Goat World.

In order to understand this vote, and the reason it was unanimously passed in 1933 when it was soundly rejected some 10 years earlier, one must look at events occurring between these years . . . the most critical of which was the Depression. Two articles in Goat World, in February and September 1934 respectively, make clear why the issue arose once again and why the vote was unanimously in favor. These articles were written by Mrs. I.E. Ettien, accredited dairy goat judge and owner with her husband, Judge I.E. Ettien, of the very well known La Suise herd of Oakdale goat Ranch in Wareagle, Arkansas. (La Suise was accepted by ADGA as an historic herd name in 1981). The first article, "Purity at the End of the Trail," shows Mrs. Ettien's felt need for the passage of the tenth cross rule because of the handicap put upon breeders who were obliged to use poor quality imports as herdsires in order for progeny to be registerable (therefore pulling down the overall quality of their herds and frustrating those trying to upgrade the species in America). She cited the embarrassment of judging shows where observers were appalled by her placing obviously superior animals behind inferior purebreds . . . simply because they weren't "pure." Specifically she saw the 10th cross rule as benefiting the Alpine breed: "It is going to prove a great boon too in that newer breed in this country -- the French alpine. With so few lines to begin with in the pure French Alpine a rather dangerous amount of inbreeding has been going forward. When we may have the Rock Alpine and later on the American Alpine added to these fine French Alpines we will be really getting somewhere." Finally, she speaks to beginners in the goat industry as the major beneficiaries of the 10th cross rule, "The pioneers of the industry have blazed the trail. You will not experience the hardships and disappointments we older breeders have passed through."

Her second article, "Breeds in the Making," Mrs. Ettien speaks even more strongly of the need for the 10th cross rule. She states that in accepting 10th cross as pure, " . . . A.M.G.R.A. has fallen in line with other progressive associations and saved the industry from stagnation." She speaks of these 10th cross animals as "masterpieces" and she cited the situation in Europe where such animals were accepted as pure in many fewer generations. She addresses the role of the Depression as a "landmark," when discouraged breeders, unable to register their own superior "grade" bucks, either quit the business entirely or, after registering their superior grades for years, simply quit registering any of their animals. Since their does were no longer registered anyway, they began using their own superior but unregisterable bucks . . . and began to boast quite publicly of the rapid gains in excellence achieved through these breedings (rather than returning, each generation, to inferior purebred sires.

Most significantly, she noted that A.M.G.R.A. was losing prestige with many important breeders because of their refusal to recognize the "great excellence of these American made animals, although they had accepted the English made Nubian and the French made Alpine." Many of these important breeders were now directors and officers of A.M.G.R.A. In fact, the infamous resolution was submitted by Mr.& Mrs. Winthrop Howland of Pacific Beach, California, Mr. Howland being described by Mrs. Ettien as "...the oldest director, pioneer breeder and one may say father of the industry in California (his El Chivar herdname was accepted by ADGA as an historic herd name in 1981). Mrs. Ettien states that "... every world record milking Toggenburg doe traces to his breeding."

In December 1935, A. duBois Freeman answered publicly a "circular letter" written by Mr. Timothy Brownhill, Manager, Better Way Farm, Spring Valley, Calif. This letter evidently did all but ask for the removal from office of all those involved in passage of the 10th cross rule, citing the "underhanded way in which it was made." Mr. Freeman answers him,

Our directors are -- nearly all-- the oldest living importers and breeders of milk goats in this country. If they do not know about what is best for, and most in the interest of the industry; their wisdom gained at much cost, through years and years of experience, experimentation, and close observation; who, can we reasonably suppose, is better qualified for their places, who can repudiate their rulings, and replace them in office? . . . When such almost life-long breeders as the Howlands, the Ettiens, TeWalts, and many other old breeders, of unquestioned reputations, have, themselves proposed the "Tenth Cross" rule as an aid to the further advancement of the industry; and with patriotic sentiments toward both the Milk Goat Industry, and our own country, in the establishment of American Purebreds, instead of playing lackey to foreign countries; or the breeders of foreign countries, who only laugh at our child-like simplicity, and want of pride in our own capabilities, and country.

Mr. Howland himself, in the December 1935 issue of Goat World, wrote an article titled, “ My Reasons for Advocating the Adoption of the Tenth Cross Rule,” defending his submission of the proposal and answering the outcry from those who stridently opposed the passage of the 10th cross rule (insisting it would destroy the American goat industry, was passed without adequate notice, etc). He asks the reader to consider the most desirable qualifications for a milk goat -- listing them as milk production, ruggedness of constitution and beauty of appearance -- and suggests that if one " . . . can develop such a strain of goats starting with an unregistered dam, why should any objection be made to such animals being admitted to registration as purebreds?" He cites the Swiss as an example to follow. He then follows the line of grade Toggenburgs he developed, beginning with a native doe from Catalina Island that was caught there as a kid in 1907, to his current outstanding and record holding El Chivar does.

This view was further supported by Harry F. Wallace who asks, (GW October 1934) “ Ten generations call for about twenty years or more of constructive breeding with Milk Goats . . . what is wrong with it? Is it not a higher standard than that set fort under Rule 4 [where the term imported applies only to animals bred outside of the United States and Canada]? Animals that are known to be crosses, that we imported, have been accepted. It seems that a constructive twenty years of American breeding by American people should be very acceptable to all.

Some compromise ensued at the 1934 annual meeting but all efforts to put aside the 10th Cross rule were rejected. According to the minutes the various proposals to rescind the action were finally put to rest only after passing a resolution that no further efforts to reject the 10th Cross resolution would be entertained. Two resolutions designed to bring some unity back to the association were brought before the Board. The first, appropriately titled “A Resolution of Harmony,” was offered by Secretary Will TeWalt, amending Rule XI (the tenth cross) by requiring that all registrations deemed pure under Rule XI:” . . . will carry as a distinguishing characteristic the number of said rule on each certificate so issued.” A committee appointed by the 1934 BOD to deal with the issue of future grade animals brought the second resolution in 1935. It essentially discontinued the registration of grade does and put a limit to the number of animals who would qualify as purebred under Rule XI:

WHEREAS there has for some time existed an expressed desire upon the part of some of our members to set a date when we would desist from registering ½ grad does, and
WHEREAS we now have a rule which will reward those who have for many years been building their grades toward a goal of pure-breeding, and
WHEREAS, it is deemed fair to all to fix a date far enough in advance to warn those who may be disposed to start building grade herds in the near future thus preventing any just grounds for complaint, that we have not given sufficient notice; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that we set the date of January 1, 1938 when and after which we will no longer accept for registration half-blood does, but let it be clearly understood from that date forth any doe or doe kid eligible as a ¾ Grade and upward to and including the fourth cross and qualifying for same shall be registered as grade and from the 5th to and including the 9th cross as an American Toggenburg, American Saanen, American Nubian or American Alpine, etc., as the case may be and thereafter, i.e., upon attaining the 10th cross promote into the pure class as per our present rules.

Still another resolution, recognizing the 10th cross status of the Rock Alpines, accepted Rock Alpines as a “ . . . new and distinct pure breed” entitled to registry in the AMGRA.

The Tenth Cross was utilized to move significant animals into the purebred herdbook, greatly increasing the genetics available within the several breeds . . . and then an “end date” was fixed so that the purebred books were again closed. While this certainly didn’t please everyone, the purpose was served and we in ADGA reap the legacy.

Addendum: I’ve been asked for some time about the “skip” rule whereby an animal moved into the American herdbook in less than the required number of generations. By querying our valuable emeriti, I was able to solve this puzzle and track it down in Association minutes. For a few years, until it was rescinded in 1971, a doe registered as Native on Appearance could be up-graded one step by either becoming a permanent GCH or becoming an AR doe. This explains such anomalies as Sodium Oaks Sasin’s dam being an American (making him eligible for registry as an American buck) even though her maternal granddam was a Native on Appearance with both parents unknown.

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A number of individuals on and off the ADGA Board of Directors have asked for an historic assessment of the “intent” of those who wrote the constitution and by-laws. This is somewhat akin to the sort of thing the U. S. Supreme Court tries to do for the nation but, rather than an interpretation of the ADGA Constitution, the request is for some documentation of the deliberations leading up to the decisions.

Obviously, it’s pretty difficult to ascertain precisely their intent and motivation because there is no reason to think there were fewer personal agendas or underlying motives than there are now. What we can do is go back to whatever records we have and do our very best to understand their own words, explanations and votes.

Redistricting, an issue that has been near the top of the ADGA Board of Directors’ “must do” list for a number of years, became a “hot” issue at the 2003 Annual meeting. A backward look into the historic development of ADGA’s Districts may indeed help us all to understand the actions of those past Directors responsible for our present configuration of districts and to better comprehend the intentions that drove their decisions.

The organizers of the AMGRA (the original name of our association) were, as described in an article earlier in the series, a select few who elected each other to office, allowed the two or three attendees at the annual meetings to do their voting for them, and relied upon the Secretary of the Association to promote the fledgling registry. While they felt justified in keeping the decision-making to their small circle of 6 Directors, this attitude began to change as the organization grew. In 1928 the Board was expanded to nine Directors, elected at each annual meeting to hold office for one year only.

In was, however, the prospect of a consolidation between AMGRA and AGS that really promoted a serious concern with “a more democratic” organization and with “more equitable representation”. In 1942, Mrs. Carl Sandburg offered a resolution that included the following reference, “That if the A.G.S. rejects this Consolidation proposal, then the above mentioned Committee [the Consolidation Committee] is authorized and directed to proceed with the reorganization of the American Milk Goat Record Association, on advice of legal counsel . . . .”

The next year, 1943, the Chair of this Committee, Dr. A. J. Durant, explained that AMGRA’s lack of democratic representation was a major problem in terms of consolidation and pledged to facilitate positive change. He states that “If doubt as to ‘democracy’ in A.M.G.R.A. is the obstacle to unification, then I will say that we are about to remove that obstacle. If the members of the A.M.G.R.A. approve the new Constitution, then the A.M.G.R.A. will soon be operating on an “all-out” democratic basis. I believe that we can best further the cause of unification by putting our 
shoulders to the wheel to make democratic operation of our association a living reality. It is not enough to have a fine written Constitution, guaranteeing the machinery for democratic operation.” Further, he explicitly recognized 
that reorganization was important on its own merits, (not just to satisfy the A.G.S): “With Consolidation thus deadlocked for the time at least, our Committee devoted itself to the alternate job assigned us by the 1942 Board , namely, reorganizing the A.M.G.R.A. on a more democratic basis . . . . the Constitution preserves the proven good features of previous constitutions and adds the new provision of regional election of directors, which will insure to all sections of the United States equal representation in proportion to membership on the Board of Directors. [emphasis added]

A letter from a Director who was unable to attend that 1943 annual meeting, Irvin Fritch, addressed the same concern, “It is unfortunate that consolidation with the American Goat Society was not consummated, but one of the stumbling blocks to this union was our archaic set-up. The best way to remove this obstacle to one large, efficient and democratic record association is to clean house – that is to adopt a new form of organization which will retain none of the objectionable features of the old one. Our Re-organization Committee has presented for our consideration a thoroly [sic] workable plan for a democratic organization, and wisely included in the Constitution many of the features usually left in the By-Laws. This is a safeguard which will reserve the sovereign rights to the members.

“Additional opinion was aired in an October 1943 Goat World editorial: “It is quite plain from a careful reading of the instrument that great care and foresight has been given the matter, and under its provisions each and every member will have a voice in the election of officers and in the conduct of affairs of the organization. But in addition to this it is most democratic, in that it provides regional representation, thereby 
preventing sectionalism from becoming a dominating factor in running the affairs of the association . . . .”

The new By-Laws, pertaining to reorganization, that were adopted by the BOD at this meeting read as follows:

Art. V, Sec. 4a: The Board of Directors shall consist of eighteen (18) Regional Directors elected annually by the members by postal ballot. There shall be no more than two Regional Directors from any one state, but there is no limit to the number of nominations from one state.

Art. V, Sec. 4b: The eighteen Regional Directors shall consist of three directors from each of the Six Directorial Districts into which the territory of this Association is divided to facilitate equitable representation of all sections of the country on the Board of Directors [the states included in each district are listed here].

Art. V, Sec. 4c: The Board of Directors shall establish new boundary lines for these Directorial Districts whenever it becomes necessary in the interest of equitable representation on the Board of Directors of all the regions included within the territory of the Association. If the membership should increase more rapidly in one Directorial District than in another, re-districting would become a duty of the Board. In establishing new boundaries for Directorial Districts, each state must be located entirely within one district. As far as possible the Directorial District boundaries shall be so established that each District comprises a natural Regional Unit representing, as nearly as practicable, approximately equal numbers of Association Members. [emphasis added]

These sections provide the clearest insight into the intent of the Board of Directors in terms of re-districting. As the organization grew and the membership increased, however, other changes were contemplated and implemented. In 1952, California became District VI and Washington, Oregon, Hawaii and Mexico became parts 
of District V.

In 1964, primarily because of a concern that directors needed more contact with “areas of the west,” it was recommended by the Constitution and By-laws Committee that the number of Districts be increased from six to eight “ . . . by making smaller districts from III and V and changing IV.” This proposal was tabled until the next year’s meeting when it came back to the Board [and was subsequently sent to the membership]:

Dist. I: To remain “as is” but to include only eastern half of Canada

Dist. II: to remain “as is”

Dist. III: Alabama, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, & West Virginia (residents of Islands of the Atlantic, Central America, and South America would vote in this district)

Dist. IV: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin

Dist. V: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma

Dist. VI: Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah, with members in Mexico voting in this district

Dist VII: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wyoming, plus western half of Canada (members residing in Islands of the Pacific or Asia would vote in this district.
Dist VIII: California

 The 1966 minutes include still another reference to re-districting, but no discussion of the matter: “The necessary data has been given the secretary regarding the change of districts. The committee suggests that the Board appoint a special committee to study and revise the constitution and by-laws.“

In 1974, a discussion regarding the proposed new constitution concluded in a change to Art. V, Sec. 4 requiring at least one Director, in those Districts which include more than one state, to reside in a state other than that of the remaining Directors.

In 1975 the BOD discussed, as it had been doing since 1972, the problem of dealing with relatively minor changes in membership within the Districts (short of complete redistricting) and after discussion of a number of absolute numerical “ceilings” that satisfied no one, came to no conclusion.

The next year (1976) the Constitution and By-Laws Committee, chaired by Lyman Stubblefield (himself an attorney) proposed the “formula” by which the number of Directors per District is adjusted (according to number of members within the district): “ Art. II b: Based on the membership in each District and that of the ADGA on March 15, the number of Directors to hold office in each District shall be determined by the following formula: From 0% to 12.5% of ADGA membership – 3 directors; from greater than 12.5% of ADGA membership to 15.625% - 4 directors; from 15.625% of ADGA membership to 18.75% greater than 18.75% of ADGA membership -6 directors. In the event a District should move to a lower 
category, then in the next year when more than one director would be elected the extra director will be dropped if the District remains in a lower category or if a vacancy should occur, that vacancy will not be filled.

One measure of the respect for and adherence to the Constitution -- specifically the limitation on the election of more than 2 Directors in any one year -- by the Constitution and by-Laws Committee, the Board of Directors (including the California Directors) and the membership is the fact that District VIII never did get the 6 Directors to which it was entitled. The first year it gained one (4), the second year another (5), but by the third year, the percentages in other districts had shifted so that District VIII membership was no longer high enough to get the 6th Director.

We come now to the present. Below, find the “rules” contained in ADGA’s Constitution and By-Laws.

1) Constitutional Requirements – those that can be changed only by a vote of the membership

  • Directorial Districts must be created to facilitate equitable representation of all sections of the United States

  • Directorial Districts must include entire states

  • Where a District contains more than one state, all Directors cannot be elected from a single state

  • There must be at least 8 Districts

  • There can be no more than 40 Directors all together

  • Directors are elected for three (3) years

  • In each year, a District must elect at least one, but not more than two Directors.

2) By-Law Requirements -- those that can be changed by a vote of the ADGA Board of Directors

  • The number of Districts

  • The make-up (in terms of states) of those districts

  • The number of Directors based on the membership numbers of each District

The Directors who wrote and adapted these ”rules” for organizing according to the number of members in each district clearly recognized that there could be shifts (in the numbers of members per district) that would require adjustment. They gave us a formula in the By-Laws that addressed these changes.

The formula worked well, adding and subtracting Directors as the membership fluctuated, but, some years ago, the Districts once again become so diverse (in terms of membership numbers) that ADGA no longer had a “balanced” Board – one that gave equal representation to the various parts of the country. And this imbalance involved both ends of the membership spectrum; some districts had too many Directors on the Board and District IV doesn’t have enough.

Because they set a minimum number of districts and required that state boundaries be observed, the creators of the ADGA Constitution apparently intended that future Boards of Directors re-draw, as previous Boards did in the past, the District boundaries in such a way that the numbers of members within each district would again be relatively equal and the “equitable representation” mandated by the ADGA Constitution would be satisfied. Once back in balance, the formula for adding or subtracting Directors according to fluctuations in membership would, once again, serve the purpose for some time.

Are there alternatives to following the guidelines written into the ADGA By-Laws? Of course! The question really hinges on whether or not ADGA chooses to:

  • Honor the constitutional requirement of equitable representation and re-draw the districts to follow the existing By-Laws

  • Re-define “equitable representation.” Rather than using the number of members per district on which to base number of Directors, ADGA could use the number of registered animals, the number of square miles, the number of herds per district, etc. – each of which present their own set of problems (for example, should an area with a few large herds carry more weight on the BOD that one with more small ones; does one define a “herd” by herd name, putting the weight on family herds that carry several herd names?)

  • Remove Article 5, Section 5 – the requirement for equitable representation – from the Constitution (this requires a vote of the entire membership), thus allowing the Directors/Membership to manipulate the Districts in any way they choose. This does not seem to be the original intent but, as an organization, the membership has every right to make this change. After all, this would actually be going back to the roots of ADGA, to the organizational structure that was in place before an emphasis 
    on democratic governance gave ADGA its current guidelines.

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Shari Reyna and Fred Warner

Mt. Zion Dairy Goats
39460 Hwy 58
Lowell, Oregon 97452
Email: info@mt-ziondairygoats.com

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